Disclaimer: Buffy et co belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy; the Stargate folk are property of MGM.
Author’s Notes: This was supposed to be a short FFA, and then it turned into this. I have neither apologies nor explanations. Anyway, give a special shout-out to the lovely amathela, who betaed this for your entertainment. Mistakes are definitely not her fault. Questions, comments and reviews are adored.
Graham and Cassie Take a Trip
or, Fun With Aliens and Demons
All Graham Miller had wanted was a quiet vacation in Italy. He’d had a very close call in Siberia, and only Sam’s quick work with a knife had kept him from losing his left arm. It was due to come out of the sling in another two weeks. In the meanwhile, he was wandering around Rome, visiting churches and stocking up on holy water.
He was enjoying dinner at an outdoor cafe when a call came in on his mission phone.
“Miller speaking,” he said shortly. If Riley was paging him, the situation must be desperate. Riley and Sam had loaded him onto the plane, laughing and teasing him unmercifully, with strict orders not to even think
about work until after he’d had the sling off for more than a week.
“Agent Miller?” the voice on the other end questioned, before adding the verbal code that told Graham the speaker was authorized military personnel. It wasn’t Riley, Sam or anyone else from the Initiative, so something tense in Graham’s stomach relaxed.
It shouldn’t have, but he wouldn’t figure that out for another hour and ten minutes.
“Yes.” He left the ‘sir’ off. He was in a public place so there was no way of telling who was eavesdropping, and besides, he was on vacation.
“Sorry to interrupt your vacation,” the voice said, not sounding very sorry, “but you’ve been reassigned.” Okay, it had been a nice break while it lasted. “There’s a civilian who needs an escort and bodyguard. That’s you.”
“Excuse me, sir,” Graham interrupted. “I was injured on my last job, and will not be able to adequately fulfill the duties of a bodyguard.”
“That shouldn’t be an issue,” the voice said stiffly—Graham could practically hear the ‘who are you to second guess me’ the speaker swallowed.
If there was one thing Graham had learned from the Initiative, it was that sometimes soldiers had to question their superiors. The Initiative’s current incarnation actively encouraged it, outside of actual combat situations. He had forgotten how different it was in the regular Army.
“There won’t be any actual danger, so your injury is irrelevant,” the dispatcher said. “The civilian, Cassandra Fraiser, is a 19 year old archaeology student seeing the sites around the city. She’s the adopted niece of a general who heads a top secret project, and something happened at home. The general is a mother hen type and insists that her escort back to the states have sufficient security clearance. You are the only person within a 50 mile radius with both clearance and field experience and the only person within a 100 miles who isn’t already on assignment. Therefore you
are taking Cassie home. Do you have any further questions?” The tone of voice implied that there had better not be.
Graham mentally shrugged. It sounded easy enough. “No, sir,” he said.
Forty-five minutes later, Graham was attempting to locate one girl in a sea of faces, using only a grainy picture sent to his phone. It was not going well. He’d found the museum her class tour was supposed to be at, and he’d even found her classmates, but somehow he wasn’t seeing her.
Finally, he spotted her on the edge of the crowd looking at a statue inscribed with ancient Egyptian letters. Graham couldn’t read it himself, but it paid in his line of work to at least recognize the various languages classical curses tended to crop up in. He ghosted up behind the girl.
“Cassandra Fraiser,” he said rather than asked. “Your Uncle Jack needs you to come home.”
The girl turned annoyed but wary green eyes on him. “And?” she asked.
“Code words dog charlie zero niner, I’m a little teapot and I like to party like it’s 1999,” Graham repeated obediently. She nodded, looking less wary but still annoyed. “I’m Agent Graham Miller, ma’am, and I’m escorting you to Prague where you’ll be met by a team standing by with transportation to your final destination.”
“Do you know what’s going on?” the civilian asked, perhaps too calmly. “Because if Jack’s testing security protocols again, I’m going to kill him. And maybe you too for good measure.”
