Of Portals, Pummellings, and Passions
“What?” Jack stared at the green guy. “What’s interesting?”
Lorne looked smug as he took a swig of his pink drink. Jack hadn’t even known there was such a thing as a gay, green demon. And who did gay, green demons date, anyway? Were there more, or was this a cross-species thing? He rubbed between his eyebrows as he began to get a headache.
“Let’s start with your deep, passionate, non-platonic-friend type feelings for the lovely blonde Lieutenant Colonel in the other room, shall we?”
“What?” Jack repeated in horror, wincing as he forgot and sat up, jarring his knee as his foot hit the floor. Jack glanced automatically towards Fred’s lab and relaxed infinitesimally when Carter didn’t appear in the doorway. “For crying out loud, could you keep your voice down?”
“Calm yourself, cutie,” Lorne patted Jack’s good knee. “I could have told you that before you sang.”
“Oh yeah, I feel heaps better now, thank you.” Jack groaned, buried his head in his hands, and prepared to say goodbye to his career.
Lorne laughed hard. “Oh, sugar. Who am I gonna tell? Though, you might want to say something sometime, starshine. It’s not like you’re going to live forever, especially with what you do for a living. And while we’re on that subject, you should lay off the beer and fruit loops. Some fiber wouldn’t kill you, either.”
“Could you please stop talking?”
“You’ll get the people you need. It won’t be an easy adjustment for anybody,” Lorne warned in an abrupt change of subject that almost gave Jack conversational whiplash, “but it will, eventually, and after a lot of arguing, work. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the amount of arguing that will go on. And you should definitely give in to the kid on the music in the gym thing. Just a suggestion.”
O’Neill cheered up and relaxed a bit, leaning back against the couch and forgetting that the discussion about his feelings and his diet--he shuddered--had ever happened. “Tell me.”
Lorne got up to refill his drink, and then proceeded to give some extremely vague advice to the General.
“I’m ready to hear about the portals now,” Sam declared as soon as they entered Fred’s lab and closed the door behind everybody. She looked expectantly at Fred and Dawn.
Daniel smirked at Sam. Obviously they’d be working out the logistics of getting people to Colorado later.
“What do ya’ll want to know?” Fred asked, pushing her glasses up on her nose as she sat down on one of the stools.
Sam rattled off her most immediate questions. She’d have more questions on the theory behind them later, when she and Fred could really get down and dirty on the subject. “How do you make them? Where do they go? How long do they last? Are they reproducible? Are they safe? How different are they from wormholes?”
Dawn, from her perch on one of the lab tables, interrupted before Fred could answer and send everyone into a physics coma. “Every three hundred years, if I’m still alive and if the right ritual is performed, my blood can be used to open the mystical barriers between the different hell dimensions. When I’m completely exsanguinated, the barriers go back up.”
Sam looked intrigued, but both Daniel and Buffy looked sick. Giles had already removed his glasses and was pinching the bridge of his nose to hold back the headache. “I wasn’t aware you knew about that, Dawn.”
,” Dawn rolled her eyes at Giles in an expression of teenage disgust that Giles hadn’t seen in a while and that he smiled slightly to see again. As long it was only here for a brief return, of course. “I’m not like Buffy, who didn’t want to know about slayers until years after she became one. My blood almost ended the world, Giles. I figured I should know what the pitfalls of being me were, so I’ve been reading everything I could find about the Key, the monks, the knight guys, Dagon, or Glorificus. I mean, what if getting a serious paper cut could have done the same thing?”
“How long?” Buffy demanded, her hands on her hips as she glared at her sister. “How long have you known about this?”
Dawn shrugged. “Years. I figured I wasn’t going to live another three hundred years, so I never really worried about it.” Buffy scowled, but looked a bit relieved that she wouldn’t have to tell her sister this particular bad news.
“But if you could live another three hundred years because you had been taken as a host by one of the Goa’uld…” Daniel had already identified the problem, “then your Goa’uld would just have to wait three hundred years…”
“Slightly less than that now,” Cordelia offered helpfully.
“Yes, thank you,” Wesley quelled Cordelia with a look and she sat back in her chair, quiet, but obviously unhappy about it. “And then hell would be unleashed upon Earth. Again. Charming.” He unconsciously took a step closer to Fred and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. Fred patted it.
“I’m not so sure about that.” Sam said in that tone of voice that occasionally made Daniel more hopeful about their situation but more often made him want to hide under the desk in his office, “If this would kill all of the humans on Earth…”
“Then they wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity because it would deplete an enormous resource of hosts,” Daniel finished Sam’s thought and she nodded in agreement.
