Chapters One and Two
Author: MeredithCrossover: Buffy:tVS and Stargate SG1 (originally from a plot bunny from lenayvonne - Thank you Lee!)
Summary: When only Willow, Xander and Giles survive the fall of Sunnydale they must find something new to do with there lives. Giles takes what's left of his family to the only safe place he can think of ... Jack's cabin.
Pairing(s): Jack/Giles, Jack/Daniel
Rating: R, FRA, M, Slash
Disclaimer: I don't own them, if I did even Showtime fans would blush. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended, no money is made. The only thing I get out of this is the pleasure of having written it and hopefully some positive feedback.
Feedback: I thrive on constructive feedback so please send it! (Here or in private email, your choice)
Archive: Sure just let me know where so I can send people to see it and you MUST keep this header attached :)
Authors Notes: Thanks to my wonderful Beta DeeRose for her editing and suggestions without which this story may never have been posted.
WARNING/SPOILER: Slash, Season 7 Buffy (but goes AU at Chosen), Early Season 7 Stargate. This is part one of a series. This story is complete on its own, but more goodness to come, eventually. *** Prologue ***
The ground rumbled as the crater spread its gaping maw, attempting to swallow everything around it, including a beaten yellow school bus which barely had the ability to outrun the catastrophic event. Maybe it was the borders of the city itself, or just some very weird cosmic fate, but the expansion of the sink hole that once was Sunnydale, California came to a halt at the city limits. Brakes squealed in protest, rubber tires burned their mark onto the asphalt road, and the three survivors jumped out of the bus and turned to watch the green sign reading "Welcome to Sunnydale" waver then fall backwards into the abyss, effectively wiping the city off not only the map, but the entire globe.
"I don't understand, what did this?" Xander asked while he took in the impossible scene before him.
"Spike," Willow answered, "and the power within the amulet."
"They're all gone," Giles said barely above a whisper.
"But we saved the world," Xander reminded Giles, desperate to find a silver lining to the horror that took place.
"We changed the world," Willow corrected and looked like she was listening to something far off in the distance. "I can feel them, Giles, all over. Slayers are awakening every where."
"What are we going to do now?" Xander asked. *** Chapter One ***
"Would you check the answering machine for me?" Jack asked Daniel while he carried large brown paper bags of groceries toward the cabin's rustic but serviceable kitchen.
"'Kay," the linguist replied with a grunt, hauling their luggage to the doors in front of the master and guest bedrooms, then breathing a sigh of relief he returned to the living room unburdened. The little LCD screen on the answering machine displayed a red blinking 1 so he pressed the "play" button.
Jack didn't get many messages here at the cabin so he began unpacking the cold food first, sure that the message would be from Sam or Teal'c telling them to have fun fishing, likely in a snarkie voice, knowing there wasn't any fish in his pond. "Mac..."
an Englishman's voice began when the machine came to life, "Its Ripper. Things here in California... it's all just gone so wrong."
The man sounded completely defeated by whatever had happened and Jack dashed into the living room to hear the rest of the message more clearly. "You once told me I could come to the cabin whenever I needed, whether you were there or not. Mac, we need to get out of here, and we need a place we can be safe while we come to grips with what's happened. We are leaving today, it's about a thirty hour drive, but we will take turns at the wheel, I don't think we can stop overnight anywhere, it's too hard to stop and think about it all. I'll explain everything when we get there, if you are there as well that is,"
the voice promised then just as he was hanging up the phone they heard a woman cry out in pain.
Both men gawked at the answering machine and then looked at each other. "What was that
all about?" Daniel asked, "and who's Mack, the guy who owned this place before you?"
Jack shook his head, "The guy who owned this place before me was my father. Mac is me; well it was
me back in my early Special Forces days. I used my middle name, MacGyver, as my covert persona name. I met Ripper back then."
"You two were undercover together? You must have been very close to offer him use of the cabin even when you're not here." There was a strange quality in Daniel's voice that Jack couldn't quite figure out.
"Nope, but I was stuck over in England for an op, Ripper hung out at the same bar where I was watching someone who knew my target. It was gonna be a while before I got a lead on my mark, so while I was there I watched everyone else. There was a wild, loud crew hitting on all the girls, just one crushed beer can away from getting kicked out each night. Ripper was one of them, trying to impress anyone in earshot by claiming he was an original member of Pink Floyd. One night a friend of his tried to pick a fight with me. I tried to explain I don't fight without a reason, so he tried to sucker punch me to give me a reason, only I caught his hand and gripped it in mine, squeezing it so hard he dropped to his knees. When he finally gave in, the rest of the group howled in laughter and bought me a drink or two, or ten by the end of the night. After that, I used them as cover while I kept an eye on my pigeon. Ripper and I became friends and after my assignment ended, I stayed in England for some down time, which ended up with me getting pneumonia. Since I couldn't get on an airplane like that, and you know how I feel about hospitals, he offered to put me up at his place while I recovered. I took him up on it and we got to know each other a lot better. Eventually he came over to the states for vacation and stayed with me here. So there you have it.
"My question is; who's he bringing here? I doubt it's any of his old gang, which is good because he would know better than to bring those losers here. He was a high school librarian for a while, but he blew it up and was out of a job, so I don't guess it's a fellow teacher," Jack shrugged.
"He blew up the library?!" Daniel's mouth dropped open in shock.
"No, the whole school actually."
"The whole school?
Your friend blew up a school?"
"Well it started in the library and spread out from there, but he had a good reason for doing it."
"What reason could possibly be good enough to warrant blowing up an entire school?"
"It was the only way to kill the big honkin' monster that was about to eat everyone and take over the world."
Daniel rolled his eyes, "Ok fine, don't
"It's true," Jack defended.