“Haven’t the foggiest,” Graham admitted. It wasn’t his problem, either, and if HQ had a problem with his attitude then they could not
ask injured demon specialists to babysit their civilians in the future.
“I need to make some excuse to my teacher,” the civilian said. Graham weighed his orders for immediate extraction with the mulish expression on the teenager’s face, battled briefly against instincts that told him to Always obey teenage girls in combat situations! Always!
, lost, and nodded his agreement.
The girl blinked in surprise, then nodded firmly to cover her lapse of control. She walked confidently through the crowd toward a round man in horn-rimmed glasses and started speaking to him in a low, earnest voice. That wasn’t what caught Graham’s attention, though. What worried him was the way that three or four people seemed to shift their attention from various works of art to observe his new charge’s movements.
“Damn,” Graham whispered under his breath. Looked like this wasn’t going to be a milk run after all.
Cassie wrapped up her conversation with her professor and started back towards Graham. He stepped between her and the two observers from behind, then hustled her around a corner and away from the third one’s view. The potential fourth watcher lost his line of sight when Graham ducked them into a room full of ancient weaponry.
“I spotted some watchers,” Graham said in brief explanation as he pulled her rapidly down a corridor towards the exit. “We’re going to need to move fast once we get outside; the surveillance team probably radioed ahead when they lost sight of us.”
“All right,” the girl said, not quite short of breath at the pace he was setting. “Let me guess: the rest of your team is waiting outside, right, and when we get to the front they’ll attack from behind as a distraction while we escape.”
“That would be a good plan, ma’am,” Graham admitted. “Except my team’s in Guatemala. It’s just you and me.”“What?!”
“I said, my team’s in Guatemala,” the lucky bastards,
“so it’s just you and me. We can’t rely on any outside help until we reach the team in Prague. That means we need to run hard and fast once we hit daylight.”
Cassie pulled up abruptly, forcing Graham to stop and turn around. The wary look was back on her face. “The SGC never sends people into the field alone,” she said fiercely, backing up. “Whoever you are, you just blew it. I should have known something was wrong when you let me talk to my professor instead of insisting we leave immediately.”
With that, the girl took off in a new direction, heading towards a room full of people looking at clay tablets and pots from Ming Dynasty China. Graham swore under his breath and ran after her. He lost her in a room of tableaus showing Qing Dynasty China but caught sight of her again next to a life sized display of Peasants Working in a Field of Rice. He’d gotten ahead of her somehow, which turned out to be a good thing because now that her initial panic had faded, civilian Cassie Fraiser was examining the area behind her with the same professional skill he’d come to expect from teenage girls. Graham took advantage of her misplaced focus and crept up behind her. He reached out to grab her in a shoulder lock—a painful but mostly harmless method of controlling his wayward charge, at least until they were safely outside.
And then three things happened at once.
The first was that Graham felt the sudden painful sensation of stitches tearing in his arm. All the running around hadn’t done his injury any good, and he’d stupidly reached out with the wrong hand in spite of his sling.
The second was that Graham caught sight of one of Cassie Fraiser’s watchers, standing squarely in the middle of the entrance to the exhibit. A quick glance behind confirmed the presence of another member of the surveillance team blocking the room’s only other exit.
Thirdly, a tall, solid looking guy who Graham had dismissed as maybe-a-demon-but-probably-not-related-to-the-current-situation-and-therefore-not-my-problem proved he was
going to be Graham’s problem after all by ripping off his silly tourist baseball cap, revealing a weird gold tattoo on his forehead and shouting, “Cower, human scum, before the wrath of Luc’al, the First Prime of the goddess Kishar!”
Graham could have coped with any one of these problems; with difficulty, he might even have dealt with two of them. But all three together? Graham was no oracle, but even he could read portents that obvious: the Powers That Be were gearing up to have some serious fun with him. This was going to be a very bad job.
It was exactly one hour and ten minutes after he’d received the phone call.