Ye-ah. Anyway, this is my first time posting on this website, so forgive any weirdness or miss catagorizing. Read, review, and be honest!
Jack O’Neill sighed wearily and knocked back another shot of whiskey without even blinking. Despite having been in the bar for the past two and a half hours, he was nowhere near being drunk. Of course, that was due to the fact he was more interested in brooding than drinking at this very moment. The beers where just there to keep his hands busy and provide a pleasant buzz.
It was the only way he could think right now, anyway.
Sure, they’d done their duty and defeated the Ori, once again saving the galaxy from mass destruction and itself, but that was beside the point. It was over, done, but she wasn’t here. Not like she would have been anyway. They’d had their chance, and had watched it fly by with the years and stars. Once, he would have chased her, now he just wallowed in his self pity.
He didn’t do that often.
No, this was a special occasion. Being here, in DC, gave him nothing to do to occupy his mind. Paperwork would forever dull his senses rather than sharpen. Thus, here we was, sitting in a near vacant bar, listening to heartbreak music and brooding into an empty shot class. What a cliché. That’s what he was now, a cliché, a statistic.
I really need something to do, Jack mused to himself, eyes fixed on the mahogany bar. It was coated to be water proof and he watched the reflection of the ceiling shift with the bartender’s shadow. All of this thinking is going to drive me into an early grave. Not that I wasn’t destined for that anyway, he thought morosely. Geez, I need to get up and get the hell out of here before I drive myself into depression.
He sighed again, blowing air out through his mouth as he stood up from his stool. He stretched his cramped muscles, wincing with the ache. Time was, he could sit still for hours without feeling a twinge. Now, his bones ached all the way down to the marrow. Turning, Jack made to leave, only to walk right into a black t-shirt clad chest. He let out an “oomph” and backed up into his bar stool.
“Watch where you’re goin’, f’cryin’ out loud!” Jack exclaimed angrily, brown eyes flashing. He was about to say something more when he caught sight of just who he’d run into.
It was a young man, younger than Daniel, with a long black leather duster and glow-in-the-dark blond hair. The man had striking cheek bones and blue eyes that seemed to bore into your very soul. His eyes belied his young appearance. Jack knew those eyes, they were warrior’s eyes, eyes that shone of painful sacrifice.
“’Pologies, mate.” The man responded, blue eyes shining with mirth for a brief moment, before going flat.
“S’okay.” Jack responded, thrown by this stranger. He blinked and shook his head to clear it. “Name’s Jack,” He introduced himself, settling carefully back onto his stool, “what’s yours?”
“Not much in the mood for company these days, pet, but thanks for the offer.” The man responded, sitting onto the stool next to Jack. He leaned heavily on his elbows, hunched over the bar, eyes locked onto the shiny varnish.
“Wasn’t offering.” Jack responded mildly, not in the least put out by the stranger’s behavior. He’d given and received worse wordlessly. He turned on his stool until he was facing the bar. “You seem like you need it though, buddy.”
“Maybe you’re deaf,” The man turned his head and shot Jack a venomous glare, “thought I said to piss off.”
Jack smirked back at him, unperturbed. He shrugged noncommittally. “Thought you just didn’t want company. It doesn’t matter to me, I just thought I could help you. I know what you’re goin’ through.”
“You don’t even know me, you stupid sod!” The man exclaimed, his British accent adding to his response. “How could you possibly understand?”
“I’ve lost people in combat, too.” Jack responded simply, finding his hands to be infinitely interesting. His looked up, brown eyes shuttered. “I know what it’s like to loose those closest to you and know that they’re never comin’ back.”
The man seemed to suddenly loose his anger at this statement. He slumped even further over the bar. He sighed noisily. “Guess you can undertsand, then.”
Jack simply nodded. They sat in a comfortable silence for a long moment before O’Neill decided to break it. “Who’d you loose?”
“Everyone.” He responded bluntly, blue eyes closing against the pain for a brief moment, before opening to their blank stare once again. He turned his lackluster eyes onto Jack. “Who’d you loose, mate?”
“Everyone and someone.” O’Neill replied cryptically. He eyed the man calculatingly. “You never told me your name.”
“Spike.” He answered simply, taking a swig of the beer the bartender had just placed in front of him.
“Spike, huh?” Jack said incredulously. “Nickname?”
“Sure.” Spike answered with a shrug. He took a long drag from his beer, finishing it off in one go. He pushed up from his stool and laid a ten on the counter. “Be seein’ ya, Jack.”
“Bye.” O’Neill said when the doors to the bar swung silently shut. He too pushed up off his stool and walked out the door into the lonely DC night.
Jack stuffed his hands into his coat pockets in an attempt to ward off the late night cold. It didn’t do much. He hunched his shoulders in and trudged onwards towards his apartment. He lived a few blocks from the Hi-Hat bar, but that didn’t stop him from walking there in the biting cold. In fact, he liked it, lived for it. The cold drove thoughts of everyone out of his mind.