"Right and Baal is President of the United States," he groused. "But that scream, I know that scream all too well, it's the scream of deep loss. The girl he's bringing is mourning someone very close to her."
Jack nodded, "Yeah, that's how I figured it too. Maybe it's his wife and they lost their kid." That was a grief Jack was intimately familiar with, though last he heard, Ripper wasn't married and he was sure he would have been invited to the wedding if there was one. When Jack hung his head in contemplation, he saw the current date and time on the answering machine's display. "Shit! The message is almost thirty hours old now; they'll be here any minute!" Jack scrambled to make sure all the linens were clean and that he had enough pillows for at least two additional people.
They didn't have to wait long before a big yellow school bus pulled up the driveway and came to a sputtering halt next to Jack's truck.
"They're here," Daniel called out to Jack while watching through the window, "and they're in a school bus."
"A school bus?!
Please don't tell me it's a full
school bus," Jack called from one of the guestrooms as he finished setting it up.
Three people stumbled out of the bus looking as beaten up as the vehicle was; covered in debris, dust, dents, and something else, "Is that blood?" Daniel asked Jack when he joined him at the window. He doubted very much if they had changed clothes since whatever event occurred that made them flee California.
Jack looked at the motley trio and nodded, "Yeah, I think so," he sighed deeply and they both headed out to help the refugees.
There was a man about Jack's age, and two younger adults, somewhere in their early twenties. The young dark haired man with an eye-patch helped the red headed woman off the bus.
"Ripper," Jack said while he approached them, "what the hell happened to you?" He put his hand on the older man's forearm, pulled him into a manly embrace and patted his back.
"Hell is precisely what happened to us," the voice was the same lilting English tone from the answering machine.
"Let us help you with your bags, we can do the introductions inside," Jack headed for the bus door, but a hand placed on his arm stopped him.
"There aren't any bags, we lost everything, and everyone
," Ripper explained, his soft tone a deep contrast to the violence of his name.
Jack was dumbstruck, "Come inside. You have a safe place here."
Ripper already knew the layout of Jack's cabin so he stayed in the living room with Daniel while Jack showed the other two around. Both men stared outside at the bus amazed that it didn't just crumble right there where it sat.
Once they all gathered back in the living room Jack looked at the two unknowns with curiosity, "Since I don't know your names, I'll do the introductions from my side. I'm Jack O'Neill and this is Daniel Jackson."
"I'm Rupert Giles, this is Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris," Ripper announced for them all, seeing no answer forthcoming from either of his companions, and to introduce himself to Daniel.
As they all shook hands Daniel asked curiously, "Why does Jack call you Ripper?"
Before Giles could answer, Jack answered for him, "Because calling me Ripper wouldn't be nearly as funny."
Daniel rolled his eyes and groaned while Giles and Xander gave a half hearted chuckle, though no response came from Willow, who was in shock and had to be led around by Xander.
"I'll go grab something for you all to wear until we can wash your clothes, or buy you some new stuff," Jack said and turned toward his bedroom. "There are towels in the bathroom, feel free to freshen up, take showers, whatever you want. Heck if you really want, you can have a swim in the lake."
"We just restocked the fridge, let me make you all something to eat," Daniel offered.
"Giles, where should I..." Xander began then gestured toward Willow.
"Thank you, Daniel, yes please." Giles hadn't realized he was so hungry until Daniel mentioned food. Then with sad eyes he looked over at his two former students. "Willow, why don't you go for the first shower?"
"Come on, Will," Xander led her to the guest bathroom.
"They call you Giles?"
"The kids? Yes."
"They don't seem much like kids to me."
"Oh, well I suppose they aren't kids anymore are they? They were students of mine when I worked at the high school library. I suppose when they graduated they felt it awkward to call me Rupert."
"Ah, well, you see, Ripper was from the days of my rebellious youth. Only a rare few still call me that."
"So Rupert it is?"
"Yes, of course, unless you prefer Giles as well. I understand Rupert can be a bit stuffy." Giles took off his glasses to polish them on his handkerchief but stopped seeing how dirty the cloth was.
Daniel nodded toward the guest bathroom, "She going to be alright?"
Following Daniel into the Kitchen, Giles sighed, "In time. You see, we've suffered a great loss. All our loved ones, friends and family alike, were just killed," the composed Englishman's voice broke at the end.
"Damn, Ripper, I am so sorry," Jack said having entered the kitchen just in time to hear about the deaths.
"So am I. I can't believe she's gone," Giles's eyes misted at the mention of a lost woman. Jack gave him his handkerchief, which Giles used to clean his glasses rather than dab his eyes, the stoic English façade wasn't quite ready to fall. "It's all such a horrific mess."
Nodding Jack reassured his friend, "I want you to know that I'll help in anyway I can."
"Thank you," Giles whispered and they all fell silent, going to work on setting the table and preparing lunch.
When they came out of the bathroom, Xander and Willow looked like Jack; each wearing a plaid shirt and jeans provided by him. Willow's jeans were tightly cinched with a belt and cuffed at the bottom since Jack's pants were way
too big for her. She could have worn Jack's shirt alone as a short dress except her underwear was discarded in the dirty clothes pile and modesty demanded she cover herself. Technically, it was Xander's modesty since Willow was still too far gone to care. Xander had washed and dressed her, but she had barely moved, not even while Xander took his own shower right next to her; he had left her sitting on the closed toilet.
"Well aren't you two a cute couple," Daniel said with a wide smile as he put the salad bowl down on the table.
Intelligence sparked behind Willow's eyes for a moment and she looked at Daniel, "We aren't a couple," she stated before fading back into herself.
Xander sat her down and took the seat next to her. He took an empty bowl, filled it with salad, dressed it then told her, "Eat, Will." When he looked up he saw a clearly chagrined Daniel and smiled weakly, "We've been best friends all our lives. Willow's girlfriend Kennedy and my Anya were..."
