As much as Buffy hated to admit it, Teal’c had been right. Food had been necessary. It wasn’t until she had slumped down on a chair in the commissary that Buffy realized how low her energy levels were. Her concern for the Colonel had overshadowed her own needs, a fact which made her want to brood about why he mattered so much.
He was of a similar age bracket to Giles, but she didn’t get that surrogate father vibe with him, for a start, he mostly understood her pop culture references, and she was sure she had heard him mutter the classic Homer Simpson exclamation of frustration - “Doh!” - at least once. The same could not be said of Giles. He was far too British and was more likely to cluck his tongue when something irritated him.
So why was Colonel Jack O’Neill important to her? And why did it seem to matter so much that she was so involved in working it out?
She jolted when a tray with a basic selection of food was placed on the table in front of her. She glanced up to see Teal’c sitting opposite her with his own tray stacked with a variety of different dishes. The smells were amazing...and she actually heard her stomach grumble.
“Sorry, T’, I zoned out for a moment there.”
“Eat BuffySummers, and then you must rest.” His resonant voice was low and firm.
“Thanks for the food Teal’c.” She was well aware that her statement was neither agreement nor argument with his statement.
Unfortunately for her, so was Teal’c. He understood that she was refusing to rest after eating. He let it go.
For the moment.
“You are a formidable fighter BuffySummers.” He smiled gently at her when she flashed him a quick grin. “But you should not hold yourself responsible for the events which caused damage to O’Neill.” He returned his attention to his own meal and noticed that she had yet to touch the tray of food. He gestured at it. “Is starving yourself a method of penance?”
Buffy had been about to respond with a sharp, pithy remark, but forced herself to take a breath and consider his words before she replied. She deliberately picked up her spoon and took a mouthful of warm soup.
“I am eating enough. Nutrition shakes are great.” She kept her tone bland, with only a hint of sarcasm.
Teal’c simply raised one eyebrow. “Do not speak mistruths, BuffySummers. The shakes served in the infirmary may have merit in keeping a person supplied with necessary nutrients, but I know that they taste like too sweet fruits and have a texture like the grains of sand on a beach. They are, therefore, the opposite of ‘great’.” He paused, taking a moment to appreciate the flavours of the meal in front of him. It may not have been Jaffa style cooking, but it was still a fulfilling meal, enjoyable and served its purpose of maintaining his strength.
Buffy gaped at him. It was the longest speech she’d ever heard him make. “Teal’c my friend, you are a master of the roundabout reprimand.” She inclined her head to him, and returned to consuming her food.
The large man did not sigh, but it was close. She was deliberately avoiding his comment on O’Neill.
“O’Neill will be fine BuffySummers. And his injuries are the result of a misguided, foolish man. AgentAnderson will be held responsible for his actions, both by the military of this world and by his own agency.” He gave her an approving look. “You ensured he will suffer most satisfactorily, I believe, as he will be unlikely to be able to wield a weapon, nor will any government hire him.”
Without speaking Buffy simply tilted her head in question.
Teal’c curved his lips. On anyone else it would have been called a smirk. “I am told that pulling out weaponry within range of your United States President is most inadvisable.”
Buffy snorted. “He’s not mine, not really, but I see your point.”
He gazed at her intently, noticing that she ate with greater enthusiasm now. “Yes I think you do.” Satisfied he resumed his own meal.
“What’s with the gold tattoo?”
Closing his eyes, Teal’c considered his options. She did need to know more about his people, about the work that the SG teams did. However, it didn’t mean the information had to be freely given.
With a bland expression, he said, “I will provide you with this information if you would agree to Kel'no'reem with me.” At her slight blush and confused expression, he thought it wise to clarify his request. "I believe the earth term is meditation."
Buffy blinked as the flush on her cheeks faded. She hadn’t meditated in ages and wasn’t sure she wanted to. Considering, she gazed at the Jaffa, and examined the gold symbol on Teal’c’s forehead. Curiousity got the better of her.
“Ok, sure. Food, then meditate, then an info session. Deal.” She agreed.
