Disclaimer: Not mine. Not none of it.
Thanks to Booster for betaing. Blows kiss.
Notes: This is an idea I’ve had for a while. I’ve got a sort of idea for a chapter 2 but I’ll see what people think of this first. Enjoy!
He found her standing staring out of the window, staring across the smoothly manicured lawns. Of course they weren’t real lawns, it wasn’t even a real window, but in her mind it was what she was thinking – she created this place for herself. He had managed to discover that it had once been her home, her parents’ house. She had been a rich kid, a brat she said, Daddy’s money had been the closest thing to her heart, apart from her new manicure.
She stirred as he entered the room, the air shifting around her to blow the curtains back from the full length French windows. The sky outside was bright blue and cloudless, the deepest blue he had ever seen. Her eyes were sad as they met his.
“How are you today?”
“Better I guess.”
“I thought you might like to take a walk.”
She hadn’t been out of the room since her arrival, although he had tried to tempt her several times with the best his memory could offer.
“Somewhere I haven’t been for a while” he said gravely, beginning to think about the long, plain corridors, the over bright lighting and the hum of the air conditioning. She tilted her head and then turned back to her vigil across the gardens.
“How long has it been?”
“Since you came here? I don’t know. A month perhaps. Maybe more.”
“You come every day and ask me the same thing. What makes you think today will be different?” she turned back to him but there was no annoyance or irritation in her beautiful face, just curiosity.
He shrugged. “I’m concerned for you. You seem so sad.”
“I miss him. I miss them.”
“It is understandable. But there is so much more. You knew that when you made the decision to come here.”
She nodded thoughtfully. “I thought I knew. Perhaps I was wrong.”
“How are you to know if you stay in this place?”
“A walk sounds good” she finally admitted. “So how do I leave? Every time I try, I end up coming back into this room.”
“It’s a safe familiar place” he explained. “In the beginning it is hard but you will soon accustom yourself to moving from place to place. And when you have the knack of it, the worlds await.”
He held out his hand to her and she moved gracefully across the room, the sky already darkening as she bent her thoughts to a different place. She cleared her mind and allowed him to take control. The image of her room at her parents’ house dissolved before her eyes and a new one flowed into place. It was exact, and detailed and where hers had been simple, the window shapes half remembered, the color of the carpet changing occasionally – this place was hard and precise, the sounds and smells as real as if she were standing there herself.
She followed him down the corridor, her heels clicking on the concrete floor. There was a large number painted on the wall, next to the elevator. The florescent lights overhead flickered occasionally but they met no one as they entered the elevator and he pressed the bottommost button. The doors slid shut and she felt the familiar feeling of her stomach being left behind as the elevator dropped beneath her. His expression mirrored hers now, sad and wistful.
“Where are we?” she asked as the car slid to a halt and the doors opened.
“I spent much of my time here over the last few years. Officially I just worked here but I pretty much lived here as well.”
“Oh.” He hadn’t answered her question but she decided not to call him on it. He turned down another hallway and then into a large metal door. He stopped just on the other side, allowing her to walk past him. She stopped in amazement at the sight before her.
“What is it?” she breathed.
“It’s called the Stargate.”
The circle of stone framed the blue energy shimmering inside it like a large pool. She tilted her head again, that expression he had come to know as interest and then turned enquiring eyes on him
“Can I?” she asked and he nodded. She stepped fully into the room and walked up the metal ramp leading to the Stargate. From only a metre away she could feel the energy vibrating, the hairs on her skin standing on end. Two steps more and she was standing next to it. Slowly, she lifted her hand and held it, palm facing the rippling energy.
“What is it?”
“It’s an event horizon. When the symbols are keyed into the Stargate,” he gestured to the control room opposite, “they are encoded and locked and then engaged. The ring spins and dials an address. Six points in space and a seventh, a point of origin. It creates a wormhole which people can travel through.”
“Where to?” she asked, still playing her fingers across the event horizon.
“Wherever. Other planets, other worlds. Some friendly, some not.”
“You used to do this for a living? Visit other planets? I thought you were an archeologist.”
He shrugged. “I am. Just not on this planet.”
“What would happen if we went through now?”
“I don’t know,” he answered honestly.
Her hand dropped abruptly to her side and she spun round and turned to him. “I want to go back now.”
He did not argue but simply cleared his thoughts and allowed the familiar confines of her teenage bedroom to close around him.
“Will you come for a walk tomorrow?”
She smiled. The first real proper smile he had seen on her face. It reminded him forcibly of Sam Carter, the brilliance of it, the way it lit up her face and made him want to smile too but a pang went through him when he thought of her. He had barely spent any time watching over her, and missed her very much. Teal’c accepted his presence as did Jack, but Sam was a scientist. She would want to know the how and why. So many questions for one person to have. He sighed and promised himself that he would some time with her, even if she wouldn’t know he was there.
