Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Stargate: SG-1. They belong entirely to their respective creators and film companies etc. I’m just borrowing them until I can come up with some good ones of my own. I am most definitely not making any money from writing this. Please don’t sue.
Spoilers: Nothing specific from BtVS. Season 4 for Stargate, brief references only.
This story is a one off, more of a concept exercise. There is no sequel or follow up planned, but if anyone wants to take the idea and run with it drop me a mail.
The Man Who Cried Wolf
In the dark gloom of the bar, somewhere in a less reputable part of the town of Colorado Springs, a man hunched miserably over his empty glass, elbows resting on the fake mahogany of the bar counter, his face hidden in the shadows to all but the barman who hovered over him, glass in hand. He barely looked up to acknowledge the whisky that was placed before him, but his hand crept forward surely to grasp the offering. Picking up the glass he swilled the liquid around, regarding the way the alcohol coated the sides with a thin film, then, he closed his eyes and knocked the drink back in one long mouthful that burned like fire as it travelled down his throat, and slapped the glass down to join the long line of empty ones that ran along beside him.
He was drunk, and he didn’t care.
Although the bar was busy, no bodies pressed against his in the constant scrum to get to the bar, the man’s desolate mood seeming to extend radially around him, fellow customers instinctively avoiding close proximity. He didn’t mind. That’s the way he wanted it tonight. He signalled to the bartender for another drink, ignoring the worried look that was cast his way, interested only in the tender’s willingness to take his dollars.
There was a brief respite from the music blaring at him from the Jukebox across the room and the hum of voices seemed to rise momentarily before yet another unidentifiable ‘hit’ was pumped out into the sea of bodies that thankfully dulled the impact before the sound reached his ears.
He traced patterns with his index finger in the water on the surface of the bar, drawing a triangle, followed by a circle, then wiping the symbols away with the side of his hand. He knew he shouldn’t be doing this in public. He should be hidden away in his cluttered, dusty apartment like a good little geek, but leaving work today, his only coherent thought had been to get as paralytically drunk as soon as possible. If he got drunk enough he wouldn’t remember anymore, or at least, that was what he had been hoping when he’d pulled up at the first bar where he was certain he wouldn’t know anyone, or more to the point, they wouldn’t know him.
He stared blearily down at the counter and attempted to count the glasses that littered its surface. He’d either drunken one hell of a lot, or his vision was counting everything twice. However much it had been, it still wasn’t enough – he could still see her face.
“Fuck you, Jack,” he muttered, sipping at his new drink, then wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Once again Jack had totally ignored him and had immediately gone for the ‘blow everything to shit’ solution, something that was happening more and more frequently every time there was a mission. Each time, he found himself involved in ever increasing violence. He had long lost count of the number of times he’d had to kill, murder over the past four years.
I’m a pacifist with a gun, he giggled drunkenly to himself.
Looking up, he caught sight of a reflection in the mirrored glass behind the bottles of alcohol on display and stared back at the tired, bitter eyes that met his. What the hell was he still doing here? Who was he? They weren’t questions he had an easy answer to. He hardly recognised himself anymore these days. He hadn’t been ‘Daniel Jackson, archaeologist’, for a long time.
This is me, he thought miserably, burying his nose in his drink. Dr. Jackson: civilian consultant. Thinks nothing of carrying a gun, let alone pointing it at someone. Fuelled day to day by hatred and revenge; hatred of the Goa’uld, and a deep burning inside to revenge the loss of his wife. Somewhere along the line his thirst purely for learning and knowledge had been slowly chipped away by real life. Present day pain and disasters, events no longer kept at bay by musty books and thousands of years serving as a buffer between him and emotion. It was no way to live, and he knew it.
Why am I still here? He could try to tell himself he was there to learn about different cultures, long lost civilisations transplanted from Earth by the Goa’uld, but when did he really get a chance to do that nowadays? Oh, he got to play with his camera and take a few rubbings or samples back to the SGC, but none of it compared remotely with spending months, even years meticulously excavating a site, really exploring, forgetting what day or week it was. The majority of time with SG-1 he had to have everything catalogued and filed away before lunch, if he was lucky.
God he missed his old life sometimes. Longed for his lab in Chicago and the guiding hand of his professor and mentor, longed for people who actually listened to what he had to say.
