The Magic of Wormholes
The Magic of Wormholes
Rating: Pretty much PG for now, but will get higher later (though not beyond 12A)
Authors Note: AU from the start of season 7 Stargate, AU from graduation day part-two, season three of BtVS.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything associated with BtVS or Stargate SG-1, and will not make any profit from this story.
After Buffy and the gang died I didn’t have much time for the supernatural.
The plan for facing the Mayor at his ascension went horribly wrong almost from the start – it was a miracle that he was defeated at all. The number of vampires in the Mayor’s service was much greater than we had anticipated, and as a result many of the students died, or were turned. Some of the parents got away, but most didn’t, including mine, who had turned up unannounced.
Buffy managed to get the Mayor into the library as planned, but only after he had caused her a severe injury.
She never left the library.
I don’t think Giles will ever forgive himself for setting off the bomb with her inside, but it was the only choice, and I don’t hold it against him.
I went to live in Colorado with my mother’s cousin, Catherine, one week later. There was nothing left for me in Sunnydale anymore; the school was destroyed, my friends were dead. God, I didn’t know how I would live without Xander or Oz. I always knew Buffy would die early, her having the Slayer gig and all, but I never thought we would. They would.
I think Giles went off the rails after he lost Buffy, I didn’t hear from him for nearly a year, and even then he was a complete mess. From what I gather the Watchers Council sent someone to support him – I guess they’d had a lot of experience with suicidal Watchers.
It took me a long time to get over losing everyone I cared about. Catherine was great, but obviously she only knew what the public had been told: exploded gas main. I could never tell her how I really felt.
I put off going to university for a year and took a part time job in a computer company to take my mind off things; an attempt to produce a modicum of normality. I couldn’t practice Wicca without missing the others even more, so after a while, I stopped trying. I avoided anything to do with magic, vampires, and demons. It was easier to forget than deal with the memories.
I still get flashbacks even now, five years later. The nightmares came back with a vengeance when I heard Buffy’s mother had died from a brain tumour last year. I guess she didn’t have much to fight for.
When Giles got back in touch with me he was living in England again, doing his old job of Curator at the British Museum. He said it was easier to slip back into something he knew rather than start afresh, and the Watcher’s Council had been more than happy to get him re-instated.
I couldn’t go back to Sunnydale to continue my education even though I’d accepted UC Sunnydale. Giles said it would be safe – a new slayer called Kennedy having been sent there, but I never want to see that town again.
I chose to take up the place offered to me by Oxford, with my parent’s life insurance paying for the tuition fees and living costs. It meant that I saw quite a bit of Giles throughout my degree, and I think he let me replace Buffy in his heart. I know he is more of a father to me than mine ever was.
I studied Physics at Oxford, and although it was never easy, I graduated with a first after three years, and then, at the behest of Giles, undertook a one year course in ancient languages and cultures – an area for which I seem to have a natural talent. Well, that and a lot of private tuition courtesy of Giles…
I liked living in Oxford. The parks were beautiful, and the buildings radiated pure history and belonging. Sure, the weather wasn’t great and the transport and pollution sucked, but I was with Giles, who knew what had really happened to me… us… We sort of helped each other through the grief those first few years.
Presently I’m spending the summer with Catherine in Colorado while I decide what to do with my life. I’ve taken employment with the same computer company as before to pay my way. Catherine swears she doesn’t mind paying for me, but it doesn’t feel right.
I regularly attend talks at the local university, usually on some new physics theory that’s doing the rounds, or an archaeological find, normally given by guest speakers.
It was a month ago that Dr. Jackson spoke at Denver. I did some research on him (that’s me, research girl) before I saw him, and found out that about eight years ago he had submitted a paper that challenged the accepted date of origin of the pyramids. Needless to say his views were laughed out of the academic community, and he seems to have disappeared after that – until now. He was presenting evidence to back up his theories, and me being me, I just had to go.
What intrigued me was the question that one of the visiting professors asked the doctor.
“Dr. Jackson, how would you answer the rumours that you think the pyramids were created by aliens as landing markers?”
Did that mean Dr. Jackson knew about demons, or that someone normal had finally realised that there was something that the world was missing?
“I would say that whoever is instigating those rumours has an imagination even greater than mine, and I would like to meet him!” Dr. Jackson replied, his answer generating soft laughter from the audience.
I raised my hand.
“Yes?” asked the Dr.
“Wha… what would you say to theories that argue the existence of cultures on Earth other than human?”
I had to know what he thought.
“Sounds like an interesting idea,” he replied generously, “although, I have yet to see any hard evidence for this in academia. The majority of speculation for this seems to be coming from UFO groups, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, are not known for their reliability. Next question?”
Willow often spent her evenings in the small café across from her workplace, reading and attempting to translate the books and papers Giles regularly sent to her. It was pleasant to sit in the window and watch the world go by, sipping coffee and letting the hours slide away.