Everyone who had forgotten about him.
His jaw clenched at the thought, making him walk faster, anger and hurt fueling his steps. They hadn’t even called him after the defeat of the Ori. His old team wasn’t his anymore, his friends weren’t his anymore. They were Mitchell’s. The thought still stung, even after a year of knowing. He’d been here flying a useless desk for three years and in all that time, they’d only talked five times. He could clearly remember every aspect of the conversations.
It was why he even went to the Hi-Hat anyway. If only for a few brief, beer-soaked moments of human connection. He’d never thought he would crave this, always thought that SG-1 would be there with him until the day he died along side them in the fight against the Goa’uld. My, how things have changed, he thought bitterly. He shook his head and sighed roughly, trying to force his hands even deeper into his pockets.
Well, his life certainly--suddenly, out of nowhere, a body plowed into O’Neill, knocking him to the hard, cold pavement and painfully jarring his bones. A low growl echoed in his ears as Jack tried to push his attacker off himself. He squirmed, dislodging the other man’s legs and an arm. O’Neill struck out with his elbow, connecting with his attacker’s nose with a satisfying crack.
He scrambled wildly to his feet, breathing rapid and pulse pounding in his ears. He hadn’t felt so a live in years. His adrenaline focused eyes landed on his attacker, getting a brief, but frightening glimpse before he was slammed up against the rough brick wall. Jack felt the air leave his lungs in a rush, forcing him to gasp for breath.
That wasn’t the only reason to gasp.
His attacker’s face was lit ghoulishly by the street light, and suddenly, O’Neill wished it weren’t. The sight sent pure panic straight through his chest to settle in a fiery coil in his gut. Ridges, hideous and pronounced, served as the thing’s eyebrows. It’s yellow eyes glared back at him from slightly sunken in eye sockets. The crowning feature to the entire macabre spectacle though, were the fangs and deformed sharp teeth in between. The creature’s snarl twisted it’s face into something even more malevolent than it would have been.
O’Neill shifted into panic mode.
He brought his knee up and connected with the creature’s groin and shoved with all his might, throwing his weight into the action. He stumbled, tripping over the thing’s legs, but nonetheless managing to run. His feet pounded onto the pavement, his panting breaths echoed in his over-sensitized ears. For one, short, shining moment, he thought he’d gotten away.
The cold dead weight of the thing slammed into his back, knocking them both to the ground in a furious tangle of bodies and limbs. Jack kicked out with his legs, getting in a strong hit to the face. This only made the creature snarl louder and tighten it’s grip on his hair. Shoulda gotten that hair cut, Jack thought wildly, thoughts and pulse running a mile a minute.
“Think you can get away, do ya?” The thing growled menacingly into O’Neill’s ear.
Jack struggled, but he was well and truly pinned to the concrete sidewalk. “Yeah, the thought had crossed my mind.”
The thing chuckled darkly, sending shivers down Jack’s spine. He struggled harder. “Fear makes the blood taste even sweeter.”
“Blood?” Jack blurted. He snapped his head back viciously hoping to hit the creature in it’s forehead. He failed. Suddenly, his brain pieced together just exactly what was pinning him to the pavement. “F’cryin’ out loud! You sleazy mosquito, lemme go!”
“Took ya long enough, human.” The thing all but purred in his ear. It bent his neck to the side, exposing his jugular. “Too bad you won’t be able to tell anyone.”
“We’ll see about that!” Jack grunted, defiantly bucking his hips in a last, desperate attempt to free himself.
The creature laughed, the chilling sound freezing O’Neill in his tracks. So this was it, then? “Yeah, we will won’t we?”
There was no breath against his neck, but Jack could feel a cold that only death could bring inching ever closer to his source of life. He struggled harder, his instincts screaming at him to run, to flee, to kill the bastard, to do something! He bucked again, hands scrabbling at the pavement for anything that could be used as a weapon. He came up painfully short.
“Dinner’s on me, mate.” Suddenly, there was a thump, followed by a shocked gasp, a shower of dust, then the weight that had been pinning Jack to the floor was miraculously gone.
Jack panted, chest heaving as he flung himself onto his back to catch sight of his timely rescuer. His eyes went wide as he saw him. It was the man from the bar, Spike. O’Neill chuckled, shock making him numb and adrenaline setting his nerves on fire. He slowly pushed to his feet, eyeing Spike all the while.
“Fancy seein’ you here, yeah?” Spike said after an uncomfortable pause.
“Thanks.” Jack tossed him a grateful half-smile. He bounced on the balls of his feet for a moment, hands lodged firmly in his pockets. “That was a-”
“Don’t finish that thought, mate.” Spike interrupted harshly. “You won’t like where it leads.”