“Can I show you somewhere?” Cordelia asked him. He took her hand again and she closed her eyes, concentrating. The room flowed around him, like a painting in the rain, the colours dripping downwards and being replaced by new ones. As she bent her mind to re-creating the place she had spent much of her time, she recalled the details that had indelibly etched themselves into her memory.
The polished wooden floor, always a horror with her high heels, the scent of the wax polish, the slightly musty smell from the books that filled and overflowed the shelves, and a tang of something sharp = metal polish. Why was there metal polish in a library, he thought, but his question was answered for him. She had not only managed to re-create the room but also the occupants. He had not done this for her, sensing that she might be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of Stargate Command in full flow.
The people in the room stood frozen in their positions. A man stood in the doorway off to one side, he was tall and well built, a tweed jacket, similar to one that Daniel owned, soft brown cords, graying hair and a kindly but tired expression on his face. He was paused in the action of cleaning his glasses. Cordelia walked over to him and smiled affectionately.
“This is Mr Giles. Rupert Giles, but we all called him Giles. He was great, like a surrogate Dad, always taking care of us. He’s really smart, you’d probably like him a lot. He’s English, like you couldn’t tell just by looking at him.”
There was a large table, covered with piles of books at one end and a computer set up at the other. There were three people sitting there, one of whom Daniel instantly recognised.
”That’s you” he said, in astonishment.
“Yeah.” Cordelia moved over to look at herself. “I guess all that moisturising really worked. But I should have had my hair cut years ago. And that skirt? Oh my God!” For a moment she sounded like a true valley girl and he couldn’t quite match the girl she had been and the woman she had become together. Young Cordelia Chase was poised in, what he guessed, was a normal attitude for her. She was filing her nails over what looked like an ancient manuscript and he wanted to snatch it out of the way but knew there was little point.
The next occupant of the table was a girl, red haired, sweet faced, pointing to something on the computer screen that she was hunched over.
“That’s Willow. She and Oz,” Cordelia gestured to the boy sitting next to her, “are a couple. They’re very cute together. She used to have a thing for Xander.” Cordelia now moved to crouch next to a boy who was sitting on the floor, a pile of what looked like wooden stakes on one side of him and his hands occupied in the whittling of another. “I used to go out with Xander – I think I was with him at this point.” Her tone saddened.
“What happened?” Daniel asked quietly.
“Oz and I caught Willow and Xander kissing. At the time I thought my heart had been ripped out but now I guess I understand it. They thought they were going to die. It didn’t justify it but I understand it. After all,” she gave a mirthless laugh, “it’s not like I didn’t do it. The final kiss before the end.”
Daniel stayed silent watching as she rose to stand by a petite blonde girl. This was the source of the metal polish smell. She was sitting on the counter which ran down half of the room, a large sword across her knees and a wad of metal polish in one hand. She was paused in the act of furiously rubbing the sword down. The blade looked notched and well used.
“Buffy Summers. Bane of my life. She saved me a couple of times, and the world. Got me into this whole nobility thing. She and Angel used to have a thing.”
Daniel noted the slight change in her voice, perhaps touch of jealousy that Buffy had had what Cordelia would never have but Cordy was a grown up now, she knew better than to be jealous of this girl. Cordy knew how Angel felt about her and about Buffy. He loved them both deeply and Cordy, unlike Buffy, would never ask him to choose between them.
“These are your friends?” Daniel asked.
“This was my life. Once. They’re not my friends now. I never really fitted in. I was too rich, too snobby, too shallow.”
“You’ve changed. You’re a different person now.”
“Yeah sure” Cordelia moved back to stand by her younger self, brushing back a strand of hair that had fallen into her face. “If only she knew. What was ahead of her, the hurt, the anguish, the pain.”
“There were good times” Daniel reminded her. “I’ve seen them.”
“Sure. Remember the first time Angel sang at Caritas?”
Cordelia shuddered delicately. “I’m trying to repress that thank you.”
Daniel joined her by the table. “You aren’t the spoilt child you were once. It takes a strong person to give up their chance for life to help someone else.”
The corners of Cordelia’s mouth turned up, an echo of her usual dazzling smile. “I guess.”
“You guess?” Daniel stared at her. “He loved you. With everything he had, he loved you. What you thought mattered to him, enough for him to realise that he was on the wrong track. Because of you, because of your actions, he’s back on track.”
“Yeah” Cordelia muttered but her mind was on something else now. The library around him merged and rippled like the event horizon of the Stargate. He found himself back in the shifting bedroom, only the view out the windows staying the same. She had spent a lot of time staring out of this window for it to be so well remembered.
He always used her full name. For the last few years she had been Cordy, hardly ever Cordelia. Wes, occasionally called her Cordelia and he always made it sound like a compliment. She sighed at the thought of Wes, his wide trusting eyes smiling at her before he got into the elevator with everyone else. She sniffed suddenly as tears threatened but raised her eyes to the tranquil scene outside the window. Daniel realised that he had lost her again.
“Tomorrow?” he asked.