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Oh For Cryin' Out Loud

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Summary: Fleeing from their own world, Tara and Graham find themselves with a different SGC. Together, their world and the new one will have to face off with a common enemy, Anubis.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Multiple Pairings > Het & Slash PairingsJesminFR1813164,03375930,45715 Jan 057 Oct 12Yes

Chapter 8c

Note from Author: Here it is, the last installment! I can't believe how long it has taken me to write this. Thank you to all of you who have stuck with this, especially when I disappeared for a few years. Now onto not only the end of my first fic of this magnitude, but also one of the longest chapters to date!


Last time on Oh For Cryin' Out Loud: General O’Neill threw his hands in the air. “Fine.” He pointed towards Buffy, Sam, Rodney and Jonas. “All of you think you are so smart, come up with a plan. I expect it in full detail in three hours.” He turned towards Tara. “We’ll meet you on the outskirts of our solar system and move in together. Get with Colonel Mitchell and the two of you can come up with the exact coordinates. I’ll have the crew ready The Homer for flight.”


Chapter 8c

Univ. B – Three Hours Later

Lt. Hailey walked up to her commanding officer and sat down her bag. She didn’t speak. Instead, she stood stalk still, her gaze on the ship in front of her. The Homer would always have a special place in her heart. It was the first ship of its magnitude that she had taken point in actually flying for long amounts of time and also the first she manned the weapons in battle. When she sat in her chair, it felt natural being at the controls. Even though she got her orders from Mitchell, she was the one who flew and fired the shots on The Homer. It was she who worked the controls, and oh how she loved to be in control.

Mitchell glanced down at her and asked, “Are you sure you want to go on this mission?” He would understand if she wanted to stay behind. In his mind this mission was truly one that most of them may not come back from. Everything had to work to their advantage, and he didn’t see how it was going to.

Lt. Hailey frowned. “Do you think I’m going to let anyone else fly this ship?”

“No I don’t,” he answered.

“Then there you go.” She leaned down to retrieve her bag and then threw it over her shoulder. “See you inside.”

Mitchell watched her leave. With a sigh he headed to O’Neill’s office. As he reached it, voices could be heard inside. He quietly opened the door and slipped inside, not wanting to interrupt the flow of conversation. At first he was surprised to see exactly who was in the room. Other than several of the main officers, Cordelia and Martouf had also joined the group. At the moment, Cordelia was stating, “Qetesh can get us there. Her ships are faster than mine, and we can be there in time. Those designated with creating diversions can travel with her, and we will be able to get close enough to Anubis’s armada, that we can dispatch them.”

“But would she?” asked O’Neill. “We’ve already put her in jeopardy by using her Tel’tak.”

“Let me handle that,” Cordelia replied. “We have the coordinates and will meet you there.”

“So what exactly are we sabotaging to create a diversion?” asked O’Neill.

“We will have three teams. Each will use the rings to transport aboard Anubis’s Ha’tak.”

“Excuse me,” O’Neill interrupted Sam, “but what about this sounds like a good idea? Plus, what about using the Asgard transporters?”

“To use the Asgard transporters, we would have to leave ourselves vulnerable by dropping our cloak and shields. By using Qetesh’s ship, we will be able to fly in close and use the rings to board the ship. The reason we are going to board Anubis’s Ha’tak is that all battles will be observed from there. If we can disrupt the communications, sensors and even weapons there, then it will make the most impact.”

McKay rolled out a layout of a Goa’uld Ha’tak. He pointed out three areas on the draft. “Buffy and Jonas will take out communications. Spike, Illyria and Sam will take out weapons. Riley and I will take out the sensors with a virus.”

“No,” a cold voice interrupted. “Communications is closer to the throne room. Spike, Sam and I will take care of this.”

With a frown, McKay glanced at Sam. She shrugged her shoulders to indicate she didn’t know why Illyria wanted to change his plans. He then turned to Spike. Noticing the glance, Spike frowned and turned his attention to Illyria. She was already looking off into space, her head tilted to the side as if she was listening to something far off in the distance. It was like she hadn’t even made the suggestion. “Why the change in plans, Blue?”

Illyria’s cold blue eyes turned towards Spike. He watched as she zeroed in on him and then finally answered, “It is the time and place I must be.”

“Excuse me?” asked McKay.

With a snap, Illyria turned her attention fully on McKay. It was unnerving to him, how her eyes seemed to bore into him. He actually took a step back. With a frown, Illyria answered, “Your infantile mind, so base, cannot fathom the complexity of the spatial disposition of…”

O’Neill stepped in, “Just go with it, McKay, and don’t get your feathers all ruffled.” McKay went to speak, but Jack interrupted by adding, “Is there a reason why you can’t just switch what each team does?”

“I guess not,” McKay pouted. “Sam will know how to take care of the communications. I don’t think Buffy and Jonas will have problems with the weapons.”

From his position in one of the office corners, Jonas remarked, “I’ll have enough time for McKay or Carter to debrief me on how to deal with the weapons.”

“After each team is done,” continued McKay with his prior explanation of the plans, “they will return to Qetesh’s ship. Once everyone is back, we will then move away from Anubis’s Ha’tak without being noticed.”

“Yeah. Good luck with that,” Jack stated wryly. He, like everyone else, knew that once they damaged the Ha’tak’s systems and ringed back to their own ship, that Anubis would be on to them.

Once again, Illyria spoke up. “Anubis will be distracted. Your team will be able to move away to a safe distance.”

“Really?” O’Neill looked at Spike, who was staring at Illyria.

Spike’s gaze slowly shifted to O’Neill and he nodded. “I think we can trust Blue. If she says we will be able to move away, then we will be able to.”

“All righty then,” O’Neill replied, not sure on if he believed that or not. What could the blue girl know that they didn’t? He turned his attention to Mitchell. “Is The Homer ready?”

“Lt. Hailey is seeing to The Homer now.”

“Great. You will wait for Sheppard at the rendezvous. Follow his lead once you meet up. He may not be able to give verbal commands, so you will need to play along with the rest of his team and whatever that Tel’tak does. Keep that crew safe at all means.”

“Understood, Sir,” Cameron replied.

~*~

Univ. A

Willow frowned at all the wires in front of her. Even though she had been briefed on how to hook the mirror up, she was having a hard time of it. Of course it didn’t help that in the background SARAH was playing governmental signals that she had picked up of the Goa’uld attack over the house speakers. The attacks had started off and on a few hours before. SARAH had told Willow to press the button Fargo had shown her, the one that would close them off. The last thing Willow wanted was to push the button if they were going to be able to get out of this thing alive. Then again, her orders had been to press the button if the attack happened. After several arguments with SARAH – which kind of weirded Willow out – Willow gave in and pushed the button. Now she was stuck down here with a crazy house and having a hell of a time hooking up the mirror.

SARAH’s electronic, female voice sounded out all around Willow. “If you want, I could call one of your friends from the SGC for you.”

“You can do that, this far underground?”

“Of course I can, Willow Rosenberg.”

“Uh, okay.” SARAH turned off the audio of the Goa’uld attack while Willow thought through the people she could call. With everything going on, she knew that most of the base would be busy with the Goa’uld. Then she remembered Fred. She had gone to Texas to be with her double’s parents. If anyone knew how to set up the mirror, it would be Fred. “SARAH, can you help me find Dr. Winifred Burkle? She is with her parents right now. They live in Texas. I believe her dad’s name is Roger.”

“Accessing SGC personnel files. Burkle, Winifred. Parents are Trish and Roger Burkle. Searching database for contact information.” There was a pause before the sound of a dial tone and then a phone dialing.

After a few rings, someone answered. Willow didn’t know the woman’s voice. “Hello.” In the background, Willow could hear what sounded like a television.

“Is Fred there?” Willow asked as she crawled behind the mirror.

“Yes. Just a second.”

Willow fidgeted with a few of the wires until a familiar voice sounded through the room. “Hello. This is Fred.”

Fred’s voice was a welcomed sound to Willow’s ears, especially since it might be a while before she would hear anyone else’s. “Hi Fred. It’s Willow.”

“Willow! Are you okay? Do you have any news? I haven’t heard from anyone, but the television is going non-stop about supposed space debris.”

“I’m safe at a top secret facility. I can’t really say anything else, but I do know the attack started a few hours ago.”

“Oh my.”

Willow could hear the dread in Fred’s voice. “Listen. They placed me in a secure location all by myself with the mirror. I’m having a hard time hooking it up correctly. Can you talk through it with me on the phone?”

“Sure. Okay. Just a second.” Willow listened as she heard Fred’s muted voice say to someone else, “Can you watch Charity for me? I’ll try to only be a few minutes.” Then, after a reply and the sound of Fred moving around, she asked, “Okay, what do you need to know?”

For the next several minutes, Fred and Willow conversed on how to hook up the mirror. Finally, Willow hooked up the last cord and according to her computer, the mirror was ready. Willow checked the remote, and in front of her, the mirror came to life, showing only darkness. It looked like the other universe had their mirror packed. She placed it on standby, in case they unpacked and activated theirs. As she did this, Fred asked quietly, “So, no word on Daniel or SG-1?”

“No. I haven’t heard…” Willow paused, and then suddenly remarked, “SARAH, can you please turn the transmission back on so that Fred can hear?”

“Transmission is classified. Winifred Burkle granted clearance,” SARAH stated.

Fred was about to ask who Sarah was when the transmission Willow had asked for came over the phone, clear as a bell. She moved from sitting down on her bed to sliding down the side of it to the floor. Her knees came to her chest as she realized what she was hearing. Willow had somehow tapped into Air Force transmissions. They were talking about the attack. She could hear the fear in some of the voices as the pilots engaged death gliders. At one point there was an interruption and then the sound of white noise before it started back up. Fred raised a shaking hand to her mouth to cover the sob that was about to sound. She knew what had happened. They were listening to their people fight and die.

“It started a few hours ago,” Willow commented quietly. “There are transmissions sounding like this from all over the world.”

The two sat and listened for just a bit longer. Finally, Fred couldn’t take it anymore. “Willow, I… I gotta…”

“I know.”

“I can’t always run away. This time, if it happens, at least I’ll be with family.”

“Hey, don’t give up yet. SG-1 may still pull through. They’re like the Scoobies, always coming through in the end.”

“I hope you’re right.” Fred closed her eyes and sighed as she hung up the phone, not even saying goodbye to Willow. She wiped her eyes dry and then headed back into the living room where her parents were watching television with Charity. Not saying anything, she took Charity from her mother. Hugging her daughter to her, she sat down on the couch.

“Fred, is everything alright?” Trish asked her daughter.

With a frown, Fred shook her head and answered, “No, Mom, it’s not all right.”

“There’s more to this than space debris, isn’t there?” her dad asked.

He held out his hand and Fred took it. As he squeezed her hand, she answered, “Much more Daddy, but I can’t tell you what.” She kissed the top of Charity’s head and whispered, “All together, except for Daniel.”

~*~

Univ. B

Tara sat back on her haunches and looked around at her handiwork. She had been working with John for the last several hours while they waited for the other teams to meet them at the designated coordinates. With hand signals and a few words in Ancient, he had directed them on how to rebuild part of the ring transport mechanism. Wiping her hands dramatically, she asked John across from her, “So, how did I do?”

John smiled at her and made the thumbs up sign. She already knew that she had done fine, as he had stopped her whenever she made a mistake. It was strange that he could focus so well on what both of them were doing at the same time, but as of three hours ago, he couldn’t speak a word of English anymore.

With a few more tweaks, John finished what he was doing and then stood up. He stretched and walked towards the case holding the mirror. Carefully, John opened the case and situated the mirror with Graham’s help. He pointed to Tara and then the mirror. Next he started to speak in Ancient while pointing to her heart and head. Tara listened carefully. While she didn’t understand everything he had said, she had picked out a few words. Her mind pieced all of it together and then she asked, “At some point I’ll need to activate it remotely with my magic? I’ll know when in my heart and mind?”

