Panderra's Box by Lisette:
The television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
and all related characters and material do not belong to me. All things Stargate: SG-1
also do not belong to me. I claim ownership solely of the story idea - no profit will be made by this. Author's Note:
This little drabble was done as a part of Twisting the Hellmouth's SG/BtVS Fic-a-Thon
. I was paired with Kei, and she issued me with a fun challenge that I entirely enjoyed fulfilling. It's a bit different than my usual stuff, as in she requested something humorous and not
filled with Buckets-O-Angst. *g* I hope that this meets your expectations! Timeline:
Set post BtVS Season 7 and anytime during the SG-verse, pre-season 5. Brief Description:
BtVS/SG1 - An artifact retrieval mission goes awry for Buffy with hellmouthy consequences for Jack and Daniel. Rating:
It had taken them six months to prepare the ritual. Willow and the Devon Coven spent that time carefully making the preparations, researching the spell-work, and acquiring the needed ingredients. When everything was ready, the witches convened upon the Cleveland hellmouth in order to channel the immense energies that were needed to power the ritual, and yet after six hours of chanting - six hours during which Buffy and a squad of fifteen hand-picked slayers stood guard - when the big flash came, the artifact was nowhere to be found.
It had taken them three days to figure out what had gone wrong. Apparently one of the younger Devon witches had lost her concentration for just a moment, and in that moment had chanted a 'withering' instead of a 'weathering.' The end result was that while the spell had worked, it had transported the object some place other than within their carefully prepared summoning circle.
It had taken them four days to find out where the portal had actually opened, and two more for Buffy to catch a plane, rent a car, and make the drive to the location, with Willow's magically imbued compass spinning madly in the direction of their missing artifact. Her destination turned out to be one of Minnesota's ten thousand lakes - though in her uninspired opinion, the 'lake' more closely resembled a large pond set in the middle of a huge, freaking forest.
The good news was that the location was isolated. The bad news was that it was so isolated that she was forced to park her rental in the trees off the main road, hike through miles of untamed wilderness in her wholly inappropriate, and yet highly fashionable Italian leather boots, only to find that her magical compass had failed to inform her of the winding private driveway that would have delivered her and her air-conditioned car to the lone cabin that stood along the lake's shore. The bad news then got worse as it quickly became apparent that the cabin was occupied by two guys that, after an entire day of observation, Buffy had determined were not together
together, no matter how much they bickered like an old married couple, and they didn't seem like they were leaving anytime soon. In fact, the older guy, Jack, seemed quite insistent that for the next week, he and his friend, Daniel, were going to do nothing other than sit on the dock and fish for fish that the younger guy claimed didn't exist. Apparently a buddy of theirs, some guy named after that lurid shade of blue, had warned Daniel about this problem prior to making the trip.
After spending a hot summer afternoon watching them sit, drink, and squabble, without ever getting a single bite, Buffy was inclined to agree with them.
Oh - and did she mention that according to the damn magical compass, the portal had opened above the lake and dropped her payload somewhere in its murky depths?
Yeah, sometimes it really sucked being a slayer.
And so Buffy had spent the afternoon poised in the branches of a tree just within the forest's embrace, trying her best to ignore the pine sap that stuck to the soft folds of her favorite jeans, the cotton-blend of her sleeveless top, the fine hairs along her right forearm, beneath the fingernails of her left hand - and yeah, if she crossed her eyes just right, she was pretty sure she could see where she had somehow managed to get some in her hair when she had put it into a ponytail a few hours earlier. Admittedly, not her brightest move, but she had finally gotten sick of her hair getting blown into the marshmallow peeps that she had been slowly savoring. Then again, had she known that she was going to be stuck in a tree for eight hours, she would have brought along more than the two packages of gas station fare she had picked up on a whim earlier that morning.
Finally, it was with the advent of night that the two guys packed in their fishing gear and made their way into the cabin, bickering the whole way. Bright, warm light shone out the windows and illuminated a portion of the dock and the dark waters beyond. Prudence stated that Buffy should be patient and wait a few hours more, until the cabin's inhabitants had gone to bed and the windows were dark.
Then again, patience had never been her strong point.