All the SGC seemed to care about recently was getting technology and weapons, practically to the point of ignoring the cost of their actions on others. Everything they did once stepping through the ‘Gate had become gradually more and more geared purely towards fighting the Goa’uld, and while he could see the merit in that, it was something he was finding ever harder to live with as the months dragged onwards – especially after what Shiffu had shown him last month: absolute power corrupts, absolutely. Along with that lesson had come the sickening realisation that not even he could resist the lure of the destructive power of the Goa’uld; for all his moral high ground and lofty ideas of superiority, he was just as weak as rest of them.
What had happened the day before had been a perfect example of why he was losing faith in the SGC and his role within the project. They, SG-1, had gated to PC5-231, a stunningly beautiful planet, the area surrounding the Stargate flanked with sheltered, fertile valleys and soaring snow-capped mountains, their slopes covered with dense forestland that stretched as far as he could see. Several miles south of the Stargate, following a loosely paved path through the trees, they had come across a small village, surrounded by a high stone wall, that encompassed nearly three hundred people living alongside one another in small, but practical chalets. The natives had for once been welcoming and friendly to the four of them, including Teal’c, and Daniel had been fascinated by the indigenous art he’d found, statues and paintings displayed along the rocks on the nearby riverbank. They had indicated worship of the moon, which had excited him as naturistic worship was something of a rarity in the god orientated galaxy of the Goa’uld.
Daniel had wanted to stay in the village, learning about the natives’ history and beliefs, but he’d been over-ruled. Again. Sam had found nothing either technological or mineral to merit their continued presence in the eyes of the military. Teal’c, as ususal, had not expressed an opinion either way, and Jack… well, Jack had wanted to get home on time to catch the Simpsons.
If Jack had just listened to him maybe it wouldn’t have happened.
Through the alcohol and anger that was spinning his brain, Daniel was dimly aware of someone taking the empty stool next to him and a young sounding voice asking for a beer, his amused reply as he was asked for identification. Daniel glanced quickly at him with squinted vision as the kid, laden with a large instrument case, knocked Daniel’s seat as he settled himself.
“Sorry,” the kid apologised, and Daniel caught a quick glimpse of ‘goth’ style painted nails, flaking around the edges which were bitten and rough.
Daniel ignored him, staring blackly into his glass, his mouth tight as the kid shrugged and sipped at the head on his beer. Daniel was utterly fed up with Jack’s attitude recently, fed up with being shot down continually for voicing his opinions, for questioning what was presented to him and the rest of SG-1. If he hadn’t gone over Jack’s head to General Hammond about the Eurondans several months earlier he was pretty sure the SGC would have been responsible for aiding a planetary wide genocide. Yet despite Hammond’s willingness to hear his reservations on that particular mission, Daniel still found himself having to fight the military just as hard as the Goa’uld. He felt like he was waging a war on two fronts simultaneously, and it was leeching all his strength and sanity from him on a daily basis. Sam sometimes backed him up against Jack, as when the Encarens had faced likely extinction, and for that he was grateful, but at the end of the day, she was military and had to follow her commanding officers’ orders, even if she disagreed with them.
Daniel had been unhappy about his role at the SGC ever since he’d realised that his reasons for going through the Stargate had finally vanished. Sha’re was dead, and there was nothing he could do for her anymore. What was it he had innocently written in his journal when he’d first returned from Abydos? Sha’re is gone … if anyone can find her, Jack can. How naïve he had been. He’d found the Harsesis child, but with Oma to care for him, what could Daniel ever offer?
The crowded bar disappeared from Daniel’s mind, replaced by a narrow muddy track that wound through closely interlocked trees. The sun was sinking just over the horizon, a warm coloured crescent dramatically silhouetting the mountain before them, and dusk was fading inevitably into night as they picked their way between the rocks scattered along the route. Daniel walked behind Jack and the others, trudging wearily away from the old man who watched them disappear from view, leaning against one of the two stone pillars that marked the entrance to the village. The old man, his long white hair drawn tightly into a braid down his back, had begged them repeatedly not to leave.
It wasn’t until a short time later that they had realised why the villagers had been so insistent. Daniel simply hadn’t understood at the time; hadn’t understood why some of the villagers had disappeared into the trees as the evening had set in. He bit down hard on the revulsion that threatened to overwhelm him, bile rearing in his throat. He didn’t know whether he felt sick from his memories or the alcohol. Probably both, he reasoned.
