Two Worlds Colliding
Chapter 5 : Two Worlds Colliding
What Major Jack O’Neill was trying to say was along the lines of “I think there must be some kind of mistake here”, but all he was managing to get out were a few choking noises. Buffy looked on dispassionately as his hands tried to pull her single hand away from his throat. Forced up against the wall of the alley, his feet scrabbled trying to keep himself upright.
Daniel appeared at her side in their field of vision, and waved one hand in front of their faces desperately. “Buffy? Look, I know there’s nothing I can do to stop you, but why on earth are you doing that to Jack? You’ll kill him!”
Buffy smiled. Not a nice smile either, Daniel noticed at the back of his brain. “He thought Sam was a man,” Buffy remarked, almost conversationally, and raised Jack another couple of inches off the floor.
Oh crap, thought Major O’Neill, still frantically trying to get some form of oxygen into his lungs. It was always the little things wasn’t it? “And Willow too,” came the voice of his tormentor. This wasn’t quite how he’d ever thought he’d die. A dark back alley maybe, given all his Special Ops experience, but not in Paris. And not by a beautiful young girl choking him to death.
Suddenly he found that a) he could breathe and b) he was flying through the air. Crashing into the wall on the other side of the alley, he collapsed down onto the ground desperately trying to get air inside himself. Groping for his gun, he swiftly gained another source of pain as a vicious kick knocked it out of his hand.
From his vantage position, he saw it skid over to Daniel’s feet. The archeologist swooped and picked it up. Then swiftly checked and cocked it, pointing towards Jack, taking care not to get Buffy in between him and a clear shot. The ease of those practiced movements almost chilled Jack, as he remembered the shy geek that he’d shared that mission to Abydos with. What the hell had Daniel been doing for the last few years?
A pair of pink heeled boots came into his view, and the woman pulled him upright and out into the broad sunlight in the middle of the alley. “Enjoy the sunlight. It’s the only reason why I haven’t staked you yet.” Staked? Oh double crap – he’d only gone and pissed off the Slayer, hadn’t he? And he’d left Adams at the hotel trying to get information out of the others. Crap crap crap
Lt Adams was at that moment stuck to the ceiling of the Scooby gang’s hotel suite, while Willow and Xander were busy going through his wallet. And making fun of his attempted pick-up lines.
“So at that point, he tried the old ‘gee, it’s nice to hear a fellow American accent here’ line.” the redhead remarked, tipping the wallet upside down over a table.
“No! That went out with the ark, surely! Or it maybe came in with it. Does America count if it wasn’t around during the flood?” said the one-eyed man, riffling through the money with an expert’s eye.
“Oooo.. look – he’s in the US Air Force. Only a Lieutenant though. And America was still around. It’s just no-one had found it yet.” The redhead paused, considering. “Anyway, so then he goes ‘I bet all the boys were flocking around you in high school’”
As the peals of laughter reached his ears, Lt Shaun Adams wasn’t quite sure which was bothering him more – the step by step critique he was hearing from below him, or the inevitable debriefing he was going to get from Major O’Neill later.
“Talk. Now,” said the blonde. “Or I start getting creative.”
For crying out loud?! Couldn’t a man have a moment to get his breath back? Jack glared at her for a very brief moment before realizing that was more than a little counter-productive if he didn’t want to be hit any more. He cleared his throat, and directed his glare towards Daniel instead. “All I wanted was to know how Danny-boy here got back from his um… long trip to Abydos.”
“Abydos?” said Daniel, clearly perturbed. “That’s…. interesting.”
Buffy stalked a little closer to Jack. “Still not saying anything I want to hear about who or what you are. Make with the spillage, ok?”
Jack snorted. “As if I want to piss off a Slayer any more. All I wanted was to find out who’s been messing with MY credit cards. Maybe get something for the wife while I was here.” He felt his bruises gingerly. “Sheesh…. What the hell you people are like once a month, I hate to think about.”
Buffy snarled. Literally. And was just reaching for Jack’s other arm, when Daniel reached out a hand to stop her. “Buffy? That’s Jack all right – you work with someone for seven years, you get to know them. And believe me, that’s his alleged sense of humour.”
Jack stared at him, in mild disbelief. All that sand on Abydos had clearly driven him nuts. “Seven years? Oh, I think I’d remember that.”
Daniel loosened his grasp on the handgun, and straightened his glasses. Turning to face Buffy fully for the first time, he spoke in a matter-of-fact tone “He’s your Earth’s Jack O’Neill. Not the one we came over with.”
Buffy blinked, and Jack could almost see the anger draining out of her. She still looked poised and dangerous though, so sudden movements were still way off the agenda. He just wished he’d paid more attention in Finn’s lectures last year. “Oh. Oh!” Buffy exclaimed, distracting him from his thoughts. “Ah…. In that case, I guess we might owe you a slight apology on the credit card bit.”
Jack just looked at her. Before his eyes, the Slayer was shuffling her feet and looking mightily uncomfortable. “Apologies would be nice, but you know what I really, really want right now is some explanations.” He turned to Daniel, and said in the sweetest, most polite voice he could muster, “Daniel? Is there any remote chance that maybe possibly somebody could let me know what the hell is going on?!”