“We are agreed.” It was simply said, nothing in his voice reflected triumph. In his mind, meditation was as rejuvenating as sleep, and often more so.
It took a moment before Buffy remembered that she had often fallen asleep during meditations with Giles. She snapped her gaze to meet the eyes of the Jaffa.
He met her gaze impassively.
She let out a slow hiss of breath. “Oh…you are good.” She inclined her head in respect. “Sneaky.” She grinned good naturedly, understanding she had been well and truly outmaneuvered.
His expression remained unchanged, but Buffy was certain she saw amusement in those dark eyes.
“Just so you know,” Buffy commented casually as she leaned back on her chair, “That won’t work again. I’m on to you now.”
Teal’c inclined his head and responded simply.
Sam watched in silence from her perch on one of the lab stools, as Janet paced around the confined space in the room. She didn’t say a word, simply waited for Janet to speak. So far Janet had been pacing for five minutes without mentioning a reason for her frustrated movements.
“I don’t know what to do, Sam.” Janet stopped abruptly as she spoke. “I have to report my findings of the latest tests to General Hammond, but we both know there is a leak on base.”
Thinking for a moment, Sam suggested, “You know the last time we had a SG gathering was after Daniel…left. “ Her voice trailed off. She still struggled with the logistics of Daniel’s ascension to another plane of existence. Her very capable brain was still trying to find a scientific explanation for the event.
Janet sent Sam a bright smile. “Sam, you really are brilliant. You tell the Colonel, and I’ll inform General Hammond.” She walked briskly to the door, intent on her plan.
Sam had a moment to stare after Janet in bemusement before she called out to her friend, “Janet! Would you like to share what
exactly it is that I am supposed to be telling the Colonel? And isn’t he still in the infirmary?”
With a careless wave of her hand, Janet returned, “I’m releasing him tomorrow morning on good behavior, and because he can go home and recuperate better there, than he can on base.” She gave Sam a direct look that said there was a lot more to his condition than Janet was saying. “Just let him know that he is having a barbeque at his place tomorrow night, of course.” She paused in the doorway to look back at Sam, flashing an impish grin. “And all the important people are invited.”
Without a backwards glance, the petite doctor strode off to find the General.
Sam sighed and glanced at her watch. “Well, it’s 2145 now. I think I’ll find Colonel O’Neill, tell him of his impending gathering and then head out.”
The infirmary was missing a patient.
Sam was tempted to ask the SF’s on the door, but decided it was probably best if she paged her Colonel first.
Before she alerted anyone to the apparently rogue officer.
Even as she reached for her pager, Sam realized that she had not returned to the infirmary with his requested cake, and it was highly unlikely that Jonas had either. The Kelownan may have wanted to be on the Colonel’s good side, but nobody in their right mind would dare cross the CMO of Stargate Command, unless they were actively looking for some unscheduled and unpleasant medical testing.
With a sigh, she turned and made her way to the commissary.
Buffy was sleeping. And it was deep and peaceful and under the watchful eye of Teal’c.
Teal’c had been pleased when Buffy had chosen to join him in his modified version of Kel’no’reem, despite her lack of familiarity with the technique. He no longer had a Goa’uld larvae but he had found that meditation helped him maintain his strength and focus. It was also helping him come to terms with the strange hollow sensation the loss of the symbiote had caused.
He had known when Buffy had drifted into sleep, about an hour after they had begun, as the energy surrounding her had changed, or at least the intensity had lessened somewhat.
He was intrigued by her. So much power in such a petite frame would have been incomprehensible to him, had he not met the small forest dwelling people known as the Nox. Although Teal’c had to acknowledge that there was a vast difference between BuffySummers’ power and that of the equally tiny Lya.
He could also appreciate that it was to the benefit of both women, that their size and gender gave the impression of fragility, and would catch most possible attackers off guard.
His lips twitched at the thought of a meeting between Lya and BuffySummers, and wondered what the two women would make of each other. He thought it highly likely that despite the difference in the purpose of their powers, they would respect one another.
