Tok'ra and Consequence
(See Chapter one for main spoilers and disclaimer. Thank you for the reviews, input, and feedback! They help to feed the growing plot bunnies I keep in my computer instead of the standard gerbils and hamsters. Author note at end of chapter like usual.)
Klaxons wailed through the lower levels of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. A familiar voice announced clearly through the PA System, “Unscheduled off world Activation.”
Jack looked up from his paperwork and grinned with relief, happy to push the papers and pen aside. Quickly he made his way down into the control room, “Any idea who’s calling, Lieutenant?”
“Receiving Tok’ra IDC now, General.”
Jack groaned, wishing now that he was back doing his paperwork. “Open the Iris,” he sighed before heading down to the embarkation room.
“Jacob!” O’Neill called out when the Tok’ra representative stepped through the gate. The two men came together and shook hands.
“Jack, how ya doing?” Jacob Carter looked around the room, “Sam around?”
“Would you believe me if I told you, she took the week off?” Jack cast a sideways glance at Jacob as they walked to the briefing room level.
Jacob wondered if Jack was joking. Sam Carter almost never took any time off. “And George?” he asked.
O’Neill responded casually, tapping the star that now adorned his collar, “Promoted.” Out of the corner of his eye, Jack noticed when Carter stopped in his tracks. Turning around Jack smirked, “Come on, we’ll call Sam from my new office.”
A beat of silence passed as Jacob’s mind tried to compute all the changes, “Holy Hannah,” he half-whisper, then asked, “Is there anything else I should know about?”
O’Neill’s grin didn’t change before he turned back toward the briefing room and continued to his office beyond.
After Jacob called his daughter, the two General’s sat in the office making small talk. Jack finally decided to cut to the chase, “So, Jacob, this isn’t just a social visit is it?”
Jacob took a breath and shook his head. He cast his eyes downward for a moment, when he looked back up Selmac, Jacob’s symbiot, spoke, “The reason we are here, is that we need to discuss the treaty arrangements between the Tok’ra and Tauri, General O’Neill.”
O’Neill’s thoughts drifted to a ring box in his pocket. Glancing at the clock he say it was still before noon. He began to wonder why he was getting the feeling that he and Joyce might not make the flight to Minnesota this evening. Jack groaned and pulled his palm across his face before motioning for Selmac to continue.
* * *
Giles sat back on his couch, both glad and distraught to be back in Sunnydale so soon. He watched Willow pour herself a cup of tea. “Willow,” he started taking off his glasses and cleaning them, “Tell me about this spell you performed.”
Excitedly Willow smiled and began to ramble about the previous Friday night, “And, and, and this giant snake came out my mouth and there was all this energy crackling, and this pack of demons interrupted, but I totally kept it together. And then, the next thing you know? Buffy!” The auburn haired witch sat down at the table and waited smugly for her mentor’s praise.
Giles had stood up from the couch and was now pacing, “You're a very stupid girl.” The former watcher began to lecture Willow about the danger she put everyone in. “You were lucky,” he concluded.
”I wasn't lucky. I was amazing. And how would you know? You weren't even there,” Willow defended.
”If I had been,” Giles spat angrily, “I'd have bloody well stopped you. The magicks you channeled are more ferocious and primal than anything you can hope to understand, and you are lucky to be alive, you rank, arrogant amateur!” Giles turned his back to Willow trying to contain his rage.
“You're right,” Willow said softly, her voice dripping with disdain, “The magicks I used are very powerful. I'm very powerful. And maybe it's not such a good idea for you to piss me off.”
Giles thought his mind was playing tricks with him; he knew it was Willow behind him, but something about her voice had changed, becoming almost metallic. He turned back toward her and stared for a moment before the Willow he knew seemed to come back.
“Come on, Giles, I-I don't want to fight. I ... Let's not, okay? I'll think about what you said, and you ... try to be happy Buffy's back,” She shrugged with a soft, apologetic smile.