John grinned at her again, patted her on the back and nodded. It was his way of saying that she was correct.

From the front of the ship Jacob remarked, “We have incoming.”

John, Graham and Tara joined Jacob and Zelenka up front. Tara stared out to see a Goa’uld ship arrive. A slight shiver ran down her spine as she looked at the ship. From behind her, Faith remarked, “Damn. That sure gives me the heebie jeebies. Are we sure they are on our side?”

A slight smile took over Tara’s face at hearing Faith say ‘heeebie jeebies.’ It wasn’t exactly the way Faith talked. Almost in answer to Faith’s question, a voice came over their intercom, “Jacob, sorry if we took a little too long arriving. It took me a bit to talk Qetesh into using her ship.”

Jacob sat forward and then answered back, “You were right on time, Cordelia. We’re still waiting for…”

On cue, The Homer flew into view. Colonel Mitchell’s voice sounded, “You weren’t starting the party without us, were you? What is the plan, Major Sheppard?”

John motioned for Zelenka to move. Radek got out of the way as quick as possible, which was actually quite slow. Sheppard used the time to give Tara a message to translate. After repeating himself a few times, Tara stated, “He wants to send them coordinates to our destination on Earth.”

Jacob nodded and then communicated to the other two ships, “John is going to be sending you the coordinates to where we’re going.”

With a look towards Tara, John started talking again, this time quite fast. Tara held out her hand shook her head. “Slower please,” she requested.

With a deep breath, John calmed down and then slowly started over with what he had been saying. A look of concentration took over Tara’s features as he spoke. She had to start translating faster, and was giving him her best. Once he was done, she slowly bent over and spoke into the comm., watching John the whole time to make sure that what she recited was correct. “We are going to fly to the coordinates quickly. Major Sheppard will then create a hole in the ice for us to ring though. Death Gliders will be on us quickly, so make sure to cover us as best as you can. It will take some time to get through the ice.”

“Understood,” Colonel Mitchell remarked.

From the other ship, Cordelia stated, “We will also move into position and start the attack on our end in hopes of creating a diversion.”

John sat down where Radek had been and then spoke once again to Tara. She smiled and translated, “Major Sheppard says that we may want to ‘buckle up,’ as this is going to be quite the ride.”

“Shit,” Faith swore, racing to a seat and strapping in as quickly as possible. Everyone else followed suit except for Jacob, who sat up front with John. Tara tried not to laugh as across from her Faith closed her eyes and then started to swear even more. It didn’t help that Dr. Zelenka was next to Tara probably saying the same type of things but under his breath in Czechoslovakian. The ride couldn’t be that bad with John flying… could it?

John glanced back to make sure that everyone was ready and then worked at the controls. The craft made a sharp dive towards earth, expertly going through the ships surrounding it so they weren’t detected. Even Jacob grabbed hold of the console, his grasp turning white from the exertion. “John, we are going to break apart at these speeds.”

“Let’s not fuckin’ do that, you hear me Fly Boy?” Faith yelled from the back.

With a laugh, John made a whooping sound as they broke through the atmosphere. He flew straight for Antarctica. Beside him, Jacob stated, “Keep on like this and we are going to crash.”

Then, at the last minute, John pulled up right above the snow and ice. The ship came to a complete stop. John pointed towards Jacob to keep up the flying and then headed into the back. Faith looked like she was about to throw up, where as everyone else appeared pale. Graham undid his straps and went to help Faith while Tara joined John. Zelenka just sat and watched everyone, trying to calm his quickly beating heart. John activated to a few controls and within seconds, the ring device had powered up. The hum of it working filled the cabin. John went back to the front and messed with a few controls. “Is it working?” asked Tara as she stepped beside him.

John simply nodded as Colonel Mitchell’s voice came from comm. again. “I don’t know how to describe that flying other than saying, ‘John, you are either a bat shit crazy mad man or one of the most talented pilots I’ve seen.’”

“We have incoming already,” Jacob stated from the controls.

“We have your six, but try to be quick as you can. We’re like sitting ducks out here.”

John answered and Tara translated, “We’ll try to be as quick as possible.”

Moving out of the seat, John went back to the cabin and turned off the ring device. He made a few changes and then pointed back towards it. The group all understood and moved to where they were in the device. John followed with the ‘battery’ they had found earlier. As he joined them, Tara called out to Jacob, “Ready to ring down, Jacob.” As soon as she spoke, rings surrounded them, and the next thing they knew, they were in a cavern underground. The décor was just how it had been on the other planet. Tara was the first to move, studying everything around her. “It’s of an Ancient design. Just like before.”

Pushing past her, John walked further into the cavern. He paused by a capsule, studied it for a second and then continued on into the structure to a dais where a chair sat. He waved his hand over the same area as he had on Praclarush Taonas. Something that looked like the ‘battery’ John had with him rose up, but this one was completely dark. He removed it and replaced it with the one that he had brought. John stood up as after pushing it into the dais. With a frown, he moved towards the chair. Just as he sat, the rings sounded. “We have company,” Faith yelled out. “Do what you have to, Major.”

Graham glanced at Faith and the two automatically moved into position, each with their weapons at the ready. Tara moved as quickly as possible, racing to take cover. By the time she reached a safe place, she looked up at Graham, her eyes completely black. She held up her hands to show him they both contained balls of fire above them. Then, before he could do anything, she attacked as three super soldiers came into view.

Faith watched as a ball of fire raced by her and then hit one of the super soldiers. He stumbled a bit and then kept on moving towards them. Lifting her own weapon, she started shooting towards them. Nothing seemed to be helping, so she yelled out at Graham, “How do we stop these guys?”

“We don’t,” Graham yelled back. “We just slow them down as much as possible until either Tara hits them with the right magic combination, or the Major does something to save our asses.”

“That isn’t what I wanted to hear,” she yelled back before ducking down to miss a shot being fired at her.

“What, you wanted me to tell you that we should stop hiding and pummel them the slayer way?”

Faith took a shot at one of the soldiers and laughed, “You know me well, Grae. I got it, no pummeling.” With a sigh, she concentrated on shooting. From behind her, a barrage of fireballs, all different colors, hit one of the super soldiers. She shot at him at the same time and watched as the soldier fell under the barrage of the attack.

The soldier was surrounded in a bright light. Faith blinked and turned just as she realized that one of the other soldiers had shot in her direction. She moved to get out of the way, but was a split second too slow due to her distraction previously. A searing pain blossomed through her shoulder all the way to her hand. Barely thinking, Faith acted on instinct, moving into a better position so that she was once again safely covered but could move out to shoot with her good hand. Once she was in place, she glanced at Graham. He was still shooting towards the soldiers as if nothing had happened. She could tell that he knew exactly what had happened though. Even from across the room she could see muscles in his jaws moving as he clenched his teeth: something he did when he was worried about her.

Out of the way, John was now lying back in the chair. Around him, the cavern started to shake. He concentrated on what he wanted as his team cried out from the tremors. Not far away, part of the cavern broke open and out of it streamed a bright light, or rather millions of lighted drones.

Graham, Tara and Faith all hit the ground as the drones sped over them. The balls of light seemed to devour the remaining super soldiers, flew up through the hole in the ice and then joined the fire fight above them.

Not wasting any time, Graham raced over to Faith. By the time he got to her, Faith was trying to sit up. Graham helped her as Tara approached. “Can you help her?” Graham asked Tara.

Tara held out her hand above the wound. Faith took a deep breath as it started to hurt more. “Are you sure that is helping?” she asked.

“I don’t have enough of my reserves right now to heal you. All I can do is try cauterizing the wound to stop the bleeding.”

“Burn away then,” Faith replied though clenched teeth.

With a deep breath, Tara started to work again only to be pushed away by John. He shook his head at her and then spoke. Tara translated, “He says I need what I have and he can’t help either.”

“You got to be kidding me,” Graham stated. “Faith has been shot.”

John spoke again. Tara listened to him carefully, trying to understand exactly what he was saying. Slowly, she started to explain, “He says he just knows… that we must trust him. John also said that while he can’t heal you, he wants to give you something as a farewell.”

“Farewell?” asked Faith.

John slowly reached out, his hand hovering over Faith’s stomach. Faith gasped as a warming feeling started to fill her. Then, just as it started, the feeling went away. She looked up as John quietly spoke to her and Graham. Behind him, Tara said, “John says that he will be normal.” She listened as he spoke again before adding, “And now he must… sleep.”

Faith shook her head, “I don’t understand.”

John pointed to the capsule he had passed when they first arrived. He started towards it and fell forward. Graham raced to him and helped John stand back up. The two made their way to the capsule with Tara following. When they reached it, John moved to stand inside. Faith went to ask what was going on from where she was still sitting. Right as she started, John muttered, “Dolmata.”

“Sleep,” Tara translated. As lights came on in the capsule, surrounding John, Tara turned towards Faith to explain. “He is going to sleep.”

“Stasis chamber?” asked Graham.

Tara nodded. “I believe so.”

~*~

Still Univ. B

Spike stood with his arms crossed, scowling at Carter sprawled out on the ground below him, her head in a console. She had been working under the console in the main communications area for several minutes while Illyria kept watch. They had boarded Anubis’s Ha’tak about five minutes prior. The other two teams, made up of Buffy, Riley, Jonas and Dr. McKay, were working on taking out weapons and sensors at the same time Carter was working on communications. Spike wondered if they were also taking the same about of time. “Are you almost done yet?”

“I’m trying to do this so that they aren’t alerted to us as soon as they go off line,” pronounced Carter’s muffled voice.

Illyria commented wryly from the door way. “I believe your plan is flawed, Dr. Carter.”

“Why is that, Blue?” asked Spike

“They are at battle. As soon as we take out any of their key operations, they will know.”

“So if we cut off communications before the other teams complete their missions, we would in essence be a diversion.”

“That is correct,” answered Illyria.

“Could you guys be quiet for a second while I try to figure all this out under here?” Carter’s voice was muffled from where she was working.

“I have a better plan,” Spike remarked. He reached down and grabbed Sam by the ankles. With a quick tug he pulled her out from under the console. Spike rubbed his two hands together and announced, “Time to get this show on the road.”

Sam was about to ask what he was talking about when an alarm went off. Illyria looked inside at them and stated calmly, “I believe that one of the teams has been successful.” She closed her eyes and concentrated. With a sigh, she added, “Sensors are down, as I can still feel the thrum of the weapons.”

Spike moved down to where Sam had been working and thrust his hand inside. Sam winced as she heard crystals and wiring break. He pulled his hand out, looked up at her and gave her a cocky grin. With a frown she moved to look at a screen on the console. After checking out a few of the readings, Sam stated, “Communications are down.” As if to mirror her observation, the alarms started to get even louder.

The group moved into the hall. Sam and Spike both started to head back to the room they had used to transport onto the ship while Illyria moved the opposite direction. Spike glanced over his shoulder and commented, “Now isn’t the time for sightseeing, Blue. We need to get out of here.”

Illyria turned to him. She went to speak but then doubled over as if in pain. “Illyria,” Spike cried out, running over to her with Sam by his side.

Taking in a deep breath, Illyria moved back into a straight standing position, pushing Spike away at the same time. “The weapons are down too. Their vibrations are now gone also. You must leave now.”

“What are you talking about? We are all leaving,” Spike stated.

“Along with Wesley, you have been one of those most significant to me in this latest existence, Vampire. Now that existence must end.”

“What are you on about?” In the back of his mind, Spike already knew. He had been considering this when she had them change teams.

Illyria squeezed her eyes shut as pain was starting to move throughout her body. A small line of bright blue light spread across her cheek. Spike stepped back as he realized what had feared really was happening. With a small nod of his head, he then remarked, “Nice knowing you, Blue.” With that, he turned around and grabbed Sam, dragging her down the hall with him.