Or possibly, Lya would consider Buffy to be a weapon of destruction and make her vanish. But Teal’c considered that there was only a very slight possibility of this actually eventuating.
Ultimately, both women seemed to have a deep and abiding respect for life, and that, if nothing else would create a bond between them.
Thinking of the Nox had Teal’c remembering the serenity they exuded simply by existing. And decided he would continue his meditation a little longer, whilst he contemplated the female warrior who slept dreamlessly beside him.
Major Samantha Carter was a fairly intimidating presence when she put her mind to it, Jack decided, as he leaned back in his chair taking in her raised eyebrow, folded arms and direct gaze.
He resisted the urge to squirm.
“Why hello Major Carter, would you like some cake? It’ll cure all of your woes.” Jack saw the corner of her lips twitch and grinned unrepentantly at her. “I was feeling neglected by my team, so I decided it was up to me to go and forage some real food for myself.” He attempted a mournful pout.
With a snort, Sam said, “Cake is not real food…sir.” With a resigned sigh she sat down opposite him, and stole one of the six plates on the table. She had never been able to resist the banana cake.
“Hey!” Jack went to snatch the plate back.
Sam deliberately looked at her pager. “I could always let Janet know where you are I suppose…”
With a raised eyebrow of his own, Jack drawled, “Are you trying to blackmail me, Carter?”
Digging in to her banana cake, because it was hers now, she nodded.
Wiping away an imaginary tear, Jack said with a false catch to his voice, “I’m so proud.” He returned to his own cake, content.
After a moment he spoke again. “So, why’d ya hunt me down Carter? Other than for my endlessly entertaining company.”
He smirked as he watched her bite back what probably would have been a highly insubordinate remark.
“Well, sir, I did not track you down for myself, as much as I did for Doctor Frasier.” She grinned as his head snapped up, eyes darting around the room as if expecting the chief medical officer to magically appear. “Don’t worry sir, she is currently in a meeting with the General.” She paused for a moment to allow his to relax slightly, and also to absorb the information she was giving him, both plain spoken and hidden messages alike.
“I've been told to inform you that you are required to hold a barbeque at your house tomorrow, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to welcome Buffy to the Stargate program. I was also to let you know that all the important people will be invited.” She took another bite of her cake. It really was very good.
Jack scowled. “Well that is just great, Carter. Did our wonderful Doc’ tell you how
exactly I am supposed to organize this welcoming party from my infirmary bed?”
Casually waving an arm, Sam said, “I wouldn’t worry about that sir, she is going to release you tomorrow morning.” She shrugged. “As to organization, it is just as normal, Colonel. You provide the meat and the barbeque, and your guests provide the rest.”
Brightening considerably at the news of his imminent release from the medical quarters on base, Jack asked, “And exactly how many guests am I to feed, Carter? A man needs to know such things if he is to be a good host.”
Scraping up the last of the crumbs and putting her fork down, she said in a normal tone, “It should just be the five or six of us, sir. The usual crowd.”
Jack nodded, even as he watched her fingers tap out a quick message on the edge of the table. “That sounds fine Carter. I think I can manage that.” Mentally he was taking notes.
Apparently there was going to be at least eight, probably ten people attending. And he could expect the General to be among that crowd Carter had mentioned.
Musing about his plans for the next day, and wondering if he could push Doc’ Frasier into springing him tonight, he barely registered the fact that Carter had stolen another plate of cake.
A fact which became largely insignificant when he noticed the doctor he was thinking about standing behind Carter, with her hands on her hips and a gleam in her eye.
Jack hunched protectively over his cake, and spoke in a tone that could only be described as a verbal pout. “I was feeling neglected.”
Without so much as a twitch, the CMO simply gazed steadily at him.
He heaved a sigh, and pushed back from the table, standing up. “Fine.” He said in a short tone, which still lingered on the side of complaint. “This is me, going back to the infirmary like a good little Colonel…” He reached back and snagged a piece of cake. “But if you try to take my cake, we are going to have a disagreement, Doc’.”
