Another update? Don't mind if I do. Hope everyone enjoys. Please consider leaving a review cookie. EDIT:
A sharp eyed reader pointed out to me that Buffy herself is not 21 yet in this chapter, making her beer consumption unlikely. Since I rarely write the BtVS crowd as under 21, it completely slipped my notice. I need to contemplate a bit and then will put some minor edits in. EDIT 2- 5/22/13:
Okay, minor edits put in to reflect the fact that Buffy is under 21 and consuming alcohol. Disclaimer:
I claim no ownership of either Buffy or Stargate.Timeline:
Buffy is Season Five, post The Body, Stargate is Season Five. Chapter Six“What did we learn about beer?” “Foamy!” –Xander and Cave-Buffy
Jack watched speculatively as Buffy Summer drained most of a pitcher of beer in one long swallow before pulling the pitcher away, face screwed up in disgust, as she dragged her sleeve across her face.
“I take it beer is not really your thing?”
Buffy spared him a glare at the patronizing tone but otherwise steadfastly ignored him. And really, more to the point, ignored Daniel who was perched on the edge of a questionably stained sofa while everyone waited for Buffy to say something
. Anything really.
She hadn’t said a word since Daniel had blurted out his confession, just led them at a very determined pace from the cemetery to the club.
Jack glance over at his teammate and mentally sighed as he took in Daniel’s hunched shoulders. Great. Feelings.
Since it was pretty obvious Buffy wasn’t going to do a meet n’greet until she imbibed what were hardly legal libations Jack kept a casual eye on their surroundings. The Bronze wasn’t the kind of place he had frequented when he was younger- he wasn’t sure they had had places like The Bronze when he was younger, truth in fact- but age had not improved his perception of the semi-nightclub. Luckily they were tucked far enough back from the stage that the sound of the alternative rock band was muffled. The club itself was fairly full, despite it being a weeknight, but most of the clientele was in their teens or early twenties.
In other words, walking balls of hormones. Rubbing up on each other and calling it dancing.
Jack felt very, very old and equally out of place.
Never mind he didn’t trust that the beer glasses were clean enough to drink out of safely. Buffy had bypassed that particular obstacle by drinking straight from a pitcher she had snatched off of a momentarily unattended table of course but that option seemed a bit less dignified for anyone over the age of forty. Or even thirty for cryin’ out loud.
Feeling increasingly cranky Jack rolled his eyes when Buffy rose from their little corner of purgatory and went stalking off for another pitcher. Daniel looked miserable and mumbled a half-hearted, "She's not 21..."
He shrugged. "Yeah, I know. But call me crazy- critiquing your niece's life choices before she even speaks to you might be pushing faux parental boundaries a bit. Something tells me this little underage booze is fueled by a certain pet robot more than any actual preference for being a booze hound." The two men watched in contemplative silence as Buffy nicked another pitcher from a table. "I might be concerned about her kleptomaniac tendencies though." Even as she tilted back the pitcher for the next round, so to speak, Jack noticed that her gaze narrowed and focused on a couple that were whispering next to each other by the exit door behind them.
Jack frowned as he also took stock of the situation that had caught her eye. The girl Buffy was watching looked normal enough, young and insecure in a too-short skirt, but the guy moved… oddly. If you just glanced he would have probably come across as merely confident, an older teen used to tempting girls out in the alley for a make out session. If you watched him though there was significantly more intent to his actions. He looked… predatory.
The male teenager smiled at something the girl said, his eyes distant, as one hand reached up and gently stroked her neck as she blushed.
Jack started as Buffy slammed the half-drunk pitcher down at a more occupied table. The teens at that table jumped, surprised by the intrusion of a mostly empty, foamy pitcher, but Buffy was off like a heart seeking missile. She wasn’t entirely a steady missile as she marched over to the couple but her movements were no less… predatory than the teenager’s.
The teen boy looked up as Buffy stalked over, his dark gaze glinting with intrigued interest as Buffy put a little extra swing into her steps those last few steps. All it took was Buffy standing on her tiptoes to whisper something roughly into the teen’s ear before the younger girl was unceremoniously excluded so that the boy could focus on Buffy Summers.
Jack watched, mouth hanging open, as Buffy wrapped an arm around the boy’s waist and pulled him through the Exit door less than thirty seconds after she had sauntered over. He glanced over at his teammate and Daniel, though obviously emotional about the turbulent state of his current personal life, was watching the whole interaction with the same thoughtfulness of Jack.
“Whatdya think that was all about? I don’t know about you but seeing myself in robot form didn’t exactly make me all hot and bothered.”
