Let's Do Lunch - 2/2
Willow followed Teal'c nervously down the hall towards what she assumed was Daniel's office. She didn't know how he could find his way so unerringly through a building that seemed to have no distinguishing features. Just hall after hall of ugly metal interior decorating. Even if they hadn't told her she was in a base of some kind, she would have been able to guess. The entire place just -felt- like the military.
"Um - do you know what's going on?" she asked quietly of the large man, hoping for a clue as to what she was going to hear from Daniel or maybe just what this proposition was.
It was a silly hope, she realized, judging by the impassive expression on his face. Of course, she reassured herself as she waited for him to answer, that was just his normal expression. It could mean anything or nothing at all.
Turns out, nothing was more accurate.
"I do not, Willow Rosenberg," he offered, stopping before a closed door. "The Colonel will be briefing me once I have escorted you to your meeting."
"Is this it, then?" she gestured at the door, immediately feeling a little silly when she noted that Daniel's name was right there, in a little name placque.
"Indeed it is," he tilted his head to the side, either unaware of her acute nervousness or just not choosing to comment on it. She nodded, clearing her throat.
"Well, thanks for showing me the way."
"You are most welcome."
It took her from the time Teal'c began to walk away until he finally disappeared from sight, down a side hallway, to get up the courage to knock on Daniel's door.
The red haired witch giggled at the harried tone of his voice before twisting the knob and opening the door. It was just what she'd thought the young archeologist's office would look like. Filled with books and papers, artifacts and tablets. Things that would send Giles into rapturous states of ecstasy, she was sure.
"Willow," Daniel smiled, standing up the moment he noticed her waiting to get his attention. He shut the file in front of him, gesturing for her to take a seat. "I was just reading --"
"About me?" she guessed with a shy chuckle when he nodded. "Anything interesting?"
"Fascinating," he nodded. "Unbelieavable, even."
"It's all true," she shrugged self-consciously. "Well, I guess it is. No clue what the report on me really says. I can guess, though - witch, friend to a vampire slayer, hacker, research girl --"
"You say it so calmly," he muttered, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "You've lived things I can't possibly dream of --"
"Really?" Willow shook her head. "I find that hard to believe. Weren't you on that planet with me? I mean, you guys had to get there and back somehow, right?"
"Right," he nodded, smiling warmly. "And General Hammond says that I can tell you all about it, if you want."
"Please! I've been dying to know. I mean, do you guys have a staff of witches to open the portals or some mystical device that opens gateways or --"
She blushed, cutting herself off in midthought. "Sorry. I babble when I'm nervous."
"There's no reason to be nervous," he offered with another one of those smiles. He had that boy next door kind of good looks, complete with matching attitude. His mouth opened and closed, and the he chuckled softly. "Where to start? Um. . .this base, this project, is top secret. Classified and all of those other words the General likes to throw out on a regular basis. So anything I tell you can't go any further than between me and you."
"And the others, right?"
He nodded, "Yes, of course."
"So - what's the project?" Willow asked finally, when it appeared that Daniel had either gotten lost staring at her or in his thoughts. Most likely his thoughts, she told herself. There would be no reason for him to lose himself in her face, after all.
Just then alarms sounded through the compound, causing her to jump in her chair. She glanced at Daniel for reassurance, slightly perturbed when all he did was smile.
"It's funny you should ask --"
Her heart was hammering with something that was either fear or excitement, though logic told her it was most likely a mixture of both. Like the surface of a mettalic water, the blue of this. . .Stargate. . .shimmered down in the Gate Room - at least, she thought that's what Daniel had called it. This entire thing seemed so unreal. A portal, but not a magic one. There was no magic coming off of the portal. No magic use within the entire base, for that matter. It was pure science, this gateway to other planets.
Willow watched, fascinated, as the members of the incoming team slowly trudged back through the gate. They looked tired, completely worn down. Explorers, Daniel was saying off to her right, trying to explain things as they were happening in that excited, yet calm-sounding voice of his.
"How many planets does it go to?" she murmured, eyes still on the gate as the blue energy dissipated suddenly, everyone apparently through.
"We don't know," he admitted with a shrug. "Thousands, tens of thousands. The combinations alone are endless. Of course, they don't always reach an active gate or a location that exists any longer. Teams go out regularly to explore the planets that have active gates and are capable of exploration - meaning the atmosphere and surrounding conditions are stable."