* * *
The halls of the high school were packed tighter than usual. Teenagers ran around in costumes and body paint, displaying their school spirit during the annual Homecoming madness. The varsity cheerleading squad, accompanied by a guy wearing a duck costume, were inciting the gathered crowd in the school commons. Urging them all to ‘Root for the Home team!’
Dawn Summers, smiled and laughed along with the crowd. A brief memory of her sister’s description of this time of year filtered into her mind. Dawn shoved the thought of Sunnydale’s High School out of her mind before focusing her attention on the human sized bird costume dancing around. She wondered how she was going to explain to Cassie that she had agreed to attend tomorrow’s dance with a duck.
For the first time since Dawn could remember, she finally felt normal. There wasn’t a constant reminder of the things that lurked in the shadows, or prophesies of apocalyptic endings hanging over her head. The fact that she was some mystical key seemed so far behind her, as if it had only been some surreal nightmare.
Dawn was amazed at how easy life appeared to be when the things she was looking forward to included football games and homecoming dates with large water fowl. ‘Oh yeah,’ she thought, ‘ and parental units going away for the weekend.’ The thing she was most anticipating was her mother coming home Sunday night with a new ring.
Dawn rushed to her locker and grabbed her backpack, then pushed her way through the crowd to the student parking lot outside. Cassie was already there, sitting on the hood of her car waiting for the brunette. “Ready to jet?” Cassie asked.
“Oh heck yeah!” Dawn replied excitedly. She tossed her backpack behind the passenger seat and slipped in. “So, we go grab my mom…”
“Pick up the dresses for tomorrow,” Cassie continued.
“Get mom over to Jack’s…”
“They go to the airport…”
“We head to the pre-game rally then…”
In unison they squealed, “Weekend without parents!”
* * *
Jack groaned loudly, and pinched the bridge of his nose. He wondered why things never got easier with their supposed allies. Jacob sat quietly across from O’Neill and let the request his symbiot had made settle onto the new general’s shoulders.
“Listen, Jack, I know you don’t like us… and for good reason but,” Jacob looked him straight in the eyes.
“I’ve got to think about more than just myself now that I’m a general?” Jack asked in rhetorical sarcasm. A knock at his office door saved him from any return commentary Jacob might have offered. “Yes?” He called out.
The door cracked open and the Senior Airman that served as Jack’s secretary poked his head in, “Sir, there’s an urgent phone call for you on line one.”
“Thank you, Airman,” Jack nodded and picked up the phone, hoping it wasn’t Sam Carter saying she was running late to come meet her father.
Jacob sat quietly, but grew concerned as he watched O’Neill’s face fall. “Yeah, I’ll meet you there,” He half whispered soberly before hanging up quickly. Jack jumped out of his seat offering Jacob a quick apology, “I hate to do this, but I need to go. Sam should be here soon.” He grabbed his cover and keys then hollered a quick order for the Airman to let the OOD he was leaving, and then bolted out of the base.
* * *
(5 minutes earlier)
The two teenage girls were laughing as they bound into the Summers’ townhouse. “Mom!” Dawn called out. When there was no response she glanced at Cassie and tried calling out again, “Mom!”
“I’ll check upstairs,” Cassie suggested, the jovial mood slipping away. Dawn nodded and began to systematically check the main floor.
“Oh god, Mom!” Dawn screamed frantically when she found her mother laying unconscious on the family room couch.
(AN: Dialogue for the Buffy S6 Episode 104 ‘Flooded’ Transcribed by http://www.buffyworld.com/buffy/season6/transcripts/104_tran.shtml Episode written by Douglas Petrie and Jane Espenson, I’m using it for nonprofit entertainment and don’t own it, as usual.
Military terms: Cover = the hat that goes with the military uniforms, OOD= Officer of the Day
I love reviews and feedback, however please read the author notes from the previous chapter before jumping to conclusions about the cliffhanger I left you with.)