So saying, he strode towards the doors without so much as a backward glance at his table of cake. He did have a reputation to maintain after all.
“Straight to the infirmary sir. No detours on your way back please, Colonel.” Janet called after him, unable to resist making at least one comment. She noted, with satisfaction, that he was moving much better than he had been hours before.
Sitting down in Jack’s seat, she spoke to Sam in a quiet voice. “It’s all sorted on my end.”
“Mine too.” Sam gestured to one of the untouched plates. “Want some cake?”
In the corridors leading back towards medical, the decorated officer known as Colonel Jack O’Neill could be heard muttering, even grumbling.
“Napoleonic medical officers…no respect…man needs…cake is essential…recovery.”
The airmen who passed him, from various SG teams, did their very best not to aggravate Cheyenne Mountain’s second-in-command by laughing.
Most of them even succeeded.
Eyelids heavy, Buffy awoke reluctantly, feeling as though she was fighting a losing battle with the need for sleep. It would have been so easy to just curl up and let the dark take her under again.
It was the sensation of being watched which made her sharpen her focus beyond the desire to drift back into slumber. Without opening her eyes, Buffy considered the presence in the room, and felt no animosity from whoever it was.
When the sensation didn’t dissipate, Buffy sighed and opened her eyes and sat up, noticing as she did so, that she was resting comfortably on a bed. As she distinctly remembered meditating with Teal’c on the floor of the room, she could only assume that the large Jaffa had placed her on the bed.
It was a measure of her previous fatigue that she hadn’t woken up at the relocation.
The presence that Buffy had felt was none other than Daniel. He stood at the end of the bed, observing her.
“You know, I feel like some kind of superstar with all the good looking stalkers I have had over the years.” As witty remarks went it was fairly weak and she blamed it on the foggy feeling waking had left her with.
Daniel smiled gently. “How are you doing, Buffy?”
“Apart from what I am sure is a terrible case of bedhead, I am doing okay Danny.” She surprised herself that she actually meant it. “In fact, I think I may even enjoy the opportunity to have the fate of the world resting on someone else’s shoulders for a while.”
“So you’ll stay?” It was the hopeful note in the words, which had Buffy smiling.
“I’m going to stick with the original plan Danny. I said I’d stay a while, and I will. But I don’t like making promises that I may not be able to keep.”
Knowing it was the best he was going to get, Daniel nodded. “Fair enough.”
Awake now, Buffy gave him a steady look. “Is that it? Or did you wake me up for another reason?”
A grave look on his face Daniel nodded his head. “There are events happening in other parts of this dimension, this galaxy, which I can’t change, can’t do anything about.” Frustration made him clench his fists. “It’s going to spill over. Soon. And I can only watch and guide in a limited capacity.” He paused. “There is going to be a meeting tonight. Tell them they need to listen to Jonas. Accept what he will be telling them as truth.”
"Why should they believe me?” Buffy questioned as she shrugged. “I’m a newbie! If I were General Hammond I’d be more than a little confused as to why I
am chosen as the messenger and not you.” With a frown, Buffy asked, “Why, exactly, am I the postal service for this message? Why can’t you appear to them, tell them what you told me?”
Daniel smiled wryly. “You, are a loophole in the grand scheme of the rules of non-interference. If I were to appear directly to any of my team and give them the same information, I would be tipping the balance.”
“And it is always about the balance.” Buffy murmured it quietly. Bitterly. Keeping the balance had cost her people she had cared for, and even loved. That passing thought carried with it a sharp stab of pain. She had cared about, and in some ways even loved Spike, and he had been a sacrifice for the balance.
A sacrifice that she had made. Her decisions. Her actions.
A hand touched her shoulder in understanding. He had seen, had known the choices Buffy had made. “It is often easier to sacrifice yourself, instead of placing someone else in danger.”
“I’ve done both. And I prefer the first option.” Her voice was flat, emotionless.
“You should talk to Jack. He’s made more than his fair share of hard decisions.” He could feel the unrelenting tension in the shoulder under his hand. With a gentle squeeze he let go. “Just remember what I told you.”