“What was that about?” Sam asked. She didn’t understand how Spike could be trying to get Illyria to come with them one second and then be walking away from her the next. Didn’t he know it wouldn’t be safe for her to be on this ship? The Jaffa would be combing the halls for their teams shortly, if not already.

“Blue is about to blow, so we need to get out of here.”

“Blow?”

“Blow up. She is going to explode and take this whole damn ship with her. We need to get out of here now!”

Sam thoughtfully nodded and then took in a deep breath. With a quick glance at Spike, she noticed that his expression was the most serious it had ever been around her. Even though he was trying not to show it, she could tell from this quiet demeanor how much he wasn’t happy about leaving Illyria behind. She activated her radio and spoke into it, “Carter to Finn and Summers.”

In another part of the Ha’tak Riley and McKay were heading from the room where they had just shut down the sensors. McKay, wound tight, literally jumped as Carter’s voice sounded from Riley’s radio. “Carter to Finn and Summers.”

“Finn here,” answered Riley as Buffy’s voice came through doing the same.

“We need to get out of here as quickly as possible.”

Beside Riley, McKay snarked, “Of course we do. We just cut out their main systems. If we wait any longer, we’ll have Jaffa gunning us down.”

Apparently Carter heard McKay over the radio, as she then remarked, “We have a situation here. This Ha’tak is going to blow up any minute, Dr. McKay. That qualifies as a reason to run faster than you already are.”

Spike’s voice then continued, “Which means get your collective arses to transporter rings now!”

Riley turned to McKay, who was about to speak. Before he could, Riley stated, “Understood. On our way now, Dr. Carter.” He reached out and grabbed McKay. Looking the scientist in the eye, he asked, “Do you understand the meaning of ‘run like a bat out of hell’ Dr. McKay?”

“Yeah. I think I understand that just fine.” Rodney frowned up at Riley as the soldier gave him a grave look. His IQ was substantially higher than Riley’s. Why did Finn have to treat him like an imbecile?

“Then run,” Riley commanded as he let go of the scientist.

Not arguing, Rodney started out at a dead run down the hall. He tried to go as fast as his legs could take him, but Riley easily passed him. It was evident that Riley had to slow down for him, but he wasn’t a soldier with this kind of training. No. Rodney was more for working in a lab, where there was no type of movements that would raise one’s heartbeat to levels that just wasn’t right in his mind.

Just as quickly as it seemed that they had been running, Riley stopped him. McKay felt the air leave him as Riley pushed him aside and covered his mouth before he could speak. Rodney was about to grunt when he suddenly heard footsteps. His eyes grew large as Riley held a finger to his lips in a sign to be quiet. The two watched from a concealed part of the hall as a large group of Jaffa headed past them, probably on their way to the room Rodney and Riley had come from. Once they disappeared down the hall, and Riley thought it was clear, he pulled Rodney out so they could continue on to the ring transporter room.

The two rounded a corner by the ring transporter room only to see Buffy and Jonas barreling down towards them from the opposite direction. Buffy yelled out to them, “Jaffa on our six. We need to get out of here now.” Jonas, though very fit, looked to be also out of air like Rodney. McKay had a feeling that Buffy must have pushed Jonas harder than Riley had pushed him.

As the two groups met by the door, Riley asked, “How much time?”

The question was answered as a group of Jaffa came around the same corridor that Buffy and Jonas had emerged from. “None,” answered Buffy as she shoved Jonas and Rodney into the ring transporter room. In a flawless motion, she spun and then flipped to the other side of the hall, shots from the Jaffa’s staff weapons flying past her and none making contact.

Riley pulled out his weapon and then yelled at Jonas and McKay from the doorway. “Ring out now. We’ll ring over as soon as we can.” Following Buffy’s example, Riley also moved to a better cover.

Rodney and Jonas both hurried to the controls as soon as they entered the room. The two of them, after several months of working with each other, worked harmoniously, setting everything correctly so that they could ring out. As soon as everything was ready to go, the two walked to the ring area, waiting for the rings to activate.

For Rodney, everything then seemed to happen in only a singular nightmarish moment. One second they were both standing, waiting for the rings to surround them when a stray shot entered the room. In a blink, Jonas was stumbling backwards, away from the ring area with a large burn mark on his chest. Rodney moved forward with outstretched arms, trying to grasp Jonas. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The two of them were supposed to ring back to Vala’s ship where they would be safe.

It was at this precise time that the rings appeared. McKay cried out in pain as one of his arms got caught between the rings. How it happened, he wasn’t sure. It would have had to have been timed and placed perfectly to have happened, not that he would ever try to purposely do something so stupid. He pulled once, twice, three times before the hum of the transporter rings carried him away in agonizing pain. He screamed out and then just as suddenly as everything happened, his mind numbed as it shut down.

For Jonas, one second he was standing next to McKay, and the next, something hit him with such force that he was stumbling backwards away from the rings. He saw Rodney’s eyes grow large and then the scientist moved forward to grab onto him. Just out of Rodney’s clutch, he watched as the rings suddenly surrounded Rodney, the scientist’s arm somehow getting caught between two of the rings. Then, the rings activated and Jonas was alone, part of Rodney’s arm falling to the ground.

With a groan, Jonas fell to the floor. He tried to sit up as the room spun around him. His breath kept on catching and there was a pounding in his ears that echoed the beat of his heart. Kicking out, his foot made contact with part of Rodney’s arm and knocked it to the side. Jonas watched the arm skid across the floor only to disappear as his sight started to cloud over.

Jonas somehow pushed himself against the wall and sat up. It was becoming harder to breathe and his chest felt like it was going to cave inwards. Blackness started to take over as he heard screaming. He blinked a few times to clear his vision only to see three people above him. Buffy was pressing her hands against his chest, calling out to him as Riley seemed to be assessing the situation. “Jonas. Jonas. Are you with us?”

“Buffy?” he asked. His voice sounded slurred and very quiet.

“Where’s Dr. McKay?” asked Riley.

“Transported away. Arm got stuck.” Jonas winced as he pointed towards the corner of the room where he had kicked Rodney’s arm.

“Oh no,” Buffy whispered, her eyes looking off to the side.

Even in his foggy state, Jonas could see that Buffy was paling. Above him, Riley asked, “What?”

“There is part of an arm and a hand in the corner over there.” She placed a shaking hand over her mouth and added, “I think that is Dr. McKay’s watch.”

“Jonas, what happened,” asked Riley. “How did McKay’s arm get stuck?”

Jonas simply shook his head. “Not sure how. Maybe from reaching for me. He was trying…trying to help.” With a cough, Jonas felt the pressure in his chest become even heavier. It was getting too hard to talk, and part of him felt as if he was drowning.

“Jonas. Don’t Jonas. Stay with us,” Buffy pleaded above him.

Jonas could hear Buffy crying. He knew what was happening. There was no way he was going to get out of here. They needed to leave him and escape. There was nothing they could do. He started to say this, but he suddenly felt a cold touch on his cheek. Jonas moved his head to stare at the third person who hadn’t said anything yet. He had almost forgotten seeing her. How could he? Plus, why were they so intent on him when she was back? The woman placed her hand on his cheek again and he quietly spoke her name with a sigh as he closed his eyes. For the first time since Earth had been taken over, Jonas truly felt content.

Riley swore as Jonas closed his eyes and whispered with his final breath. “Don’t do this to me, Jonas! Don’t you dare,” Riley ordered.

Buffy sobbed quietly beside Riley, tears running down her cheeks leaving salty trails. She watched as Riley moved to try and pump on Jonas’ chest in hopes that it would start his heart beating again. After a few seconds, she reached a shaking hand and placed it on Riley’s arm. “Stop. We need to go.”

“I can’t leave him here like this.”

“Then we bring his body with us, but we can’t stay.” At the word body, Buffy had to keep herself from totally breaking down. This was Jonas. He had been a part of her team, and that made him family. It wasn’t right seeing him like this, but they couldn’t take the time for chest compressions, and part of her had a feeling that he wouldn’t like it if they were to somehow able to restart his heart. She had heard what he whispered with his last breath, and Buffy knew there was no way he would want to come back to them. Faith.

~*~

Univ. A

Fred paced back and forth through the living room. Her mother had moved to the kitchen, where she had turned the television up enough that Fred could still hear it in the living room. Roger, her father, had gone outside to do some yard work. Charity had accompanied him, and was, at the moment, playing in the dirt. Every time that Fred would feel panic coming on, knowing what may be happening, she would look outside to see Charity. There was something about seeing the little girl surrounded by mud pies that put Fred at ease.

From the kitchen, Fred heard some reporter mention strange debris that was falling from the sky in New Mexico. Not able to help herself, she stepped to the window and glanced up to the firmament. All she could see was blue. Not a cloud in sight, let alone falling debris.

In a nervous motion, Fred wrung her hands and then stepped into the kitchen where her mother was washing dishes. Fred took a second to smile, knowing that it was the third time her mother had done those same dishes. Her mother turned to look at her and asked, “Is there something you need dear?”

“Can I make a call? A long distance call?”

“Sure, Sweetie,” answered her mother before moving back to her sink full of clean dishes.

Fred grabbed the phone and headed to the back of the house. She pulled up past calls and pressed the one that should be Willow. Her breathing became shallow and almost non-existent as she waited for Willow to answer the phone. On the second ring, Willow’s voice sounded in her ear, “Fred?”

“Willow, I’m going mad here. Have you heard anything?”

Fred shut her bedroom door and sat down on her bed as Willow answered, “I’ve been listening to radio frequencies. I can turn them up if you want.”

“Please,” Fred answered. She had already listened to some earlier, but she hated not knowing. It was eating away at her.

Voices sounded over the phone. Fred had a hard time understanding everything that was being said or discerning what was going on, but several stood out and told her exactly what she needed to know.

“Fox. Two. Fox. Two.”

“So close.”

“We’ve been hit. Left thruster is down. Contact. Two bandits on our six.”

“Blue leader. We have your six.”

“Nice shot Red.”

“He’s been hit.”

“Redmond!”

“He’s gone.”

During all of it, she could hear loud noises that had to be weapons fire. At other times, there was static. The pilots spoke with even calmness of men in battle, concentrating on the fire fight. Then there were panicked voices, knowing that they were in trouble, that no matter how much they tried to shake away their enemy, they weren’t going to make it. Last of all were voices of anguish. These passed by quickly. It was as if the pilots were mourning one second and then the next, they were back to the battle. For Fred listening to them was frightening, heart breaking and at most times, she felt proud for these men.

In all of this, she had to wonder where Daniel was. Since she had started listening, there wasn’t any mention of SG-1. Was he anywhere near this? Was he okay? Would SG-1 somehow pull out yet another miracle?

Her mind started to drift as she listened. Fred had probably been on the phone for several minutes when Willow’s voice broke into her thoughts. “Fred? Did you hear that, Fred?”

“What? Huh?” Fred shook her head and tried to concentrate on what was going on again.

“Listen. They’re talking about something happening,” Willow instructed.

Fred sat up straight as what they were saying pierced through her thoughts. A pilot was exclaiming, “…thousands of bright yellow… I don’t know. They’re coming from the surface. I don’t know what they are. They’re cutting the enemy fleet to shreds. My God! It’s beautiful.”

The wonder in his voice came through perfectly over Willow’s speakers and the phone. Fred couldn’t help but take a deep breath in and smile as someone else commented, “They’re Ancient weapons. It’s SG-1. They found what they were looking for!”

Fred almost stood up and whooped for joy. For her, it was one of those perfect moments where the tide finally changes, and she was hearing it all. Another person continued, “The enemy ships are being destroyed. They’re exploding everywhere we look!”