Meanwhile, at the rear entrance of the hotel, the visiting Colonel Jack O’Neill and his second in command Major Samantha Carter were feeling pretty silly. Willow and Xander had just come to their rooms a few moments ago, and asked them to stick their heads outside the hotel and see if there was anyone there they recognized. Jack had been going stir crazy since he’d found that Buffy and Daniel had left without waiting for him, so he’d agreed immediately.
He snorted inwardly. A man could only take so much techno-babble after all, and the way the redhead and Carter had been geeking out together was starting to send him back to sleep. He wasn’t entirely sure, but he strongly suspected that Xander was also bored by the constant comparison of technology. But then who could tell if an eye was rolling behind that eye patch? He still wasn’t completely sure that the eye patch wasn’t a whole pirate joke on the whole SGC.
The front entrance and foyer had proven fruitless, apart from the manager calling him Major again. Honestly, how hard was it to remember someone’s rank? So he returned to the scene of the previous night’s “incident” with the bins, and hoped to god that Carter wouldn’t say anything.
Sam snuck a look at him out of the corner of her eye, and just couldn’t resist. Sniffing the air loudly, she asked as innocently as possible, “Interesting aroma they have here in Paris, don’t you think, Sir? I wasn’t aware they kept the refuse so close to the hotel.”
That left Jack with just two choices; ignore it completely and pretend that he didn’t understand, or counter-attack with the rat incident. He’d gotten as far as “Carter….” when they were approached by two men. Jack’s jaw almost dropped as he recognized the leader.
“Kawalsky,” he said flatly.
“Right,” commented Jack, ticking off items on his fingers. “You’re a
Slayer rather than The
Slayer, Daniel’s from a parallel Earth where the Stargate just so happens to go to more than one place, your sister’s due to be sacrificed tonight, and there seems to be two of me running around Paris at the moment.”
“Yeah, that’s about the size of it,” Buffy admitted sheepishly. She leaned backwards at the front entrance to the Club Du Morte, and surveyed the exterior. “Hmmm…” she mused, before returning her full attention to the posters by the entrance. “Daniel? There’s something in French here about tonight. Any chance of a quick translation?”
Daniel joined her at the front and peered at the poster. “Um... looks like it’s closed for a private party tonight, although the best… costumed… people turning up will win a free entry inside.”
“Saves the vamps from having to order take-out tonight. BYOHS – bring your own human snack,” remarked Buffy, taking a quick look down the side alley. No… no nice convenient fire escapes. But next door looked possibly within her normal jumping range.
Jack wandered across to Daniel, who was peering at the bottom lines of the poster with a slightly odd look on his face. “I got briefed all about vampires and demons and the whole Slayer thing, so it’s not the big surprise to me.” said Jack, looking down at his one-time colleague. “You are. What happened to the meek archeologist I left on Abydos? How did you get so good with firearms?”
Daniel looked up from running his finger along the bottom line of print. “Jack?” he sighed, pushing his glasses back up with one finger. “You simply wouldn’t believe some of the things your counterpart and I have been through in the last few years.” He turned towards Buffy and called her over. “I think there’ll be a way to get everyone inside the club tonight.”
“Parallel worlds, duplicate me’s… No one told me about all that stuff, and I’m cleared for just about everything. Hell, I bet even Kawalsky wouldn’t believe it,” Jack mused, looking around the busy Paris street, washed in the bright sunshine. He felt Daniel stiffen beside him.
Daniel turned quickly and faced Jack. “Kawalsky? Is he here? At the hotel?” he said quickly, a note of urgency in his voice.
Jack looked at him in slight surprise. “Um… yes. Four man teams always travel together, you know.”
The side of Daniel’s mouth quirked. “Yes, that one I do know. But our Kawalsky’s been dead for several years now…despite the fact that we’ve already run into another Earth’s version of him already.”
Jack paused and considered this. “Perhaps we should get back to the hotel and stop things from deteriorating any further. And before Major O’Neill the second spends any more of my damn money!”
“Um… Jack?” Daniel said gently, as they strolled over to where Buffy was waiting. “I really hate to tell you this, but our Jack’s a Colonel.”
Major Jack O’Neill stopped dead, and almost growled. “Colonel? How the hell did he…. Dammit!”
Daniel shook his head. And he’d thought it had been bad enough when Sam was arguing with the parallel Sam - who’d been married to yet another Jack O’Neill. Two Jack O’Neills were never going to get on together…. “Buffy? I really think we should get back to the hotel as soon as possible.”
Buffy was already ahead of the two men, stepping out into the road with her hand raised, crying “Taxi!” She paused, looked back at Daniel in puzzlement. “Daniel? What’s French for Taxi?”
And high up in the Club Du Morte, Dawn Summers looked down at the group of three people arguing and clambering into a taxi. She smiled broadly as she looked out through the barred window into the bright Parisian day. That blonde hair was unmistakable. Oh, someone was going to be in so much trouble later.
But right now, there were some pastries with her name on them.
And an escape to work out.
To be continued.