He vanished even as she shook her head. “But you haven’t told me anything! Damn it!”
Just as she was about to use some of Spike’s more inventive curses, Teal’c walked in.
His lips curved upwards in a hint of a smile. “I trust you rested well BuffySummers. You are looking in better health.”
She gave him an arch look. “Is that your subtle way of telling me I looked crappy before? And you owe me a story.” She gestured at the golden emblem on his forehead.
“I will say only that you looked in need of restorative sleep. I am wise enough to know better than to agree with your statement.” He met her gaze and she could see the spark of amusement in it. He gestured towards the door. “I have not forgotten my agreement with you, BuffySummers, but our conversation must be delayed. DoctorFrasier would like to see you.”
Buffy frowned. According to the clock on the utilitarian table beside the bed, it was only 6am. “Does the woman never sleep?” She muttered, and startled when Teal’c heard her.
“DoctorFrasier was able to return home last night. I am certain she has rested. Let us go to speak with her and then it is time to break our fast for the day.” The formality of his words made her blink.
“Uh, sure Teal’c. Although I may skip breakfast in favour of a shower and fresh clothes.” With distaste, she realized it had been more than 24 hours since her last opportunity to clean up. With dainty fingers she pulled the collar of her borrowed uniform to her nose and sniffed. Her nose wrinkled as she said with much distaste. “Gross.” She glared at Teal’c. “Why didn’t you tell me I was stinky Buffy?”
“I do not believe your smell to be as offensive as you seem to believe.” He paused and he gave a slight smile. “And because I am not a foolish man, BuffySummers.” He moved to the doorway and waited.
She eyed him balefully. Then shrugged and hopped off the bed. “Fine. You get to suffer my smelly self then.” Deliberately she walked as close to him as possible on the way to the infirmary.
She could have sworn she saw his nose twitch at least twice.
“I’ve eaten and slept so you are not going to be poking me with any needles this morning.” She stated as she stepped into the infirmary. “Nuh uh, no sir-ee. No needles for me.” At her unintentional rhyme, she smiled brightly at the CMO.
Janet gave a light laugh. “Well, good morning to you too, Buffy.” Out of habit she gave Buffy a critical look. “And no, I don’t think I’ll be needing to poke and prod you today. You look…rested.”
If possible Buffy’s smile lit up further, and she walked over to Colonel O’Neill’s bed to say hello in her uniquely Buffy manner. “What the what, Mister Colonel Sir?”
Janet mentally winced at the massacre of the formal greeting to a superior officer, but supposed Colonel O’Neill would find it refreshing. At least she hoped so. She glanced at Teal’c, “Thank you for whatever it was you managed to do to get her to rest, Teal’c.” She looked at him inquiringly. “Have either of you eaten breakfast yet?”
Shaking his head, Teal’c responded, “Not as yet DoctorFrasier, although I did make the suggestion. It seems what BuffySummers desires most at the moment is a hot shower and a change of clothes.”
Smiling at the large man’s precise manner of speech, she said, “I can only imagine. I brought an additional set of clothes with me today that should fit her easily.” She paused. “Perhaps you and Colonel O’Neill should have your breakfast while Buffy showers.”
Understanding the unvoiced request for privacy, Teal’c inclined his head. “I assume O’Neill is well enough to leave the infirmary if this is your wish, DoctorFrasier?”
Sending the man in discussion a dark look, Janet spoke in irritated tones. “Since he has already done so once without damaging himself, yes.”
She raised her voice. “You may go to breakfast, Colonel. Do try to eat something other than Fruit Loops or Coco Pops.” There was a resigned note in her voice.
Jack was pulling back the covers so quickly that Buffy had to step back so that she wasn’t bowled over.
“Sorry Summers, but bacon and eggs wait for no soldier!” He glanced up in time to catch the narrow eyed stare of the petite doctor. “Ah…neither does the fruit or oatmeal?” This was added weakly, complete with a look reminiscent of a little boy with his hands caught in the cookie jar.
