Don't own Buffy or Stargate or Dr. Seuss' intellectual property. Author's Note:
I'm just writing and posting, going with the momentum I've seemed to found for this story (or that it found for me). I'm enjoying writing this more than I anticipated, actually. So again, feedback is always welcome in all shapes and sizes. Any ideas for what should happen, feel free, I like inspiration :)
Buffy had been ready to call it a night. After skinny-tie-Todd, it had been a big fat zero on the slayer radar.
“His stupid outfit probably scared them all off,” She critiqued aloud. She expertly twirled Mr. Pointy and set off to do a final sweep of the cemetery before heading back to her oh-so-comfy bed.
Halfway back to where she had left the Smythes she heard what had to be a fight, and gun shots.
“Oh goody, Buffy gets to dodge bullets. I so hate that I didn’t get that super power.”
Andrew had this whole theory about her being a Marvel superhero and not a DC superhero since she had spidey senses and wasn’t bullet proof. She had told him, after he had shown her his pie chart and graph about the ‘Vampyre Slayer,’ that she could hurt him a whole hell of a lot more than a two-dimensional comic book chick in a leotard and that if he didn’t want to be spitting out pie chart for the foreseeable future he needed to keep such theories to himself.
“Okay, me shooting you was your signal to stop.” Buffy heard an angry vampire growl in response, and then a fist connect with flesh. “No, actually, I was wrong. Me telling you to ‘back off, buddy’ was your signal to stop--” The man was cut off with a punch to the gut, but he picked himself up and shot at the vampire’s kneecap, effectively slowing down the bloodsucker. “And me punching you? Also a signal to stop. And me shooting your kneecaps, yeah: a signal to stop.” At this last statement he lifted a steel-toed boot and kicked the vampire in the gut. “I don’t know where you came from, buddy, but you seriously picked the wrong guy to pick on. Well that sounded lame. But I think you get the picture, no kneecaps and all.”
Buffy’s jaw nearly fell open. She ran up to where the man was continuing to beat the crap out of the bloodsucker.
“And you thought you would get to play with your food,” she clucked her tongue as she came up to the pair. The man snapped up and looked at her, his boot pinning the vampire to the ground.
“I’m not in the habit of shooting pretty ladies, but if this is a friend of yours--well, I can’t say much for your taste.” He leveled an assessing gaze on the petite slayer.
Buffy lifted her hands in the universal gesture for ‘we come in peace.’
“Not a friend; I just know his type.” With that, the vampire demonstrated his type by knocking O’Neill’s leg off of him, effectively toppling the Colonel to the ground.
“Yep, that type. Well, guess it’s my turn, now that you’ve all demobilized him.” She could tell the man had the wind knocked out of him, but otherwise seemed physically fine.
“Close your eyes,” she said to the vampire in a sickly sweet voice, pulling out Mr. Pointy. “Nurse Buffy has a shot for you.”
As the dust from vampire number two settled Buffy turned towards his intended victim, who was a far cry from the action man he had been a minute ago.
“Oh, God, Charlie.” Jack O’Neill’s trembling hand reached out and brushed across the tombstone. The attacker--the fight, it had all been so quick and his instincts and training had taken over. Last time, his son had shot himself with his service pistol; this time, he had shot his son’s tombstone with his gun. A wound that was never far from the surface suddenly felt as fresh as it had been the day it happened.
Buffy stayed quiet, not sure how to handle this situation. It was a tricky one to start with: the man had handled the vampire with an efficiency it had taken the Scoobies years to accomplish. Now, however, the man was clearly an emotional train wreck, and not because he just saw a vampire turned to dust.
Buffy remembered when she had found her mom dead, not too many years ago, and imagined what she would have wanted in that moment. Well, she had wanted her mom.
She wanted comfort.
Stooping down to where the man was clutching at what she assumed was his son’s tombstone she looked at him and reached out a hand, laying it gently on his shoulder.
“Hey,” she said softly.
Jack looked at the blonde in front of him. He was a soldier, he needed to pull himself together--he was tottering dangerously close to the edge of the dark place he had fought to keep from falling back into. Buffy changed her stance so she was now kneeling in front of the man. She gave a quick glance to the tombstone and had a hard time keeping herself from wincing. The dates were so short--like her cousin, Celia. Lives unlived.
“Charlie, is it?” The man nodded once, slowly. “With you for his dad, bet he’s good looking, huh? Future, lady killer, I bet.” She spoke softly, a quiet slyness creeping into her tone as she tried to anchor the man in the present--tried to pull him out of whatever past nightmare he was reliving. “Who am I kidding? I remember when I was eight, there was the one kid, Toby. He was always convincing a different girl to go and play with him on the see-saw. You knew you were something if he asked you.” She sighed, “The idiot never picked me, of course. I remember once he asked me if he could ask me a question. I so knew it was my turn to ride on the see-saw with Toby. Oh boy, was I wrong. He wanted me to ask my cousin, Celia. Jerk.” She shook her head, a gentle smirk brushing across her lips. “Anyways, bet your Charlie was already well on his way to being a ladies man.”
Focusing on the woman, in front of him Jack listened to her story; it was easy to imagine her as a small indignant little girl--blonde pigtails were a must.
“I bet your Charlie wouldn’t have used a go-between. Seriously, where do you guys learn this stuff?” Her hand was still lying gently on his shoulder, and her fingertips were spreading warmth through the leather of his jacket. He lifted his own hand and placed it on top of hers in silent thanks. Her words had meant a great deal to him. Buffy could see from the clarity in the man’s brown eyes that he was coming back from the memories that had pulled him into a dark place.
“We learn it from our dads.” He gave a lazy smirk, though the humor of his remark didn’t fully reach his eyes. Buffy could tell, though: when this man was in full force he was certainly someone to be reckoned with. His voice was quiet, but slightly accented with a Midwestern drawl.
Buffy gave him a smile in return for his remark.
“Hey, you want me to call someone for you?” she offered. He shook his head and squeezed her hand as he stood up slowly, giving one last sad look to his son’s damaged grave marker.
“No. I’m good, I think I’m going to head home.” He paused, having not let go of her hand; he reached forward with his other one and clasped her free hand in it. “I just--I want you to know how much I appreciate what you just did. Helping a perfect stranger like that--I’m not a man of many words about stuff like this, but it means a lot.” He leaned forward and gave the slayer a hug. One that was tight enough for her to know how much he really did appreciate her taking the time to help him crawl back from the darkness.
He let go and walked away, his long legs swiftly taking him into the shadows. She listened and heard his car start up. Knowing he was safely on his way home, she let out a deep breath.
“Not your usual night of slayage.” She bent to brush the grass from her knees and again looked at Charlie O’Neill’s grave marker. It was good to know that there were such devoted fathers out there, even in death. Lifting her head she started the final sweep of her patrol. Buffy’s forward momentum was halted, however, when the toe of her shoe kicked something across the grass.
“Huh? ‘The Cat In the Hat Comes Back,’” Buffy read aloud. Flipping the book open she could see a large crayon signature, the ‘C’ and the ‘R’ backwards: ‘CHARLIE O’NEILL.’
Knowing it was too late to return the book to its caretaker, Buffy figured she could get it to him the next day. She hadn’t spent all those nights watching Willow on the computer and learned nothing.