The Walk Home
Yeah, yeah, not mine... never will be... I still say it's transformative in nature, but I'm not making money so it's not worth suing me over it to find out. Joss Wheton (or whoever he sold it to) owns the rights to Buffy and someone owns the Stargate franchise... not me.
"Jack, we don't have to stay," Daniel repeated. Jack took a second away from doodling in the margins of his notepad to glare. The man looked positively at home sitting in the middle of a stack of books on demons; it was just wrong.
"Daniel, I said you could come and do your book thing, and you can. It's fine," Jack assured his archaeologist. From the other side of the room, Spike snorted.
"Jack, you're bored. Go do something," Daniel begged him. The glasses were sliding down Daniel's nose, and for a second, Jack flashed on his 10 grade history teacher who used to glare at him over the top of her glasses. Daniel had her expression down pretty good.
"Daniel, the two places to do anything in this town include a bar full of alien hybrids and a dance club for teenagers."
"Demons," Giles corrected Jack.
"Descendants from human-alien interbreeding... alien hybrids," Jack insisted.
"Really. I can understand your reluctance, and given your experiences with the Wraith and the possibility that vampires are related to that species certainly does suggest the analogy might have some validity; however," Giles held up a hand to prevent Jack from interrupting, "demons, hell dimensions and magic are all very real phenomenon. Denying them or trying to rationalize them is dangerous."
"Aliens, alternative realities and I'm not even getting into the magic. Do you realize there are dimensions out there without magic? Whole worlds where I'm not having to deal with this?" Jack complained. Daniel already had his nose into another of Giles' books, his own notepads spread out in front of him.
"Worlds inside the magic cage the ancients constructed," Daniel agreed. He looked up and gave Jack one of his patented "how can you be so stupid" expressions. "Which would mean being locked inside with the Wraith. I'll take magic."
"You just like the boring books," Jack sighed. Daniel didn't even try to deny it.
"Bloody hell, I'm not sitting around all night listenin' to you snipe at each other. Come on, soldier-boy. We can take my worshipper here for a walk and kill any nasties that show up to eat him."
"I am not your worshipper," Xander snapped as he stood up, hammer still in hand from where he had been fixing a shelf in the magic shop where Giles had suggested they set up the research session Daniel had requested. "And just stop with the whole demon-magnet talk. No demon magnetness here."
"Then why do the nasties always try to munch on your toes?"
"One demon. One demon tried to eat my foot and he was some sort of freaky foot demon, so that goes in the not-counting column."
"The vampire who tried ta pick you up in the grocery store?"
"Oh yeah, like no vamp has ever tried that one before." Xander snorted as he slammed tools back into his box.
"Preying mantis lady trying to lay her eggs in you?" Spike asked. Jack frowned at the thought of that, and even Daniel looked up from his book.
"Preying mantis lady?" Daniel asked, sounding more than a little nauseous.
"Yeah, turns out she liked virgin flesh for her procreating, and the boy here fit the bill."
"Spike, I am so going to stake you. Giles is going to come in and find you floating to the floor in little ashy drifts." Xander crossed his arms and frowned at all of them, but Spike just kept smirking despite the danger.
"That's be a bit cliché, pet. The god getting done in by his own worshipper and all."
Xander growled before turning around and storming into the back room.
"Should you...." Jack waved toward the back room. When they'd been trapped on an alien planet, he'd been the one to follow the boy, but he felt more out of place in Sunnydale than he ever had on an alien planet.
Spike shrugged. "He'll still needs an escort home, so he'll be out as soon as he gets over his little hissy. Fact is, the boy attracts more demons than most. Could be the smell of slayer that clings to him."
"Xander smells of Buffy?" Giles asked as he looked up sharply.
"Yeah, a bit. Considering how often those three watch bad Indian movies all curled up like puppies, not really surprising."
"Interesting," Giles commented before he went back to his books.