“I feel like a tree. Should I feel like a tree listening to you guys?” Xander glanced at Cordelia and Buffy for support, more than a little disturbed by the entire conversation. They looked almost as lost as he felt. “Do I need to go outside and start being leafy and provide shade for all the innocent little woodland creatures?”
Sam smiled at him. “That’s actually not a bad parallel, Xander.” He puffed up a little with pride, which lasted all of about three seconds until Cordelia poked him in the side with one perfectly manicured finger. Sam continued, not having noticed. “Unlike coal, trees and forests are a renewable resource on Earth. What this means is, that as long as humans are careful, we can continue to use trees for fuel and paper without causing a serious detriment to ourselves. It’s the same thing with the Goa’uld. As long as they’re careful about how many humans they take as hosts and make sure they leave us alone often enough to reproduce and for long enough to grow to maturity, they have a seemingly endless supply of hosts to choose from. But if they killed off all of the humans by opening the dimensional portal…”
“No more pencils,” Buffy nodded as Sam stopped for breath.
“I like mechanical better anyway.” Fred shrugged, and then scowled when her husband stared at her. “What? I do. You get a sharper point, which means you can get a more exact line, which means there’s a better chance you can figure out what you were doing later…”
“Oooh!” Willow bounced excitedly in agreement, “Plus, you just have to click and don’t have to worry about stopping work to go find a sharpener…”
Xander shared a look with Daniel as Dawn and Sam nodded in agreement with Willow. “Looks like Will finally found other people who share her office supply obsession,” Xander said under his breath.
“Just don’t ask about dry-erase boards,” Daniel whispered back, slightly louder. Sam stuck her tongue out at him.
“With Willow, it’s highlighters. And the little plastic post-it flags.”
“Hey, I like those flags,” Daniel argued, “They’re great for labeling things.”
“Yes!” Willow interrupted Daniel, “Then there’s the potential for organization via color-coding, which is really, really helpful if you’re trying to find out which apocalypse you’re looking for notes on, or which demons are related to each other, or which spell ingredients really
don’t work together. Especially that last one.”
“Oh my god. You’re all dorks of a feather.” Cordelia looked around the room like she’d been dropped into the middle of a chess club meeting.
Wes smiled indulgently and kissed the top of Fred’s hair. She swatted at him. “Regardless, we seem to have strayed from our original topic of discussion. Portals, I believe it was? Fred, I believe Colonel Carter has questions for you?” He raised an eyebrow at Sam.
“Yes, I do, of course,” Sam said eagerly, “but please, call me Sam.”
“Sam, then,” Wes agreed.
“You can’t call her Sam,” Daniel pompously informed Dawn and Buffy, “since you’re coming with us. She’s Colonel Carter to you, to maintain proper chain of command.”
“But you call her Sam,” Dawn protested, already pouting.
“She was a captain when I met her.”
“So why don’t you call her Captain?” Buffy chimed in.
“Because she’s not a captain anymore,” Daniel explained, as if that was obvious.
The colonel in question threw an eraser at Daniel. “Stop it. They can call me Sam, or Carter, since I assume they’re going to join us as civilians, the same way you did,” she said pointedly. Daniel had the grace to flush. “Unless either of you are interested in enlisting?” She asked hopefully.
There was a brief moment of silence while everyone imagined that
scenario, then a loud burst of laughter. Giles actually had to sit down because he was laughing too hard.
“’s not that funny,” Buffy scowled at the room in general.
Giles just nodded vigorously and continued gasping for breath.
“Anyway…” Cordelia drawled, “the portal that I
went through went to Pylea, Lorne’s home dimension. I got there by reading out loud in the library from some book without any vowels in it. One minute I’m there, the next, whoosh!”
“That’s how I got there, too,” Fred offered. “But we couldn’t come back that way—I think there was something about the mystical energies being all used up, because we had to find another portal and made it back into Caritas, remember, Cordy?”
“Actually, I’m sort of surprised you remember that, Fred,” Cordelia said, impressed. “You weren’t much with the sanity-having back then.”
“Try five years of slavery, bark enchiladas, living in a cave, writing physics on walls, and no underwear, and we’ll see how sane you are.”
“Didn’t have to,” Cordelia grinned, “Since I
had a vision, got made princess, and got to comshuck with the champion.” Fred made a face at her.
“Ladies…” Wesley sighed, and glanced over at Giles for assistance before deciding that the other man would be of no help—he was still chuckling over the idea of Buffy, or Buffy and Dawn, being part of the Air Force. The poor man was undoubtedly imagining the carnage.
Buffy looked alarmed. “You did what
Dawn thwapped Buffy on the arm. “Oh my god, Buffy. Keep up with the program and let the cookie go already. Besides, she didn’t mean Angel. You guys really need to find a new word,” she told Cordelia.
“It’s on the list. Right after the updated girlfriend flowchart,” Cordelia nodded.
