My soon to be stepsister is a...
Dawn’s feet drug along the concrete corridors tiredly, “Gawd! How big is this place?”
The Airman leading them through the maze chuckled from just in front of the young brunette, “Big.”
“It’s so… blah too,” she moaned. “And could that guy have been any more boring in the ‘Classified means Classified’ lecture?” Dawn said mocking the voice of the Major that briefed them. It had taken almost two weeks for clearance to come through that allowed Joyce and Dawn to be here today. For some reason, which was classified, they almost weren’t allowed in, it was only Jack’s connections through Hammond and the President that got them here.
Joyce smiled condescendingly at her daughter, “Dawnie, what has gotten into you today? I know things have been hard,” She put an arm across Dawn’s shoulder, “But, hopefully things will get better after today.”
“So how far down do you think we are now?” Dawn asked her friend after they passed through another security checkpoint.
Cassie seemed completely at home walking through the gray concrete halls. Many people they passed would stop to say hello and ask how she was doing. “We’re only at level 14,” she commented casually.
Dawn looked at her in surprise, “Oh really? And we’re going down how far?”
“Probably level 26 briefing room, just one more elevator switch.”
“WHAT?” Dawn stopped, her jaw hanging slack before leveling a glare at Cassie. “You know this how?”
“Um… Lucky guess?” The blond smiled guiltily and hurried along the corridor.
* * *
Joyce blinked slowly, trying to make sense of everything Daniel was telling them. Dawn’s eyes were wide as saucers looking across the table at Cassandra.
“So…so...” She stuttered, “You’re really…?”
“Yep,” Cassie said blandly, not bothering to look up from the paper she was doodling on.
Sighing Cassie made eye contact with Dawn, afraid of what she might see in her friend’s eyes, “Yeah.”
“Coolness!” Dawn squealed, “I’ve never had my best friend turn out to be an alien before.”
Suddenly klaxons began to blare. Red lights on the wall spun around. Joyce nearly jumped out of her skin with fright. Dawn startled, suddenly uneasy, while Cassie merely looked around then went back to her doodling. A voice announced over the PA system, “Off world gate activation.”
A door at one end of the room opened and Jack appeared wearing dark blue BDU’s. He cast a quick smile at Joyce and the girls as he jogged to the stairwell at the other end of the room. “Danny, go ahead and open the windows,” He called back.
“Sure thing, Jack,” Daniel walked over to a windowed wall. On the other side were gray metal slabs that slid upward after he pushed a large button on the right side.
“This is always so cool to watch,” Cassie commented moving to the windows. Dawn and Joyce watched in complete silence. Total awe washing over them as a large metal ring Daniel had called a Stargate shot outward in a large splash before retracting into itself. A titanium spiral clanked almost instantly into place, covering the portal. Less than a minute later it spun open again and two figures walked out of the shimmering background. As the figures made their way down the ramp the wormhole dissipated.
“Whoa,” was the only thing Dawn could say.
* * *
O’Neill’s eyes darted between Joyce and Dawn as the Tok’ra explained about the symbiots and their role in the fight against the Goa’uld. Mother and daughter looked at each other often as the proposal was made, they could read in each others eyes how similar some of the thing said were, and then how different everything else seemed to be. He wondered what they were thinking. His lips were pursed tightly, and his pen in one hand tapped in time with his knee bouncing on his other hand.
By the time it was over, Dawn seemed on the verge of tears. Joyce looked like she had made up her mind already, but was trying to be polite when she asked if she could have some time to think about the Tok’ra offer.
“Well, Jacob,” Jack sighed standing up, “If you’ll follow the airman, he’ll show you and your companion to some temporary rooms.”
Jacob Carter looked at O’Neill doubtfully, wondering if Jack had said something before hand to his fiancé, then decided to leave it be. Nodding he and the other Tok’ra left the room.
“Jack would you mind if I go say ‘hi’ to the med staff?” Cassie asked, not wanting to be a part of the following conversation.
“Yeah, go ahead, kido. Just don’t be causing any trouble this time.” He then directed Joyce and Dawn into his office. Once the doors were closed, he leaned against the wall and looked them over. “Well?” he finally asked.
Joyce closed her eyes and shook her head, “I couldn’t do anything like that, Jack.”
“Yes!” Jack hissed, his fists coming up clenched as if his favorite hockey team had just scored.
“If you didn’t want it to happen, why’d you even bring us here?” Dawn asked softly staring at the floor.
Jack placed a fatherly hand on her shoulder, “Because it was an option.” He looked between them, sensing something else hanging in the air. “There’s a reason you’re saying no, aside from just not liking it, isn’t there?”
“Honey, perhaps you should sit down,” Joyce suggested.
The next hour was filled with an explanation of what it was like to live in Sunnydale. Jack’s face had gone through a variety of expressions from intense contemplation to utter disbelief. For the most part, he actually surprised himself by remaining silent and just listening. Then Joyce began to talk about her daughter that she lost, Buffy. Dawn muttered something just under her breath.
“What was that sweetie?” Joyce asked.
Tears streaming down her face Dawn spat out, “You wouldn’t be sick right now if she’d stayed dead.”
Joyce felt as if her breath had been knocked out.
“Eh, huh, come again?” Jack asked.
“When I called Anya, she said Willow brought Buffy back, the same night you started feeling sick. It’s her fault, I know it is!”
“Dawnie, sweetheart… are you sure? Buffy’s alive?” Her mother asked, breathless and on the verge of tears. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I don’t want to go back there! Things always happen because of her! And now because of her, you’re sick, and we’ll probably go running back there!” Dawn spat out, “If you knew, I know we’d be going back. I mean, hey, she’s the slayer and you’re daughter, I’m just the stupid key.”
“HEY!” Jack snapped at Dawn, then took a deep breath, “O…’kay, maybe we should go home and talk about this?” Jack said stunned, not sure if he wanted to yell at the girl, or give her a hug.
Dawn shrugged, “Whatever.”
On the ride home, Cassie sat across from Dawn in the back seat of the truck, completely confused at the odd silence and emotions that seemed to be floating around.
Jack pulled up in front of the townhouse and opened the door for Joyce. Dawn stayed sitting and sulking in the backseat. “Dawn, why don’t you come inside so we can talk?” Joyce offered. For her part, Dawn simply turned away, ignoring her mother’s request.
Sighing heavily, Joyce turned up her walk. Jack going along side her, “She’ll be fine, I’ll talk with her.” He assured his fiancé. “You’re more than welcome to come over to my place. You two practically live there anyway,” he offered smiling.
“I just need some time to think right now, honey,” glancing back at the truck, she sighed again. “I just wish I knew what was going through her mind right now…”