He didn't finish the sentence but Daniel nodded, "I'm sorry. I lost my wife too," he said trying to show them he understood their pain.
Lunch was mostly silent, except for a few compliments and gratitude for the meal. This was the first meal they'd had since "it" happened.
Jack and Daniel cleared the table, Willow and Xander sat on the couch, while Giles took his turn in the shower. "Jack, if you want me to go home just tell me. I can see these guys need some time to cope with all that's happened and I'm sure one less stranger around would help."
Looking from Daniel to the two on the couch, Jack sighed, "Let's play it by ear for now. I'm not sure what they are going to need and you're a lot
easier to talk to than I am about emotional stuff."
Daniel thought Jack was very good at being there when you needed him, but he also knew that only applied to those he cared about. Jack was apparently uneasy about Willow and Xander's state of mind.
They stayed in the kitchen giving the two mourners time alone until Giles walked into the area between the living room and kitchen, also wearing Jack's clothes. "Well, it's not tweed, but it will do," he said specifically to try to lighten the mood, hoping at least to get a smile from the "kids." He got a slight grin from Xander, but that was the end of it. "As Mac has only the two guest bedrooms, Daniel will have his own, the kids will share one and I'll take the couch."
"I'll take the couch, it's alright. You've been through enough, you deserve the bed," Daniel offered.
"No, no, I wouldn't dream of displacing you Daniel, you were here first, the bed is yours."
"No it's ok, I'll sleep--"
Jack interrupted them, "Ripper and Daniel each get a guestroom, Willow and Xander will take my room cause that's the only bed big enough to comfortably fit two, and I'll take the couch. End of story."
"But Ja-ack!" Daniel protested.
"No buts, Daniel. I'm used to the couch; windup falling asleep out here watching the TV more often than not. I already changed the linens and everything so it's ready for them." Jack looked so proud of himself.
"Thank you, Mr. O'Neill," Xander said gently.
"It's Colonel O'Neill, but call me Jack and you're welcome."
"Would it be ok if we turned in early, Jack?"
"Sure thing, I'm surprised you stayed awake through lunch. If you wake up and need anything just wake me or feel free to raid the food stocks for whatever you want."
"Thanks again," Xander took Willow into Jack's room, which they had seen when he showed them around, and closed the door behind them. It wasn't so much sleep they wanted, but time alone to process everything.
"Rupert, you want to lie down too? We have plenty of things to keep us busy so don't feel you have to stay up on our account," Daniel offered, but Giles shook his head.
Jack and Giles sat down on each end of the couch, while Daniel perched in the comfy chair opposite the two feeling a bit awkward, like he was about to witness something he had no right to see.
"I can't thank you enough for letting us invade your cabin, especially when you're clearly here on holiday with Daniel. I know it's a terrible imposition," Giles said.
"Not a problem. He planned on making this a working vacation anyway." Jack indicated a series of boxes in the room with bubble-wrapped artifacts, folders of notes, and several reference books. "Doctor
Daniel Jackson," Jack used his full name and title for emphasis, "is an archaeologist, anthropologist, linguist, and a good guy all around, but has the inability to leave work at work."
"I know how that can be. I'd love to talk shop with you sometime, Daniel; I'm an historian," Giles vastly understated his true skills.
"I'd like that a lot," Daniel smiled feeling much less awkward now that he knew he was welcomed to be there by Jack's old friend.
Giles returned his attention to Jack, "I suppose I should explain things a bit. You must be wondering about all this."
"Now that you mention it, I am a bit curious," Jack said casually like it hadn't been the only thing on his mind since he heard the message this morning.
"I told you about Buffy and her friends, mentioned I was their librarian?"
"Until you blew up the school," Jack interrupted good-naturedly teasing him.
"Until I blew up the school," Giles repeated dryly, "yes, do bring that up as often as possible." Rolling his eyes he took a moment to sigh and mockingly glare at Jack before continuing the tale. "Remember when you talked me into pursuing my proper destiny, following in my family's footsteps?" Jack nodded and Giles went on, "Well, my destiny led me to a girl, young, athletic, and entirely without any sort of perspective toward the real world, concerned only with who would take her to the prom, or if she would make the cheer leading squad."
"Your basic teenage girl then?" Daniel threw in.
"Precisely, she was the exact stereotypical female teenager," Giles drew another deep breath in sad remembrance of the clueless young girl she'd been, and the incredible woman she'd grown into, only to have her life cut tragically short, as eventually happened to all of the Chosen Ones throughout the ages. The Watcher took a moment to form his next words carefully; Jack, he knew, would take what ever was told to him to the grave, but Daniel was a stranger so he was unsure exactly what information he could or should share with the man. "It was my job to tutor this wild, unrestrained child and turn her into a disciplined young woman capable of taking her own
place in destiny. Like your position in Special Forces, Buffy had her own task to protect and serve that was also kept covert from the general masses for their safety as well as her own. In short order, however, her closest friends found out and joined her, assisting in whatever ways they could, despite my repeated warnings of danger. For quite a number of years we worked together to keep every one safe, until this last group of evil-doers came upon us, actually the First Evil; that's what it called itself, the First Evil and its minions. This was the worst foe we had ever come up against."
"Kind of like Hitler?" Daniel wondered aloud.
Nodding Giles continued, "Yes, though where Hitler was content to command his minions to do everything for him, the First was eager to get into the midst of things as well.
"We knew we would need help, and quite a lot of it, so we spoke to the head of our group and they began sending us assistance. But while we were gathering our forces, the First began killing those from whom we were trying to gain help. In England, nearly everyone in my order was slaughtered as well as many others throughout the world. We attempted to gather all the Potentials, ah, potential victims that is, to keep them safe, but some were murdered before we could reach them."
