Regression and DefectionDisclaimer:
I don’t own the Stargate verse or Buffy. That’s Joss Whedon and MGM.Author’s Note:
This is in answer to Caliadragon’s Challenge, number 3532, if you want details. Yes, I know I’ve already answered it and posted that here but when I started the first one, the ideas for three others popped up. So I wrote those, slowly, and have decided to post them, too. And yes, besides small details and the end results, the first chapters are the same. Just go with it.Chapter One
Dawn was running as fast as a woman with two four year olds clutched to her could run. It was all the freaking Immortal’s fault. They’d all told Buffy that he was bad news but he had promised her normal and Buffy’d fallen for it. Dawn would have snorted if she had had the breath. What would an Immortal know about giving a Slayer normal?
The dinner party’d all been a ploy to get the Scoobies in one place, something rare since Sunnydale had fallen. Ones and twos they managed. The whole group was almost never together. The surviving Old School Watchers had been afraid that the Scoobies would stage a coup (which, okay, they had) and had talked the Immortal into wooing the longest lived Slayer so that they might betray her. If it hadn’t been aimed at her friends and family, Dawn might have marveled at the ingeniousness of it. Using Buffy’s human weakness to bring her down and everyone that stood with her.
The Watchers’ plans would’ve worked perfectly if the rest of the Scoobies had trusted the Immortal as much as Buffy. Instead, they’d come to dinner loaded for bear. Or, really, the most magical, deadly creature anyone had been able to imagine. That maybe had a small army of big, nasty minions.
Willow’d sent Dawn and Xander in with enough protective amulets to ward off the Angel of Death. Faith had gone in knowing that she was their physical protection. That’s why they’d survived. The Watchers couldn’t kill them, no matter what they did but they could incapacitate them. Faith and Xander had been hit with some spell, Xander stepping in front of Faith to take the brunt of it.
The screaming when everyone had seen the two little bodies had been some of the most terrifying of Dawn’s life. Willow had yelled for Dawn to take them and run and then Darth Rosenberg was in the house. Dawn had grabbed the two little kids and the bag she’d packed earlier that day. She got clear of the building in time for it to explode, taking two thirds of the surviving Watchers, around 100 Slayers, and the rest of the Scoobies with it, and hopefully giving the Immortal’s immortality a run for its money. Asshat.
That’d been nearly a week ago and Dawn had managed to travel half-way around the globe, care for two four-year-olds, and elude whoever was hunting them. She needed to hide Xander and Faith. She couldn’t keep running with them being the age they were. Goddess, she had to protect them, now. She was the oldest. She wanted to cry.
The list of who she could leave them with was so small. Oz was out because she had no idea where he was at. Every locator spell she’d tried had only told her he was still on the mortal plane. Cordelia and Wesley were dead and Angel and Spike were having to fight nearly ‘round the clock to clean up L.A. after Wolfram and Hart’s little blow out, spending most of the daylight hours tromping through sewers.
She couldn’t leave them with Riley. She loved him like a brother but she couldn’t trust him, not with this. Not with Xander and Faith’s lives. For all that Riley’d fought demons, been in the know for years, he still thought like a mortal, like a norm.
And Xander and Faith weren’t normal, not anymore, thanks to the Immortal and the Watchers. Faith was a miniature Slayer. By far the youngest Slayer on record, she had very little control. And whatever the spell that’d hit them had been, it had unlocked some hidden talents of Xander’s, talents Dawn was really wishing had stayed hidden. Listening to Xander baby-babble to her sister’s ghost was freaking her out. And, seriously, the juiced up demon magnetism thing was getting old. Every time she stopped to breathe, a demon popped out of the wood work.
Dawn dodged into a busy building and slowed to a walk, trying to catch her breath.
“Dawn,” a tiny voice caught her attention. She looked down at Xander’s face and cringed at his milky eyes. “Dawn, it’s me, Giles. Take them to the General, Dawn. The General. He’ll protect them. He owes…” Xander trailed off and blinked, white fading to the familiar chocolate brown. “Sleepy,” he yawned.