Janet waved her hands in a shoo-ing gesture. “Teal’c, please take the Colonel to the commissary before I discover I have missed a test or two.” But she was smiling as she said it.
The Colonel, however, was taking no chances. “C’mon T’, I can already smell the coffee.” He clapped Teal’c on the shoulder and strode out the door.
Teal’c smiled gently at Buffy and Janet, and inclined his head politely before following his team leader.
Buffy gave Janet an approving look. “Now that is an effective threat. I’m impressed, and a little jealous that it’s one that I can't use.”
“I’m certain you have plenty of threats which are equally if not more effective.” Janet consoled with a grin. “Now, I brought you a change of clothes and other essentials for all women. Razor, deodorant etcetera, as well as a new toothbrush and hairbrush.”
She was shocked (and a little winded) when Buffy sprang at her and enveloped her in a hug that was very nearly bone crushing. Gasping slightly, she managed, “B-Buffy – air, I need air!”
Immediately releasing Janet, Buffy apologized profusely even as the doctor waved her off.
Laughing now, Janet grinned as she spoke. “Well, if that’s the thanks I get for some basics, I don’t think I want to know what it will be like when I tell you than I’ve organized some time off base after your shower.” She stepped back and braced. “Okay, I’m ready. Go ahead.”
To her surprise, Buffy gave a watery laugh, and embraced Janet, murmuring very softly, “You are the best Janet. Thanks.”
Touched, the maternal instincts kicking in, Janet rubbed a hand up and down Buffy’s back, soothing automatically. “I’m pleased you think so. Remember that the next time I tell you to eat more fruit and vegetables, okay?”
With another giggle cloaked in tears, Buffy swiped at her face as she stepped away. ‘”So where am I being let loose?”
An apologetic look was sent in Buffy’s direction. “I’m sorry Buffy, but the only way the General would let you off base was if you were accompanied by a member of SG1.” She paused. “And even though I’m ninety-nine percent certain there are no complications with Colonel O’Neill’s recovery, I’d be far more comfortable knowing he has someone to keep him company while he recuperates at home.”
Gaping, Buffy said incredulously, “I’m staying at the Colonel’s
place? That’s my freedom?” She spluttered a little, “Isn’t that, I don’t know, against the rules or something?”
Giving Buffy a searching look, Janet spoke firmly. “There are no regulations,” she stressed the word, “against one team member staying at another’s for a few days.” She frowned. “I thought you liked Colonel O’Neill?”
Not knowing what to do with her hands, Buffy crossed her arms across her torso. “I do like him! What’s not to like?” She found to her amazement that she was at a loss for words to explain emotions she herself hadn’t figured out yet. “I just-“ she broke off in frustration, then shook her head. “Never mind. I’m just being stupid. I’m sure it will be fine.”
Deciding to leave the topic alone for the time being, Janet nodded. “Okay. But you are not
stupid and you let me know if you are having any issues. Any
issues Buffy, I’m here to listen.” She walked over to the desk and picked up a pile of items, bringing them back to where Buffy was standing with a contemplative look on her face.
Holding them out, Janet suggested, “Shower?”
Her expression changing to one of intense craving, Buffy nearly snatched them out of the doctor’s hands. “Oh, god, yes please! Thanks Janet.”
She was gone before Janet could even take a breath to respond.
Whipping out her new notebook, she jotted down a message to herself. Ask Sam about figuring out a way to test speed, strength and agility.
She had to take a moment to think back to the previous day. There had been something she had wanted to assess but hadn't taken the time to note it down. It had been to do with Colonel O'Neill's rapid healing. Quickly, she wrote down a short question. Influence speed of healing in others?
Janet took great care to tuck the notebook in a safe place. This particular notebook was very important. But since she doubted that anyone’s hands but her own were going to be reaching into the inner breast pocket of her jacket, she wasn’t greatly concerned about it going missing.
Janet rolled her eyes at her own thoughts, and muttered with a touch of self-mockery, “And if that ain’t a sad state of affairs, I don’t know what is.” She paused. “I wonder if Buffy would want to join Sam and I on a girl’s night out.”