“I already know where it leads.” Jack shot back, eyes flashing, jaw set stubbornly. “That was a vampire. Damn thing nearly had me for a midnight snack. What else should I be worried about bumping me off in the night?”
“Things.” Spike answered shortly, not at all in the mood to be answering questions. “Look, pet, you should just head on home, yeah? Too many dark ‘n scaries roamin’ these parts at night. End up dead, you will.”
“Maybe.” Jack replied unflinchingly. He chuckled hollowly, brown eyes locking with Spike’s. “I’m used to saving the world. What’s the difference if it’s here or in the great unknown?”
Spike’s eyes widened in shock for a brief moment before his mask was shoved firmly back in place. “You have no idea what goes on under the moon, Jack. Don’t think for a moment that a human like you could-”
“What would you know?” O’Neill snapped angrily, taking a threatening step forward. He glared at Spike with an intensity that would have sent a lesser man to their knees.
“Everythin’.” Spike responded with false calm. Jack could see the storm brewing behind Spike’s cold blue eyes. “I lost my friends, my family, to this world. Not ‘bout to set some stupid innocent up to die. Not again.”
“I don’t think you have a choice.” Jack’s voice was deceptively even. The two stared at each other for a long moment, locked in a battle of wills. Jack broke the tense silence. “I’ll do it on my own, with or without you, Spike. I swore to defend this world, it’s time I got back on the path.”
“All roads eventually lead to hell.” A new voice said, stepping out of the shadow of the alley.
Spike stood frozen, rooted to the spot in absolute astonishment. There, standing illuminated by the sulfur street lamp, was Angel. His hair had grown, falling just over his ears and curling at his eyebrows. He was thin, almost dangerously so, and dressed in ratty looking clothing. His brown eyes were as expressive as they had always been and his expression guardedly closed. He crossed his arms tightly across his chest and regarded Spike and Jack for a long moment.
“Who are you?” Jack finally asked, the curiosity getting to him.
“You-you’re-but-I saw-” Spike stuttered, unsure of what to say. He couldn’t wrap his mind around what his eyes were telling him.
“I didn’t die.” Angel responded simply. He shrugged, trying to seem casual, but failing miserably.
“The hell you didn’t.” Surprisingly, it was Jack who said this. He gave Angel a calculating look. “I know dead-then-alive when I see it. Been there enough times should. I could write a book on the subject.”
Spike frowned over at him. “You sound, smell and look alive to me.” He shook his head and turned his focus to Angel. “This is--insane! How can you be bloody standin’ here? I saw you dust, Peaches! And don’t try to lie, I know what I saw!”
“Dust?” Jack inquired, his instincts screaming at him. “As in vampire dust?”
“Yes.” Angel confirmed just as Spike shouted, “No!”
The brit glared over at Angel. “You stupid git! Now what’s he gonna think? He was just attacked by a vampire!”
“Shit.” Jack said simply, not sure what else he could say. He blinked, confused beyond anything he had ever been. “Why am I still alive?”
“I don’t kill people.” Angel responded tiredly. He sighed heavily, shoulder’s sagging. “I save them, or at least, I did.”
“What do you mean, you “did”?” Spike demanded, eyes flashing and anger flaring hotly. “Don’t tell me I’ve been lookin’ for nuthin’ mate, otherwise things are gonna get nasty.”
“We failed!” Angel exclaimed suddenly, making both Jack and Spike jump. “They died and we failed to bring down Wolfram and Hart, Spike! I was never mean to-”
“Meant to what, give up?” Jack interjected sharply, feeling offense even though he’d never met this man before in his life. “Heroes don’t just give up, even if you fail. Believe me, I know. They die and you scream, swear and cry, but that doesn’t change anything. You still have to carry on because even though they’re dead, everyone else is still alive. You fight for them, even thought they die. You fight because
they die! You don’t just quit!”
“What would you know?” Angel demanded angrily, eyes blazing. His jaw clenched and his hands formed tightly curled fists at his side. “You have no earthly clue
“I lost my team! I was left in a prison and tortured! I watched the chopper fly away with my betrayer! I lost my son! I know!” Jack shouted, gesturing wildly at Angel, all reason having fled from his mind. “I watched as those bastards slaughtered my men time and time again, but I still fought. I had too!”
Angel was silent, embarrassment coloring his features and causing him to look away from Jack. He could feel the hurt radiating off the other man, could feel the despair, the pain. He’d felt it enough to recognize it. This man had been fighting the good fight longer than he had. He’d been eating rats in sewers when this man was sacrificing everything for everyone who lived. What right did he have to question that?
“I understand you.” Angel said softly after a pregnant pause. “I lost my son, too.” He locked eyes with Jack. “You’re right. We should step back on the path. What else are we here for?”
Yuppers, that's all she wrote, folks. Tell me what ya think!