Where Do I Sign Up?
Disclaimer: BtVS and Stargate do not belong to me. I just play in their sandboxes.
The two most dangerous words in the human language; even “I wish” was less dangerous. He grimaced as took off his glasses and idly polished them. It rarely made things clearer, but the habit was too deeply ingrained.
“Oh really?” he asked, trying to hide his trepidation behind the forced jovial curiosity.
“I can hear you rubbing your glasses, Giles,” she said, teasing accusation in her voice. “I promise not to steal a submarine or anything wacky; I’m just saying that I’m bored.”
Steal a submarine? Oh dear lord. The fact that the thought had even crossed her mind had his heart speeding up a little. “Er, uh,” he began, trying to come up with an adequate response that would divert her attention.
“I mean, honestly,” she continued, plowing through whatever he might have thought to say, “this normal girl routine is just plain dull. Remind me why I wanted to retire? I don’t suppose you could rustle me up an apocalypse or three?”
“I don’t think so, Buffy,” he said quickly. “You were the one who decided to retire instead of risking a thirteenth year. Why don’t you go climb Mt. Everest or something?” That was a relatively safe suggestion. She couldn’t get in too much trouble climbing Everest, and it would keep her busy for at least a month.
“Been there, done that,” she sighed, a slight whine to her voice that he hadn’t heard for quite some time. “I’ve gone just about everywhere except the moon,” she lamented.
“And that one’s right out,” he said with a slight chuckle. “You could always settle down for good at one of the houses and start training the younger girls.” He’d suggested it before, of course, and she’d tried her hand at it once or twice, but it never stuck. She would travel to a house and spend a month or two getting to know the slayers there. Then she would call him up, declare that she was bored, and off she went on some new ill conceived adventure.
“Maybe,” she said, but it was obvious that she was thinking about something else entirely.
“Buffy?” The thoughtful tone of voice worried him almost as much as her declaration of boredom. “What-”
“Sorry Giles, I gotta go. Thanks for the talk, you’ve been such a help!”
The phone went dead.
He listened to the quiet beep-beep-beep for a full minute before hanging up with a deep sigh. That girl of his was going to give him a heart attack one of these days. Even after six years of retirement, she still caused him more worry than all the active slayers combined. He hoped that whatever adventure she had dreamed up was going to be less disruptive than last year’s decision to become a pirate, or a few years before when she’d decided to conquer a few hell dimensions in her spare time, or when she’d started an underground shark wrestling club, or when she’d taught the other slayers to BASE jump in wingsuits, or when she’d decided to get her pilots license, or when she’d decided to become a professional racecar driver, or when she’d joined a small demon tribe in the Amazon and disappeared for six months, or when she’d bought that jetpack for Tokyo House, or when she’d snuck into the Kremlin on a bet, or …
And now he was really worried.
Buffy wasted no time after hanging up on Giles. She knew he would discourage her if he found out, and might go so far as to attempt to pull his own strings to prevent her reaching her desire. But Buffy had tried everything she could think of to conquer her boredom – and a few things she hadn’t thought of until the internet helped her out – but nothing had stuck. Sure she would be entertained for awhile, but nothing held her attention after the adrenaline rush that was saving the world from demon hordes.
“Thank you for calling NASA, how can I direct your call?”
“Hi,” said Buffy cheerfully, “I want to talk to the guy in charge.”
“He is busy, but I can take a message.”
“Busy with what?” asked Buffy, not surprised by the response.
“I’m sorry,” the receptionist sounded surprised and a little annoyed at her, “did you want to leave a message?”
“Not really. I’d prefer to speak with him directly, thanks.”
“What’s your name, ma’am?”
“Buffy Summers. Please take a moment to look me up before we continue this phone call.”
There was a pause on the other end as the receptionist hit the Great Electronic Wall of Buffy.
“I… see,” said the receptionist, sounding more confused than anything. “Ma’am, I can put you through to leave a message on his direct line, but I’m afraid he really is busy.”
Buffy sighed. It had been too much to hope for to have instant gratification, but at least she’d gotten through the first layer of the bureaucracy.
“Thanks! I’d appreciate it.”
There was a small click, then the sound of ringing before the General’s answering machine picked up.
“Hi,” Buffy enthused at the end of the recording, “I’m Buffy Summers. I intend to go to the moon this year, and I would appreciate your full cooperation and assistance.” She rattled off her number, added an approximation of please and thank you, then hung up. Hopefully the message – aided by the fact that it was left on his personal answering machine – would be taken seriously. She really did intend to go to the moon. If this guy didn’t help her, she would solicit the help of a few senators that were in her debt. And if that didn’t work, well, the President had
said she could call any time.
Thomas knew when something was over his pay grade, and the bubbly woman who had called herself Buffy Summers was definitely up there. At first he’d thought she was either media – she’d sounded like a TV personality – or a rich wannabe astronaut who thought money and fame would buy her into space. When she told him to look her up, well, that had just cemented his assumption. He’d casually Googled her and found pictures of an amazingly gorgeous blonde woman engaged in all kinds of extreme and exotic activities. He’d been about to politely turn her away when he’d lost control of his computer and a message had flashed on his screen telling him to immediately cease and desist his research and to give the woman in question absolutely anything she wanted.
He was rather nonplussed.
Of course he had known that geeks monitored the computer usage, but he’d always thought that it was a passive sort of monitoring. Like, noticing if he checked facebook at work. He hadn’t expected to be locked out of his computer within 20 seconds of searching a particular name.
He’d patched her through, of course. When his boss had returned from his meeting, Thomas had informed him of the strange call. He had blanched and hurried into his office, shutting the door quickly behind him and ruining Thomas’s chance at appeasing his rampant curiosity.