And the thought of the mayhem they could initiate, made the usually business-like (at least during working hours) CMO laugh.
It wasn’t so much the laughter, which made the SF on the door glance over, but the quality of it.
Husky and just a little wicked.
The two men exchanged a look, sharing a moment of mutual discomfort and panic, shifting slightly in unease. They didn’t relax until the Chief Medical Officer had returned to her office, and was seated at her computer.
Even then, nervous glances towards the doctor’s door were frequent.
Approximately once per minute, until the shift change.
“Miss Summers will be staying with you for the next couple of days, Colonel O’Neill.” Doctor Frasier spoke with clear precision and in a tone that would brook no argument.
Colonel Jack O’Neill was in the briefing room with the rest of his team, Doctor Frasier and General Hammond. A bundle of joy he was not, and he had no qualms about putting up a fight.
“What?! I was cleared. I don’t
need a baby sitter! You don’t need to send Summers home with me!” The tone was on the angry side of irritated.
“Yes sir. I did clear you. But you had a skull fracture, a severe concussion, and a shoulder injury, and while there are no longer any symptoms, or even evidence of said fracture, I do not feel comfortable having you stay alone. Miss Summers has done her fair share of caring for those with head injuries and knows what to look for. She will
be going with you, sir, or you will remain on base where I, and everyone else here, can keep tabs on you.” Janet did not yell. Since the General was going to back her on the issue, she knew yelling was unnecessary.
Buffy gave a snort and glared at Jack. “If it makes you feel better, I’m not any happier about this than you. But if this gets me outta here for even 48 hours, I’m all for it.” And although she did her best to hide it, there was just a hint of hurt in her eyes. “I promise not to go out of my way to drive you crazy.”
Jack saw the hurt, and so did everyone else. Even Teal’c was giving him a look of reproach.
He slumped down in his chair. “Oh for… Summers, I would have a problem with any of my team coming to be my keeper. You’re not special in that way, trust me.”
Jack could feel the daggers turning into swords as his team, and the doctor, scowled at him. He could have sworn he felt one of them twist as Buffy dropped her gaze from his.
He glanced around the table, catching Carter’s eyes looking for help and found none. In fact, her expression was clearly saying, “You broke it, you fix it…now.”
He opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it again. He had no idea what to say to make it better.
In icy tones, General Hammond spoke. “Colonel O’Neill, do you wish to remain on base?”
“No sir.” Especially not now. From the look Teal’c was giving him, he was sure would want a no-holds-barred sparring session. Immediately. And if he was being honest with himself, Jack just wasn’t completely up to speed yet.
“Then Miss Summers will be going with you when you leave today.” He waited until his second-in-command met his gaze. “Is that understood?”
“Yes sir.” He forced himself not to sound like a petulant child. He looked at Buffy, who was still staring down at the table, and that damn knife twisted again. He was not feeling guilty, he told himself.
“Looks like you're stuck with me for the next couple of days, Summers.” He paused. “I have a barbeque to organize. Wanna go shopping?”
He waited until she met his eyes, and he almost flinched waiting for her response.
“Sure.” It was said quietly.
He sighed. “Okay, after the briefing you’ll get your gear and we’ll head out.”
“This briefing is over Colonel. Any other issues can be discussed at a later time.” The General gave Jack an impassive look, which could have meant a number of things and stood. “Dismissed.”
“Yes sir.” Jack waited until Hammond had returned to his office, before he stood.
“Alright Summers, go grab your stuff and we’ll be off.”
When she didn’t move, other than to stand up, he frowned. “What’s the problem, Summers?”
“I’ve got everything I own with me, sir.” She patted the deep pockets of the cargo pants she wore. “I was given an ID badge before the meeting, sir. Other than that, all I have is the toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush Doctor Frasier gave me this morning.”
Jack blinked. At both the information and the formality of her tone.
“You’re going to need to take Miss Summers shopping for clothes, sir.” Major Samantha Carter said into the momentary silence.
Jack blinked again, and paled ever so slightly.