"What kind of group is it? Who is it, just tell me and I'll get my Special Forces buddies together and we'll take them down," Jack interrupted with his offer.
Giles shook his head, "I wish I could have called you, perhaps it might have swung the balance our way sooner and so many lives wouldn't have been lost, but these were truly unbeatable foes. It's far too late now, anyway. Only hours before I left the message here, we fought the final battle. There was little hope of survival, but we had to try, if we didn't..." Giles shook his head not finishing the sentence. He took a moment to compose himself before beginning again. "The First and its minions were far too much for us, overwhelming us in number as well as power. In the end we defeated them with aid of an ancient artifact, but it was not before losing everyone we had gathered to help fight. We three are all that's left. Not even Sunnydale survived, it was swallowed by the Earth. I'm surprised you didn't hear about it's destruction on the news."
Since it happened so recently it made sense that they'd still been in blood soaked, rubble encrusted clothes. As for whatever they were showing on the news, Jack couldn't exactly tell Giles he'd been off planet and came directly to the cabin for some rest and relaxation after debriefing so he hadn't had a chance to catch up on the news yet. "Well, we've been on a mission; we were going to catch up on the news here."
Jack tried to talk Giles into spilling the whole truth, saying there had to be some way he could help, but it was clear Giles was much too afraid to lose anyone else and that the final battle was truly the end of it, the enemies were all destroyed along with Buffy and those who fought at her side. While they spoke Daniel's mind reviewed what was being said, trying to make sense of it. There was something there, something telling him what the mystery was, but it was just slightly out of focus.
"Tutor a young girl," Daniel mumbled thinking hard, going over key things he'd heard once more.
Jack and Giles turned their heads toward Daniel, "Huh?"
"One girl's destiny, one single girl to covertly protect, blew up the high school in Sunnydale to stop a monster..."
"Uh, Daniel?" Jack asked.
"An order in England, Potentials, hell is precisely what happened to them..." Daniel continued then gasped and looked up from the floor to meet Giles's eyes, "You're a Watcher and Buffy was the Slayer wasn't she?"
"Have you been sniffing your markers? What the hell are you talking about?" Jack demanded.
"I'm right aren't I?" Daniel's eyes were wide with excitement and he popped up out of his chair.
"Daniel!" Jack yelled and stood up to face him, "Have you lost your mind?"
Giles stood up and put a hand on Jack's arm to restrain him, "Mac, it's alright. Daniel is apparently a very thorough archaeologist/anthropologist to know of the Watchers and the Slayer. Since he already knows, there's no use to keep up the pretense in front of him. Thank you though."
"Yes, quite, shall we sit back down?" This time Giles sat down right next to Jack and they both looked at Daniel sitting across from them once more. "I'm dreadfully sorry, Mac was simply protecting me. Normally the Watchers don't tell others about our group or the Slayer, but it seems that Buffy's calling was the worst kept secret in all of Slayer history, which of course makes me incredibly proud," sarcasm dripped from Giles. "Her friends found out one by one, and as I mentioned earlier, many even joined us to try to help in anyway they could to ease the pressure on Buffy from being the sole protector. Mac found out because he met me in my young foolish days when I eagerly told stories of dark magic and demon summoning that I'd done, the foolish part was actually doing the summoning. When he stayed with me to recover from his bout of pneumonia he got to see some of my exemplary stupidity in action.
"My mates and I used to summon a demon--"
"Egon wasn't it?" Jack asked.
"Eyghon the Sleepwalker, yes. This demon would possess us one at a time, giving us quite the extraordinary magical high, but as such things are wont to do, it went wrong and we couldn't exorcise the beast from Randall. It wound up killing Randall, well, we did really. We thought it was gone for good, though that wasn't the case. However, since we were
free of it for the time, and I was sufficiently unnerved by the ordeal, I stayed entirely at home with Mac, intending never to leave the flat again.
"I told him everything. I know he didn't believe the supernatural bits of my story, but I also know he believed that someone, if not something
, killed my friend and had tried to kill the rest of us. It was that blind faith in me that made me feel so close to him so quickly. No one else ever gave me that sort of trust. He changed my life and got me back on track, without his faith in me I'd have been dead before the New Year rang in that winter. He convinced me to follow my proper destiny and become a Watcher like my father and grandmother."
Now Daniel felt uncomfortable again, clearly this was more than just two old casual friends talking; this was two men who shared a connection, the sort of bond that is created when someone saves your life. He wondered if that bond was anywhere near as close to the relationship Jack had with him and the rest of SG1; for a moment Daniel felt a pang of jealousy.
"From what you've mentioned over the years it sounds like being a Watcher is just about as dangerous as what you'd been doing," Jack pointed out.
"More dangerous in fact, but at least this way I was working for a good cause, not a stupid magical high," Giles sighed.
"True but you still put your life in danger too often," Jack groused.
"So do you Jack," Daniel reminded him.
Jack seemed about to object but then nodded, "Fair enough."
"You said the demon wasn't gone for good, did it come back and try again?" Daniel's curiosity wouldn't let that story go unfinished.
"Unfortunately, yes. Twenty years after the event, when one of our group died of natural causes, that death allowed Eyghon to possess the dead body because it was marked with his symbol--did I mention we were all foolish enough to tattoo his symbol on our arms in order to get him to enter us? No? Ah yes, yet another sign of our infinite brilliance--and once it possessed Thomas it hunted the rest of us down one by one. To make a long and painful story short, it burned through dead bodies and needed to find an unconscious living body in order to be reborn, it went through killing and possessing my other mates before it found a living unconscious body to inhabit, that of my then would-be-girlfriend. In the end it was actually Willow's quite inspired idea that saved us; she had done the research and found that when threatened with imminent death of the living host body it would immediately jump into the nearest unconscious or dead body. So she had a, well, friendly vampire that we knew, strangle Jenny, when it thought she would die Eyghon jumped into the nearest dead body, which happened to be that of the vampire strangling it. As the vampire already had a demon in him, the two demons fought it out, eventually kicking Eyghon out of the already inhabited body thus destroying him."