She couldn’t hold it in any more. Tears started to fall from her eyes as she cried out in joy. This Earth was going to prevail unlike her own. On the other side of the line, Willow remarked, “I’ve got to go. I want to check in with Dr. Weir. Are you going to be okay?”

Fred nodded, even though Willow couldn’t see her. “Yes. I think I am – this time at least.”

~*~

Univ. B

Colonel Mitchell, flying The Homer while Lt. Hailey manned the weapons, grabbed onto his console as the ship shuddered under the onslaught of fire from Goa’uld Death Gliders. A grunt sounded from Lt. Hailey. She flew forward at an angle where her chest rammed into her own console. With one hand she pushed herself back into her seat so that she could use the other to keep up with weapons fire. “Shields down to 42%,” she yelled out to him over the commotion.

Cameron kept his gaze forward while yelling out at the same time, “Harriman, can we pull energy from elsewhere in the ship to the shields?”

Walter, at his station behind them, studied his readouts. “No, Colonel. We are pushing everything as it is.”

Over the speakers one of his pilot’s panicked voices yelled out, “I’ve been hit. Losing control. Can’t eject. Going for…” Static took over until another pilot’s voice took over.

“Blue Five is down. Red Two, you have one on your six.”

“Copy. Can’t shake it.”

“Lieutenant, can you help them out?” asked Mitchell.

“Negative, Sir. I don’t have an open shot at the moment.” Under her breath, she added, “The enemy is so thick, I can’t cover our pilots.”

“Just do what you can.” Cameron juked to the left as a shot from a Death Glider almost clipped them. Yelling at Walter again, he asked, “Have you heard an update from Carter or Sheppard?”

“No, Colonel Mitchell.” Walter worked at communications. “Sergeant Harriman to Jacob Carter. Any word from the team?”

Jacob Carter’s voice came over the comm., “Nothing yet. I will let you…” His voice paused and then followed with, “Something is coming from the surface. I can’t get a clean reading on it.” A voice other than Jacob’s sounded along with his in Czech. Being around Radek for some time, Walter could tell that it was an explanation of astonishment.

“Holy… What are those, Sergeant?” asked Mitchell as he stared forward at the view port.

“Not sure, Colonel.”

Lt. Hailey answered what was soon known as the obvious. “Weapons, Sir. They’ve found the Ancient weapon!”

In front of them balls of light danced around the fire fight. They stayed clear of any of the SGC crafts while taking out Death Gliders right and left. Cameron couldn’t help cheering as one of them tore into a Glider right in front of them. From her seat, Lt. Hailey spoke in excited tones, “They’re also attacking Goa’uld ships in space above us. I’m reading several Ha’taks under attack.”

“Anubis’s?”

“They are steering clear of it and several of the Ha’taks close to his.”

As Colonel Mitchell swore under his breath at her pronouncement, Walter leaned in close to his own readings. Whatever these things were, they might not be going for Anubis, but he was seeing something interesting happening. “Colonel, I’m reading a power build up in the area of Anubis’s Ha’tak.”

“What type of power build up?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Not sure?”

“I’ve never seen readings like this before. These power readings are all over the place, but there is definitely a power build…” Walter never finished his explanation. A loud sound, a rumble, started quiet and then quickly gained momentum. In the amount of time that it took everyone to realize they were all hearing it, a shock wave hit The Homer.

“What was that?” asked Cameron as he picked himself off the floor, trying to right their flight while also checking his own readings for all of their remaining F-302s.

Lt. Hailey went to pull herself up off the floor, but cried out in pain. Gritting her teeth, she used her other hand to haul herself back into her seat. She glanced at her console. In her mind, she questioned what she was seeing. The last time she had looked, Anubis’s Ha’tak had been on her sensors. Now there was nothing there, not even the ships that had been surrounding it. “I think that was Anubis’s Ha’tak and all the other ships in its vicinity.”

“What do you mean ‘think,’” asked Cameron.

“They were there before, Sir, but now I’m not reading any at all.”

~*~

Univ. B Same Time… or at least a few minutes leading up to

Illyria had known that this was coming. For the last several days she had been bouncing back and forth through time. It wasn’t like before, where the leaps came fast and furious. This time she had bounced one to two times a day. The travels were more controlled, and she knew exactly what was happening through each one. She had been here before. There were no surprises for her. The Jaffa that attacked right after she had parted ways with Spike and Carter were nothing. Each punch, kick and staff weapon shot had been scripted for her already.

The closer she came to the brink, the more Illyria could feel her power building within her. For the first time since Wesley had drained her of power, Illyria could feel the fabric of time and space. With ease she used it to stop time. For the Jaffa, there was no change. All they knew was she would be in one place for a second, and the next, she was across the room. They didn’t have a chance. With Illyria spatially moving about, they could not follow her. There was no warning before she would take one out with ease. For them, it was disconcerting. She looked like nothing they knew and had such strength that she could kill them with a single punch. There was one Jaffa she twisted off his head, threw it aside, and then appeared ten feet away to attack another one. The fight probably didn’t even last a minute, and when it was over, Illyria stood among the bodies of twenty Jaffa.

Expression filled with disdain, she walked over them, not even giving them the honor of glancing down. Illyria kicked a final Jaffa out of her way at the edge of the carnage. With a frown, she closed her eyes and concentrated, feeling the harmonics of the Ha’tak. From the vibrations she felt, Illyria knew that there was another group of Jaffa in front of the throne room. She took her time walking there, knowing that it would give her group more time to get off of the Ha’tak. At the same time, she also knew that her own phase was coming to an end soon. A quick glance at her hand showed a small fissure of energy that was leaking. Before long, her measly shell would not be able to contain her immense greatness.

As she neared the throne room, she stopped about twenty feet in front of the door. Only ten Jaffa were guarding the door. At once they all snapped their staffs up towards her, activating them simultaneously. Illyria tilted her head to the side and studied them with her piercing blue eyes. Very slowly her usually stoic expression moved into a slight smile. She flexed her fingers, causing them to crack. “Mere child’s play,” she muttered before moving her hand up in front of her to slow down time. The Jaffa all started to shoot towards her. Golden blasts all slowed down as they approached her. In graceful moves, she moved about them in a dance. Then she was amidst them. They didn’t even realize it until two of them were already dead, her hands thrust into their pouches. In once quick move she snapped both of their spines and yanked out the Goa’uld larvae. “You will die with your measly gods,” she stated in a matter-of fact manner.

Illyria threw the larvae on the ground, crushed them under her feet before they could even move, and lunged towards her next target. She shoved her opponent with ease. He flew across the room. With a sickening crunch his body hit the wall. By the time he slid down the wall, the Jaffa was already dead. Not even watching to see the end result of her attack, Illyria turned to the remaining Jaffa. She knew the commotion had alerted the throne room, as more Jaffa were coming towards the door. “I don’t have time for this,” she muttered.

In a blur, she stepped deeper into the fray. Most of the Jaffa she met up with only got a vague impression of her before they fell. Illyria moved amongst them, slowing down time here and there to gain the advantage. She could feel more cracks forming, and knew that she had to get in the room as quick as possible. With a goal in mind, she reached the door, went through, and finished off the last of the Jaffa attacking her. In the end, she stood a few feet in the doorway, blood covering her. There were a few Jaffa still standing in the room in front of Anubis along with two super soldiers, their weapons trained on her. She wiped a bit of blood from her face and then shook her head, “You protect this false god when one stands before you? Your minds are infantile, bent to serve one who has only a fraction of what is contained within this shell.”

Anubis stood and spoke from within his deep robes, “Kill her.”

A few of the Jaffa glanced at each other. They had seen what she had done to their comrades, and weren’t for sure if they should be attacking her or not. Others moved without question to attack. It was their deadly mistake. She dispatched the group within seconds. The super soldiers then fired towards her. Illyria held up a hand again. In front of her, time slowed down. She swept through the distortion as the shots fired slowly traveled towards her. She easily moved around the bolts of energy and as time snapped back into focus, Illyria forced a fist into each super soldier. With a sickening slurp, she pulled her hands back out. Illyria moved to where she was standing in front of the throne. Anubis seemed to be studying her as she was doing the same with him. Even more cracks in her skin stated to appear as she stood stock still. “You are…” he started to say.

Illyria cut him off before he could finish. “I am a true god, my power vast. You are a bastardized lower life form, not any better than the muck that used to prostrate at my feet.” Cocking her head eerily to the side, a movement she habitually made with this shell, she added as she sniffed the air, “You stink of human and parasite, but it is not what you became or what you are. You’re stuck of this world and that of the vermin that once came to litter my world with humans.”

Anubis started to laugh. It was a hallow laugh, full of malice and no actual humor. “You know what I am, but I still don’t know what you are. I think we both know there actually are no true gods aboard this Ha’tak.”

One sculpted eyebrow rose as she eyed him. “Wrong. My power will devour you and what is left of your being, disbeliever.” Anubis started to back away as her skin started to break apart and light poured from her. “Bow or not before this god, it will not save you,” she added. Then, in a flash of light and raw energy, Illyria blew apart, taking not only Anubis with her, but his entire Ha’tak and all other ships that were close.

~*~

Univ. B Still

Spike and Dr. Sam Carter were the last to ring back aboard Vala’s Ha’tak. The moment they appeared, and the whirling of the rings was non-existent, screaming could be heard. Automatically on the alert, Spike sniffed at the air and stated “Blood,” as Sam glanced his way. He nodded towards the door, and added, “Smells like it is strongest in the direction of the bridge.”

The two left the transport room and headed towards the bridge, all the way seeing blood here and there. They entered to see Buffy literally sitting on top of Dr. Rodney McKay. Riley was holding down a bloody arm, or what was left of the arm. Rodney screamed out as the two man-handled him so that Cordelia could try to get close enough to heal him with her Tok’ra healing device.

Spike barely gave the scene a second of his time while Sam actually went to help calm Rodney down. Rushing to the front of the bridge, Spike stated, “We need to bloody get out of here, and I mean now.”

Vala and Martouf, who was actually flying the Ha’tak, turned to him. “I take it Anubis knows we’re here,” Vala asked calmly, even though her eyes showed fear. The last thing Vala needed to deal with was Anubis, especially since she had been playing at being a Goa’uld.

At the same time, Martouf asked, “Where’s Illyria?”

“She’s the reason we need to move this damn ship, so get us as far away as you can… now!” Spike yelled.

Sam Carter turned from her place beside Rodney when Spike yelled. As Martouf worked at quickly moving the Ha’tak away from Anubis’s, she asked, “What else is wrong?” With everything going on with Rodney, she was quickly realizing she couldn’t do much to help, so Sam stood up to turn her attention back on the vampire.

“Even though she never was Fred, I can’t help but feel that I’m losing her all over again.” Spike shook his head. “I had an inkling this was happening but no confirmation. Blue, though, knew all along. She went on this mission, knowing that she was going to die, and she didn’t even tell me until the end.”

“What do you mean?” Sam couldn’t help but be curious about what was happening. It was the scientist in her coming to the fore.

“After Fred died and Illyria took over her body, Illyria’s power started to grow. It grew so much that it started to tear her apart. From what she has said, she found herself bouncing through time, even to the point where she blew apart, destroying the world as we knew it.”

Sam jumped in, “The explosion of her death must have ripped the fabric of time, causing her to – as you put it – bounce through time. I’ve heard theories on this, most of them farfetched. This alone…”

“Don’t you see it,” Spike interrupted. “She has been bouncing in time again. Illyria specifically said that she needed for our team to work on disabling communications because it was closer to the throne room. Pretty bloody poetic of Blue to go to the throne room, I must say. She, an actual god, planned on meeting her end by taking out your snake. Illyria probably is looking him in the eye right now before blowing him to bits.” For one second Spike looked proud of the thought of what Illyria was doing, and then the next second a lone tear started to fall. He bit the inside of his cheek and then muttered, “I would say ‘damn her,’ but she already is.” In a blur, he lashed out, slamming his fist into one of the walls.