The other big advantage of the café was that it was one of the only places in Colorado Springs that didn’t see a lot of military personnel. Many of the soldiers from the Cheyenne complex and other bases spent their downtime in the local establishments, and Willow, without fail, did what she could to avoid them; they reminded her too much of Xander.
Intermittently sipping hot chocolate and frowning in frustration, Willow tried to battle her way through the latest book from Giles. This particular one was giving her a lot of trouble. It seemed to be some sort of amalgamation of ancient Egyptian and Norse, which made no sense, unless, someone had thought it would be a hoot to screw up some poor linguist’s brain in the future. Either that or a time warp, she thought, morosely.
The door to the café opened, and a tall man with greying hair stepped through, accompanied by a younger man wearing spectacles.
“Jeez, when did there become such a shortage of places to eat without your entire squadron being there – we might just have well stayed in the commissary!” the older of the two complained.
Well, thought Willow, there goes my haven then…
“Oh, come on, Jack, it’s not that bad,” replied the second man.
His voice was surprisingly familiar to Willow and she glanced surreptitiously across her mug at him; sure she’d seen him before somewhere.
“No, it really is. I’m gonna have words with Hammond about this.”
“I’m sure he’ll appreciate it,” said the second man, his voice betraying more than a little amusement. Willow sank back into her pile of notes and ignored the two men. She had better things to do than eavesdrop, and Giles would be expecting a call from her tonight to go over the translation.
It would really help if I could make head or tail of this, she sighed.
“Oh, for cryin’ out loud!” the grey haired man cursed several minutes later, distracting her from her work. Willow glanced over to see what the cause of his irritation was. His beeper.
“I’ve only just got away from there,” he moaned. “I’m sorry Daniel, but I’ve got to pop back – I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Daniel, Willow thought. Dr. Daniel Jackson – I knew I recognised him. She wondered briefly what he was still doing in Colorado?
“Okay, Jack,” replied Dr. Jackson, signalling to the waitress to amend their table’s order.
Jack rose from his corner seat and walked briskly out of the café, an annoyed expression on his face.
Willow sat staring at Dr. Jackson, her mouth slightly open, only realising she was doing so when he caught her gaze. Embarrassed, Willow turned away, but Dr. Jackson remained looking at her, puzzled. A few minutes later he got up, paid the bill, and left, giving Willow another glance as he passed through the door.
Later that evening at Catherine’s house, seated comfortably on the veranda, Willow set her notes out on the decking floor around her and cradled the phone between her shoulder and left ear as she listened to the phone ringing at Giles’ apartment.
“Hello?” she heard a tired voice say on the other side of the world.
“Hi Giles, it’s me,” Willow said, “you wanted an update on the translation.”
“Thanks Will, have you got anywhere with it?”
“Not that far really – I’m having some problems. I think I’ve isolated the language, or languages, but it doesn’t really make that much sense. It seems to be a combination of two languages that couldn’t possibly have coexisted. I mean, Old Norse was around much later than Egyptian, but if the dating is correct and it was written originally at the time of the pharaohs… it’s just impossible. Now, if it was Egyptian and Greek, well, that would make sense seeing as it was spoken there for nigh on one thousand years…” Willow rolled her eyes – she was babbling again and she knew it.
“Will, aside form that though, do you think it can be translated?” Giles asked.
“Eventually yes, but it won’t be fast,” replied Willow. “I’m gonna have to get up to speed on Old Norse and its related languages before I can make any proper sense of it. I’ll start work on it at the weekend and let you know if I’ve got anywhere on Monday.”
“Thanks Willow. Anything I can send you, books…?” offered Giles.
“No. I’ll get what I need at the college library if I don’t already have it here. Good night Giles, I love you.”
“Love you too, Willow. Take care.”
“Oh, and Giles,” Willow said, gathering the papers together into an ordered pile in front of her.
“You should really start sleeping during the night.”
“I was!” came the terse reply. “’Night.”
“Night,” said Willow, quietly, as the line was disconnected. She sat in the dark for a while, looking wistfully up at the stars. The night was dull and heavy, fire flies darting around here and there as they tried to get to the light filtering through the blinds in the kitchen.
“Xander,” Willow whispered. “Oz, Buffy.” There was no answering voice from the darkness.
A few minutes later she gathered up her things and walked into the house, turning off the lights as she went.
The next evening after having pulled a long Saturday shift at work, Willow took her normal place in the window of the café. She kicked off her shoes and tucked her legs up under her, settling into the large armchair with a tired sigh. She smiled at the waiter who brought her the usual without prompting as she started leafing through the pile of books she’d assembled beside her. Selecting one of Egyptian symbols unearthed in the 1920’s dig at Giza, she rested her coffee against her stomach and stated to read.
“Excuse me?” said a soft voice, coming from behind her.