“Excuse me,” Sam said, rolling her eyes at Daniel as she got up and stuck her head out the door. “You bellowed, sir?”
“You have to sing,” O’Neill informed her somewhat gleefully from his spot on the couch, “and you also have to explain to me why the Goa’uld aren’t going to invade this planet specifically to find vampires to use as hosts.”
“It’s painless for you, sugar,” Lorne motioned Sam into the living room.
“Unless you have someone hijack Lorne’s brain while he’s reading you, but that hardly ever happens and would only hurt him anyway,” Fred offered as Sam walked by her on the way into the other room.
“Greaaaat.” Sam perched on the arm of one of the chairs and looked expectantly at Lorne. “What and why am I singing?”
“Sing whatever you want, and I’ll read your future.” Lorne sipped at his drink.
Sam didn’t look overjoyed at this prospect. “And what if I say no?”
“Carter….” O’Neill warned.
Sam glared back. “I don’t want to know what my future holds, Jack!”
O’Neill winced. Carter using his first name in front of other people wasn’t usually a good sign. “Well that’s too damn bad—and I remember one or two times when it came in kinda handy, Colonel
Sam stared at him. “You’re going to pull rank on me? Now? Here?”
Lorne just looked amused. “Sugar pie, no one’s going with you back to Colorado until you do this.”
“It’s been nice knowing you, Lorne,” Jack snickered and tried not to look gleeful about it. He called Carter Sugar pie.
“With all due respect, shut up
, sir.” Sam sighed, then launched into a chorus of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, figuring it was as good as anything else.
“Inspired choice, Carter.”
She ignored him. Pointedly.
“Why are you two still doing this dance?” Lorne asked, throwing up his hands in exasperation. “So you’ve got rules. Talk to Angel and Buffy, and then
talk to me about good reasons not to be together. Your feelings are reciprocated. Just work it out. And you,” he pointed at Sam, “have one intriguing destiny. Not so great in the romance department, but he’s got a good life insurance policy, so you should at least be comfortable if that old Black Widow curse kicks in.”
“Just wait until you get Daniel to sing,” Sam said grumpily, studying Jack’s reaction to Lorne’s pronouncement. He seemed to be considering, but who knew what that meant.
“Is it safe to come in?” Fred called.
“Yes,” Lorne looked amused as he answered her. “Another bathroom trip, sweetie?”
Fred shot him a Look as she headed towards the bathroom. He didn’t seem to be bothered by it in the least.
“Everything alright?” Jack asked, as everyone congregated in the living room once again.
“Peachy,” Daniel nodded as he perched on the arm of Sam’s chair. “But someone was going to tell us about why the Goa’uld weren’t going to try to infest every vampire on the planet?”
“Right,” Sam swallowed, and then looked hopefully at Wesley and Giles for help.
“Well, I don’t know much about these Goa’uld creatures, obviously,” Wesley began, “but a vampire is the habitation of a dead human body by a parasitic demon, who must then feed on human blood to survive.”
Jack groaned and leaned his head back against the couch. “Oh my god, there’s another one.”
“Two,” Buffy whispered, waiting for Giles to get in on the act.
He didn’t disappoint, adjusting his glasses as he stood and began to pace. “I am aware of at least one instance where two demons inhabited the same body, and they fought to the death rather than share the host.”
“Ooh, I remember that!” Willow bounced, happy to remember that that had been one of her more successful ideas. “Weird to watch, though. And Angel won, so it was all good.”
“So, you’re saying what, exactly?”
“If I’m understanding them correctly,” Daniel inclined his head towards the two men, “they’re saying that if a Goa’uld would even choose to infect a dead body, which isn’t a given at all, there’s a strong possibility that the demon would fight for possession of the host and possibly kill the Goa’uld.””
“Would the snake definitely lose? Maybe it would totally kick the demon’s ass,” Buffy suggested, “so we’d be down one vamp, but plus a snake guy who’s very pro-slavery.”
“That’s a good point, Buffy,” Wesley mused, tapping his chin. “There’s no guarantee who would win, at least not yet. Each fight would have to take place on a case by case basis.”
“Fantastic,” O’Neill said dryly, “so we only get the toughest. Vampire Goa’uld Thunderdome. Two parasites enter, one parasite leaves.”
Daniel rolled his eyes at Jack.
“But they wouldn’t be both a vampire and a Goa’uld, Jack. They’d be one or the other,” Sam stressed, used to ignoring him by now, “so we’d be no worse off than we usually are.”
“This is not exactly encouraging news, Carter.”
“What do you want me to say?” She glared at him.
“Too bad,” Buffy mused, “vampires are way easier to kill, sounds like.”