With the silence of a natural borne predator, Buffy lithely slid from her perch and fell soundlessly to the forest's thick carpet, her knees bending to absorb the shock and the heels of her boots sinking into the soft ground. Straightening, she paused for a moment, a slender statue with bright moonlight glinting off her messy ponytail, before she crept forward, hugging the forest's shadow as she circled the lake until she faced the cabin's back entrance. Night had completely fallen and smothered the land with darkness, and yet the moon was bright, clearly illuminating the lake and the five foot swath of earth that encircled its grassy banks, just beyond the forest's shadowed embrace. Still, she had little choice. Their sources had heard of the acquisition of the artifact by a particularly nasty demon out in a remote area of Siberia, and seeing as how all it took to unleash the contents on the world was someone stupid enough to open it, any kind of physical assault to retrieve the artifact was out of the question. Thus their reliance on magic to teleport the item into Council hands where it could be safely destroyed. Then again, this
certainly hadn't been in the game plan.
Sighing softly, Buffy cast a forlorn gaze in the direction of her rental before shaking her head in resignation. She had delayed enough. Thankful that the cloying heat of the summer day had lingered into nightfall, Buffy reluctantly kicked off her dirty boots and socks, shimmied out of her tight-fit jeans, slipped off her shirt, and after a brief hesitation, shucked her bra and panties as well. After all, wet underwear meant wet jeans, and there was nothing worse than a pair of jeans chafing in all the wrong spots.
Laughter and the easy cadence of male voices drifted across the still waters, and Buffy took that as her cue as she abandoned her cover and dashed on silent feet towards the water's edge, the magical compass clenched in one moon-kissed hand. But then all thoughts of silence were forgotten as her feet slid forward into the unseen murk, water the temperature of the arctic greedily slapping against her skin and stealing her breath with its cold. She tried to backpedal, tried to desperately get away from the frigid cold, but her momentum was so great that despite her frantic pinwheel, she slid forward through several feet of cold, slimy muck that sucked her down and overlapped her toes, her feet, her ankles and bare calves until she slipped, teetered, swayed, compensated, overcompensated, and then fell forward with a startling crash that toppled her into the freezing depths of the lake.
Buffy surfaced with a gurgled scream and flailing arms, wet hair slapping her face and all grace and coordination, all thoughts of stealth, gone beneath the overwhelming shock of the cold water lashing against her summer-heated skin. The magical compass was lost, her numbed fingers losing their grip on the smooth metal and it tumbled away into the unknown eddies and currents of the small ice flow that had become her world. Frantically Buffy worked to get her feet beneath her, only to slip further into the sludge that sucked her down as the cold water numbed her body until it became some heavy, clumsy thing that wouldn’t obey her strident commands. One foot connected with something solid that gave beneath her harried movements, the object coming free of the sludge that held it prisoner and bobbing to the surface beside her even as the sharp pain allowed her to push past the initial panic long enough to finally rise from the frigid depths and into the heated night, the water-line falling to just a few inches above her belly button.
She was cold. Freezing. Her body was frozen like a slab of meat, and the water was a fiery line around her waist, with her wet hair now a thick, heavy mass that dripped liquid ice down her back in a steady stream. Her teeth were chattering so hard that her jaw quickly began to ache – and yet every single one of these discomforts was forgotten as a quiet male voice cleared his throat pointedly behind her.
"Uh, Jack? Why do you have a naked girl in your lake?"
Buffy twirled towards the voice, her eyes just catching sight of the younger guy, Daniel, gaping at her from the dock, when her feet slipped in the muck and she was sent crashing under the water in another panicked flurry of limbs. The cold water was no less shocking the second time under, and Buffy quickly resurfaced with a gargled yelp. It took a few less tries this time, but eventually she was able to get her feet planted to each side with her hands held out for balance. She wiped the water from her eyes with one quivering shoulder and found that Daniel now had his eyes firmly averted, a bright blush, visible even beneath the pale light of the moon, quickly spreading across his cheeks. Frowning, she noted that his friend, Jack, was standing beside him, a handgun pointed vaguely in her direction and a quirked smile lifting his lips.
It was, of course, at that point that Buffy remembered that she was naked.
Really, really naked.
With another yelp that was entirely unbecoming of the oldest living slayer, Buffy quickly wrapped her arms across her chest in a move that almost sent her under for a third time, before she finally stabilized enough to lever a fierce glare at the older man. "Hey, watch the eyes!" she growled, which just caused the guy’s grin to deepen.
"Jack, you have a naked girl in your lake," his friend hissed yet again as his eyes slid in her direction before quickly turning away.
