: By Virtue RewardedAuthor
: Jedi ButtercupRating
: The words are mine; the worlds are not.Summary
: B:tVS/SG-1. "So, Daniel Jackson. You've just successfully done an end-run around the most famous wizard in history, fooled the most powerful woman in two galaxies into giving you the tools to defeat her, and helped wipe two meddling ancient races off the map. What do you plan to do next?"
: Post-Chosen for Buffy; mid-Season 10 for SG-1Notes
: For the Twistedshorts August Challenge - the long-promised epilogue-ish part of the main Grail Prophecies arc. Refers vaguely to events at the end of S3 of SG-1, which in season-years roughly paralleled the end of S4 of Buffy.
"'In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,
Faith and unfaith can ne'er be equal powers:
Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all."
--from "Merlin and Vivien", by Alfred Lord Tennyson
As after the end of the epic, comes the coda: sometime between their triumphal beam-down after Operation Aurora, their post-mission checkups, and their extensive and rather carefully worded debriefings, Buffy Summers spent a half hour or so sitting at her boyfriend's bedside in the infirmary.
At least, she assumed
that was still what he was. Even knowing what had happened to him-- that he'd been in that wannabe goddess' clutches for nearly two months-- the bottom had dropped out of her world when they'd beamed him up to the Odyssey
and he'd stared right through her as if her presence didn't affect him at all. What he'd said later, when she'd returned triumphant from activating the Sangreal-- when he'd called what she'd done a 'courting gift' and kissed her like there was no one else in the room-- well, that had gone a long way toward patching things back up. But there were too many questions still up in the air for her to make any assumptions.
The Daniel Jackson that she'd fallen for had presented himself as a scholar interested in the Grail legends, who just so happened to work for the military; the Buffy Summers that he'd invited to meet the team he thought of as family had been, so far as he knew, a security consultant who coached girls in self-defense and happened to have a father figure with a title and a gnarly old library in Britain. They'd both been taking steps toward revealing those secrets, little by little, but circumstances had taken the ultimate choice away from them, even as it had presented them with another.
Even if she totally ignored the fact that their entire relationship had been constructed on a framework of half-truths... there was still the way he blinked at her in startlement every time his attention slipped, as though surprised she was still there, and the way he kept almost but not quite flinching under her touch. It didn't quite make her doubt him
so much as it made her incandescently furious at Adria; made her wonder what he'd had to go through, that he now seemed to instinctively doubt her
, and that was bad enough. Was the gulf that had opened between them too wide to cross?
She knew it probably wasn't the right time to ask those questions; not when he was so newly returned to them. Not when they still didn't even know whether or not he'd be stuck with the physical
changes Adria and Merlin had made to his body. But then, would there ever be
a right time? After everything she'd been through, she was very much a rip the bandages off kind of girl.
Buffy cleared her throat, feeling her way around the edges of the awkward silence that had fallen between them, and summoned up the perky aura she thought of as her cheerleader camouflage.
"So, Daniel Jackson. You've just successfully done an end-run around the most famous wizard in history, fooled the most powerful woman in two galaxies into giving you the tools to defeat her
, and helped wipe two meddling ancient races off the map. What do you plan to do next?"
Daniel's mouth quirked in a surprised smile, and his fingers tightened around hers. "Somehow, I think Disneyland is out of the question," he said lightly, with a significant glance toward the clock. "But I'd settle for my apartment and a weekend undisturbed with the woman that made it all possible, if she could see her way clear to joining me there."
Buffy relaxed a little under the warmth rekindling in her gaze, but shook her head mock-sadly. "Oh, I don't know; I think that shows a distinct lack of imagination. If you keep the look, you keep the power, right? Do you mean to tell me you can't figure out how to fix yourself-- or even manage an illusion? If so, all those legends about Merlin are even more propaganda-like than I thought."
"You really think they'd let me leave the base like this?" he asked more seriously, narrowing his eyes at her.
"You really think the cameras in here are active right now?" Buffy raised her eyebrows back. "Why do you think General O'Neill didn't want you wandering around on your own? We're already writing a novel's worth of fiction about Dawn's and my part in this; what's one detail more?"