Daniel was stunned by the story and how it resembled Goa'uld possession just enough to let him accept that, though he didn't know it at the time, there was a lot more going on than just aliens creating and using the pyramids for landing pads.
"Strangling is pretty dangerous; couldn't you have used an anesthetic?" Jack asked.
Giles shook his head, "Unfortunately not, the situation called for fast action and there was no way to get any in time. Worse yet it would merely have made her go to sleep, not threatened her life. Eyghon had to believe the body was going to die, nothing quite compares to someone choking the life out of you to have you believe you'll die."
"I think I know of a few things that might," Daniel mumbled. In his line of work there were far too many things that happened to them that made them believe they'd die, or wish that they would.
"Hmm?" Giles didn't understand the comment.
"Nothing. So you are the last of your old group?"
"No, there's one more, Ethan Rayne, unfortunately."
"Sounds like you would rather he hadn't lived."
"He lived by tattooing the mark onto Buffy, then burning it off himself with acid. I definitely would have shed no tears at his death."
"He was a real piece of work. Even back then he was only out for himself," Jack mentioned folding his arms, in the process hitting Giles in the arm because they were sitting so close.
"You had a run in with him?" Daniel asked.
"Oh yeah, more than one."
Giles began to chuckle, "Remember the time you made tear gas and tossed it in his car just as he closed the door?"
tear gas?" Daniel asked confused.
Jack nodded, "Yeah, with a hot water bottle, soda, some spices and vinegar. He so
deserved it too." He laughed and Giles joined him in laughing. "Then there was the time I welded his car doors shut using his own car antenna, jumper cables and battery. He left us alone for a long time after that."
"Yes, Mac was absolutely brilliant. I'd never seen someone so inventive with found items, come to think of it, to this day I still haven't met anyone better at rigging things than you." Giles said nudging Jack with an elbow before leading into another story of their youthful escapades, though now it seemed more like they were only talking to each other, unintentionally leaving Daniel out.
Daniel was no dummy, far from it in fact, as his multiple doctorates would attest to, so he stood up and announced, "I'm gonna go do their laundry, if you need me, I'll be downstairs." He fetched the discarded clothes then headed down to the basement where the washer and dryer were. It was clear to Daniel the two needed time alone, but so did he. The story he'd just heard was amazing and he would need time to let it digest, but all through their talking he couldn't help hearing over and over in his mind Giles's words, 'Mac was simply protecting me.' Protecting Giles from him? That disturbed Daniel on so many levels.
The two watched him leave and Giles gave a soft laugh, "Do you think he knows? I didn't think I was giving us away. I tried to keep it all very friendly and nothing more."
Jack shook his head, "Nah, but there's a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy where we work, so even if he suspected I don't think he'd say so." With that said Jack leaned over and pulled Giles into a deeper hug than he had done out by the bus. The hug tightened when Giles returned it, removed his glasses and buried his face in Jack's neck, sobbing only seconds later. Giles had had to be the staunch, stoic, rock for the others to cling to less they be swept away in grief. Finally alone with the only man who'd ever seen him cry, the man who helped him regain himself when he was the most lost, he allowed the strength to fall and to feel some of the deep loss he suffered.
Cooing soothing words to counter Giles's sobbed confessions of guilt, Jack held tight to him, allowing him to get out what he'd been holding inside. Jack didn't believe for a moment that the deaths were his fault, but he entirely understood why Giles took responsibility for them. Jack would have done the same.
When it seemed the torrent was finally ending Jack lifted Giles's face and began kissing away the tears, eventually moving down to kiss his lips. Giles returned the kiss with the desperation of a man in such deep pain seeking some sort of comfort lest he die of agony.
It had been about six years since Giles last visited the cabin, and so much happened in those years that changed both men, but when they kissed it was clear their place in the other man's heart was not one of the many things that changed and they both realized that fact. Soon the kissing changed from despair to desire; soft moans emanated from each of them, their hands began caressing and searching, relearning the shape of the other man's torso. When their hands began drifting lower, onto hips and thighs the moans became louder and more urgent.
No matter what he was doing, Jack's "threat assessment radar" almost never turned off and he unwillingly broke the kiss. "Just heard the washing machine buzzer go off," he panted softly, trying to catch his breath and calm down, "Daniel will hang what needs hanging then toss the rest in the dryer and come back upstairs."
Giles nodded and sat up properly, "I'll go rinse my face. I'm afraid I'll still be puffy eyed when he returns."
"That's ok; Danny won't mention that either, he's one who understands the need for a good cry."
"Thank you... for everything." Giles headed to the bathroom to make himself stoic again.
Jack wiped his own face and neck clear of any tears shed onto him, or sweat from the heat of the kiss. His desire had caused his pants to become uncomfortable, and he had just rearranged himself when Daniel came up the stairs talking loudly to give them a warning of his imminent arrival. Daniel thought he was doing it just so they could stop talking private things, he never would have dreamed what they'd really been doing.
"I don't know if they will be up to going out tomorrow, but I'll be glad to run into town with them to get them new clothes. Theirs are washed, but ripped in places it's not fashionable to have rips in."
"If they aren't we can get their sizes and pick up some generic stuff like jeans and t-shirts. I'm sure they'd rather wear something less their style that fits than my old stuff. You could put a whole 'nother girl in my pants with Willow," Jack answered, casually sitting back against the couch, crossing his legs and placing a hand on his ankle from across his body in hopes of covering his arousal.
Looking a bit confused when he arrived in the living room and saw Jack alone, Daniel asked, "Everything ok? He decide to turn in?"