Later, when he emerged, it was like nothing had happened. When Thomas tried to ask, he was told to forget the incident. Thomas was disappointed, but he was very good at forgetting on cue. Still, it bugged him. Very few things scared the boss and that pretty blonde woman was apparently one of them.
Buffy was surprised by the prompt response to her call. Within the hour she had spoken to the head honchos at NASA and had been informed with deep and sincere regret that they were not sending manned missions into space at this time. It would’ve ended there, but then the guy went on to ask her how serious she was about wanting to go into space.
“Oh, very serious,” she replied. “If I had the money and the know-how, I’d build my own rocket thingy! Though I don’t think I would trust anything that I built. Building isn’t really my strong suit. I’m much better at the whole destructo-girl gig.”
There had been a weak chuckle at this bald truth, then: “If you’re serious about this, you should contact General Hammond. He knows about your… areas of expertise, and he might be able to put you in contact with some people.”
Two hours later she was scheduled to fly back to the States for a meeting at the Pentagon.
George Hammond was looking forward to the meeting that afternoon. He’d never met Buffy Summers, but he’d heard a little about her since his promotion to head up Homeworld Command. Her organization, “the Council,” sponsored a liaison in the Pentagon and the White House.
He’d been surprised to learn that threats to the planet weren’t limited to the extraterrestrial, though Homeworld Command – and the military as a whole – was not to “muck about” in subterrestrial affairs. Homeworld Command was to be aware of magic and the subterrestrial threat, but his purview was to remain science and aliens. They had signed mutual agreements to that effect, agreeing to stay out of one another’s business and to pass along any cases that seemed to fall outside their jurisdiction.
It had been a bit galling to discover that, while he and his had been tramping through the universe, their own world had been such a mystery. He’d entertained himself considering what SG-1 would have made of the Council and the threats they dealt with, had they encountered each other on another planet.
For the most part his liaison hadn’t named any of the Council’s operatives, though he had indicated that they fell into three categories: slayers, witches, and watchers. As far as George could tell, slayers and witches were mystically powered hok’taurs and watchers were the men and women trained to research threats and marshal the forces.
Buffy Summers was the only name he’d been given. She had been named the longest lived slayer in the history of the world at a dazzling 32 years old. George had been informed of some of her more famous exploits, just to get a little perspective on what the Council was dealing with, after which he had made an off-hand remark about wishing he had someone like her in the SGC. This had almost resulted in an international incident. He’d had to sign a series of contracts swearing that Homeworld Command and its affiliated organizations – including the US military – would not under any circumstances knowingly attempt to recruit or control a slayer.
When Summers had contacted him earlier in the week, he had gone over those contracts with a fine-tooth comb. Depending on why she was contacting him, he should be able to offer her a job. He found himself grinning in spite of himself.
He stood when his receptionist opened the door and ushered in his guest. Buffy Summers did not look like the boogeyman of the supernatural world. She looked like a movie star, or a really short Barbie doll.
“Ms. Summers,” he greeted with a welcoming smile, extending his hand.
She smiled back as she walked forward and took his hand. Her handshake was dry and firm, perfectly professional with the controlled strength he associated with soldiers.
“General Hammond, thank you so much for meeting with me.”
“Of course. Please, sit down,” he said, gesturing to one of the chairs in front of his desk. He waited to sit down until she’d settled herself. “Now Ms. Summers, what can I do for you?”
“To the point, I like that,” she said with a smile. She crossed her legs and leaned forward slightly. “General Hammond, I was told that you know who I am and what I do.”
“Yes ma’am, I’ve got a pretty good idea.”
“Just Buffy,” she said, waving her hand dismissively. “I hate being ma’amed all the time. I can’t get the mini-slayers to stop and it makes me feel old.” Something dark flitted across her face, but it was gone so quickly that George couldn’t be sure he’d seen it.
“Of course, Buffy,” he agreed.
She smiled and leaned back in her chair. “Well, then you have the advantage of me I’m afraid. I have no idea what it is that you do here. All I know is that when I started asking around, trying to figure out how to hitchhike to the moon, I was told to talk to you.”
George coughed to hide his grin at her turn of phrase. “So you’re here because you want to take a trip to the moon?” It was probably the strangest request he’d ever heard. The people who knew about the Stargate and their current spaceship technology would know that going to the moon was a frivolous waste of resources – not to mention short sighted, considering the much more interesting possibilities that were out there.
“More or less,” she agreed with a shrug. “Mostly I’m bored. You might not have heard, but I’m retired. I thought it would be nice to relax,” she looked wistful for a moment, “but really it’s just boring
. Really, really boring.”
His eyebrows went up. Retired at 32? That was a new one. He remembered his forced retirement several years ago. It had been okay for awhile, but he’d missed the excitement of the SGC. He imagined it would be even worse had he still been young.
“I see. Are you aware that the Council has a liaison with the Pentagon, including my office?”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah, but I couldn’t ask him. He would go all stuffy and Watchery on me and contact Giles, which I’d really prefer to avoid. He doesn’t like it when I have fun.”
George was sure that there was a story behind that, but decided he probably didn’t want to know.
“Well, if you’ll agree to sign a few standard non-disclosure forms, I’d be happy to tell you a little more about what it is we do here.”
It took nearly an hour to fill out the forms and bring her up to speed on the extraterrestrial situation. He regretted doing the spiel here rather than the SGC; it was always so much fun to see the faces of the new recruits when they saw their first wormhole. Still, it was gratifying when all she could say at the end of the presentation was “where do I sign up?”