"I'm not really sure I should leave Daniel here," Jack answered, although right now even a walk sounded less boring than another hour of watching Daniel stare at books. He should have brought Teal'c. Annoying the Jaffa was always good for an hour or two of amusement.
"Jack, I'll be fine. I'm just reading books," Daniel said with a long-suffering sigh.
"Daniel, you can get in trouble going to the bathroom by yourself."
Daniel glared over his glasses.
"I can assure you, I have rather a lot of security on this place," Giles offered. Jack walked over to the nearest shelf and picked up a bottle of little squiggly things.
"Chameleon testicles. Chameleon testicles?" Jack asked as he quickly put it back. "Okay, who buys chameleon testicles?!"
"Soddin' hell. I thought I had my boy on a short leash. You walk him by his curlies?" Spike asked with a nod toward Daniel.
"Spike, despite your strange claim, Xander is not yours, and if you persist in saying that, I won't stop him next time he offers to stake you."
"He wouldn't," Spike said confidently. "'Sides, what with him being my worshipper, seems impolite not to take responsibility for the boy."
"Giles, make bloodbreath stop with the freakiness," Xander asked as he walked back in the room. Jack watched and wondered where Xander hid the soldier memories that Jack had seen in the field.
"Would that I had that power," Giles answered sadly.
"Even Rupert knows you're mine. My sire gave ya to me and all."
"Okay, that was called a trick. T-R-I-C-K. Do you want it backwards? C-K-I-R-T. I wasn't Deadboy's to give away in the first place, big jerk."
Jack watched as Spike's eyebrow raise in amusement at Xander's attempt to spell backwards, and even Daniel glanced up.
"Please, just take this fight elsewhere. Colonel O'Neill, that is a two thousand year old volume you have just doodled in, and really, at this point, I would suggest that while Daniel is perfectly safe here, you might not be." Jack glanced down and his pen had mysteriously migrated from his pad to the book he had stolen from Daniel just to annoy him.
"Sorry about that," Jack said, trying his best to actually sound sorry. Daniel snorted.
"Shouldn't mess with a Watcher's books, mate. They get cranky about that. Never know what one of those magic users will do when they get cranky, either."
"I have never—" Giles started indignantly.
"Right, we're off then. Come on soldier-boy," Spike said as he headed out the door, his coat swirling around with just a little too much drama.
"Jack, please. He's been all annoying with the worship ever since we got back. Just, I don't know, come along and distract him."
"Let him take cheap shots at me instead of you?" Jack asked.
"Hey, that would perfectness. He's gone into ultra-annoying mode and I'm going to stake him. Big with the desire to stake, here," Xander said desperately.
"Jack, I'm really fine. I won't go anywhere until you come back, honest," Daniel promised.
"No trip out for coffee?"
"Giles has a coffee maker."
"No running out to rescue some damsel is distress? I've heard Xander's stories, and with your luck with women, I really don't want you talking to any of them in this town."
"Jack, we're in California."
"Daniel, we're in Sunnydale. I don't want you stepping out that door. If a beautiful woman is standing in the doorway with all her tentacles shoved into a tiny black dress, I don't want you falling for it."
"Look at these books," Daniel gestured toward the table covered in piles of books, and not a picture book in the whole mess. "I'm not going to *notice* a woman in a tiny black dress," Daniel promised.
"True." Jack sighed as he looked from Daniel's hopeful expression to Xander's one. "Fine. I'll be back in an hour," Jack relented as he poked a finger Daniel's direction. "One hour and you do not leave this room."
"Please, feel free to take longer. Much longer," Giles said softly before taking a drink of tea. Oh yeah, next time Teal'c was getting Danny-sitting duty.
"I'm all yours," Jack said grandly to Xander.
"Thank god. One more night of walking home with bleach-for-brains, and I'm going to take up whittling." Xander headed out the door, slipping on a denim jacket that seemed to have really bulky pockets.