"It's gonna take some time. He was close to Buffy, like she was a daughter kind of thing. And I think he needs time away from the 'kids'. He's their rock so he doesn't feel he can mourn in front of them."
Daniel nodded, "Makes sense, I'll definitely try getting them out to the mall tomorrow, or at least out to the lake for a bit."
"Thanks Danny," Jack smiled.
That evening Jack barbequed fish for dinner, fish bought at the fresh market, of course, since his lake was empty, but he had a way of preparing it that made one wonder how it was not
just pulled out of the water. There was enough for everyone, though the kids, as they were now thought of by Jack and Daniel also, never left the bedroom. The leftovers were covered and put in the fridge with microwave instructions incase hunger forced the duo from their retreat.
Everyone turned in around eleven o'clock; Jack staying on the couch like he said he would, the other two men having the guestrooms to themselves. Jack had given Giles a pair of shorts to sleep in and he idly wondered what Willow and Xander were doing for sleeping attire.
As he lay there on the couch Jack couldn't help thinking about the day's events. The day had definitely not progressed like he thought it would when they first arrived, but he found himself very glad to see Ripper again, though he wished it was under much better circumstances. Remembering the passionate, but all too short, necking session on his couch earlier that day, Jack had a very hard time falling asleep.
Three hours later, Jack woke with a start, "BUFFY!" Giles screamed.
Bolting out of bed and running to the guest bedroom Giles was using, Jack crashed into Daniel, who also heard the scream and was responding to the outcry from his own room.
A loud bang and a sudden burst of light backlit a two headed demon that fell back down to all fours once it burst through the door. Flailing his arms around in search of a weapon, Giles's hand connected with the lamp on the nightstand, which he yanked from its spot and hurled at the demon.
"OWW! ForCryingOutLoud! Ripper wake up!" Jack yelled when the metal connected with his shoulder, he was still trying to detangle himself from Daniel where they fell.
"Mac?" Giles gasped and felt around the nightstand for his glasses.
Daniel flipped the light switch to on once he got back on his feet while Jack moved to the bed and picked up Giles's glasses that had fallen on the floor during the lamp retrieval. "Here," Jack handed over the glasses and looked at the sweaty bare-chested man before him. "It was just a nightmare. You're safe," he sat on the edge of the bed.
"Where are Willow and Xander?" Giles panted.
"I'll check," Daniel said and headed for Jack's room, again giving them private time.
"I'm so sorry that I woke you and your friend."
"No problem, we've been awaken in the middle of the night before, just it's generally on away missions by the locals or animals, not usually my cabin," Jack joked to ease his out-of-sorts friend.
"It keeps replaying in my mind, I try different things to save them, but fail each time."
Jack knew those type of nightmares, always second judging yourself, "what if"ing every scenario possible and some that weren't. He wasn't about to cheapen the man's emotions by "there there"ing him, he hated the words, "it will be alright in time." Fuck that! It would be different in time, but it would never be "alright." So rather than say something meaningless Jack just moved closer to hug him, to be there for him, like Giles was there for him when Jack told him about Charlie.
It had been after the blue crystalline entity helped him, and his now ex-wife Sara, say goodbye to Charlie. Giles came over for two weeks before starting his new job of librarian at Sunnydale High. Even though Jack was better it was very hard to tell Giles. What was worse was telling him the reason he hadn't told him earlier was that he'd actively been planning his own death.
Each of them knew the other was not their soul mate, but it was still a hard blow for Giles to learn that a.) Jack would rather have killed himself than let him, or anyone for that matter, help him through that horrible time, b.) that Giles would never have known the truth unless he investigated Jack's death, which he also wouldn't have known about until who knew when since he wasn't exactly on Jack's ex-wife's "to call" list and c.) that he would never have gotten to say goodbye, or gotten a goodbye from the lover that had meant so much to him and helped him so greatly for more years than he cared to count. It was the only time either of them had felt hurt by something the other did, or in this case, didn't do.
It had been a very emotional two weeks, but in the end it served to remind Jack that he hadn't lost everything
that ever meant something to him and that sometimes the best course of action is to reach out to someone rather than face the ordeal alone.
Which was exactly the reason Giles was here now, he needed help and had reached out to the one person he knew could help him. Jack didn't know all the specifics yet, or what they needed him for other than lodging, but he knew there was no one else this stuffy old Englishman could cry in front of and so he'd at least be there for him in that way.
"Rupert, the kids are fine, sleeping. The left over dinner plates are on the nightstand so apparently they were able to fend for themselves," Daniel announced from the doorway while he watched the two in the tight embrace. More precisely it could be said he watched while the one man clung desperately to the other like his life depended on it. "If you guys need anything, let me know. I'm going back to bed, but I can be here in a flash if needed."
"Thank you, Daniel," the two said in perfect unison.
Daniel watched the two a moment longer before closing the door behind him, then the door to his room once he was inside. *** Chapter Two ***
The night had been quite active for Jack since most of it he spent hugging Giles tighter and caressing him while whispering soothing nonsense to calm the tremors he had the whole night while he slept. There were no more screams, however, Giles had woken up several times sweating from nightmares, but upon feeling Jack spooned up behind him he'd calm down again, hugging the arms that were around him tighter, in time falling asleep once more.
Eventually Jack's internal clock demanded he get out of bed and start the day, but when he tried to quietly disengage himself he woke Giles accidentally, "Thank you," he whispered and rubbed the sleep from his face. "It's the first sleep I've gotten since it happened."
"Like I said yesterday, you're safe here, I'll make sure of that," Jack promised and rested his hand on Giles's knee. "Do you plan on going back to California, or back to England? Is there anything left for you in either place?"
"I truly don't know. I do
intend on fetching things that I'd rather not be without from California, books and artifacts mostly. However, after that, well I really hadn't thought that far yet. Those are the sorts of things I was planning to decide once we made it here and I had a chance to actually think again."
