A meeting of Alphas
Disclaimer: The Buffyverse and its characters belong to Joss Whedon, et al., and the Stargate world and its characters belong to MGM, Gekko, et al. This is a story written strictly for fun and not for profit.
Spoiler alert: This fic takes place after the end of the Buffy series and after the first two episodes of Season Eight of Stargate SG-1. Anything we learned about Buffy and the Scoobies in the last season of Angel does not apply.
My first-ever fanfic; reviews welcome. Thanks to Jinni for previewing a draft of the first chapters and offering helpful feedback. A Change in the Weather
Part One: A meeting of Alphas
The bar in Colorado Springs was crowded. Her business concluded for the night, Buffy took her half-finished beer to the counter. She found an empty stool next to a good-looking, mostly white-haired man, one she couldn’t help but think of as in fighting shape. As she put her bottle on the counter, she saw the man eyeing it.
"Non-alcoholic?" he asked.
"Me, not such good friends with the alcohol," she answered.
"And yet, here you are," he said, gesturing with a sweeping arm at the Saturday night patrons, most of them in various stages of drunkenness.
"I’m just here for the free peanuts. Buffy Summers," she said, and held out her hand.
"Jack O’Neill," he said, taking it. "It’s a pleasure to meet you. But … Buffy?
Were your parents angry at you before you even had time to give them a reason?"
"It could have been worse. They were thinking about Phoebe. Which is all right, I guess, but who wants to be named after a bird with a twitchy tail?"
He laughed, a nice, relaxed laugh. "My actual first name is Jonathan. If my parents considered anything else, it was probably along the lines of Robert. Or Thomas. Or maybe Stephen. Nobody would ever accuse them of being cutting edge."
"Well, not mine either, really. I guess Buffy was sort of trendoid at the time."
"Probably not in Colorado, though. You’re not from here?"
"No. Born and raised in California, recently returned to the states from London, here on vacation. What about you?"
"I work for the Air Force at a base near here."
"Got to say – the military, not my favorite people."
"I’m sorry to hear that. And what’s your noble calling?"
"I’m a personal trainer," she answered. The expression on his face made her wish, not for the first time but perhaps more fervently than usual, that her cover were something less insipid-sounding. But hey, it fit the bill.
"What’s that like?" Jack asked. "A lot of spoiled, pampered ladies and gentlemen in love with their mirrors?"
"Actually," Buffy answered, "I work with teenage girls. Athletic types. They’re great. A lot of drive. But a lot of distractions, a lot of things competing for their attention. Hormones, mostly. School, a little."
"You’re good with them, then?"
"Well, I’m getting better. I’m not exactly the most patient person in the world, but working with them has sort of forced me to grow up too."
As they drank their beers, Jack considered. His first thought: way too young; early twenties, probably. Second thought: too California. Next thoughts: warm, direct, attractive, funny. And he was tired of trying to distract himself from thoughts of his new responsibilities – which included enough boring paperwork to have stripped the world of timber by now – without any help. Final thought: what the hell. "Dance?"
Buffy’s considering took a little longer. The age thing: not an issue. The military, though? He hadn’t actually said what he did at the base. Maybe he was just the janitor, and his really short hair was a fashion choice.
Buffy had been badly burned by the military, both professionally, so to speak, and personally. Remembering the sight of Riley's helicopter lifting away from her, years ago now, hurt even yet. Not that it wasn’t more her fault than his, she thought, but still.
The military connection, though, was the only thing about this guy slouching casually next to her, Jack, that reminded her of Riley. Personality-wise, they seemed completely different. She couldn’t help but hear Spike’s voice in her head saying, "Yeah, that’s right, luv, the new guy might actually have
Anyway, it was just one dance with somebody she would never see again; it wasn’t like it was the rest of her life. And it had been a long, frustrating day of pointless investigation. She could stand to blow off some steam.
So, hoping Jack wouldn’t turn out to be a total embarrassment on the dance floor, she said, "Sounds good."
He didn’t disappoint.
Four hours later, as he was leaving her motel room, he handed her his phone number and said, "Call me." She sat up in bed, smiled, and gave a sloppy civilian salute. "Yes, sir, general sir."
Dr. Daniel Jackson hadn’t seen his friend this cheerful since Jack had been promoted and taken charge of the Stargate program. Bouncy, Daniel thought, was the only word for it. Jack had listened with unaccustomed patience during the morning briefing with the SG-1 team. He had even asked Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter a technical question: unheard of, and a possible sign of Armageddon. By the end of the meeting, Daniel was actually concerned.
He rose when Sam and Teal’c left Jack’s office, but stayed behind, closing the door.
"So, Jack, taken over by an alien this weekend, or what?"
"If you must know, I met someone."
"Ran into her in a bar. I’m old enough to be her father – in some cultures, I suppose, her grandfather. But it’s all sort of moot, because she said she’ll call me, but I haven’t got a clue whether she meant it."
"Sounds nothing but promising so far," Daniel said with a grin. "But don’t, you know, sugarcoat it for me."
He sat back down. "Seriously, tell me about her."
"She’s had a tough time of it. Parents divorced, her father’s not in the picture, her mother died when she was still a teenager. She’s had to try to support herself and a little sister. Started at college, had to drop out. Things have eased up lately; she works as a personal trainer, gets a lot of support from a tight bunch of friends. Very resilient, tough, but very open. She’s easy to talk to, and she makes me laugh."
Daniel was impressed, not so much by the information as by the fact that for Jack, that many words in a row was practically a speech. "OK. And if I were to meet this tough yet open aerobicizer, what would I call
her, and what would she look
"Buffy Summers. Small, blond, very fit. Pretty much a knockout."
