Enemies and Allies
~ Jack ~
“She’s a witch.”
Nope, doesn’t sound any less insane no matter how many times I say it, and I’m pretty sure it never will.
If I hadn’t seen her fix the house, I don’t think I would have believed it. Witches, demon, and other supernatural nasties are real… and Carter has known about it for years
. At this point, I’m really not sure what bothers me more. Actually, all
of this bothers me. So much so, that I can’t stand to be in the same room as the rest of them. I’m standing on the veranda out the front of the house – alone – and I wish like hell I could just get into my car and drive home.
Finding out that Carter is in love with another woman was shocking. Finding out her girlfriend is pregnant… Well, that was a little more shocking. But finding out Willow is a witch…That
had to take the cake.
Of course, it didn’t end there. Oh no (we couldn't have things be that
simple)! Carter didn’t just find any old witch to fall in love and make a nice little life with. Nope. If Willow wasn’t exaggerating – and given the way she caused a damn earthquake, I seriously doubt it – then she is probably the most powerful witch this side of the equator.
If not the whole damn world.
I’m used to things being a little bit strange. We all are, but this… this…Christ! If I keep thinking about this, my head is going to explode.
This is not
how I imagined today going.
I’m… I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to accept this. Carter, Rupert, and the rest of Willow’s friends all assured me that Willow’s a great person. That she’s a good witch, but…she’s powerful. So powerful that her friends -- if I'm not mistaken -- get a little nervous around her when she's losing it.
Of all the people Carter had to fall in love with…
And isn’t that
the voice I so very much didn’t want to hear. If I didn’t think she would cause an earthquake if I ignored her, I probably wouldn’t turn around. Willow Rosenberg is not
the person I want to be seeing right now. However…
Oh so reluctantly, I turn around and face the redhead. It’s almost amusing that she looks so damn nervous. She could probably cause more damage than Linea, Destroyer of Worlds, all without even raising her little pinkie, and she looks like she’s just about to faint at the sight of me.
“Willow,” I greet her with a tight smile and I have to fight the urge to ask her not
to turn me into a frog. Hey, my knowledge of witches and witchcraft is from what my mom read to me when I was a kid and that time I watched the Wizard of Oz with Teal’c.
So, am I looking at Glenda or the Wicked Witch of the West?
She holds out a beer towards me. “I thought you might like something to drink.”
I stare at the beer, not sure if it's a peace offering or if she wants to get me roaring drunk. To be honest, I'm not sure which I prefer. "Thanks." I take the beer and uncap it, hoping like hell she leaves. Maybe I’ll get lucky and all she wants is to make sure I didn’t go thirsty.
I've never been a very lucky man. “Is there something I can help you with?” I ask her in a tone I use with new recruits at the SGC. It intimidates the hell out of them, enough to make them leave me alone, and I’m hoping it’ll have the same effect here. I don’t want to have any conversations with her, not yet. Maybe not ever.
Carter, on the other hand, I would like to have a number
of conversations with. I still have a hell of a lot of questions – namely how Willow knew Jacob knew she was different. The fact that it was Selmak who actually sensed Willow makes me a little nervous, because that would in turn mean that Willow sensed Selmak. It's the one topic we didn't cover inside while Willow told us the truth about herself. When I tried to ask Willow about it, she refused to answer. Which, to me, could mean two things. One, she didn't want to answer the question or two, she didn't want to answer the question in front of her friends.
If it was the second, then they're in a world of trouble. There's only one reason Willow wouldn't want to talk about why she knew something was different about Jake in front of her friends, and it's all classified and confidential.
"Is there something you can help me with?" she repeats, looking flustered. "Um, no. Not really, no."
To my complete and utter relief she turns back to the door.
To my complete and utter horror she stops before she reaches it.
What did I say? Am I not the world's unluckiest man?
"Colonel O'Neill…" she begins, her face going a little red.