Jack nodded and stood, readjusting the waistband of his shorts that he'd slept in, "Sounds like a plan. You know you're welcome to stay here as long as you want. Permanently, if you like," he said with a soft grin. "I'm gonna take a shower," he gave Giles a soft squeeze on the shoulder, "I wish it was under better circumstances, but I'm damned glad to see you."
The two men took showers in turn, though Jack had to get back into his shorts so he could get clothes from his bedroom, a bedroom which was occupied at the moment so he headed for the kitchen where he smelled fresh coffee. On his way to get his caffeine fix he saw Daniel had set up three artifacts on the coffee table along with all the books he'd brought to help him try to translate them, and his laptop. Each artifact had its own yellow notepad with his thoughts on them sitting in front of him. It seemed to Jack that he was looking at all three at the same time. "Whatcha doin'?" Jack asked like he usually did when he saw Daniel doing research.
"Trying to figure this out," Daniel replied offhandedly.
"I can see that, but I mean wouldn't it be a whole lot easier if you did them one at a time?"
"Normally, yes, when it's something I can read and just have to translate a lot of it, but when things stump me I like to work on more than one. Sometimes I get frustrated and move on to another; other times while working on one piece I'll get a sudden insight to another."
"Gotcha, sort of like when you think too hard to remember something, so move on to something else, but about three hours later in the middle of something completely unrelated you remember it?" Jack suggested.
"Anything I can help with?"
Daniel grinned sheepishly and looked at his empty coffee mug, "You could get me a refill."
Jack chuckled, "Sure thing," grabbed the mug then headed to the kitchen again.
Moments later Xander came out of Jack's room and went into the kitchen. "Oh, hi. Thank you for taking us all in and letting me and Will use your bedroom."
Jack smiled and passed Xander the coffee mug he just filled for himself, "Hey, 'a friend in need...' and all that. How's she doing?"
"Not well. I've been having a hard time keeping her from losing herself to her grief, which is actually keeping me
from losing myself in mine."
"Well, that's something I guess," Jack poured himself a new cup of coffee and refilled Daniel's mug then led the way back to Daniel. "We were thinking, if you want to go into town and get some new clothes we'd be happy to help you out there."
Xander followed listening to the offer, sipped his coffee and looked at the piles of papers Daniel was shuffling. "That would really be great of you. It will get Will up and thinking about something else for a while and get you your clothes back. I don't know how much spare clothes you keep here, but being down three sets can't be a good thing--hey, neat!" Xander's change of topic happened so fast that he had the middle artifact from the coffee table in his hands before either Jack or Daniel could say anything.
"Be careful with that! It's very old!" Daniel said while he jumped up from the couch and waved his hands toward the tablet Xander held.
The young man laughed, "The stone it's carved on maybe, but the words are from about three hundred years in the future."
"What?!" both Daniel and Jack blurted out.
"Well, I guess if you figure that the race is probably thousands of years old, the writing could be a current language."
"You can read that?" Daniel was amazed.
"Sure, easy," Xander said proudly.
"But you, I mean, are you a linguist? Where did you learn it? What does it say? What language is it?"
"Slow down there fella. You don't have to be a linguist to read it, just a serious fan of the show."
"Show?" Daniel's amazement turned to bafflement.
"Yeah, Star Trek. This is Klingon, it says 'May an honorable death gain you entrance into Sto-Vo-Kor," Xander smiled at the confounded man.
Daniel shook his head and took the tablet, "No, no this is hundreds of years old and came from an entirely different planet." That last revelation earned Daniel a death glare from Jack, who was about to cover for Daniel's slip of the tongue about "different planet" when, nodding and laughing, Xander went on.
"Kronos, the Klingon homeworld. Yeah, I read the advertisement too."
"For the tablet. They are selling these on StoVoKor.com," Xander said, but when Daniel was clearly too stunned to speak he sat on the couch, picked up Daniel's laptop, saw the wireless network card and mumbled, "sweet!" before tapping in the web address then turning the computer for Daniel and Jack to look at. "See? $89.95--ooh it's on sale," he said the last bit to himself.
Daniel sat down hard on the couch next to the young man holding his laptop and stared at the screen and its bright red X crossing out the old price of $105.95 and stating boldly, "Sale! Get your Sto-Vo-Kor tablet today while supplies last! Don't be the last Klingon on Q'onoS to get this keepsake! Going fast!"
"But I found it at a dig site..." Daniel said sounding and looking quite hypnotized by the image on the screen before him.
Now Xander tried to look sympathetic, though it was very hard to do knowing that an "expert" of archaeology was fooled by a recently man made fake language artifact, "Well someone who knows you must have put it there as a joke."
Daniel immediately glared at Jack who raised his hands in defense, amazingly not spilling his coffee in the process, "Hey it wasn't me. Maybe Sam or Teal'c... or one of the other teams?"
"Who would do that? Do you have any idea how long I've been stumped on this one? How many different texts I've looked through for something remotely similar! What kind of person would put me through all this!" Daniel was now fuming mad.
Jack put his free hand on his friend's shoulder, "Down boy, I'm sure it was meant to be a harmless prank. Whoever did it must have thought you'd recognize the writing and get a laugh out of it."
"But Ja-ack!" Daniel whined, the anger leaving him and being replaced by embarrassment.
"What seems to be the problem here? Xander you aren't bothering the good doctor are you?" Giles asked as he slipped in behind them, fresh from his shower.
"Doctor who?" Xander asked.
"Different show," Jack mumbled.
"Never mind, Xander was just showing Danny that one of the artifacts he'd been stumped on is a fake," Jack explained.
"Oh dear, sorry to hear that," Giles said in a very British way then glanced at the two artifacts remaining on the table and the one in Daniel's hand. "Oh, Klingon, yes that is
"You know Klingon too?" Daniel was exasperated.