She kissed his forehead. “Go to sleep, Xan. I know what to do.”
Dawn managed to convince the building manager to let her out the back way and stood in the alleyway, concentrating like Willow taught her to.
She opened her eyes and, “Oops,” saw several military figures pointing guns at her. Then she heard a voice say sternly, “Stand Down.” She spun to see General O’Neill standing behind her flanked by a blonde woman and a brunette man in glasses. A tall black guy with a gold stamp on his head hovered behind them. “Geez, kid, you sure know how to make an entrance.”
Dawn wobbled where she stood. “Uh…” There was a reason she hated teleporting. It made her slow, made her stupid and any situation that called for her to use the skill was usually too dangerous for her to be slow or stupid.
O’Neill frowned at her for a second before taking her arm and guiding her to a chair. He squatted in front of her and she remembered why the Scoobies and she had liked him so much. “Dawn?”
She wasn’t really expecting to but she sort of toppled into him sobbing. “I need your help.” Chapter Two
Jack O’Neill wasn’t sure what he was doing, sitting in the infirmary, watching three kids sleep. And Dawn, for all that she’d seen, was still very much a kid.
“Take them to Atlantis,” a voice behind him commanded and Jack spun to see a vaguely familiar old guy.
“Huh. Merlin. Haven’t you already died?”
Merlin smirked. “Once you ascend, you can do it again. You must have noted your Dr. Jackson’s propensity to do so.”
“Yeah, Daniel’s never really managed to stay dead,” Jack nodded.
“Atlantis,” Merlin prodded. “Take them to Atlantis.”
“Why do you care?” Jack asked, flummoxed.
Merlin smiled sadly and reached out his incorporeal hands, sweeping one across Xander’s brow and laying the other on Dawn’s shoulder. “He is the last of my line here on Earth. And she? Well, she is what we all strive to be. Take them to the Great City, far from the reach of those that would harm them.”
A flash in the corner and a dark haired girl, looking peeved, scowled up at the ceiling, “Jeez, you couldn’t have sent me back after
I’d gone through puberty? Dickheads.”
Merlin chuckled. “So glad to see the Powers remembering They have a duty to Their champions.”
The girl snapped her scowl from the ceiling to Merlin. “I had to fight for this, thank you very much. They don’t remember jack.”
Merlin fought his smile. “I take it you’ve come to offer aid?”
“Foresight,” the girl snapped before shifting to stand next to Dawn.
She closed her eyes and lights surrounded the two of them. Jack stood, pulling his gun. He didn’t know this girl from Eve.
Merlin shifted until he was between them although Jack figured he could just shoot through
the incorporeal being.
“She will not harm them,” Merlin cautioned. “I believe she’s merely changing the girl so that she’s more easily hidden. While they’re busy, I have a few things of not to tell you. Foremost is the research on ZPM’s…”
Jack listened with half an ear as the old Ancient rattled off several codes that would help them build their own. Jack had to wander why he was being so loose lipped but before he could ask, the lights started to fade and Merlin said jovially, “Well, the Powers will surely shift Their focus and the Ancients will again be watching. I must be off before they notice I’m missing.”
He faded and the girl stumbled away from the bed and started to fold to the floor. Jack jumped forward only for her to be caught by a guy in a bad suit, boiler hat and all.
The hat was tipped before the man swung the girl effortlessly up onto the bed beside Dawn. A much younger Dawn, Jack saw on a second glace.
“Take the kids to Atlantis,” boiler hat said. “The girl started a damn coup in the Upper Realms so that she could come be with them. Pack up your clone and the little alien girl and the kids and go. You don’t and I promise you’ll never have a moment of peace.”
“How am I supposed to get authorization to do that?” Jack asked, exasperated. Everybody kept saying it like it was something easily done.
Boiler hat smiled and Jack tensed. “Oh, you don’t. But don’t worry about that. The people that do’ll be along soon enough.”