She nodded, turning her eyes from the now empty gate, complete with closed - what was that thing again, an iris? - to look into his intense eyes.
"What are you exploring for?"
"To find out about ourselves, in most cases."
Willow frowned, her confusion only deepening with every word that he was speaking.
"How can we find out about ourselves by exploring other planets?" she finally voiced the question that was at the fore of her mind, earning herself another patient smile from Daniel.
And then the lecture began.
It took him the better part of an hour to explain about the Goa'uld and how they'd transplanted people around the universe to ensure that they would always have a steady stream of viable hosts for their snakey offspring. It was very disturbing, byt also made alot of sense the more she thought about it.
"So that's why the people on that other planet spoke a derivative of Phoenician?"
Daniel nodded, eyes gleaming with that twinkle that she'd seen before in others. The one that meant he was enjoying every moment of this time together, teaching her about these things, answering her questions. It was such close one on one time, sitting next to each other going over reports, exploration information, meticulous notes that he had taken on the planets he had personally visited.
It was the best lunch date she'd ever had, even considering the fact that lunch had been nothing more than something hastily grabbed on their way back from the Stargate to his office as he began to explain about this wide world out there and how Earth fit into everything.
"I'm going to take a stance and say these Goa'uld aren't of the good," she shook her head, putting aside the tenth report in a row that she'd breezed through. Her head was pounding from the amount of information she'd had pushed into it.
"No, they're not."
She flushed, remembering the second report she'd read. The one Daniel had written upon returning from a place called Abydos. His wife had been taken as host to a Goa'uld. So had a boy that the team had been pretty close to. Only the boy, Skaara, had managed to survive the ordeal. Daniel's wife had died in the long run.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I know what it's like to lose people close to you."
His smile was fleeting, brief. "It was a long time ago. The pain --"
"Is still there," she shook her head, her words cutting him off in mid-sentence. She blushed at the look he gave her. "Sorry. It's just not good to deny the pain. I lost one of my best friends to an attack. And there've been others, too. The pain stays, but you learn to cope. And slowly the pain diminishes."
"You've given this speech before?"
She shrugged, offering him another sad smile. "Too often."
"If you take the General's offer you might have to go through it all over again," he murmured, reaching up to remove his glasses. He rubbed at the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes for a moment in obvious thought. She sat back in her chair, conscious of the fact that the nervous swinging of her leg was bringing her foot a little closer to Daniel's leg than she wanted it to. She stopped, chiding herself silently.
"I'm not going to lie to you," he offered, opening his eyes. "What we do here is fight a war three quarters of the time. The Goa'uld are out there to destroy us, and we've made it out job to make sure that never happens. If you stay with us, sooner or later you're going to lose someone you've come to know."
"I'm not some frail little girl, Daniel," she answered almost immediately, her voice clear and without hesitation. "I can handle doing what has to be done, getting through the tough times and celebrating in the good. But so far I don't even know what the General is going to offer."
Daniel's eyes met hers, searching her face. "He wants you to stay as a part of the SGC. Considering what you know about us, and what you were doing before. Not to mention a grasp of ancient languages that is somewhat mind boggling considering your transcripts don't show you ever took any classes - you'd be an asset."
It sounded like an up front offer, but she could see what was behind it. What was always behind anything the military ever said or did, in her opinion.
"He wants my power. For this fight. He wants me to use my magic to help out some."
"Well, yeah," Daniel shrugged, guilelessly. "Any talents you have would be an asset to the SGC." He paused, thinking through whatever was going through his head, thoughts that weren't readily readable from the look on his face. "You don't like the military."
"I don't -trust- the military," she snorted. "Big difference."
"Right," he chuckled. "These people are admirable, Willow. Sure, there are a few jerks. Some lowlifes, but you get that everywhere."
She sighed, nodding. He made a point. He was good at making points. Liguist, he'd called himself at one point. That meant good with words and language, right? Well, he was certainly putting those skills to use today.
"What about my friends. . .my life?" she whispered mostly to herself. "We were fighting a war, too."
"And they're still doing it, from what I've heard. They're fine. You could still visit them, of course. I'm sure you're dying to see them after being stuck on that planet for all that time. But you can't tell them what we do here."