Willow looked up, startled. “Hmm…” she murmured, her mind still immersed in the text.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I saw you in here a few nights ago and I couldn’t stop thinking: do I know you from somewhere?”
“Oh,” said Willow, recognising the man hovering beside her. “Yeah, yeah you do. I went to a talk you gave on the pyramids last month in Denver. You’re Dr. Jackson.”
“Ah, that’s it!” said Dr. Jackson, shooting her a relieved grin. “You were the redhead who asked about evidence of alien cultures on Earth.”
“Non human – haven’t really got a thing for the little green men,” Willow clarified, shyly, shifting in her chair.
“Oh, that makes it alright then!” replied Dr. Jackson, jokingly.
“Would you like a seat?” asked Willow, gesturing at one of the empty chairs surrounding the low table she was using, going slightly red.
“Thanks, but uh, I don’t want to interrupt your work.”
“That’s okay, I’m pretty much stuck right now anyway – could do with a break,” Oh, yeah, way to come on like a complete weirdo, Willow berated herself, with a hefty mental kick.
“Alright,” replied Dr. Jackson, brightly, surprising Willow. “Can I get you another coffee?”
He returned shortly, laden with two steaming mugs of coffee which he placed on the table where Willow had been hurriedly clearing a spot.
“Thank you, Dr. Jackson,” said Willow, taking the coffee between her hands.
“No problem, and call me Daniel.”
“Willow – that’s me…” Willow blurted out by way of a reply.
“That’s an unusual name,” Daniel remarked, nodding politely. “So, you live around here?”
“I’m staying with a relative. I grew up in California, but I’ve been in England studying for the past four years.” Willow paused to take a sip of her drink. “What about you? I didn’t know you were in the military.”
“What,” said Daniel, taken aback. “I’m not really, I just erm, consult when they need language advice.” Daniel saw that like any intelligent person, Willow was not convinced. “Um, International Relations with respect to relics… antiques turned up in the course of military activity… that sort of thing,” he said, gaining a little more confidence as the hole grew deeper.
Dammit! Daniel swore mentally. The whole point of a good cover story was to use it. Then again, thought Daniel, the explanation of writing codes based of forgotten languages’ wasn’t much better.
“Anyway,” said Daniel, trying to change the subject as swiftly as possible, “what’s this you’re stuck on? Anything in my area?”
“I don’t know,” shrugged Willow, passing him a copied page of the book. “It’s just some translation my uncle has me working on. From what I can make out it’s some sort of mixture of Egyptian and Old Norse, but the grammar and word order make no sense – plus there’re symbols here that none of my references include.”
Willow sat quietly while Dr. Jackson looked over her notes. He frowned several times, then took off his glasses and polished them. Willow almost laughed out loud; it was exactly what Giles did whenever he was trying to figure something out.
“You’re mostly right,” he told her, “although this isn’t Old Norse, it’s more like a precursor to what we know as Norse. On the right lines though… were exactly did you get this?” he inquired, fixing her with blue eyes that made her go weak at the knees.
“My er, uncle… he works in a museum in England and passes thing on to me to have a look at. It’s a sort of hobby while I figure out what to do with myself,” Willow explained.
“So you studied ancient languages over there then?”
“Well, for a year. My first degree was physics… I guess I’m just a puzzle solver at heart,” Willow babbled.
“Wow, me and Sam rolled into one,” Daniel muttered under his breath, “Jack would just love that…”
“So where do you think I should go with this next?” Willow asked Daniel, leaning forward across the low table, her elbows resting on her knees.
“Hmm, I would concentrate on translating all of the Egyptian parts first,” he advised, “then try and figure out how all the other stuff ties in; like filling in the blanks. See here,” he said, pointing to a symbol on the page, “this stands for ‘season’.”
Daniel held the door for Willow as she struggled out into the night, clutching the books and papers to her chest.
“Thanks, you’ve been really helpful,” smiled Willow, “I’m sure you have better things to do on your night off than work.”
“It was a pleasure, really,” replied Daniel, returning the smile. “Might I see you here again?” he asked, not willing to utter the cliché of ‘do you come here often?’
“It’s more than likely – I spend a hell of a lot of time in that chair!”
Well, good night, Willow.” Daniel offered Willow his hand.
“’Night, Dr. Jackson.”
“Please, it’s Daniel,” he reminded.
Willow grinned and he released her hand, standing a watching her until she arrived safely at her car. Then, he turned on his heel and went to find a lift back to the mountain.
Willow sat in the jeep, the engine running in neutral, the events of the evening running through her mind. Daniel Jackson was not at all what she had expect from a ridiculed archaeologist. He was confident in his knowledge, assured in his views and, most importantly, pretty damn hot!
Wait a minute, Willow suddenly thought, a chill feeling developing in her gut, why didn’t he seem surprised a the use of languages in the book?