Just to be safe, I reach out with my free hand and grab the railing on the veranda. "Yes?"
"Is she in trouble?"
Okay, that's it! I'm going to go on record to say that Willow Rosenberg officially confuses the shit out of me. Willow admitted inside that we couldn't hurt her, at least not physically, and here she is asking if Carter is in trouble! The kid regularly teleports to Sunnydale, California to help protect the Hellmouth! Now, I might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but didn't that mean she could teleport anywhere
? And, while she was at it, teleport anyone out of anyplace? Okay, sure, if we wanted to take Carter into custody away
from Willow, we could take her off-world… but then Willow could level the mountain.
This kid had
to be a few fries short of a happy meal! There is no trouble she couldn't get Carter out of. Still, I'm not about to admit to her that I realise that. "That depends."
Willow's face pales. "On what?"
"On your explanation," I tell her. "When I first asked how you knew Jacob knew you were different, you said 'I knew the same way you knew or rather General Carter knew'. Want to elaborate on that for me?"
To my surprise, she doesn't hesitate before answering, "I knew because Sam can sense me, too."
I raise my eyebrows. "She can?"
Willow nods as she moves away from the door, heading towards the swing sitting in the corner of the veranda. "My magic creates a 'buzz', as Xander calls it, with people like Sam and General Carter. With Sam, she only really feels the buzz after I do a major spell. With her dad, it turns out, I just have to be in the same room as him."
Really? "And by 'people like Sam and General Carter' you mean?"
She hesitates and I instantly go on edge. I know what she's doing. She's thinking up a lie to tell me. "People with Tok'ra or Goa'uld Symbiotes."
Okay, maybe not. Jesus! Why
didn't she lie? "I'm gonna kill Carter." The words come out before I realise how utterly insane
it is for me to say that in front of Willow.
I'm going to spend the rest of my life with Miss Piggy as my one true love.
"It's not her fault," Willow tells me, her voice deceptively calm.
"Oh?" I find that extremely hard to believe. "And whose fault is it?"
"Xander, Dawn, and Anya's," she confesses. "And, in some respects, mine."
There really is no one on this planet more confusing than this woman. Really, there isn't. "Care to explain that a little?"
"Well, it's Xander's fault because the spell was his idea. It's Dawn and Anya's fault because they performed the spell. Xander and magic really don't work all that well together." Her face grows serious. Well, more serious than it already was. "It's my fault because everything they did was because of me."
I freeze. "Spell? What spell?"
"Xander asked Dawn and Anya to perform a truth spell on Sam," she tells me.
Holy crap. "They did a spell on Sam to force her to tell the truth?" I'm going to kill them. All of them. "Why? Why the hell
would they do that?"
"Because she's military and, I'm sorry, but for us the military isn't always one of the good guy. The US Government has known about demons, and about us, for a long, long time. The first time we really had to deal with the military they created a human-demon Frankenstein-like soldier who killed humans, demons, and soldiers alike. The military, or whoever was running the show, were also using their own soldiers as guinea pigs, pumping them full of drugs which made them super strong. Xander thought she was one of the drugged up soldiers. I think he thought they sent her to me watch over me or seduce me, maybe to get me to work for them or something. I don't know. Xander never really explained it fully and I didn't push him."
"Why would he think that?"
"Because after a vampire bit Sam, it went wild like it was on PCP. It almost killed us all."
"Carter was bit
by a vampire
?" I don't believe it. I can't
. "Janet would have picked up something like that." I think I need to sit down.
"I healed the wound," she says simply.
I take a deep breath and fight the urge to run inside and strangle Xander. I can not
believe Carter is still hanging around with Willow and her friends after that
. Okay, a part of me can actually understand why they would do it. The SGC would probably have done something similar in their position, but… Wait a second! "So you're telling me that there are spells that can do that? Force people to tell you something against their will?"
She nods. "There are spells for almost everything."