“Say she who makes a habit of dating them,” Cordelia snickered. “Talk about misunderstanding a job description.” Giles covered what sounded suspiciously like a snort with a bad fake cough.
“Hey!” Not that Buffy had much more of a defense than that, even though Exhibits A and B were out hunting demons at the moment. Hopefully they wouldn’t get bored and stake each other. Or Riley. Buffy worried at her bottom lip. Maybe she should have gone with them.
“Are they always like this?” Dawn whispered to Daniel.
“No,” Daniel replied, honestly, “sometimes they’re worse. Are they?” He indicated Cordelia and Buffy.
“Yup, which is part of why they’re usually on different continents.” Unconcerned, she got up and returned with a bottle of water.
“So!” Jack clapped his hands together in anticipation. “Who do we get?”
Willow pouted. “Not me.”
“Buffy and I are going,” Dawn said again.
“I’d like to go, too,” Fred added hesitantly, glancing at Wesley. Lorne gave a small nod of approval and Fred breathed a sigh of relief.
Wesley stared at her. “You would? But what about…”
“Researching with you is great, but I miss physics. Real physics. And I wouldn’t go through the Stargate. It’s too much like a portal for me to be comfortable with it.” She pleaded with him silently.
Giles wasn’t sure what he was reading in the other man’s face. “You could do most of your work from Colorado, Wesley. You wouldn’t have to give up being a Watcher, if you didn’t want to.”
Wesley shook his head. “I won’t leave Faith.” They finally had a good working Watcher/Slayer relationship, and he didn’t want to damage that.
“It’s not safe here,” Fred fidgeted.
“That’s never bothered you before…”
“And that’s our cue to skedaddle,” Lorne got up and started shooing everyone out of the room.
“It’s not like it’s safe in Colorado Springs either,” Jack muttered under his breath as he hobbled very slowly out of the room, headed for god knew where. “And I’m injured. I don’t see why I have to move.”
“Because they’re going to have a big yelling argument and it’s not polite to eavesdrop?”
“Actually, my little pumpkin belly,” Lorne smiled a very small, secret smile, “that’s not quite
what’s going on.”
Dawn squealed and hung on his arm, “You know
“It won’t happen,” Cordelia shook her head as she stalked back into the lab and claimed a spinny stool. “Getting information out of Lorne when he doesn’t want to tell is like…well, it’s like an impossible thing that I can’t think of right now.”
Xander rolled his eyes and was about to say something when they heard a shout from the other room and everyone ran out to see what was going on. Except O’Neill, who decided to stay where he was and yell for periodic updates, “What the hell’s going on?”
Daniel poked his head into the living room. “Uh, Wesley’s hugging Fred and swinging her around and…oh.” He grinned. Sam was smiling as well and gave him the all clear sign. Jack relaxed.
“What? What?” Dawn balanced herself on Daniel’s shoulders as she stood on her tiptoes to see what was going on. “You guys are a lot taller than I’m used to. I can’t see. Maybe you could crouch down or something?”
Daniel turned his head and whispered, and Dawn let out a squeal so high-pitched Daniel winced and Jack swore he heard dogs barking down the street.
“Wesley’s going to be a dad,” Willow wiped at her eyes after she took a peek at certain peoples’ auras. “We’re gonna have our first baby.”
“Second. We had Connor,” Cordelia corrected, smiling from ear to ear for Fred and Wes, “at least for a week or two.”
Dawn grunted, “Why would you want Connor for longer than that, even as a baby? I mean, Connor
.” She made a face.
“No Watcher babies on the Hellmouth!” Xander announced, looking almost horrified and shaking his head so hard his eyepatch shifted. “No, no, no. And not around Spike either, because, wow, not enough no in the world for that.”
“I agree with both of those sentiments wholeheartedly,” Giles said, walking over to clap Wes on the back in an appropriately British manly fashion. Wes looked a little misty himself, and kept one arm tightly around Fred’s shoulders. Fred had her arm looped around Wes’s waist and kept smiling up at him. “I’m sorry, Wesley, but you can’t stay here. Perhaps in a few years, if you still wished to return…”
“I wish I knew what to do about Faith,” Wes frowned, worried about leaving her, “I wouldn’t want her to think that she had been abandoned.”
It was at this point that the front door flew open so hard it bounced off the wall and Faith stomped in, wearing what looked like Teal’c’s BDU jacket and a complete lack of pants. A number of guys who were trying very, very hard not to appear appreciative (except for Spike, who was very definitely ogling her, right up to the point where she smacked him in the back of the head) followed her in. She threw a pile of torn, bloody, and what looked like moth-eaten leather on the table and glared at everyone in the living room, hands on her hips. “Not. One. Damn. Word.”
Jack grinned. “Hell, bring her with. I could use the entertainment.”