“Are you okay?” the kid asked, watching him with interest, his nose wrinkled as though he could smell the emotion coming off Daniel in waves.
“Bad day,” Daniel muttered. He called for another drink, swearing when the bartender said he was being cut off after the next one.
It was nights like this he just wanted to walk away from his life. Leave it all behind. It wasn’t like he was the only one who could do his job – there were other archaeologists and linguists out there. But then, could he really leave after what he knew about the universe, after all he’d seen over the past four, five years? Would he be content pottering around on a dig somewhere, researching in a dusty office in the basement of some university or establishment that would be willing to take on a disgraced member of the academic community? Things couldn’t carry on the way they were, that much Daniel was sure of – it was killing him.
“Want to talk about it?”
Daniel looked over at the kid perched beside him. He was older than Daniel had assumed, for all his smallness in stature.
“Bad day, whatever’s upsetting you – want to talk about it?”
What was upsetting him? That one was easy, he had enough for a good sized novel on that subject, Daniel snorted with a shake of his head. All he could see when he closed his eyes was her face, her dead face staring up at him with a glazed, lifeless expression. She had begged for his help, pleaded for him to take her with through the Stargate. He had told her no. He had told her that she belonged with her people. She had cried, tears rolling down her face as he’d walked away from her after Jack, Sam and Teal’c.
He should have listened. Maybe then he wouldn’t have had to kill her.
“You’ll think I’m crazy,” Daniel replied, shortly.
“What does that matter?” shrugged the kid, turning away from Daniel and taking a long drink from his glass.
“There was this girl,” started Daniel, his mouth opening and words spilling from it without his permission. Secrecy be dammed, he told himself, anger at Jack and the drugs in his system overriding his normal caution. Anyway, the tale he had to tell was so absurd that no one would believe him in a million years.
“There’s always a girl,” commiserated the kid, nodding sagely.
“No,” said Daniel, in between mouthfuls of whisky, “this girl was different.” The kid raised his eyebrows at the bold statement. “She wanted to go… somewhere, with my colleagues and I. She wanted my help – she said the moon made monsters of her people and she wanted to get away.” Daniel avoided the kid’s eyes, embarrassed at the ludicrous nature of what he had just said.
“What did you do?”
“I… I refused.”
Daniel raised his head and looked directly at the kid, waiting patiently for his reply, his head cocked at a slight angle which betrayed genuine interest on his part. Daniel’s gaze flittered to his reflection behind the bar, wondering for an instant whether his companion was NID. He seriously doubted it, not unless they had finally pulled their heads out their collective behind and started recruiting convincing undercover operatives. It was a behind that could accommodate a lot of heads, Daniel mused. The fact that Daniel found that concept even mildly amusing made him question the quantity of alcohol he’d consumed for the first time that evening. In the mirrored surface his eyes met the kid’s, still waiting for an answer to his question.
“She changed,” Daniel stated, grimacing as he remembered the way her eyes had darkened to a deep ebony, her forehead changing shape, the puckered skin. Teeth. “Oh god,” he breathed, “we were so arrogant. We thought our weapons made us invincible – if only we’d listened…” He took a large mouthful from his glass, gulping it down as though it would deaden the images in his mind.
The kid beside him was silent throughout, watching him intently, his hand gently wrapped around his beer, the drink itself ignored.
“She became this, this creature, covered in hair. Lots and lots of hair. Her eyes were pitch black and she had claws on the end of her…” Daniel trailed off, giving the kid another quick glance, searching for the look in the stranger’s eyes that said he thought he was insane. It wasn’t there.
“What did she do?”
Daniel rubbed his face in his hands, feeling the coarseness of a day’s growth of stubble on his palms. He was beginning to regret getting into this conversation, but for some reason, he couldn’t seem to stop.
“She bounded towards me on all fours, and then… and then he shot her.”
“Jack.” Daniel closed his eyes as he recalled the retort of the gun behind him, the breath of disturbed air brushing against his neck, followed by the strangled yelp of pain as the bullet had torn into the beast, girl. “I told him not to – there must have been another way – I told him not to,” Daniel repeated, as though it was a mantra that he could erect around himself like a wall shielding him from the guilt he felt.
The kid took a sip of his beer, setting the glass back down softly before asking, “and was she dead?”