“Spike, please don’t dent my ship too much,” Vala deadpanned, glancing at the dent his hand had made.

Sam was about to comment that maybe Spike was wrong and that Illyria was okay. She opened her mouth, but before she could even speak, Anubis’s Ha’tak erupted in to flames, blowing apart in a matter of seconds. Their ship rocked from the blast as a shock wave extended from the epicenter, taking down other Goa’uld ships as it traveled outward. Grabbing on to Spike, Sam tried to steady herself. From the back, Rodney cried out even more as he was jostled.

Everyone tried to steady themselves as the Ha’tak rocked under the onslaught. Martouf grabbed onto the console where he was flying the ship. He worked furiously at the controls, trying to stabilize it. With a glance up, he gasped. In the viewport, he could see what looked like a ball of light coming at them quickly. “What…” he started, when the ball of light came through the walls of the ship and came to a complete stop in the bridge.

Spike took an unneeded breath of air as he looked at the light. It was beautiful and gave him a feeling of peace that he hadn’t felt in years. The light was round with what looked to be several tendrils reaching out from it. Slowly, it coalesced into the shape of a woman. He blinked his eyes, trying to focus on what he was seeing, when suddenly Fred was in front of him. “Illyria,” Spike whispered.

The woman laughed, and to Spike, it was music to his ears. “It’s me, Spike. Fred.”

“But… but Illyria said that your soul was destroyed.”

Fred’s smile widened while at the same time she seemed to glow even more. “I told Wesley that my power was that I wouldn’t let them have me. It may have seemed like I was gone, but there has always been a part of my soul in Illyria.” She held her hands up in front of her, light radiating from them, and winked at Spike.

With a bounce in her step, Fred stepped around him and moved to where Rodney was laying on the ground, cradling the stump of his arm against him. Cordellia had made some progress, but there was still much more to be done to heal his arm. Everyone moved away as Fred stepped up to him and moved into a squatting position. Rodney looked up at her with his blue eyes, bright with pain. Fred held her hand over his arm. A light seemed to come from it, encompassing Rodney’s arm. With a frown, Fred stated, “I can’t bring back what you have lost, but I can at least help you heal.”

When she took her hand away raw skin covered Rodney’s arm, and the only blood left was from before. Buffy gasped. Not able to help it, she started to ask, “Can you bring back…?”

Fred shook her head. “I can’t bring him back. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. He’s happy now. Trust me.”

Buffy started to cry as Riley pulled her to him. He knew that Buffy had been asking after Jonas, who Teal’c had already moved to a room away from the bridge where his body would be safe. As Teal’c hadn’t returned yet, Buffy figured he was taking time saying his own personal goodbye to Jonas in private at the moment.

Fred stood back up and walked back over to Spike. “I have something for you, a parting gift.” Her hand stretched out and fell against his cheek. Spike could feel part of her spiritual energy pass into cheek with a tingle. “Whenever you look to the sun, feeling the warmth of it upon your face, I hope that you will remember me.”

Spike placed his hand over hers, his hand going all the way to his cheek. Rather than thinking about what she had just given him, he concentrated more on saying goodbye properly to her this time. “I could never forget you, Science Girl.”

With a slight smile, Fred whispered, “I’ll miss you, Spike.”

“I’ll miss you too.”

Fred backed away and then looked out the viewport. “This world’s Daniel is waiting for me. He’ll keep me safe in this universe.” She glanced back at Spike and smiled again as a tear started to fall down her cheek. “We have one more person to check on before we leave.”

“Leave where?”

“Maybe I’ll tell you about it the next time I see you.”

Everyone watched as Fred turned back into a ball of light with tendrils and then flew away. The bridge was quiet, no one knowing what to say. It was finally Sam who broke the silence. “Where’s Teal’c and Jonas?”

~*~

Univ. A

Xander and Vi sat quietly in the briefing room at the SGC. Since Vi had joined the SGC to be Faith’s backup and Xander was her watcher, the two of them had been offered the chance to go to the BETA site through the Stargate. While they had ended up deciding not to go through, the two had traveled to Cheyenne Mountain so that they could keep up with the battle. They had started out by simply sitting at the table, listening to radio transmissions. As they listened, others joined them quietly, the only sound being that which was coming over the speakers.

Twenty minutes ago the room had filled with cheering. SG-1 had come through. The ancient weapon had been activated, and Anubis had been destroyed. Everyone had been overjoyed that SG-1 had once again saved the day, and Earth was not going to fall. For Xander, it was a strange feeling of elation. The world had been saved again… by SG-1. Apparently they had done this numerous times. It went to show that while the Scoobies had been saving the world a lot, they hadn’t been the only ones out there doing so.

The room had pretty much cleared out by now, the staff returning to their jobs. All that were left was Xander and Vi. Beside him, Vi stretched out her arm and took his hand in hers. With a slight squeeze, she asked, “Were you scared?”

Xander wanted to shrug off the question, to tell her that he had known everything would be okay in the end. It wasn’t true though. He had been scared. It was one thing when you were facing an apocalypse, fighting alongside your closest friends. Here, he had been faced with the end of the world as he know it, and all he could do was sit by and wait for someone else to handle it. Sure, he had grown to know that Daniel, Sam, Teal’c and O’Neill were good at what they did and were trustworthy. That didn’t mean though that he had the same confidence in them that he did with Buffy and the crew. “A little,” he muttered.

Vi nodded and smiled at him. “I was scared too. I haven’t felt fear like this since Sunnydale.”

“Unfortunately, in our line of work, it probably won’t be the last time you feel it,” Xander remarked sadly. He had grown to really like Vi, and it hurt knowing what she would face in her future. Sure, she had been slaying for some time, but nothing she had been doing on a regular basis had been world ending type stuff, at least not since Sunnydale. As a slayer, he knew at some time she would be faced with it again. It went along with the job description.

Dr. Weir stepped out of her office, carrying several cups and a carafe of coffee. She placed two of the cups in front of them and then one in front of her. Filling her cup with coffee, Dr. Weir sat down and studied them across the table. They each slowly poured themselves a cup of coffee, and as they went to drink, she started, “Major Carter has contacted me. O’Neill was able to activate the Ancient device that destroyed Anubis. Unfortunately the Ancient knowledge was still taking over his mind. There was what she describes as a stasis chamber there. He placed himself in it.”

Xander wasn’t for sure what she meant by a stasis chamber, but Vi did. Seeing the look on Xander’s face, she explained, “He basically put himself in suspended animation.”

“Again with the not know what you are talking about,” Xander stated.

Vi smiled. “He’s sleeping. Kind of like a coma of such. Once we know how to remove the Ancient knowledge, we wake him up, remove it and he’s good as new.”

“So it isn’t still killing him?”

“Think of it as his body is now on ‘pause’ for the moment.” Vi explained.

“So O’Niell is okay at the moment. What about the rest of the team?”

Dr. Weir took a drink of her coffee before answering. “The rest of the team is fine. According to Sam, Teal’c and her are going to stay a few days to help out at McMurdo.”

“And Daniel?” asked Vi.

“Major Carter mentioned that Dr. Jackson was talking about maybe going to Texas.”

Vi couldn’t help but grin. “Good for him.” She took another drink of her own coffee and then asked, “Is there anything that we can do for you while we’re still on base?”

~*~

Univ. B

Graham sat down beside Faith, the slayer leaning against him. Her breathing was shallow, and she was having a hard time keeping her eyes open at the moment. Above him, Tara frowned. Sheppard had told her to stop healing Faith, that Tara needed her strength for later, but she didn’t like the thought of Faith dying if there was something she could do about it. Earlier, she had tried to close the wound, but hadn’t finished before John stopped her. There was still blood coming from Faith’s shoulder. Graham had tried wrapping it, but it wasn’t helping. They both knew that if the bleeding didn’t stop soon, Faith would die from blood loss. Taking a deep breath, deciding that she had to do what she could, Tara started forward when a familiar voice commanded, “Stop.”

Tara turned around. Her mouth dropped open to gape at the two people who stood before her. They were both bathed in light, and she knew in an instant, that the voice she had heard had belonged to her Daniel Jackson. He nodded towards her, and spoke again, “Please don’t try to help. You need your strength to defeat her.”

“Her?” asked Tara.

At the same time, Faith quietly asked Graham, “Am I dead?”

Graham, staring at the newcomers, shook his head. “No. I see them too.”

Beside Daniel, Fred stepped forward. She passed Tara and then kneeled in front of Faith. With a smile, she spoke with an innocence that Faith hadn’t heard in some time. “The others told me things about you when we first met. Cordy said that you had murdered people, that you had even tortured Wesley. It didn’t matter to me at that moment, because I knew you were our hope of getting back Angel. We needed you.” Fred looked at Graham and then glanced back at Faith. “There are still a lot of people out there that still need you too.”

“Fred? My Fred?” Faith coughed. She was losing strength, and it was taking quite a bit for her to talk. “Illyria…?”

“Illyria sacrificed herself to take down Anubis. When she did so, my soul was once again free.”

Graham looked up at Daniel and then back at Fred. They were both dead. It was strange seeing them here. Did that mean Faith was about to die too? He was about to ask this when Fred suddenly held her hand over Faith’s shoulder. Faith’s eyes shot open and she gritted her teeth together in pain. “What are you doing?” asked Graham.

“She’s healing me,” Faith answered. “It actually hurts a bit, feeling everything coming back together.”

Fred made a noise that sounded like, “tsk,” and then commented, “I healed McKay, and he didn’t even cry out or blanch.”

“What? Was he shot too?” Faith asked through clenched teeth.

“No, his arm was severed,” Fred answered matter-of-factly.

Tara gasped at this news. “Is he going to be okay?” she asked Daniel.

Daniel nodded. “McKay will be fine. It will just take him a long time to come to grips with everything. The man you knew is gone.”

“And everyone else?”

Fred pulled her hand away from Faith and frowned. “Illyria is dead, as I mentioned, and also Jonas.”

Tara fell to the floor. Her eyes started to brim with tears. She had actually been very close to Jonas. She felt a tingling near her shoulder and looked up to find Daniel resting his hand there. “You must be strong right now, Tara. What is to come…”

He paused as Fred loudly exclaimed, “He didn’t!”

“Who didn’t” asked Faith, noticing that Fred’s hand was now hovering over her stomach where John’s hand had done so earlier.

“Daniel, feel this.”

Daniel knelt down beside Fred and reached out his hand. It hovered where hers had been. He shut his eyes, concentrating. They suddenly shot open. He looked at Fred and then at Faith. “What… what is it?” asked Faith.

Daniel muttered quietly, “He shouldn’t have had the power to do that.”

“Do what? What did Sheppard do to me?” Faith’s voice was demanding as Graham reached a hand out, trying to calm the woman who had been dying in his arms only minutes before.

Fred was the one who spoke. Her answer was simple, but did not answer the question. “You’re pregnant.”

“What?!?” Faith practically shrieked. “There is no way that is possible. I had the same birth control shot that all the other women with the SGC gets.”

“That doesn’t mean anything. There is always that small chance,” Fred stated to explain.

“No.” Faith shook her head. “No. I won’t accept that. And… and what did John do to me exactly? He didn’t knock me up, did he, with all that Ancient stuff?”

Fred couldn’t help it. She started to laugh and couldn’t stop. Daniel stood up and shook his head at Faith. “No. John didn’t knock you up or anything like that. The Ancient knowledge must have been changing him enough that he was able to feel that you were pregnant. What he did… well, it feels like your baby’s DNA has been changed. Whatever John did left a signature we can detect.”

“What?” asked Graham this time, his voice sounding dangerous as he was trying to calm down Faith.