"Yes, Daniel, I’m aware of that," Jack returned, his grin growing broader as Buffy shivered and glared. "I’m just working on the why and how."
"The why and how?" Daniel repeated as his eyes darted her way before once more turning aside in a move that had Buffy rolling her eyes.
"Yes, as in why I have a naked girl in my private
lake, and how the naked girl came to get there," Jack explained as he waved the gun casually in her direction – a move that had Buffy shifting uncomfortably in the water. She may be fast, as in really, really fast, but she still wasn’t faster than a speeding bullet, as Warren had been so generous to demonstrate. The older guy, Jack, must have noticed her discomfort for he casually replaced the safety on the gun and set it on one of the deck’s posts. "So," he prompted as he crossed his arms across his chest in a manner that mimicked her own pose. The only difference, of course, was that he wasn’t standing naked in a freezing pond in freaking Minnesota.
He probably knew better.
"So what?" Buffy returned as she shook and shivered and tried not
to bite off her tongue between her madly chattering teeth.
"So what are you doing? Naked? In my private lake?" Jack continued as he leaned against the wooden post, his feet crossing at the ankle and looking so damn comfortable that for a moment, Buffy really, really hated him. But then his question registered, as did the gun that was still sitting within his reach, and Buffy found herself scrambling for an answer.
"I, uh... pine sap!" she cried out, and it was a true show to how cold she was and how muddled it was making her thinking that it took Jack’s puzzled frown, and the fact that his friend finally stopped averting his eyes to stare at her in open confusion, for her to realize that as creative cover stories went... well, hers wasn’t.
"What?" both men asked at the same time.
"I, uh, left my car back on the road," Buffy explained meekly as she wrapped her arms tighter around her frame. At least, she thought that she wrapped her arms tighter around herself. It was probably a bad sign that she was so numb that she couldn’t tell. "I went for a walk," she continued and attempted a shrug, but figured it got lost amongst the shaking. "I got lost, and there was pine sap. In my hair," she finished, only to wince as she processed her explanation only after she had finished giving it.
"You had pine sap in your hair," Jack returned, his lips thinning into a frown.
"Yeah," Buffy agreed with a tired sigh, realizing that it was too late to take back the ridiculous story now. "And when I saw the lake I thought, hey, no more pine sap."
"Right," Jack drawled before jerking his head to the water beside her. "And the box?"
"The box?" Buffy muttered quietly as she turned and looked where Jack was indicating. There, floating right beside her was a small, ornately carved wooden chest - one that looked a hell of a lot like the sketch of the chest that she had been sent to retrieve. For one priceless moment, Buffy felt her mouth drop as she realized that the object that she had stubbed her toe upon in the water’s murky depths was none other than the artifact that she had been sent to retrieve. The portal had most likely opened high enough above the lake that the box’s velocity had driven it to the very bottom where it had become lodged in the muck – only to become unearthed against a toe that would probably be throbbing if it wasn’t already frozen solid. "The box, right," Buffy quickly muttered before shrugging her bare shoulders. "Pine sap?"
"Pine sap," Jack returned with evident skepticism.
"Well, yeah," Buffy agreed as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. "It got pine sap on it, too, and I figured, why not?" At this statement, the silence stretched and Buffy began to fidget beneath their disbelieving stares. When the silence became too much, she began rubbing her hands vigorously along her arms. "What? I really hate pine sap," she grumbled before looking piteously from where they continued to watch her from their nice, dry dock – at least when Daniel wasn’t averting his eyes as though embarrassed by her nakedness. What was his problem anyway? She
was the one who was standing in all of her frozen, naked glory. "Uh... don’t suppose you have a towel?" she asked when the silence, once more, became too great.
Apparently this request was enough to finally either alleviate the older guy of his suspicions, or else shame him into realizing that she was naked
"Oh, for crying out loud. Danny, get her a towel," he grumbled, causing the younger man to nod briskly before hurrying away, as though thankful to be given a task. "Where did you leave your clothes?" he continued, as though it was the most natural question in the world.
"Over there," Buffy muttered as she went to wave her hand towards her scattered clothing, only to remember her abundant nakedness a moment later. She settled for jutting her quivering chin in the right direction and then settled back to wait for Daniel to return. He was back a moment later, and then Buffy struggled for a moment as the need to cover her nakedness warred with the necessity of carrying the box that she had been sent to retrieve. With a disgruntled sigh, she glared at the waiting man, only to have him return her stare in evident confusion. "Could you please turn around?" she asked, only to watch as his blush deepened before he quickly spun on his heels.