"No, no. I just recognized the lettering style because I had a similar problem a few years back--you haven't been trying to open this have you?" Giles asked picking up the cube artifact, again the change of topic was so quick it made Daniel's head spin; he couldn't help but wonder if it was him, or Californians.
"Not yet. I was trying to figure out the engravings first, why is it Klingon too?" Daniel groused.
"Definitely not Klingon at all. This is a genuine artifact, quite powerful. I'm surprised it hasn't drawn Willow out to investigate."
"How do you know? Why would Willow be drawn to it? What is it?" The Doctor of Archaeology, Anthropology and Linguistics was now at his wits end with his own lack of knowledge.
"It's a puzzle box, more specifically the Lament Configuration. If you'd opened it, you'd have opened a portal to a hell like dimension, possibly even hell itself, through which the Cenobites would have entered our world then taken you back to torture you for the rest of eternity," Giles explained very matter-of-factly.
"Ha ha, very funny, but 'let's mess with the archaeologist' time is over. Do you know what that really is or not?" Daniel plead.
Giles exchanged looks with Jack who shrugged then nodded. "I'm quite serious actually," he passed the box to Jack, sat in the last remaining spot on the couch, took the computer from Xander and began typing away. "Willow is much better at this than I, but I do know some sites that should help. If I had my books I could show it to you far easier, however, ahh yes, this will do nicely." He pivoted the computer to show Daniel and it had all sorts of drawings throughout the ages of what it is thought the Cenobites look like, created by those who claim to be witnesses. Next to each drawing were stories from those witnesses about what they had seen. There was additional information from various groups who didn't identify themselves on the site, but Giles knew that they were all secret societies like the Clandestine Watchers Council--Giles's own group, the Talamasca, the Illuminati, and the Millennium Group who all had done research into the Lament Configuration and the Cenobites. "While the 'witness' testimony is viewed with great suspicion the information gathered by the other groups is seen as truth.
"Supposedly this box is the key to a realm of extraordinary sensual pleasures, and those who seek the box for those pleasures are brought to a realm where death does not exist, so there is no escape to the tortures put upon them; thus it's thought of as a hell dimension. However, to the Cenobites, all sensation, pain or pleasure, is desirable, wanting to experience everything the mind and body can, so they experiment on those they capture to learn what can and can't be done to the body and mind." Giles explained while Daniel looked over the website.
"Hell dimension? There's no such thing as..." Daniel wanted to argue, but then remembered Sokar had terra-formed a moon into a version like Earth's Christian version of hell, so was it really that far fetched to believe that there could actually be a hell dimension?
"I assure you hell is very real, Daniel." Giles pointed at the last artifact on the table, "I recognize some of the symbols on your third artifact as well." Turning the computer back to himself, Giles began tapping away once more. "Alright this is a start," Giles turned the computer back to Daniel and pointed at a symbol on the screen. "This is that symbol right there, a demonic emblem" he pointed at the same symbol on the artifact. "If you'd like I can do some research for the item's meaning."
"This isn't, I mean it can't be, it's not even close to anything I know," the linguist was, once more, at a loss for words.
"That's because it's not from Earth, it came from the demon's place of origin," Giles explained.
"But why haven't I come across anything like this before?"
"Actually you probably have, but didn't recognize it so put it aside to decipher at a later time."
"Like I did with these artifacts and more; there's so many of them I'll never catch up," Daniel groused, took off his glasses and rubbed his face thinking of the amount of work ahead of him.
"Uh, Danny," Jack interrupted him from his thoughts, "remember Giles was the Watcher of the Slayer of vampires and demons; he's got all sorts of information on things you don't know about. Maybe you and Ripper should have a little talk. I'm thinking your department might benefit from having him on staff. If you want a new job that is, Ripper. You two talk. I'll take the kids into town and get you all some new clothes. This is a conversation that's gonna take a while," Jack offered and Xander stood up letting the two men sit and have an in depth conversation about things Daniel had heard of but dismissed as folklore or explained away in other manners.
Xander roused Willow from bed and the three took Jack's truck into town.
"So, colonel huh? I was in the military once, sort of," Xander announced just a few minutes into the ride, Willow, sandwiched between the two men, stayed silent.
"Colonel, yeah, and what do you mean 'sort of'?"
"Well, uh, you knew Giles in his Ripper days, so you know about Ethan Rayne?"
"Real pompous self serving prick?"
"Yep, that's him. He came into Sunnydale to 'have a little fun' and decided to run a costume shop for Halloween one year, only we didn't know anything about his involvement until after. He cursed the costumes causing them to turn the wearer into whatever the costume was."
"I was a ghost," Willow whispered.
"And a wonderful ghost you were too, Will," Xander said patting her hand, glad to see she was listening. "She became a ghost, and I became a sharpshooter in the Army, complete with combat training, munitions, everything. After it was over I kept all of the knowledge. It's faded a bit over the years, but most of it's still there."
"So are you gonna sign up for the real thing, now that you've left Sunnydale?"
"I haven't really thought about the future yet. Everything just happened and I need to get my head on straight before making any serious life choices like that. Also the missing eye causes issues with depth of field."
Jack nodded in understanding, "Yeah I was gonna ask about the eye thing, how it happened and all, but I thought you might not appreciate that. But you know, there are lots of things you can do in the service that the depth of field issue won't effect. As for getting your head on straight before making life choices, it's a good plan. Took me a while to look past the moment when I lost my son. I still think about him all the time, but with a little help from an 'entity' I was able to start looking toward the future. You two kids impress me. Really. I can see you two will help each other through this."
This actually quieted Xander for a while, he took Willow's hand in his, squeezing it tightly and smiled as he thought about other things they helped each other through.