Let's Do Lunch
Title: Let’s Do Lunch
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things SG1 belong to MGM, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Author’s Note: For everyone that enjoyed ‘Lost and Found’.
Summary: Sequel to ‘Lost and Found’.
Willow glanced towards the door, and then at the man guarding it. She forced a smile to her lips, urging the butterflies in her stomach to calm down a bit. These people had saved her. They weren’t about to kill her afterwards, right? That would be a complete waste of time and effort. They were just curious about her – and she couldn’t say that she blamed them. She was curious about them, too. But the military made her uncomfortable, for good reason. The hell of the Initiative was still all too fresh in her mind, even years later.
She shifted nervously, resisting the urge to shut her eyes and take a quick nap while she was waiting. The night before had been her first time sleeping on a real bed in over a year. And, despite the fact that she’d assumed it would be a very restful night, she’d found all too quickly that it was –too- comfortable, even though it was just standard base furnishings and nothing at all in the way of luxury. She was too used to sleeping on thin blankets with nothing but a bit of straw and grass to form any padding. So she’d tossed and turned for half the night before finally stripping the bed of its sheets and blankets to make a small pallet on the floor. Only then had she been able to sleep.
That was just one of many ways she had changed since being gone, she supposed. Dinner the night before had been quite the stomach turning event. Processed foods and preservatives, though not something most people would even notice, were all too clear to a palate that had been fortunate enough not to taste them for so long. She’d had trouble keeping down all but the most simple of things. Rice. Some bread. A little bit of salad. And water. The soda had been unwelcomingly sweet after not having been a staple of her diet during her time in the other dimension.
No, planet, she corrected herself. It had been nothing more than a far, far away planet. It was mind-boggling. A part of her had always wanted to believe there were other cultures in the heavens, she just had never thought to get sent to one, however accidentally.
“Are you unwell?”
The red head snapped open her eyes, unaware that she’d even allowed them to close. She shook her head, favoring the tall black man with a small smile. “Just tired, Teal’c. Thanks for asking.”
He frowned. Or, she thought he did. The corners of his mouth dipped slightly lower than what they had been previously.
“You retired early. Did you not rest well?”
Willow shook her head. “The bed was too comfortable.”
“Indeed,” one corner of his mouth twitched upwards.
“Yes, indeed,” she snorted, smiling broadly. There was something off about this guy, but she couldn’t quite put a finger on it. And it wasn’t just that weird gold tattoo looking thing on his forehead. It wasn’t that he stood out so much that he stood apart from everything. “You think they’ll get around to talking to me soon?”
He glanced over his shoulder, at the door behind him. “General Hammond –“
Ask and you shall receive, Willow told herself silently, looking curiously at the blonde that had opened the door. Major Carter, she reminded herself nervously. The one that had said she knew about Sunnydale.
“We’re ready for you now.”
“Was nice talking with you, Teal’c,” the red head gave him a little wave, walking into the room where the General waited. Colonel O’Neill was there, too, hands clasped on a folder in front of him. But the one person she had hoped to see today wasn’t present. It was to be expected, she supposed. Not everyone could sit in on this little meeting.
“Have a seat, Miss Rosenberg,” the General gestured to one of the empty chairs. She sat slowly, fidgeting. The Major and Colonel were on the other side of the table, with the General at the head. Her stomach flipped anxiously. As happy as she was to be home, there had to be a happy middle where she wasn’t stuck on some alien planet and also wasn’t facing a military firing squad style interview.
“I apologize for the delay,” he smiled warmly. “There were clearance issues on both sides, as I’m sure you can understand. We’ve been reviewing information on your hometown and project Initiative.”
If there was one thing that could have made her want to bolt and run back to her quietly peaceful little planet more than any other it was that. The Initiative. The side of the military that made her stomach churn.
“Yes?” she whispered, looking back and forth between the three of them. She caught sight of the file now, through the space between the General’s fingers. And it had her name on it. She swallowed hard, fighting down the surge of irrational fear that was coursing through her.
“You’re a very special young lady, if this information is to be believed,” the Colonel chimed in, opening his folder. She winced, slouching down in her seat with every intention of seeing if it were possible to be ignored if she just acted like she wasn’t there. He frowned down at it, and she recognized the look all too well. He didn’t want to believe what he was seeing, because then it made things so much worse than what they already were. Life was hard enough without worrying what went on in the darkness. Better to worry about a mugger than a mugger –and- a vampire creeping out of the alley at night to get you. One was bad enough, in other words.
“It’s all real,” Major Carter nodded, sounding very sure of herself. “I’ve seen footage.”
“But that was an Army job,” Willow cut her off without thinking, blushing bright when she realized what she’d said. She sighed, muttering the rest of her comment, mostly to herself. “And you’re in the Air Force. . .”
Major Carter nodded, looking to the General.
“Go on, Major. She’s been given clearance.”
Willow hardly had a moment to ponder what she’d been given clearance for, considering she’d lived through the entire Initiative debacle and could more or less teach –them- a thing or two, before the blonde haired Major shocked her right out of her thoughts.
“A joint panel was put together a year after the Initiative’s dismantling,” she offered with a smile. “Composed of all branches of the forces.”
“For what?” the red head sat up a little straighter, worry once again permeating every cell of her being. She didn’t like the sound of this at all.