Rolling her eyes, Buffy dropped her arms and picked up the ornately carved chest – only to remember the second man a moment later as she quickly clutched the box against her chest. "Hey, eyes!" she demanded as he lazily sauntered towards his friend, dropping her clothes in a pile beside them before slowly turning his back to her.
"You know, skinny dipping in Northern Minnesota isn’t the best of ideas, even in summer. Next time, you may just want to deal with the sap," he called out casually, causing Buffy to roll her eyes as she waded into shore.
"Yeah, noticed that, thanks," she muttered as she dropped the box with a disgusted sigh and quickly swiped the towel from the younger man’s hands. Hurriedly she wiped the water from her body, the heat of the summer night causing her frozen skin to prickle as it warmed, as though hundreds of thousands of pins and needles were being pressed into her in all of the worst places.
"Would you like a lift back to your car, Miss..." Daniel asked, his voice trailing off as she discarded the towel in favor of her clothes. She was still damp, but despite her earlier misgivings, she would take chafing jeans over frozen nakedness any day.
"Buffy," she filled in as she dropped onto the carpet of grass and started putting on her socks. "And, yes, a lift back to my car would be great – and you can turn around now. I’m less with the naked," she informed them as she struggled with her boots.
"I'm Daniel, and this is- oh, wow
"Oh-Wow, huh?" Buffy absently returned, her lips lifting in a goofy smile as she pulled on her last boot and looked up - and immediately froze when she realized that Daniel was now holding the chest in his hands, his eyes eagerly tracing over the carved gibberish that decorated the wet wood. "Hey, careful with-"
"Panderra's Box," he murmured, his glasses reflecting the bright light of the moon.
"Nuh, what?" Buffy returned as she quickly climbed to her feet and hurried over to the younger man, his friend hovering somewhere in-between. "Don't you mean Pandora's Box?" she demanded.
"Pandora's Box? No, of course not - that's just a myth. Then again, I guess I can see the confusion," he admitted as he pointed to one squiggly line that, no matter how much Buffy squinted, looked just like every other squiggly line. "You see, the legend of Pandora's Box comes from Greek mythology-"
"Daniel, we're on vacation!
" Jack groaned as he glared at the chest that Daniel was still studying with unconcealed fascination. "Besides, everyone already knows about Pandora's Box. It's the one with the plagues and stuff."
"The what?" Daniel asked as he looked at Jack in disbelief. "There were no plagues in the myth of Pandora's Box."
"Are you sure?" Buffy returned as she eyed the box with mistrust. "Because when my friends broke it down for me, there was certainly mention of badness amongst the blah and the blah."
"Well, badness, yes," Daniel agreed, only to pause as he repeated the 'badness' quietly with a look of utter confusion. A moment later he shook his head and continued. "Listen, according to legend, Pandora opened a container that she had received from Zeus, and in doing so, she released all the evils of mankind: greed, vanity, slander, envy, pining-"
"See, badness," Buffy argued as she and Jack both took a measured step back from Daniel and the chest that she had been sent to retrieve.
Seeing this, Daniel quickly shook his head and offered them a rueful smile. "Regardless, as I was trying to show you earlier, this marking is clearly for Panderra, not Pandora - though I can see how someone who is not an expert in ancient languages can be mistaken."
"And that makes you an expert?" Buffy returned with a skeptic arch of her brow.
"Yes, it does, actually," he stated amiably while Jack merely nodded in resigned agreement.
Shaking her head in disbelief, Buffy crossed her arms across her chest and eyed the box in speculation. If what the guy was saying was true, that meant that the Siberian demon had been misinformed about his recent purchase and its capabilities, and that meant that the Council was officially down one apocalypse for the year - a relief, actually, when you considered that worldwide they were currently dealing with three. "So you're saying that if we were to open the box, purely hypothetically speaking for obvious reasons, apocalyptic badness wouldn't ensue?" she asked as Daniel shot her an amused smile.
"Of course not," he assured as he turned his attention back to the box. "Panderra was a little known Greek god of-" he broke off as he slipped his fingers into the carefully hidden seal and lifted the lid upwards.