He flashed away and Jack was left to try to explain where the new girl had come from, why Dawn was miniaturized, and what Merlin and Boiler Hat had wanted. Chapter Three
Oz tuned out the argument behind him going on between Riley, Graham, and a couple of pissy Generals. They weren’t what was important now. What was important was what was left of his family and that was the four little kids sleeping through the muted ruckus.
He reached out and curled a lock of Cordelia’s hair around his finger and smiled when she wrinkled her nose. She’d always been particular about her hair.
“I don’t care where we go,” he said, not looking at anyone. The conversation abruptly stopped behind him. “But if they’re going, I’m going with them.”
“Oz…,” Riley said and there might have been warning in his tone. Oz just twisted and raised an eyebrow at him. Riley sighed and turned back to the Generals. “We have authorization to go to Atlantis with our teammates, Xander Harris, Faith LeHane, Dawn Summers, Cordelia Chase, a Cassie Fraiser, and a Jon Jackson. Now, I don’t know about the last two, but these four are going to need to be somewhere besides Earth by nightfall.”
General O’Neill rolled his eyes and threw up his hands. “How did you get authorization for them? They’re kids.”
Oz smiled down at the sleeping forms as Riley said wryly, “All of their paperwork says they’re in their twenties. Sir.”
There was silence behind them for so long, Oz turned to look and saw calculating looks being passed around like hot potatoes. He rolled his eyes, then winced at the loud, blaring alarm that sounded, catching Faith as she jolted awake and straight out of bed. She struggled for a second until she got really awake and realized who was holding her. She didn’t quite slump in relief but she stopped trying to punch him in the kidney, so he called it a win.
The other kids had startled away, too, and Dawn, for one, looked terrified. She jolted off the bed and into O’Neill’s arms, who seemed startled that she’d chosen him. Xander reached for Riley, who seemed equally as baffled at the attention, while Cordelia came to lean against Oz and tried to stealthily wipe sleepies from her eyes.
The alarms cut off and a voice called for General Landry to come to the ‘Gate room.
General Landry winced. “The Tok’Ra. I forgot they were visiting.”
General O’Neill shrugged, shifting Dawn to a more comfortable position. “Is this them asking you a favor or you asking them for a favor?”
“Them asking us,” General Landry replied.
“Then let’em come to you,” O’Neill said.
Landry pursed his lips, then noted resolutely. “That’s not a bad idea. Airman! Have someone escort the Tok’Ra representatives to the infirmary, please.”
An airman at the door snapped off a salute, then hurried away to do the General’s bidding. Oz fought the urge to bare his teeth. Faith adjusted herself so that she was leaning against his front and he took comfort in Cordelia’s hand that was squeezing bruises into his arm. The military, with two exceptions, weren’t really his thing. If it weren’t for the safety of his family, he’d never agree to go to an outpost run by the military.
The woman that entered wasn’t just a woman and Oz let some of his Other shine out of his eyes. She was a danger to his. Faith had stiffened against him and Cordelia kept making mews of distaste, probably about the fetishistic leather the woman was wearing.
“Skankalicious,” Dawn said, reeling back in Jack’s arms, before twisting and reaching for Graham, obviously wanting to be farther away from the strange woman. “And totally creeptastic.”
Oz decided he liked O’Neill when he smirked right in the woman’s face and said, “See, Anise? I told
you you frightened small children.”
Unfortunately for all of them, her attention was captured by something else. “What a sweet little boy,” she murmured, an eerie smile on her lips.
Faith was so tense, she was vibrating against his legs. Oz wasn’t particularly in any mood to try to restrain her if she decided to make the woman hurt a little. So, when one sharp-nailed finger reached out to drag down Xander’s cheek and Faith moved in a burst of speed, Oz didn’t stop her. And when the woman was sitting on the ground cradling said broken finger, Oz let a little smile slip, even as he gathered Faith back against him.
“Anise,” Jack said sternly. “No touching.”
Her eyes strayed again to Xander and she said, “The Tok’Ra would be willing to trade important information for him.”
“Anise!” the man in the doorway, dressed in some sort of burlap that had Cordelia biting back a gag, snapped.