The last thing, the absolute last
thing they needed was the IOA knowing that Dawn's blood was the source of 'Aurora's Gift'. They'd want her locked up under their control; and the first time they sequenced her DNA looking for evidence on how her power worked, they might uncover certain other
secrets that really weren't anyone's business but her own. And maybe Daniel's. Buffy wasn't a hundred percent sure, and didn't think it was a good idea to try to find out, but she'd always known that Dawn had to have at least one other genetic contributor... and when she'd read the selection of SG-1 mission files General Landry had made available, she'd discovered that Daniel had ultimately left the potentially all-powerful son of his dead wife in the care of what turned out to be an Ancient rather than see him used, right around the ball-park of the time the monks had turned the Key into Dawn. She didn't know how their Ancients connected up to the Powers in charge of Earth, but the circumstances-- and certain resemblances-- were too suggestive to ignore.
"One detail?" Daniel frowned, studying her face thoughtfully. "What are
you telling them? I had pretty much expected you to be there when it all wrapped up, once I realized the significance of that book of prophecies, but Dawn's presence was a shock-- and I can only imagine how it might look to the suspicious minds on the oversight committee."
Buffy frowned back as she parsed that response. She would have expected him to be more persistent in pursuit of the truth. But then again-- there'd been times when he could have asked a lot of uncomfortable questions about her
past, and hadn't. She knew for a fact his friend General O'Neill had run a background check on her before she'd shown up at his party, and that had to have raised a few red flags, just for starters. But had his silence only been self-preservation, to avoid being asked awkward questions in return?
"You don't want to know what the real
explanation is? Just what I'm telling them?" she asked, cautiously.
He looked down for a second, turning her hand over in his, running a thumb over her palm. It made her shiver; but when she met his gaze again, he was smiling at her, ruefully. "Like I told you, I have secrets of my own; I know that knowledge isn't always power. And I know you
; you'd never have risked your sister's life if anyone else could have done what she did. I saw the green flash when she closed the portal, and I know how the bureaucracy tends to react to anyone with even a hint of hok'taur ability. So no; I don't need
to know anything beyond what Dawn might choose to tell me herself."
Something clenched in Buffy's gut at that, a wave of raw emotion she could hardly decipher. "Daniel...."
Daniel continued without waiting for her reply, almost as though he knew she needed time to digest. How did he even do that? She might be the one who'd read his
files, but he'd always been able to see through her like colored glass.
"You know, that's one of the things that infuriates me most about Adria? She has extraordinary power; but she has the same potential for humanity as anyone. I've known other hok'taur, people who developed their powers as teenagers or adults-- but also one who was born with it, and grew at an accelerated rate as she did. His name was Shifu, and in a kinder world, he might have been my son. He was cursed with all the evil of the Goa'uld from birth
, including the knowledge of what his father, Apophis, meant him to be-- and he still chose not to use it." Daniel shook his head.
Buffy bit her lip, then gently detached her hand from his and climbed onto the bed with him, settling her weight over his thighs. "Part of being human is making that choice," she said, softly, taking his rune-marked cheeks in her hands. "She chose wrong. Shifu didn't." She paused, thinking over his comment about Disneyland again, then added firmly: "You
didn't. And you won't."
He reached up, callused fingers framing her face as he leaned forward, resting their foreheads together. "You have that much faith in me?" he asked, quietly.
"Nobody's perfect," she shrugged. "God knows I'm not. But you try harder than anyone else I've ever met. And you have yet to let me down. Worry me, sometimes; it about killed me when I first saw you, looking like that. But-- do you have faith in me
The corner of his mouth quirked, and he stroked a thumb over her cheek. "What do you think?"
That was kind of a non-answer; but it was kind of enough of one, too. She'd heard Mitchell say she got farther past Daniel's defenses than he'd seen anyone else manage since he'd joined the team; if that hadn't been true-- well, she wouldn't be where she was, alone with him while the clock ticked down.
Sarcastic jerk. Loveable asshole. Too much spirit crammed in too little shell: a condition they happened to share. What had she been worried about, again?
She leaned forward, matching her lips to his, and found that no matter what had changed on the outside, he still tasted
the same, too.
Several moments later, they sat back again, and checked the clock; the deadline had passed while they were more pleasantly occupied. He still looked the same... and a quick gesture toward the chair she'd abandoned sent it skidding across the floor.
"Well, I suppose that's that," he sighed.
Buffy snorted. "Actually, you know-- maybe this isn't such a bad thing. We just knocked out the hierarchy above Adria; she can't get any more back-up, but she's still here. With a little time to practice, and some help from my people...." They would
have to talk about Dawn, and her own so-called hok'taur abilities; and that convo would lead eventually to Willow, who would be a fantastic asset now that they had an official foot in the door. She'd like to see what shield spells could do against the Orici.
"Right. And you were going to tell the IOA what exactly, again?"
"Ask me again later," she laughed, then leaned forward to kiss him again.