“I’m not sure,” Daniel finally responded, eyes narrowed. “There seems to be a lot going on here in Sunnydale that we’re not sure about, doesn’t there?”
Jack snorted. “Well, we know something for sure…”
Daniel sighed, knowing what was coming as the older man grinned grimly.
“She’s definitely related to you.”
The Exit door opened with a bang and Buffy came back through, looking considerably less tipsy and predatory and significantly more… tired. She walked back over towards them, rubbing dust from her palms on her jeans, before she stopped in front of the small seating area they had claimed.
Sleepless nights and emotional shocks had left her with dark circles under her eyes and there was a sudden frailty about Daniel’s niece that was almost painful to see. A razor thin divide between strength and weakness that reminded Jack painfully of Sara in the years following Charlie’s death, once the wildness of her grief had ebbed.
“So…” Jack drawled when it became clear that neither Buffy or Daniel were inclined to break the silence, “… friend of yours?” Buffy looked briefly startled and Jack nodded towards the Exit door, where the teenage boy had yet to come back in.
He didn’t miss the slight tensing of her shoulders, but the sigh and wry smile as she sank into the couch next to Daniel seemed genuine. “No, just looked like a bad situation for the girl. I had a little… talk with the guy and he had a change of heart about taking nice young girls out in the alley.”
Jack studied her for a moment longer. “You’re not such a nice young girl, are you?”
“Jack!” Daniel interrupted, shooting him a panicked, angry look but Buffy merely laughed abruptly, surprised into humor by his bluntness.
“No, not for longer than I care to think about.” She turned to Daniel, obviously done with that conversation and ready for much weightier matters. “So… you say you’re my… uncle?”
Daniel tried not to fidget as Buffy read through the files he had given her from his private investigator, Paul McCreedy. It was odd, how finding family made him feel more insecure than he had in a very long time.
The foster system hadn’t made his early life a walk in the park and his years as an academic outcast had only fostered that deep-seated sense of inadequacy. After all his parents, through no fault of their own, had left him. His grandfather Nick, his only known relation at the time, had chosen to abandon him to strangers rather than take him in and interrupt Dr. Nicholas Ballard’s research, and his own community, once he had started pushing the limits, had chosen to ostracize him rather than contemplate the fact that his theories, if proven, literally changed the course of human history.
His years with the Stargate program, though not without travail and personal hardship, had brought him more peace than he had ever expected. To be needed, to find purpose, to people like Jack O’Neill, Teal’c, Sam, Janet friends… To love Sha’re… It had given him back some of the confidence that had been so fully stripped away.
But here he sat, on a not so clean couch in a not so clean club in Sunnydale, California, next to a young woman who might…
He didn’t really know. Give him family? A sense of belonging that even now was lacking?
Right now, in the aftermath of Joyce’s death it somehow seemed like it should be less about him and more about Buffy and Dawn. More about making them feel less alone.
She had been quiet for such a long time, but it was reassuring, in a way, that she hadn’t thrown the paperwork in his face, or called him a liar. She was simply thumbing through, page after page, until she reached the end.
Joyce’s obituary lay face up in the file, all smiles and kind eyes, and Daniel held his breath, ashamed that he had forgotten that it was in that stack. Buffy’s fingers lingered over the picture of her mother, face still downturned.
“I didn’t write it,” she said softly. She looked up at him, eyes bright with earnest, unshed tears. “I tried. I tried so hard to write the words but I… I couldn’t. How can you capture a person in a paragraph? How can you write so little when they mean… when they meant so much?” Buffy swallowed and glanced at Jack as well. “I had my friend, Willow, write it out. I might regret that, someday, but right now it feels better for things to be simple.”
It was Daniel’s turn to swallow as panic welled up in him. “Buffy… I don’t need anything from you. Or Dawn… I mean…”
She carefully ordered and closed the manila folder in her lap as she looked back down. It feels better for things to be simple.
To be easier. To be without this new, strange complication to her life. To Dawn’s.
“And I am tempted, Daniel Jackson, to extend that policy to you. To think that Dawn and I will be fine with the family and friends we have. To not complicate a situation that, honestly, is complicated enough already.”
Daniel stared at her, silent, unable to refute the words even as his heart hammered in protest.
But then there was a reason he had brought Jack with him, and not any of the multitude of others. “Good thing life’s not easy then, right?” the older man drawled. “Good thing life is messy, and hard, and full of new things whether you want it to be or not.”
Buffy met Jack’s penetrating gaze and nodded, once in agreement, as she reached over and tentatively took Daniel’s hand.