Tara understood. From where she was still sitting on the floor, she whispered. “He said that he would be normal. John must have made it where your baby doesn’t have any of your abilities.”

“It’s a good thing,” Daniel remarked. He looked back at Fred and then added, “We should be going. They are watching us, and we’re lucky they haven’t stopped you from helping.”

Fred nodded. As soon as Illyria had moved on and Fred was free, Daniel had been there. He gave her the choice of a true death or ascending. She knew this wasn’t the Daniel from her world, the one that she had observed for a small amount of time from Illyria’s gaze. This was the Daniel of this world, the one that had been married to the Fred now in her dimension. While the thought of ascending alongside him had been strange, she had agreed quickly. There was something about him that made her feel that it would be okay. He had let her go to see Spike and help Rodney, staying out of the way. This trip he had joined her, and she had a feeling it was so that he could make sure that she didn’t do too much just after ascending.

As she stood to join Daniel, Fred paused to look down at Tara for a second. “Open yourself up, and you will understand why you need all the power you have left.” She joined hands with Daniel, and the two turned into beings of light and floated away through the ice.

Graham stood up and helped Faith up to her feet. The slayer swayed before she steadied herself by holding on to him. She closed her eyes, trying to get the room to stop spinning. When she finally opened them, Faith looked up to see Graham studying her. At the moment, she was trying to wrap her mind around what Fred and Daniel had just told them. Pregnant! She couldn’t be pregnant. Yes. While Faith knew it was possible, it wasn’t like she hadn’t taken the proper precautions. They had even upped her dose of birth control to balance out with her slayer physiology. She wasn’t ready for this. Faith was slayer material, not mom material. Her mouth opened and shut several times. For the first time in a long time, Faith was speechless. Graham simply shook his head as she stared up at him. “Later. We have other things to figure out right now.”

The soldier in Graham was coming out. Faith had always told him that he needed to take their personal life out of work, and he was doing so at that moment. There was nothing more that he wanted to do rather than take Faith somewhere safe and make sure she was okay. Instead, they needed to keep up with the mission. Even though Faith was usually in command of their team at the SGC, O’Neill had put him in charge if anything happened to Sheppard. Pushing away his desire to only see to Faith, he turned his attention to Tara, “Can you channel?”

Tara took a deep breath, placed her hands on the ground and centered herself. Opening up her senses, she gasped as she felt the currents of magic. The earth was in pain from what the Goa’uld had done to it so far. Eddies of emotion poured through her as she searched for what Fred could have been talking about. Then she felt it. There was a surge of power. Her mind zeroed in on it and with a gasp, she knew exactly what was happening. Tears filling her now completely black eyes, she looked up at Graham and said while sobbing, “Willow. Her power is awake. The Goa’uld has figured out how to use it.”

“Can you locate where she is at?”

“North.” Tara concentrated on the flow of power more and then added, “California. LA maybe. The nodes of power feel like they do when Angel’s group used to practice large spells there.”

“To the rings then.” As Graham started to walk Faith towards where the transport rings would be located, he spoke into his radio, “Miller to Carter. Faith, Tara and I will need you to ring us aboard. We then need to head north to Los Angeles, California.”

“Sheppard,” came Jacob’s questioning voice.

“He won’t be with us.”

“Copy. I’m moving back into position since we had to move during the attack. Let me know when you are ready.”

~*~

Univ. A

Sam couldn’t help but laugh at Daniel. He had stood in front of the only public phone at McMurdo for the last five minutes. There was a scowl on his face, and he kept on reaching up to take the receiver before taking his hand away as if burned. Pointedly nodding towards the phone, she asked, “Afraid it’s going to bite you?”

Daniel - not even aware that he had been watched for the last several minutes - actually jumped a little at the intrusion of her voice. “Uh, no, just uh…”

With a shake of her head, Sam walked by and squeezed him on the shoulder. “Tell Fred we said ‘hi.’”

“Yeah. Okay. Uh sure.” Daniel watched Sam walk away and then reached back out for the phone. This time, he rested it against his ear and then started to dial the number Fred had left him on a piece of paper. “Here goes nothing,” he whispered to himself. With everything that had happened, Daniel had decided that if he was going to pick her up in Texas, then Fred deserved the truth. Yes. He hadn’t exactly lied. He just hadn’t told her something… something very important, and he felt she needed to know it if she was going to be making a decision for when he got to Texas.

Fred’s voice came over the line. Because he was in Antartica, the connection wasn’t that great. It crackled a little bit, but her cheery voice saying a simple “hello” was enough warm his heart before filling it with dread. “Fred,” he answered back. “It’s Daniel.”

“Daniel?” Fred asked. “Please tell me I just heard that right. You’re breaking up.”

He caught the gist of what she had said. Leaning into the wall by the phone, he answered, “Yes. It’s me.”

“How is SG-1? Is everyone okay?”

“Jack is in stasis. The rest of us are okay,” he answered.

There was a pause, and then Fred asked, “Did you say Jack was in stasis?”

“Yes. I can’t exactly talk about it much here.”

He wasn’t for sure if Fred heard him or not, as there was a pause, but then she finally remarked, “Tell me when you get here. Will it be soon?”

“I’m leaving later today. I’m not sure when I’ll get there though. It depends on the flights.”

“Okay. I’ll be…”

Daniel interrupted her, knowing that if he didn’t get this out now, it would never come out. “I lied.”

“What?”

Daniel ran his hand through his hair in a nervous gesture and then looked to see if anyone was paying him attention. Not that anyone would care about his conversation, but it seemed too personal to be having in the hall. Unfortunately, he felt it needed to be said before he left. “I lied. Actually, I just never told you something that I should have, and you deserve to know with the decision you are about to make. I saw him. I saw your Daniel. He ascended like me, and he came to ask me a favor.” There was no reply on the other end, so he kept on rambling, “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to think that I was helping out with Charity just because of him. The truth is that even if he wasn’t there, I would have wanted to be a part of your lives. I adore Charity as if she were my own and when it comes to you, Fred, there hasn’t been anybody that I have felt as…”

“Stop. Stop, Daniel,” Fred broke into his rambling. She had caught most of what he was saying, even with the static and interference on the line. There were a few places she had to fill in the blanks, but she understood well enough. Her mind was just trying to wrap around all of it. “I just… Come pick us up, please. We’ll talk about it then. I need to think.”

Fred hung up the phone and looked across the room at her mother, who was studying her. “Is everything okay, honey?”

“Daniel called to say he is on his way. He just isn’t for sure when he’ll get here.” Fred glanced down at Charity, who was playing on the floor with some of her mother’s pots and pans. “Do you mind watching Charity for a bit? I need to take some time to think.”

“Of course I can watch Charity. Take the time you need.”

Fred nodded and headed out the backdoor. To her right was house after house. In front of her was the barn and then land that her father owned behind all of the other houses on the street. She headed into the barn and then took stairs to the second floor. Surrounded by bales of hay, she sat down on one and quietly spoke, “If you are watching me, Daniel, now would be a good time to show yourself. I really need you.”

Nothing happened. Burying her face in her hands, she started to softly cry. There was a part of her that was angry at Daniel for not sharing this information with her, especially when they had the conversation about her seeing her Daniel. At the same time, she could understand how difficult it would be to bring up. There was no denying that if had told her, part of her would have thought that he only was helping her out as a favor to her deceased husband. But not telling her… that was just… lying by omission is what it was.

Part of Fred wanted to scream and yell out at something, anything. Another part of her would have happily buried herself in his arms if Daniel was there. Had she fallen in love with him? Yes. There was no denying that. Fred had figured that out before even leaving for Texas. She just hadn’t been for sure if she was ready to completely move on and leave her home behind. It was a large step, and part of her was scared. What if she was fooling herself? Maybe she didn’t really love him. Could she have convinced herself because she loved the idea of being with him since he was the double of her husband? Argh!!! It was too much to consider. And then he had to go and admit that he had lied!

A voice from the side interrupted Fred from her inner dialogue of the situation. “Penny for your thoughts?”

“Everything is fine, Daddy,” Fred answered as she looked up at her dad.

“I know my girl, and everything is not fine,” Roger remarked as he sat down beside her. “Give your old man a chance and talk to me about it. I might actually be helpful.”

“Daniel lied to me,” Fred stated.

“That’s a pretty big statement. What did he lie about?”

“Well, it was more of a lie by omission, and it is really hard to explain.”

“Try me,” Roger offered, patting her on the knee at the same time.

Fred stared down at her hands as she wrung them together, not even sure how to start. “Well, see, my Daniel, the one from my Earth, when he died, he ascended into a higher being.”

“A higher being?”

Fred tried to think of how to explain it and came up with comparing it to what he would know. “I guess kind of like the Powers that Be, but a little different. When I first arrived here, I got really sick. It was why Illyria went to my world. We couldn’t both be here. My Daniel, he came to me and told me that she had to stay there. He said that Fred Burkle could still do great things in this universe, but all Illyria could do is destroy it.”

“Are you sure this wasn’t just a dream,” asked Roger. His voice had turned serious with the mention of Illyria.

“It wasn’t a dream. He told me things about this world’s Daniel that I didn’t know about.” With a frown, she continued, “I told this world’s Daniel about it, and he confirmed what I had been told. It was real.”

“But,” asked Roger, knowing there was more to the story.

“Daniel told me today that he also saw my Daniel. He had the chance to tell me, when we talked about what I saw, but he never said a word.”

“And why did he tell you today?”

“He said I deserved to know because of the decision I’m making.”

“And why didn’t he tell you before now?”

“From what I can tell, he was too scared to tell me since he thought I’d think he was only helping me and Charity out because of it. He adores Charity. There is no question there. I’m just trying to decide where I stand.”

The two were quiet for a while. Roger wrapped his arm around her as she cried quietly. After a few minutes, Roger remarked, “Personally, I don’t like him.”

Fred’s gaze shot up towards him. Her voice sounded snippy as she asked, “Why not? Daniel is one of the best guys out there. He is the most…” She slowed down and tapered off as she noticed the way her dad was slightly smiling.

Roger shook his head and chuckled. “Fred, I look at you and see my daughter. I’m not supposed to like any of the guys my baby girl dates. That’s standard ‘Father 101.’” With a shrug, he added, “I know all of this is confusing, and he should have told you earlier. At the same time, that boy knew how angry it could make you, but he still came clean when it mattered most. That earns him at least a few points in my mind.”

Fred leaned into her father’s embrace. “I’m glad I came here.”

“I’m glad you came here, too.” He kissed her on the top of the head and then held Fred tightly. It was so much like having his own Fred back, and he knew deep down that this was the closest he could ever come to that feeling again.

~*~

Univ. B - with a little bit of Univ. A

Cordelia grabbed her head as visions flowed through her mind. Everything was hazy to her and went by so quickly. Her mind tried to discriminate between scenes, picking out bits and pieces. John was the first person she saw. He was in what looked like stasis, and she automatically knew that this had already happened. Next Angel was standing in the sewers, listening to the sounds above him. Gwen Raiden lost control of her powers, electricity dancing through the air. Willow was destroying the Hyperion Hotel, using her powers. Then there was another Willow, sitting in front of a mirror, her hair and eyes white with magic, reaching out towards the center. It was just one scene tumbling in front of another.

With a gasp, Cordelia ran to the front of the bridge where Martouf was flying. “We need to get to Los Angeles, Calirfornia. How fast can you get us there?” Before he could even answer, she was working at the communication controls beside him. “Selmac come in.”

“Selmac here,” sounded his deep voice.

“We need to get Lt. Miller, Faith and Tara to LA as soon as possible.”

Instead of Selmac, Graham Miller answered, “We are already on our way there. Faith won’t be with us though. I sent her to The Homer to see Dr. Cameron for an injury.”