It was then that all hell had broken loose. Hidden from within the trees all around them there had come growls and snarls, and for a moment Daniel had thought he was in some kind of surreal horror movie, but then, life was never that cut and dried. More shaggy creatures had suddenly begun springing forth, attacking them with teeth bared, lips drawn back to reveal sharply pointed incisors. Daniel had found himself face to face with what had been, what was, he reminded himself, the girl. Had found himself automatically emptying his 9mm side arm into her chest.
There had been gunfire everywhere around Daniel, intermingled with the shrieks and screams of the creatures and the thudding hiss of Teal’c’s staff weapon as it cauterised flesh and burnt fur. It had taken a lot to bring their attackers down, some were still twitching at the end. Daniel, surrounded by bodies, had stood in the near darkness, panting hard and trying not to vomit at the sight of the blood mixing with the mud, running into rivulets between the rocks, almost black as it wound its way sickeningly down the slight incline.
It had been then, in the eerie silence that followed, when he couldn’t hear what Jack was saying out loud after the din of the fire fight, that Daniel had looked down at his feet and had seen the body of the girl. Her face was human again, her once beautiful features illuminated by the faint light of the full moon above, her chest shattered by his bullets, her throat torn clean away.
All about them, the carcasses of the deformed creatures were reverting to human form, faces of villagers they had seen and talked to earlier that day staring up at them, their empty eyes accusing their murderers. Naked and smeared with blood and dirt, twisted where they had fallen.
A chill had run down Daniel’s spine as in the distance, howls had rung though the night air, something had flashed across the path between them and the village, a hunched form, knuckles almost grazing the ground. They had run for the Stargate then.
Fled from the people they’d just massacred.
“I… finished it,” Daniel slurred, his gaze fixed on the dark wood of the bar. “She changed back after. She was just a girl.”
If only Jack hadn’t let off that first burst from his P-90, if only he hadn’t been so quick to fire, Daniel could have stopped the whole thing – agreed to take her with him. Instead… He’d lain into Jack when they’d returned to the SGC. He’d told him that it was all his fault, that Jack alone was responsible for the death of those villagers. That it could have been avoided it Jack had for once controlled his ever ready trigger finger. Daniel had spilled out his feelings in one long, impassioned torrent, his hatred for what his life and the SGC asked of him day in and day out pouring from him in an uncontrollable flood of emotion.
Jack, one of his oldest friends, had stopped listening to him. Had just turned his back and walked away.
“God, if he’d only listened to me, just this once. None of it would have happened – I could have stopped it, I could have–”
“No, you couldn’t.”
Daniel froze in surprise, his still open, turning in his stool to stare at the kid, who met his drunken gaze with compassion.
“They weren’t human anymore, not then. If you hadn’t protected yourselves you would be dead, or infected like them. Your friend, Jack, made the right call. Sometimes talking isn’t the answer, and believe me, I know what I’m talking about,” the kid said quietly, his voice barely audible over the hum of the bar.
“How could you possibly know that?” snapped Daniel, angered by the kid’s assumption that he even had a clue what Daniel had been talking about. His breath caught in his throat as the eyes looking back at him darkened briefly and momentarily the brow above them became more pronounced.
“Like I said, I know what I’m talking about,” the kid said simply.
“Who,” whispered Daniel, shuddering “who are you?”
“How do you know my name?” said Daniel.
The kid looked surprised at Daniel’s question, then smiled faintly and shrugged his shoulders, draining his glass before slipping off the bar stool and shouldering his case. Loath to let him go, Daniel rose too, attempting to go after the kid, but found himself instead gripping the bar top tightly as the room spun nauseatingly. By the time he had recovered himself sufficiently to stand unaided, the kid was gone, swallowed by the mass of bodies that closed behind him as though he had never been there in the first place.
Twenty minutes later Daniel staggered out of the bar into the moonlit night, his cell phone casting a green light on his face as his fumbled with the keypad.
“Jack it’s me.”
From the shadowed interior of his van the kid smiled ruefully as he pushed his keys into the ignition, watching the ‘other’ Daniel teeter unsteadily across the parking lot to slump down against the rear tyre of his car, his phone pressed against his left ear. He twisted the key and listened to the engine as it spluttered reluctantly to life, then put the van in gear and pulled slowly out of the parking lot into the steady stream of traffic.
It was time to move on. Again.