Buffy brightened, before her face fell. “But I don’t have cash or cards. I can’t go shopping.”
About to speak, Jack was cut off by Carter who maintained a carefully blank expression. “That’s alright, Buffy. You can charge it to one of the Colonel’s cards, and he can expense it. The General has already cleared it as long as you don’t go crazy.”
The smile Buffy sent in Sam’s direction was dazzling, and she turned it on Colonel O’Neill. “Thanks Colonel Jack, sir. I promise not to make you regret the General’s generosity…well, not too much anyway.”
Under the intensity of the happiness and humour on Buffy’s face, even the sternest of men would have crumbled.
Colonel Jack O’Neill, decorated officer of the United States Airforce, not only crumbled, but collapsed back into his chair. “I don’t think I’m qualified for this,” he muttered, not even bothering to correct Buffy on his title. It all seemed too hard right now.
Teal’c placed a supporting hand on his shoulder. “I am certain that a shopping expedition such as this will be far less troublesome than facing the dangers of battle with the Goa’uld, O’Neill.”
Janet snorted. “So says a man who has never been shopping with a teenage girl before.” She grinned at the Colonel and shared another with Buffy and Sam. “Well, Buffy? Do you think you can cope with Colonel O’Neill as your shopping guide?”
A mischievous sparkle in her eye, Buffy said in a cheerful voice, “Oh, absolutely, Doctor Frasier. I can shop with anyone, anytime,and any place. Shall we go sir, Colonel, sir?” She gestured at the door.
The team leader of SG1, second-in-command to the Stargate base of operations paled even further, and the hands gripping the arms of the chair went white at the knuckles.
Then he seemed to take note of what could only be suppressed smirks and amused eyes on him, and he straightened in his seat.
With as much dignity as he could muster, he stood and braced himself, palms flat against the table. “Carter, you are to call my house at 1200 hours. If I do not answer you are to track my cell, and locate it. Then call out the EMT to that location where I will most likely have collapsed under the weight of numerous shopping bags and miscellaneous items. Is that understood, Major?” Despite the serious tone, and commands being issued, no one missed the hint of humour.
“Yes sir. 1200 hours.” She didn’t laugh, but it was bubbling near to the surface. Sam swallowed it back down.
“That’s 12 midday, right?” Buffy asked in a voice perilously close to the valley girl persona she could slip on and off. “That’s totally awesome. It’s not even, like, 9am yet! That’s, like, 3 hours of shopping! That should be just enough time to get what we need! Completely on the cool side!”
Everyone in the room shuddered.
Buffy almost bounced out of the room. “C’mon Mister Colonel Jack sir!”
Teal’c and Jonas sent him a sympathetic look as he took a deep and calming breath, and moved to follow Buffy.
“Summers, you don’t even know where you’re going. Hold up a minute, not all of us can move as fast as you.” He grumbled that last part as he walked out the door.
Her words floated back to them, ‘’Sure I do. There has to be a Colonel-O’Neill-Mobile somewhere around this place. I’ll just ask someone.”
Doctor Frasier, and the three remaining members of SG1 had the good sense to wait until their esteemed superior officer was out of earshot before giving in to the desire to grin, chuckle and generally have a fit of the giggles.
In his office, the General also grinned. “Colonel-O’Neill-Mobile,” he laughed softly. "I’ll have to ask Major Carter to make up a bumper sticker just for Jack.” He tapped his fingers on his desk thoughtfully.
“It a pity it’s too long for his vehicle license plate. Maybe I’ll get Siler to put a sign on his parking slot.”
A/N: It's been a long time... a really, really long time since I've updated this story. I can only apologise for the lack of writing and thank those who have reviewed and recced this fic. I hope that this (relatively long) chapter meets your expectations. I am looking forward to the next chapter, shopping and barbeques and possibly a visit from a friend or two. Also for those of you who are wondering, I haven't decided on a pairing, or even if there will be one. For now I am content to let Buffy find her way in a different world to the one she came from. But if you have an opinion on the matter, I would love to hear from you!