“To determine whether or not reopening the project was worthwhile.”
“What?” Willow screeched, nearly knocking over her chair as she sat back, quite suddenly. “You can’t. Really, you can’t. You don’t understand the forces you’re dealing with. Look what happened last time. My entire town was almost destroyed. You guys just don’t know when to stop. Oh Goddess. It’ll be another frickin’ apocalypse –“
“. . .these forces are beyond your control,” the red head rushed on, ignoring the pleading look coming from the woman across from her. “They’re –“
Willow shut her mouth with an audible snap, looking at the General with wide, scared eyes.
“Please let Major Carter finish before you work yourself into a state.”
“As I was going to say,” the Major smiled winningly. “We determined that it was not in our best interest to tamper with those ‘forces’ again. We have too much going on without opening new cans of worms, so to speak.”
Willow breathed a heavy sigh of relief, blushing at the amused look the three at the table gave her. “Sorry for, you know, jumping in like that. . .you have to understand that what the Initiative was doing was . . .evil. On a cosmic level it was just evil. There are some forces you just don’t tamper with or else they come back and eat you alive.”
“All forces aside, Miss Rosenberg,” the Colonel smiled. “We were interested in finding out how you got to that planet in the first place.”
“Portal,” she answered immediately. “A rather temporary one, seeing as how it closed before I could get home again.”
“A. . .portal?” he raised his eyebrows in question.
She nodded, gesturing at the file he had before him. “If that’s about me you should already know what’s possible in this world.”
“Ah, yes,” Colonel O’Neill muttered, looking to Major Carter. “You’re a witch?”
She blushed. The way he said it, as if he didn’t believe the word that was coming out of his mouth, made her feel almost dirty.
“Yes,” she shot back, tightly.
“And these. . .portals. . .are possible?”
Willow rolled her eyes, turning to the General. “I’m sorry, but why am I here if you guys don’t believe me?”
“Oh, I believe you, young lady. As does Major Carter,” the General smiled, and it was disarming. She had the feeling that he was a very good father, or grandfather, to some lucky children. Probably made them feel all sorts of protected just by being near them. “Colonel O’Neill is just having a harder time.”
She nodded, taking a deep breath. Laying her hand flat on the table, she summoned a tiny tendril of magic, relieved to feel it answer her call even though she’d been without practice for so long. She wrapped it around the glass of water sitting in front of the Colonel, gently tugging it towards her.
“Satisfied?” she whispered, looking up into his eyes as she set a flame to burning on top of the water in the glass. “Portals are real. Magic is real. And if you don’t believe me after seeing it for yourself, there’s nothing else I can do. I landed on that dusty little planet after accidentally falling through a portal during a fight back home. If you’ve read enough of that report I’m sure you know that my home is Sunnydale, also known as the Hellmouth, where magic and evil runs rampant. We fight for everyone in the world when we fight, and I’m sorry if you don’t believe it. But it’s the truth.”
Willow sat back, averting her gaze to the table top. “General. . .am I under arrest or something? I didn’t mean to go that planet – and I’m sorry if I’ve seen things I shouldn’t have seen. But I’ll be a good girl and not tell anyone. I swear. Or take me back where you found me, even. It was a good life, even if a little boring.”
“A little?” Major Carter snorted. “I would imagine to a self-taught computer hacker P4X-593 seemed. . . primitive.”
The witch nodded. “It was. But they’re good people. They took me in, taught me a useful skill, and helped me get on my feet. They liked listening to me tell stories about back home –“
“You spoke their language?”
“It’s a Phoenician derivative,” she chuckled. “I always thought aliens were going to talk all alien-ish. And here I meet them and they speak a dead, Earth language.”
She glanced up in time to see the three exchange a look. “What?”
“I believe that’s where we’ll end things today,” the General nodded, giving her a warm smile. “I believe you have a lunch appointment with Dr. Jackson?”
The red head blushed brightly. “Um.. .. sure. I guess. I mean, we said when we could talk to each other about everything. You know, clearance wise, that we would. If that day ever came, that is.”
“Well, the day has come,” General Hammond nodded. “Daniel has been given authorization to disclose this project to you, and you in turn to him.”
“Not to be ungrateful or anything, because I’m really curious about how you guys got me home since I had them blindfold me so I wouldn’t see anything top secret and all. . .but – why? There’s no reason to tell me any of it. And as much as I’d like to tell Doctor Jackson about Sunnydale, he doesn’t honestly need to know, either.”
The General nodded. “Under any other circumstance I would agree with you. But we have a proposition for you. Please, go talk with Dr. Jackson, listen to all he has to say. Teal’c is waiting right outside to escort you.”
“O-kay,” she muttered, making her way to the door. A proposition sounded slightly ominous – but at least they hadn’t said she was under arrest or a prisoner –
“I could have just as easily –“
“We need her on our side, Major Carter,” General Hammond stated evenly. “She’s already more comfortable around Dr. Jackson than any of us. Let him try to sway her.”
“You make it sound as if it will be a challenge,” Colonel O’Neill frowned., confusion clear on his face “Who wouldn’t want to work here?”
The General shook his head. “You should read the files a little closer, Jack. She’s been fighting her own war for this world for years. The supernatural mixing with science is exactly what she fears the most.”
“And its what we’re asking her for,” Major Carter nodded, understanding.