Jack reached in and fingered the wooden stake Xander had presented him with, and Jack just shook his head. He could rationalize the whole alien hybrid thing, but he really did want some nice scientific babble out of Sam that would explain vampires turning to dust. He wouldn't understand a word of it, but just knowing that Sam understood it would make him feel better. Instead, the video footage and scientific notes the general had liberated from the NID just made Sam shake her head and use words like impossible. Jack would have bet money that Sam didn't know that word.
Outside, Spike was leaning against the corner of the building, a cigarette hanging from his hand as he ran his tongue along the inside of his lower lip.
"Okay, if you're trying to weird me out, just stop. Not falling for it," Xander insisted, but he also turned and studied the shadowed alley Spike stared at.
"Problem?" Jack asked, his hand twitching for his gun even thought Xander had explained many times with far more words than strictly necessary that in Sunnydale you grabbed for the stake first and the gun second.
"Doesn't take much ta send you running for your mum," Spike said, but the insult was only half-hearted as Spike started across the street. A car slammed on it's brakes and squealed to a stop, but Spike didn't even blink.
"In Denver, you'd at least get cursed out for that stunt," Jack commented under his breath.
"Curses, wishes... we just try to avoid anything that sounds even a little magicky," Xander shrugged. They waited for the next car to pass before they followed Spike across the street.
"So, what are the chances that he's leading us into some ambush?" Jack asked. Maybe it was just the town, but ever little old lady with a shopping bag was setting off Jack's threat assessment nerves, and it was starting to get a little annoying. Jack debated the idea of grabbing Xander and heading back for the Magic Shop, but good old fashioned pride kept him from doing it. This was California. No goa'uld, no wraith, no aliens with delusions of godhood. Nope, just a few demons.
"Ambush? No," Xander assured him. "Annoying, stupid vampire pranks are a real possibility. Spike!" Xander yelled ahead as they reached the mouth of the alley. "If you poke another dead cat on a stick at me, I'm pulling your fangs out. You're going to be--" Xander stopped with a squawk when Spike stuck his head out from behind the building in game face.
Jack fell back a step, his hand going to his gun at the unfamiliar ridges. Spike started laughing.
"You lot are too easy." Spike strode past, giving Xander's shoulder a shove as he went by so the boy collided with a wall.
"You know what I find funny? Stakes. Stakes and fire. Maybe a big barbecue with those vegetables that come on the wooden spears, not that I would eat the vegetables, but I could think of something to do with wooden spears," Xander threatened.
"You want to spear me?" Spike stopped and swirled around, a suddenly lascivious expression on his face. Xander had been one step behind chasing Spike and now he was nose to nose with the vampire and quickly turning red.
"Xander, let's just head home," Jack suggested. He could feel his own aggravation rise, and considering that he was the poster-child for ADD, he never really expected to find someone who could annoy him so quickly.
"Oi, not your town or your business. Xander's my worshipper now, and don't you forget it," Spike announced, throwing an arm over Xander's shoulders and started back down the street, this time with Xander under one arm, which shouldn't work with Xander being taller, but it somehow did.
"I'm cursed, aren't I?" Xander asked sadly. "This is some weird alternate dimension. Is this the world without shrimp? I'm going to miss shrimp cocktails with the shrimp and the cocktail goodness and why is red sauce called cocktail because that name is giving me a really weird mental image that is not of the good."
"Cocktail. Kinda like it, myself," Spike said amiably.
"Jack, he is a giant jerk, but this is exceeding even his normal levels of jerkitude. I'm really sorry."
"Watch it, pet, or I'll leave you out here for the next preying mantis demon."
"Hey, so not a virgin here!" Xander blushed. "Which is so not anyone's business. I should have called Buffy for an escort. At least then I'd just get the lecture about plaids and stripes."
"So, Xander, where are you working now?" Jack asked, desperate to change the course of this conversation. Both men acted like the words were familiar, the fighting a comfortable pattern between them, but Jack really didn't want to see where that pattern led. He really just didn't want his brain to go there.... not considering that he liked Xander and he trusted Spike as far as he could throw the vampire. Those two flirting made Jack want to shoot someone. Unfortunately, he had it on good authority that the someone in question wouldn't die even if he did shoot him.