“Understood. You will need to transport down to the Hyperion. It is heavily guarded by Jaffa, and there is a Goa’uld that has made it her base.”

“A Goa’uld?”

Cordelia closed her eyes and concentrated on what she had seen. Jolinar’s voice took over and noted, “Cordelia had a vision. The Goa’uld is Kebechet. She has found out how to access Willow’s powers. Angel’s crew is there, and they are about to join in battle.”

Behind Cordelia, Buffy asked, “Angel’s alive?”

“Angel and several others. I’m not sure how, but they will be there shortly.”

Graham spoke into the comm. on his end. “We’ll be there shortly.” Her turned to Jacob Carter and asked, “Kebechet?”

Selmac answered, “Kebechet is a daughter of Anubis. She is definitely not a Goa’uld to be trifled with.”

From where she and Radek were readying the mirror, Tara explained, “According to Egyptian mythology, Kebechet was seen as a goddess of purification through water. They thought of her as being a part of the mummification process when they would, uh, wash the, uh…”

Graham knew a little bit about the mummification process and stopped Tara before she could continue. “I got the picture. I have a feeling though that there might be a bit more when it comes to the Goa’uld version.”

Selmac nodded. “Kebechet has been known as one of Anubis’s trusted generals. She is best known for her own version of purifying worlds for her father. There had been a rumor that her host had been killed but that the symbiote had survived. It appears the rumor is true if she has taken your Willow as a host.”

No one knew what to say after this, as no one wanted to talk about the fact Kebechet was now in Willow’s body. They knew that they were going to be facing her, and that in the end, Willow had to die. Then again, Willow had already died. Before doing so, she had performed the spell that had kept Kebechet from obtaining her memories, at least until now. Was Willow truly alive now, or had the spell kept her separate from Kebechet? This wasn’t a normal joining, and no one knew for sure.

Tara and Radek finished with the mirror, but didn’t activate it. At Graham’s questioning look over his shoulder, she explained, “I don’t want to turn on the mirror unless I absolutely have to.” The two moved up front to where Graham and Jacob Carter sat at the controls. “How much longer until we get there? Not that I’m actually wanting to get there, but I can feel something building.”

“What do you mean by ‘something’?”

“I could feel the power when we were in Antartica, but it is growing darker by the minute. It feels like she is attempting to conjure something, and it isn’t good.” Tara wasn’t about to say that it felt a little too familiar to her. In her mind she was remembering a time after her mother had died, when she had spiraled out of control and found herself with the wrong crowd calling forth a demon. The dark power they had to pull from then felt a lot like what was building in LA at the moment.

“We should be there in a few more minutes,” stated Jacob. “I could take the ship faster, but I’d rather not, since I don’t know exactly what Sheppard did to it.”

Tara nodded and leaned over Graham’s seat. She closed her eyes and allowed the feelings of what was going on in LA to wash over. It took everything for her to push away the dark energies. Willow was there, or at least magic that felt like her Willow. At the same time, the warmth and love that she felt when Willow did magic wasn’t present. It was almost like feeling a distant echo of her Willow, but for Tara, it was worth it.

The closer they got, Tara’s stomach started to churn from the dark magics. She shook them away and opened her eyes only to see that they had reached LA. Beside her, Radek muttered a few words she didn’t understand. They seemed to be words of fear if she was picking up on his tone correctly. She first thought that it had to do with the rubble they were seeing that once was LA. Glancing his way, she realized he was looking at her, staring. “Graham,” asked Tara as she reached down and fingered a black wisp of her hair.

Graham turned to her, his eyes widening. “Tara. You’re channeling some of the dark magic. You need to shut yourself off from her before it consumes you.”

Drawing in a few deep breaths, Tara stared as the black started to leave her hair. She looked at Radek, who was now looking at her in trepidation. “Radek?”

“Is fine,” he answered slowly. “It is fine, I think.”

It hurt her a bit that she scared him. He didn’t know her past, and the two of them hadn’t had much contact other than working together to try and help Sheppard. At the same time, she counted Dr. Zelenka as her friend, and it didn’t sit well with her that he had feared her in any way.

“We’re here,” Jacob announced as they stopped to hover over the Hyperion Hotel, one of the only structures still standing. As they looked down on it, they watched as it seemed to tremble every few seconds as if an earthquake was taking place.

Keying the comm., Graham questioned, “Cordelia, what is your ETA?”

Over the speakers, Cordelia’s voice replied, “About two more minutes.”

“Do we have time to wait for them?” Graham looked back at Tara.

Tara shook her head. “I’m afraid not. We need to get down there now before she unleashes what she is working towards.”

Cordelia’s voice added, “There will be help. I’ve seen it. Hopefully you will be able to hold on until we get there.”

“Not sure about the confidence I’m hearing there, Cordelia,” Graham wryly commented. Pushing himself away from the controls, he headed to the ring area. “You ready, Tara?”

“Not exactly, but I don’t have much choice.”

The two stood side by side. Tara took a deep breath as she felt Graham’s fingers intertwine with her own. He squeezed her hand as the rings surrounded them. The sound took over the quiet of the Tel’tak only to be replaced by the sounds of a skirmish as they materialized right into the middle of the Hyperion’s lobby. A fight was already taking place as Angel, Gunn, Gwen, Wesley and a young woman Tara didn’t know were all fighting Jaffa.

“Willow. Raising a demon. Ritual in the office,” yelled Angel as he fought with one of the Jaffa. At some time during the fight before they had gotten there he must have procured a staff weapon from one of the Jaffa. He wasn’t using it correctly. Instead, he was swinging it around, batting Jaffa around as he fought. Tara’s eyes took this in and also the fact that there were Jaffa everywhere. Even with Angel’s crew fighting with their all, Tara knew it was going to take a lot for them to win.

From the side Tara noticed one of the Jaffa firing at them. She raised her hand and instantly erected a shield to protect them. Graham glanced over as the shot hit her shield, causing light to spread around them as the energy dispersed into the glassy buffer. He brought his zat to the ready and asked, “Can you get to the office?”

Before Tara could answer, the ground started to shake. Everyone, both the Jaffa and their people, worked at balancing as the floor started to move below them. A huge blast could be heard from the office area. Part of the wall blew out, and through the haze of concrete and drywall, Tara could make out the shape of a large form along with the silhouette of Kebechet.

Tara watched in horror as the demon emerged from the dust laden air. He was huge, standing at least at eight feet. His skin was green and scaly with patches of black, giving him an almost camouflage look. Red eyes glowed as they took in the scene, and one large horn jutted from his head. He flexed his muscles, as if stretching, and let out a loud bellow that shook the room even more. Reflexively, Tara strengthened her shield while also bringing up a hand full of magical fire.

Preparation became a moot point though as Kebechet appeared. The Goa’uld held out her hand towards the demon, the ribbon device activating as she spoke in deep timbres, “Your power is mine.”

“Kill the demon before she can use it,” Tara yelled out while slowly advancing towards Kebechet.

Beside her, Graham jumped into the fray by shooting off Jaffa as he raced to the demon. Angel also took the cue and worked his way through the throng to help out while the rest of his crew worked on the Jaffa. Tara moved to a place where she felt she had a better advantage and then started to send her magic towards Kebechet rather than the demon. Kebechet simply raised a shield to protect her as she worked at siphoning the power from the demon through her ribbon device.

Her power wasn’t getting through, and Tara knew that she didn’t have the strength. That was why John had told her to conserve her power. He somehow knew this was coming. With a deep breath, she also knew this was why he had brought the mirror. Resigning herself to what she knew needed to be done, Tara reached out to connect to the mirror. She could feel it in her mind, even while trying to concentrate in the middle of a fight. Tara activated the mirror with her magic, connecting to a world she knew with all of her heart. Now all she had to do was wait for help while also fighting.

A sound of a scuffle came from behind her, and Tara turned to find a Jaffa flying her way. A girl’s voice yelled, “Watch out!”

Tara moved aside as the Jaffa landed a few feet from her. Wasting no time, she threw a wave of energy at him that hindered the Jaffa unconscious. A tall slip of a girl joined her and grinned, “Sorry about that. Still don’t know my own strength. Need me to help cover for you?”

“Okay,” Tara answered as a staff weapon shot came their way. She moved her shield to cover the girl.

“I’m Amanda, the new slayer.”

Tara frowned for a second as she thought back to Faith. Just as quickly though, she smiled sadly at the girl. “I’m Tara.” What she had seen so far of the girl fighting now made sense. Part of her wondered how Amanda came to be with Angel’s crew, but she really didn’t have time to think much on it, as there were more important things at hand.

Several feet away from Tara, Graham grunted as another Jaffa made contact with him. He was trying to shoot the demon with his zat whenever he could, but the Jaffa had decided Angel and him were a threat. They kept their attack coming, leaving Angel and Graham only seconds here and there to do anything to the demon. Unfortunately for Graham, all he could do was fire at it, which seemed to do nothing. Angel, on the other hand, had gotten a few strikes in with the staff weapon he was using. Graham wondered if the staff weapon actually being shot at the demon would help any. He kicked out at the Jaffa who had just punched him. His foot landed right above the Jaffa’s stomach, near the symbiote pouch. As the Jaffa moved back from the blow, Graham shot him twice with the zat. He frowned as another one took its place. Echoing his thoughts, Angel asked, “Will they ever stop coming, and how do I actually fire this thing?”

“Trade me for a second,” Graham yelled over the noise of the fight. Angel tossed him the staff weapon as he threw Angel his zat. For a split second, Angel eyed the zat, shrugged his shoulders and started to fire. “First shot disables, second kills and the third disintegrates,” Graham explained. Not waiting to see if Angel understood or not, he shot the Jaffa coming at him with the staff weapon. He then turned quickly and shot towards the demon.

Kebechet screamed as Graham shot at the demon she was trying to drain power from. The demon barely blanched at the shot, but the fact that Kebechet had shown anger at the demon being shot spurned Graham into shooting him as much as possible while also trying to fight off Jaffa.

From the stairs, Gwen Raiden watched what Graham was doing. She unleashed her power on the Jaffa close to her and before any could retaliate, Gwen yelled out “DOWN!” before reaching out with her power towards the demon. All of Angel’s crew, along with Graham and Tara fell to the ground. Gwen tried to focus as much of her electricity towards the demon as possible, catching several Jaffa in the attempt.

“No!” Kebechet turned an angry eye towards Gwen as the demon staggered under the onslaught, even falling to his knees. It didn’t help that Graham was also still shooting at it with a staff weapon from his place on the ground. Lifting her hand device towards Gwen, Kebechet sent out a wave of power. Gwen, caught off guard, flew into the air as electricity danced around her, tearing into the walls and stairs of the Hyperion.

In all the commotion, Tara thought she heard the sound of rings. Tara took a deep breath, trying to still keep up her shield while checking to see if she had heard correctly. Sure enough the rings had come down and were now disappearing, leaving Buffy, Riley, Teal’c, Sam, Spike and Cordelia behind. The group didn’t even waste a moment before they were in the fray. Cordelia raised her own hand device and sent a wave towards Kebechet, ending the invisible force that had caused Gwen to go air born and lose control of her powers.

Glancing over her shoulder as she stood back up, Tara yelled out at Amanda. “The other vamp is on our team. No slaying him.”

“No problem,” Amanda replied, already going into a roundhouse kick against a Jaffa.

Buffy took everything in as quickly as she could and dispensed out orders. “Cordelia, help Tara against Willow-Wannabe Ghoul Lady. Spike, cover them. Sam, Teal’c and Riley, thin out the Jaffa as much as possible. I’m going to join Angel and Graham in taking out the big bad demon guy.”