"Right," she laughed. "It's all classified."
Something was nagging at her, though. A big something. She bit her lower lip, thinking hard on all that he'd said. They wanted her as a part of this base, working on this project. It was a good project, definitely worthwhile. Maybe even more so than the work she'd been doing before, with the others. But --
"Ah! Flaw to this plan," she exclaimed with a snap of her fingers. "My magic didn't even work on that planet. Who says it'll work on any others?"
"We won't know unless we try."
She raised her eyebrows. "And if it doesn't? What then? You guys lock me up in a little room so I don't go telling the press about what goes on here?"
"Would you really do that?"
"Well, no," she smirked.
"And, no, we wouldn't be locking you up in a little room. There are other things around here you could be helpful with. Your records indicate that you're very intelligent. I'm sure we could have you translating Goa'uld artifacts in no time."
And that was that, she supposed. The proposition. The solution to her questions.
Now all she had to do was decide.
"You're sure this won't, you know, kill me?"
"Did it last time?" Major Carter. . . no, Sam, she corected herself - offered with a grin.
"Well - no, I guess not," Willow ammended, despite the protests of the butterflies in her stomach. Here she was, about to step through the big blue watery looking stuff to a whole new world.
"It'll be alright," Daniel offered her his hand with a grin. "You already did it once, you know."
"But I was blindfolded at the time. And the part at the end wasn't that great. The falling down," she pointed out with a roll of her eyes.
"I won't let you fall."
"Gonna hold you to tha--"
Her words were cut off as he pulled her through the gate. She felt cold for that second. . .seconds?. . .that she was hurtled through space. Propelled from the gate, she clung desperately to Daniel's hand.
And didn't fall.
The red head shivered, looking around with wide eyes. Jungles, everywhere. And, in the distance, some sort of ruins. Mayan maybe? Incan? One of those civilizations that had been lost to time many hundreds of years before she was even born.
"It's amazing," she whispered, hearing the gate shut down behind them. Teal'c, Jack and Sam were already moving around, looking for any local danger. And all she could do was stand still and just. . .experience. She squeezed Daniel's hand, letting it go abruptly once she realized that it was all too familiar a gesture. But he was smiling.
"Those ruins look interesting," he pointed to what looked like a temple in the distance.
"Willow - you gettin' anything?"
She blinked at Jack for one second before realizing what he wanted from her. Magic. Did her magic work here or was she just another civilian along for a joyride? Admittedly, she had been given permission to learn under Daniel whether or not her magic was going to play any role in things.
Still, it would be nice to know.
She opened herself up to the world, fully expecting nothing.
And getting quite the opposite.
She staggered under the force of the energy in the area, slamming her shields back up. That was what she got for assuming she was right and letting them down all the way, of course. She'd have a headache for sure later.
"Yep, I'm feeling a whole lot of something. . .sir," she added as an afterthought, receiving a smirk in return.
"Good - let's move out, then."
"Jack - the temple -"
Willow hid a smile as Jack rolled his eyes, getting the feeling that this was how things went on a regular basis. Jack trying to find new technology, make sure the world wasn't dangerous. Daniel just wanting to be the good little archeologist he was and explore anything that looked old and full of history.
"We'll head towards the temple first," Jack sighed dramatically. "So that our newest member can get some experience in looking at old . . .rocks."
The red head laughed and shared a look with Daniel.
"Don't worry - I like looking at old rocks," she whispered conspiratorily with a small wink.
"Then I think we'll get along just fine," Daniel smiled softly. "We never did get that lunch date, you realize."
"I'm ready whenever you are," she laughed, drawing a half-smile from Sam as the blonde haired Major looked over her shoulder at the two of them.
"Then - two days from now. And dinner, not lunch."
That was the day they'd be returning from this seemingly idyllic world. She smiled to herself, taking heart in the fact that he was as eager to get to know her as she was to get to know him.
"If you two could hurry up?" Jack's voice came from further down the path.
Daniel grinned, quickening his pace. And she found herself doing likewise to match. Within moments they were back with the others and her thrill at the idea of a dinner date with Daniel was replaced with a good dose of excitement at the concept of the temple, looming ever closer.
Well, the General had promised her the time of her life.
And it looked like that was what she was going to get.