Daniel, of course, didn’t comment on the physical similarities with Sam, though Sam was tall. Instead, he said, "Buffy?"
Jack just sighed.
Daniel hooked up again with Teal’c and Sam at lunch. Once he settled in, Sam asked, "So what’s up with our new general?"
Daniel hesitated, then spoke. "He met someone." Teal’c raised an eyebrow, but Sam just said "Oh?" Reassured, Daniel dished what little he had to dish. He had a feeling Jack would just as soon that Daniel be the one to do the telling. At the end of his short news bulletin, Sam simply said, "I hope she calls him."
In his office, Jack was toying with a paperweight, while ignoring the intimidating stack of personnel folders needing review underneath it. Inside the snow globe, as Jack rocked it back and forth, flurries clouded the tiny sky over the miniature Colorado Rockies. But somehow, all Jack could see was sunshine.
A few miles away, Buffy paced the floor of her motel room. The Slayer could feel the darkness gathering.
She could feel
it, but she was no closer to knowing what it was made of than she had been when she arrived in Colorado a week ago. Slimy reptilian things, indistinct but menacing, had begun moving through Buffy’s dreams a month earlier. Willow had sensed them too, and had been just as uncertain about what it was that she was sensing. A locator spell had brought Buffy to Cheyenne Mountain to do reconnaissance.
But there’s never a demon around when you need one, she thought regretfully. Her plan had been to shake, cajole, or coerce information out of the local fright-flick population. Bad plan, as it turned out: the area was not exactly teeming with evil denizens of the underworld. Ski slopes, perhaps, were not their thing – or maybe just not in the off season. The few she had managed to track down had nothing to tell her, even with Mister Pointy as incentive.
Just one demon had anything to spill, in the last bar she’d hit on Saturday night. He’d been kind of an all right guy, actually, a human-looking demon who described himself as "neutral, like Switzerland" in the war between good and evil that Buffy had been drafted into in her teens. His kind were sensitive to dimensional comings and goings; he claimed he’d felt "something" several times in the past few weeks, but could offer nothing more. Buffy was no further ahead, the dreams were getting more intense by the day, and it was time to call in reinforcements.
In the meanwhile, she found herself in the oddest position. For the first time she could remember, she was at loose ends. No apocalypse to avert, no vampires to stake, no rowdy or frightened slayers-to-be to train, no Giles to torment, no Dawn to worry over, no Xander or Willow or Faith to hang with. She felt unmoored from her normal routine, as abnormal as it was. It was a little unnerving.
Perhaps that was why, she thought, she had spent the rest
of Saturday night the way she had. That sort of opportunity just didn’t come up much in her life. She’d acted on impulse, but now she had a decision to make. To call, or not to call?
This required thought about her own feelings, and Buffy was no fan of introspection. She could just accidentally lose the phone number; that would be one way to avoid the problem. Why did Jack O’Neill have to leave it up to her in the first place?
Maybe he was touchy about the age difference. Of course, he didn’t realize that she’d had not one but two boyfriends (if you could stretch the definition to include Spike, she qualified) who had been around for a couple hundred years, give or take, before Jack had even been born.
Her own conflicts were different.
She liked Jack. Really liked him. He was a complete wiseass, for one thing, and there they met on completely common ground. But he was much more than that. To start with, he was an incredible listener. For all that she had censored, she still couldn’t believe how much she’d told him about her life. Partly, she realized, it was because he didn’t overdo the sympathy bit. When she’d told him about that horrible day of finding her mother dead on the couch and all the trouble and turmoil that followed (at least the non-classified parts), he hadn’t acted as though she were some fragile flower in danger of being crushed. He’d given her a good hard squeeze, said "That had to be tough," and let her get on with the story.
He’d shared, too, although she suspected he’d been editing his biography as severely as she had edited hers. She had learned that he’d lost his son in an accident and then his wife to divorce. He’d volunteered no details, and she hadn’t pushed. That could wait for another time, if there was another time.
But when it came to his career, she was sure he was keeping secrets. That he was military at all was bad enough. That he was a brigadier general was sort of freaky, particularly because Jack was so totally different from any mental picture of a general she had in her head. But possibly the worst thing was that she didn’t believe what he said about his job for a minute.
He’d said that he was in charge of a team studying deep-space telemetry. Not bloody likely, as Giles or Spike would say. Jack was smart, but he was clearly not Mr. Science Guy. He was more the type who would get an action figure modeled after him. Buffy figured that his cover story, like hers, would have some tenuous connection to the truth. She wondered if what they were really doing was some kind of high-tech spying on the U.S.’s many "enemies," which was not a happy thought. Her own experiences had done quite enough to sour her on the military, thank you very much, but her time abroad had taught her that her own loathing was as nothing compared to much of the rest of the world.
But maybe they were up to something lame but harmless, like looking for signs of E.T. Although, again, why have a combat guy involved? Whatever they were doing in space, though, she was at least sure that it didn’t overlap with her own mission statement. Real, physical, outer space was one of the few things she could say with confidence was not her problem.
And, back on the plus side of the ledger, there was the sex. Definitely the sex. Two days later, and she was still feeling blissfully wrung out.
Enough with the mental to-ing and fro-ing, she chided herself. So her unexpected adventure might last a few more days; what could it hurt? Other people managed to have flings without getting all up in each other’s business. She would call him.
But first she would phone Giles and Willow and tell them to get their asses out here. Faith and Robin had stayed in London, and Xander was still there too, but Kennedy and Dawn were perfectly capable of putting the Chicago slayer newbies through their paces for a while. And she needed help.