My heart pounds in my chest as a thought occurs to me. It's possible… Holy shit. If there are spells that can force people to reveal something they'd ordinarily die before sharing, then it's possible…
"She's not under a spell, Colonel O'Neill."
Why? Why am I always surrounded by intelligent people? How the hell
did she know what I was thinking? I stare at her, trying to decide the best way to handle this. Since I suck at diplomacy, I decide to go with the only tact I know. Earthquakes be damned! "I'm sure that's true, but..."
I'm not that sure. Hell, I'm not sure of anything anymore. Two weeks ago, I would have sworn blind that I knew my teammates better than anyone. I'd have bet my life on it. Now, I find out my former 2IC has been having a lesbian affair for years
without ever telling any of us. I also find out that said former 2IC had been forced to tell 'civilians' about our program which, again, she kept from me. Two actions that, for the Sam Carter I knew, would have been hideously out of character.
How the hell could I not
think she is under some kind of spell?
"You think I've got her under some kind of spell. You think I'm forcing her to be with me."
The look on her face causes me to falter. Actually, it causes me to feel like shit. She looks devastated but, damn it, there's a chance it's true! "I'm not asking this to hurt you. It's just… Carter and I…" Christ, Carter and I… Why the hell did I say that? What Carter and I did and didn't have is not something I want to talk to Willow about. This isn't what this is about. It's not.
"Were close," she finishes for me. "I know. After the spell, after she told us the truth, she talked about you guys more frequently. Sometimes, it was all she could talk about. You, her team, the SGC, her work. She loves you all very much."
"Not enough to tell us the truth." Okay, I did not
mean to say that out loud, but it's the truth. And if it isn't, that means there was another reason Carter didn't tell us the truth. "Did you put a spell on her?" I have to know.
She shakes her head. "Colonel O'Neill, do you really think that if I had Sam under my spell it would have taken so long for her to tell you the truth? Why would I live for four years as second fiddle?" Willow demands. "If I had Sam under my spell she would not have left my bed four years ago. She would have left the SGC and lived out the rest of her life as my dutiful wife. She would have told all of you the truth immediately, and if any of you didn't like it, then I would have put you all under my spell as well. Why wouldn't I? You can do that with magic, control people, make them forget fights. Make things easier
. But she didn't tell you. She didn't put me first. You
were her first priority, the most important thing in her life. She didn't tell you because what we had wasn't as important as what she had with you!" She's standing by the time she finishes and breathing hard, hand on her stomach.
What am I
doing? Well, I'm silently wondering if maybe I should kick myself in the ass because, even though my suspicion is
warranted, I know I've screwed up. I'm also thanking every god imaginable that there's no earthquake. The kid is seriously cut up. There are tears and agony in her eyes and I see for the first time what loving Carter has done to her.
I see fear and pain. Most of all, I see doubt.
She doubts Carter's commitment, her feelings… all because she didn't tell us about her.
"I'm sorry." I know I should probably say more than that, I just don't know what.
She shakes her head and takes a deep breath, trying to calm herself. "It's what I would have said if I were in your position."
It's right then I wonder just how much Carter told her about the two of us. On second thought, I'm not sure I want to know.
"You need to understand, Sam didn't keep the truth from you because she didn't trust you or didn't love you. She knew you would still love her regardless of what my gender is and she knew you would have lied to protect her second." She gives me a sad smile. "She didn't tell you was because she was scared."
I can't stop myself from asking… "Of what?"
"If she told you, then what she and I were… What we had -- we have -- would become real. She wasn't ready for it to be real."
It's one of my life's missions to avoid conversations like this. I hate
this sort of conversation. If I could live the rest of my lives without having another one I would die an extremely happy man. In order for that to happen, however, I would have to be a lucky man… and I've already said my piece on that
More than anything, I want to walk away, but I can't… and the reason has nothing to do with magic and everything to do with Carter. As much as I'm pissed as hell at her, at Willow, hell at all
of them, she's still Carter. Sam. I could no more turn my back on Willow than I could on Sha're.