“The boy!” she said plaintively, eyes never leaving Xander.
Dawn winced. “Yeah, I might have forgotten to mention. Xander’s got a little demon magnetism going on. Reason number 2 we have to leave Earth.”
Jack winced. “Great. You know there are aliens in Atlantis, right?”
She shrugged, even as the burlap clad man drug a protesting Anise back the way they’d come. “As long as they’re human, they should be fine. She wasn’t human or she hasn’t been just
human for a very long time.”
The phone on the wall rang and Landry picked it up. After a minute, he turned back to them with the funniest look on his face. “The guards at the front gate say there are a bunch of men in nice suits trying to force their way into the Mountain.”
Oz’s skinned went cold when Dawn said, terrified, “Watchers.”Epilogue
Jack guessed they could have waited for the Daedulus to reach them but it was nearly two days away and the crazies were already on their doorstep. So instead, they used the newly refurbished Stargate bridge to make the jump to Atlantis. Woosley looked kind of freaked to suddenly have four more kids as part of his command, not to mention Cassie and Jon, who didn’t really have the qualifications to be there. Oh sure, Cassie had her nursing degree, but nothing spectacular. And Jon was Jack, only without the age and the rank. But still, there they were.
Jack did the only thing he could do in that kind of situation. He retired, had a house built on the Mainland, and kept himself and the kids as far away the military chain of command as he could. The only exception he made was when it came to the puddlejumpers. He loved those little ziti shaped ships. He didn’t want to poach on Sheppard’s territory but there was a strange reluctance to leave the kids alone in the city while he went back to Earth.
Technically, they wouldn’t have been alone. Ozbourne wouldn’t have left those kids for anything, not even when McKay bellowed in the most obnoxious manner about technical genius. Maybe especially not then. And Finn and Miller seemed pretty intent on hanging with the underaged, too, because any downtime they had was spent in the kids’ company.
But still. Jack couldn’t leave them. So he was supremely glad when his team (former team, whatever) decided that the Milky Way Galaxy was safe enough and decided to come check out Pegasus. Daniel was in archaeological heaven with Vala following after him, Teal’c was once again terrifying Marines, and Carter, well, Jack was retired. Regulations could go stuff themselves now.
And so, everyone lived happily ever after. Mostly.
There was that time when Xander was ten and he managed to sneak through the gate and get captured. Fortunately, the Wraith wanted to keep him as a pet. Unfortunately, they really
want to keep him and the rescue operation would have been pear shaped if Atlantis hadn’t had a few tricks up their sleeves. A miniSlayer Faith and whatever Dawn and Cordy were, to be precise. Xander was rescued and vowed to never leave the city again. At least, not without his girls to protect him. So it wasn’t really that surprising that he grew up to marry Teyla’s only daughter, who was just
like her mother. What Sheppard thought about his little girl marrying the kooky handyman of Atlantis was never said but the fact that all the kids were in some way phobic of heights didn’t exactly bode well.
And there was that time after Dawn turned 18 and started to travel with Teyla occasionally and managed to find a Quantum Mirror. That had been 13 days of terror until she’d finally come safely back through laughing. She still wouldn’t say what was so funny. She’d just occasionally look at Jack and snort something about a mullet. Jack never asked about that. Just like he never asked why she suddenly started taking Jinto’s interest seriously.
And nobody ever talked about the time after the kids had been around almost 20 years and they weren’t really kids anymore that Faith and Torren were found in a storage closet mostly sans clothes. Especially since he asked her to marry him soon after and she said yes. (Jack had nothing to do with either decision, he swore. (He didn’t, however, put anything past Teyla. That woman was fricking fierce.))
And the time Cordelia accidentally ascended, then landed in Ronon’s lap naked was also not mentioned. Especially around Teal’c, who’d decided early on that Cordelia was his favorite. Or Oz, who was slightly insane when it came to his pack. And certainly never around Cordelia, who was scarier than all of them. Even if she did bag Ronon eventually.
But still. Mostly happily ever after was better than not at all.