Buffy, having noted his intentions moments too late, did the only thing possible as she followed years of hellmouth experience and dove to the side, catching Jack around the waist and sending them both crashing back into the lake just as a wave of bright light emanated from the box and enveloped his younger friend. Burning cold once more became Buffy's world as her breath exploded from her lungs in one startled cry, but this time her experience was confounded by the long, wiry male frame that seemed to be working in opposition to her own efforts to reclaim her footing.
Seconds stretched into confused minutes as Buffy and Jack splashed in the shallow water, his hoarse shouts breaking the night quiet. Eventually Jack managed to extricate himself from their tangle of limbs and find some stability in the water, but when he reached out to help her, her sodden clothes and her panicked, flailing limbs somehow managed to place his large hands in all of the inappropriate places. To make matters worse, Buffy's stylish Italian leather boots had another idea as they slid through the lake's muck bottom in such a way that she had no choice but to cling to him, inappropriate touches be damned.
Thus it was a few minutes later when Buffy, shivering and shaking in a strange man's embrace, standing waist-deep in an ice-cold lake, was finally able to catch her breath long enough to turn her gaze to the shoreline and see the damage that Panderra's box had wrought. What she saw was enough to make her mouth open and close, and then open again as she stared at the scene before her in mute wonder.
"Danny... are you doing the Macarena?"
"Um... either that or the Tootsie Roll," Buffy countered as she and Jack watched the younger man roll his narrow hips from side to side before twisting to the right and dipping low, his head thrown back in wild abandon. Cocking her head to the side, Buffy couldn't help the smile that pulled at her lips as Daniel then held a hand out to either side and began shaking it for all he was worth. "You know, he really is quite good," she commented as he broke off his current Shakira impersonation, his head a wild halo of dark brown hair, and instead started doing a complicated series of steps that closely resembled the Hustle, only the Hustle on acid as there were dips, turns, and claps involved.
"You think so?" Jack asked, before quickly shaking his head and glaring down at her. "Never mind that, the better question is why
is my friend doing the Tootsie Roll? Or the Robot, for that matter?"
For a moment, Buffy met his hard gaze. She hadn't noticed it until now, but Jack had a good foot on her in the height department, even with her boots. His silver hair was a tousled mess, and the moonlight framed his craggy features and reflected off the water that beaded down his face and dripped from his grizzled chin. She was frozen from the water, her clothes were soaked, as were Jack's, but his body radiated a blazing heat that caused her shivers to subside. Pressed up against him as she was, she could tell that he obviously took good care of himself. He was fit, his body strong and wiry, and though one of his hands was firmly planted on her butt, he was doing a remarkable job of holding her aloft and keeping her from taking another spill in the lake.
Which made this all the more difficult.
"My guess? Panderra was the Greek God of Dance," Buffy returned with an impish smile before nailing him with a right cross that he never saw coming. This time it was Buffy that caught his sagging form, and she grimaced against his weight as she struggled to keep them both from going back under.
Then, with a martyred sigh Buffy slowly made her way back to shore, dragging Jack's dead weight behind her. It took some maneuvering, but with a few grunted curses she managed to settle the older man on the shore. By now Daniel had moved on to something a little more energetic, and if she had to guess, he had overheard her comment about Panderra and had been inspired to do his own version of the Lord of the Dance. With a wry smile, Buffy watched him perform for a few minutes more before she took pity on his sweat-streaked face and knocked him out with another well-placed punch.
She knew her own power, and Buffy knew from experience that it would be a few hours before either of them awoke. The way she figured it, that gave her plenty of time to make the trek back to her car and the cell phone that she had left behind. As long as Willow confirmed that whatever mojo had struck the younger guy would wear off on its own, she would be all set to leave this godforsaken state and get back to civilization.
one of her better missions.
With a tired sigh, Buffy picked up the carved chest and started trudging towards the cabin and the driveway that lay beyond, her ruined boots squelching with every step. If that wasn't bad enough, within moments she was reminded of why she had worried about wearing wet jeans in the first place. "Stupid mission. Stupid box. Next time I'm sending Kennedy," she determined, a brief, mischievous grin lifting her lips before it was replaced by a pained grimace.
"Stupid chafing." The End Author's Note:
This challenge was done for Kei, who requested an unexpected/unintentional dance scene, humor, and peeps - and yes, I decided to take you literally on that last one. I hope that this managed to meet your requirements and that you enjoyed it!