"She's not under a spell, is she?" I know she's not. Willow loves Sam, I can see that. I think everyone here can see how she feels about Carter. The kid does not have a problem wearing her heart on her sleeve.
I sigh and take a long swig of beer. It's not that I really wanted Carter to be the victim of a spell, it was just… Well, it was easier in those few seconds when I thought…
"For what it's worth, only Xander and I know the truth about the SGC. Dawn and Giles have no idea, and we'll keep it that way. And if you're really worried, I can give you the numbers of some marines -- good
marines -- who can vouch for us."
"I'd appreciate that," I tell her.
We stand in silence for a few minutes, Willow swinging slightly and me wishing like hell I had more than one beer. It's when I'm thinking going back inside, to remedy that problem, when she speaks. "Colonel O'Neill… Is Sam in trouble?"
I close my eyes at the question and take a deep breath. The truth of it all is… Carter is in trouble. It doesn't matter, not really, that Carter revealed classified information without a choice. What matters is that she kept it a secret for however long it was. What also matters is that Carter's sleeping with a witch so powerful that her friends are scared of her. Hell, I'm
a scared of her.
If I go to the brass with this, like I'm supposed to, then everyone is in a world of trouble. If I don't go to the brass, and things go to hell down the road, then whatever happens -- whatever Willow does with the information she has -- will be my fault.
So, in effect, it's my decision if Sam's in trouble. I have to choose what Willow and I become -- a choice between enemies and allies.
I sigh and open my eyes. "You're not lying when you say only you and Xander know about what we do, right?" She shakes her head. "Good. Don't say a word about it to anyone, EVER, and that includes mentioning it to Jacob, Daniel or Murray."
"I won't, I swear."
I nod. "The fewer people who know Sam told you classified information, the easier it will be to keep it quiet. If more people find out, I won't be able to protect her."
"You're not going to tell anyone?" she asks, stunned.
"I don't trust you," I tell her honestly. "But Carter..." She had saved my life -- the entire planet -- more times than I can count and, in spite of what's going on here, I still trust Carter. She wouldn't do anything to jeopardise the SGC or the planet. She's just not that type of person. "If she's fine with you knowing the truth, then that's good enough for me." That didn't meant I'm not going to call those marines Willow mentioned. I intend to, as soon as I get back to base.
The smile Willow gives me is almost blinding.
When she takes a step towards me, like she's about to hug me, I take a step back. There's not much else to say to one another. We've said all that needs to be said. I'm sure everyone inside will disagree with me, but as far as I'm concerned we're done with confessions, admissions, and deceit. Nothing else Willow -- or anyone else -- can say will make me truth her more than I do right now. The only thing that will make me trust her is time, the report I'm going to get from those marines, and the world's most thorough background check.
And since I can't do any of that right now, I'd rather end this conversation. "I think we should head back inside."
She nods and starts heading towards the door. Just before she reaches it, I touch her shoulder. "Willow?"
If anyone ever asks me about what I'm about to say, I'm going to say the stress of it all caused me to crack. "She loves you." Willow's eyes widen in surprise. No doubt because it's me saying it, rather than the words I'm actually saying. "As long as I've known Carter, the most important thing in her life has been her career and the SGC. Actually, I think her career and the SGC were
her life. I know it took four years, but she chose you." Over us, I don't add. "She wouldn't have done that if she didn't love you."
Tears spill over onto her cheeks. "Colonel O'Neill…"
"Jack," I tell her. It's wrong for Carter's significant other to call me anything else.
She sniffles and wipes her eyes. "Thank you, Jack."
I give her an awkward smile and gesture to the doorway. "Don't we have food in there somewhere?"
I'm still not sure exactly what's going to happen with everything, if I'll regret not going to the SGC with this, but if I have to choose between enemies and allies…Between losing Carter forever or keeping her forever.
The choice is really not that difficult.