"I got a job at a construction company. Now that we aren't trying to defeat a goddess at night and sleep between shifts, it's a lot easier to hold a job. And you guys... any new world endage lately on your side of the universe?"
Jack's brain temporarily shuddered to a halt as Xander just casually brought up top secret information strolling down the street. A couple of goth teens or vampires twenty feet ahead didn't even bother to glance over.
"That's..." Jack struggled for a word, "... slightly inappropriate conversation for the area," he finished.
"You!" Spike shouted to the couple in front of them. "You lot. How many apocolypses you been through?"
The pair turned and stared at them with large eyes. The male flashed into game face.
"Doesn't count. They wouldn't have even bothered us, and you are not getting a beer off that," Xander hissed, the comment making about as much sense to Jack as magic did as a whole.
"We survived Glorificus and Acathla," the male hissed, obviously taking Spike's comment as some sort of challenge.
Spike snorted. "Still a bloody baby then. Still probably smell of your grave." Jack didn't even have time to blink before the vampire threw himself at Spike, his hands curled into claws. Spike stepped to the side, twirled into a kick and sent the male flying toward Jack. Jack had his gun out and fired three shots into the attacker who landed on the ground two feet in front of him. The vamp stood up, growled at Jack and then returned to attack Spike.
Shoving his weapon back into the holster, Jack pulled out a stake and watched as Spike clearly played with the now-bleeding male. Their fight took on the quality of a dance with twirls and kicks and inhuman leaps into the air. Meanwhile Xander was grappling hand to hand with the female.
Ignoring Spike, Jack went to help Xander. He hadn't taken more than three steps before Spike was there, a hand holding Jack back.
"Let him handle it, mate," Spike said. The bits of ash turning the shoulders of his jacket gray slowly slid down the leather.
"Bloody hell, hurry up there, pet. You owe me a beer and I don't feel like standing here all soddin' night." Spike stepped in front of Jack and then leaned against a wall where he promptly started picking a fingernail.
"Help would be nice," Xander gasped as the vampire sat on his stomach.
"I'm going to bloody leave if you don't hurry up," Spike answered without looking up from his nails. Jack stepped forward, but Spike shifted in front of him again while still fascinated with his thumb.
Opening his mouth to protest, Jack suddenly saw the shift. Xander's arms stopped flailing and shifted to his sides. He brought his legs up hard in a classic attack, forcing the vampire to fall forward, and then he rolled, putting himself on top. The stake came down and Xander was suddenly stomach down on the empty sidewalk, ashes blowing away in the gentle breeze.
"Took your sweet time there, didn't you?" Spike complained.
"You... you dead guy. You so aggravated them into attacking."
"Who? Me?" Spike blinked with a practiced innocence.
"You're not getting a beer off that."
"You're the effin' white knight, and you're welshing on a deal? Any night we get attacked, you bloody owe me a beer."
"You caused it."
"If I hadn't been here, they would have attacked anyway."
"But they wouldn't have if we just walked home."
"Where's the fun in that?" Spike asked with a wicked smile before he started down the street again.
"Annoying over-bleached vampire," Xander sighed.
Jack followed the two of them, shaking his head. Well, that was one way to teach the boy to access his soldier instincts. Not really a training technique Jack would recommend, but it obviously worked.
"You're trying to get me killed, don't think I don't know that," Xander complained loudly.
"Oi, am not. I have to keep you around for when this chip comes out. I've got all sorts of plans then," Spike countered with an eyebrow wiggle that made Xander cross his arms and glare.
Jack made a mental note to make sure that Sam never, ever told Spike how to turn the chip off. There were so many ways Spike's line could be taken, and Jack didn't really want to think about any of them. Nope. Not thinking at all. God, he needed to get back to some planet with some goa'uld because California was entirely too freaky for him. Yep, next time Giles sent Daniel and invitation, Jack was scheduling a week of being captured and tortured by Sokar.