With the extra help, Tara started to shift her shield more to keep herself safe from Kebechet rather than Jaffa. Spike and Amanda had Cordelia and her covered well enough that only a few stray shots came towards them, which Cordelia deflected with her Goau’ld devices. Buffy, Graham and Angel kept working at the demon, which was appearing to weaken. Then, suddenly, the demon screamed out. Tara felt her insides freeze as she realized what was happening. The demon wasn’t dying from what they were doing. No, Kebechet had succeeded and was tearing it apart, ripping as much power from it as possible. The scream rose to such a level that everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and covered their ears except for Kebechet, who stood with a smile on her face. Then, in a flash, the demon exploded into a million pieces, covering the room in entrails and parts. No one - not even the Jaffa - moved.

“Gross,” Amanda complained behind Tara.

“Awesome demon confetti,” Spike remarked back to her with a grin.

Wind picked up in the room as Kebechet started to float in the air. Willow’s short red hair started to stand up, as if static electricity was flowing through it. Then, from the office and other parts of the building, a strange dark haze flowed into her. Tara muttered a few choice words under her breath as Wesley yelled out from the back of the room, “She’s taking in all the magics from around the office – spells and all!”

“Not again!” Spike, his demonic visage took over as he snarled and started to run at the woman. “Not another dark Willow!”

Kebechet simply laughed and with a flick of her hand, Spike was thrown back into the crowd. Darkness seeped into her. Willow's red hair became black as night and her veins stood out. Her once green eyes now took on the color of dark ebony before one again lighting up with the Goa'uld's influence. Her laughter grew, and it caused ice to spread through Tara’s veins. “You think you can defeat me. You can’t. Not even all together would you have a chance. I am the cleanser of worlds, and yours I will clean in the blink of an eye. No world will stand against me.”

“Excuse me,” said a voice that caught Tara off guard. She turned and gasped as everyone else did so, even though she had hoped for this. Standing in the middle of the room was Willow with long, white hair. For Tara, it was almost blinding seeing how much power was radiating from Willow, and it was all bright white. “I got a long distance call a minute ago, and thought I might be of help.” Turning all of her attention to Kebechet, she sweetly added, “Can I have a turn going up against the Darth version of myself?”

“Suit yourself,” answered the Goau’ld with glee. She held out her hand and magical power streamed from it towards Willow.

Willow simply brought her hand up. The energy stopped about a foot from her. Kebechet tried to push the stream closer to her, but nothing happened. Then, hand still up, Willow held out her other hand to Tara and asked, “Together?”

Tara slowly nodded. “Together.” She ran to Willow and took the offered hand. Suddenly, with Tara’s power being added to Willows, the magic started to slowly move towards Kebechet.

“No!” Kebechet screamed as she threw out her other hand to use her hand device. Cordelia acted quickly by using her own hand device to try and neutralize what Kebechet was doing. It was now three against Kebechet, and her power was slowly declining. Tara just hoped they could hang on long enough to turn the tide.

Seeming to think that they needed to return to the fight, Kebechet’s Jaffa started to once again attack anyone that they could. Pandemonium broke out as Graham, Angel and Buffy all ran over to join in helping cover Tara, Cordelia and now another Willow. There was no way they could let the Jaffa through.

As the fighting rang out behind them, Tara felt herself weakening. She had already used quite a bit of magic, and even though she was strong when it came to magic, she had to admit that she was starting to run dry. It wasn’t like she had stolen power like Kebechet or joined the fight fresh like Willow. Beside her, Willow tightened her embrace and quietly commented so that only she heard, “I won’t let you fall, Baby.”

Her Willow had never called her ‘Baby.’ If anything, Tara wasn’t crazy about pet names like that. Yet, when Willow called her this, Tara felt a warm feeling filling her. It was as if a jolt of joy filled her, and suddenly, Tara felt just a little more powerful. They would get through this. Together. It would be her and this Willow, not her old Willow. And for some reason, she didn’t feel the pang of sorrow she should at this. Her Willow was definitely no more, and this… this was now.

Together, yet slowly, they advanced on Kebechet. Together they raised their hands. Together, Tara’s voice somehow joining Willow’s with the exact words, they started to chant a spell to expel Kebechet’s power. Together they started to overcome her.

Dark magics and power started to leak from Kebechet’s pores. The haze that settled into her earlier was now being pulled away. The magic she was trying to use to defeat Willow and Tara sputtered away, and then, with a sickening crunch, Kebechet’s body was flung against the wall from the power of Cordelia’s ribbon device. A limp body, devoid of life, fell to the floor.

Tara went to take a deep breath from a feeling of relief when suddenly the Goa’uld slithered from Willow’s dead body. A scream caught in her throat as a blast came from behind her to basically obliterate the snake. Angel’s voice came through the quiet, “Finally, I figured out how to use these. Shooting the snake was good, right?"

“Yep. Blasting the snake to a grease spot was definitely of the good,” Buffy answered back.

Laughter rang out, and when Tara turned around, her hand still in Willow’s, she realized the fight was over. The only living Jaffa in sight was Teal’c. Tara started to laugh but it suddenly turned into sobs. She felt a hand on her shoulder as Graham asked, “You okay?”

“Better than okay,” answered Tara through tears. “It’s over for now.”

~*~

Trish Burkle sat outside of her house with Charity. At the moment, she was trying to calm the little girl down by hanging out on the porch swing. Charity, who had been cranky most of the afternoon, sat in her lap, sucking on her bottom lip and whimpering. Fred had left to ride one of the horses after lunch, and Charity had gone from being happy to irritable in no time. She was sure that the little girl needed to take a nap, but for some reason, Charity refused to close her eyes and give in to the exhaustion.

From down the road, the sound of an engine approached. Trish listened as it got closer, thinking it would turn into the drives of one of the many houses that lined the road to their house. However, the car never turned into a neighbor’s drive. Instead, it pulled into theirs. With a frown, Trish stood up on the porch and watched as the small economy car stopped in front of their house.

As the car’s engine turned off, a man opened the door and got out, his eyes taking in everything around him with interest. He was a very tall man with light brown hair, and bright blue eyes that stared out from glasses. The man stretched, noticed her and then smiled widely as he saw Charity in her arms. It didn’t take Trish long to figure out who he was when Charity turned, especially when the baby girl reached out her arms and screamed, “Da Da Da Da…”

Trish couldn’t help but smile at the man as he approached. His smile was infectious, and the love that he felt for Charity could be seen in the way his eyes took in the little girl. She couldn’t help but notice the way they brightened. As he reached her, he appeared a little confused about what to do. His eyes stayed on Charity but he held out a hand, “Hello, I’m Daniel Jackson. I, uh, Fred and I…”

With a smile, Trish started to laugh at how he appeared a bit uncomfortable. “Trish Burkle, and don’t worry, Fred has told me all about you.”

“Everything?” It was asked in a way that seemed a bit like a squeak, which made Trish laugh some more.

Trish gave in to Charity, who was reaching out for her Daddy. Daniel took her gladly, lifted her in the air and gave her a raspberry on her belly. Charity screamed out in laughter and then cooed as Daniel brought her down to hold her closely. He kissed her on the head as he hugged her to him. “I’ve missed you so, baby girl.” He then glanced up at Trish, “Fred?”

“She’s out riding one of the horses. Why don’t you come inside until she comes back?”

“Thank you. I think I’d like that.”

Daniel followed Fred’s mom into the house. To him it looked like the perfect country home. The screen door closed behind him as he stepped out of the Texas heat into a cool living room. A ceiling fan ran in the living room, filling the room with a calming whirling that reminded him of white noise. She motioned for him to sit down on the couch, which had a patchwork quilt draped over the back. Settling onto the couch, Daniel situated Charity to where she was leaning into him. The little girl fisted his shirt and yawned, her eyes drooping. “Iced tea? It’s sweet.”

“That sounds wonderful,” he answered.

Trish stepped into the kitchen to get them both a glass. As she filled them with ice and then tea, she heard Daniel quietly singing in the living room. She allowed a small smile as she thought about Fred telling her how Daniel would sing Charity to sleep with a song in Arabic. Grabbing the two glasses, she walked in to find Charity already falling asleep with her eyes closing as she finally gave in to take the nap that she had needed to take all day.

Handing the glass to Daniel, Trish quietly remarked, “Fred hasn’t told us everything, but we know she isn’t really our Fred. She said that you have been taking care of her and Charity.”

Daniel slowly nodded, not sure what all to say. “Did she tell you anything about my relation to them?”

“I know that she had been married to your double, and that Charity was theirs.”

With a glance down at the baby girl, Daniel frowned. “I can’t help but think of Charity as my own, even though I have been trying to keep enough of a distance for Fred. They both mean so much to me, though. The thought of them both leaving, it…” His voice tapered off as he tried not to think of how much it was going to hurt to lose them.

“You love them?”

“I do,” he answered. Daniel hugged Charity closer to him while trying not to wake her. “Very much.”

Trish took a drink of her tea and then leaned forward. She patted him on the leg before remarking, “I’m going to go find Roger. He can look for Fred to let her know that you’re here.”

“Okay,” he answered, taking a sip of the tea and leaning into a more comfortable position on the couch.

Then next thing Daniel knew, he had fallen asleep and Trish was back, lifting Charity gently from his arms. Trish held a finger to her lips and then disappeared with Charity. A minute later she returned and held out a hand. “Come on. I have a feeling you have been traveling a while and may need a nap. You can sleep in the room with Charity’s pack-n-play.” Daniel simply nodded and allowed the woman to show him to a room. She left him on the bed, where he slipped off his shoes, laid down and then drifted off to sleep.

Trish closed the door as Daniel lay down and then went about the house to do a bit of cleaning. She wasn’t for sure what she thought of Daniel. He seemed to be a nice man, and it was evident Charity and him were smitten. There was no question about how much he loved the little girl. She still didn’t know much about him though, which she knew time would fix. Maybe after learning a little more about what made him tick, she would have a better idea of what she thought of him.

It was an hour later, almost nightfall, when Roger and Fred finally returned just in time for dinner. Trish watched as Fred looked about the house, as if trying to spot Daniel. Trish inclined her head towards the guest room. “Both him and Charity are taking a nap. He looked beat, so I had him lay down for a while.”

“Thanks, Mom.” Fred gave her a hug and then frowned. “…and sorry. I probably smell like horse.”

Trish tried to hide the fact she had been wrinkling up her nose. “No. You’re fine.”

“Maybe I should take a shower before dinner.”

“I think that would be a good idea.”

Fred quietly laughed, gave both of her parents a peck on the cheek and then tiptoed through the house to her bedroom. After gathering up clothes to change into, Fred then headed to the bathroom, where she quickly showered, the whole time thinking of the man that was sleeping in her parent’s guest room. There was no question in her mind how she felt about Daniel, especially now that he was back. Even though she had felt betrayal a few days before, Fred knew that she couldn’t help but forgive him. The first thought she had when her father showed up to say that he was here wasn’t one of anger but one of happiness. She missed him and only wanted to be around him again. That alone told her what her next move should be.

Hair wet, but dressed up in clean clothes and no longer smelling of horse, Fred slipped into the guest room. Charity was now awake in her pack-n-play. The baby girl simply sat, watching Danny sleep. Fred held a finger to her lips, in an attempt to tell the girl to stay quiet. Charity mimicked her and didn’t make a noise as Fred carried her away.

Trish Burkle looked up as Fred came into the kitchen carrying Charity. Fred joined her parents at the table, placing Charity in a high chair. “He’s still sleeping,” Fred remarked as she reached out to grab a plate of special food Trish had made especially for Charity.

“Do you want to wake Daniel up or should I make a plate for him?”

“Let’s make a plate for him. I have a feeling that he isn’t going to be waking anytime soon.”

“If he is going to be sleeping for a while, then we may want to move the pack-n-play out of there for the night so Charity doesn’t wake him later,” Roger commented as he took a bite of his mashed potatoes.

Fred got up and handed her dad Charity’s plate. At the same time, her mother got up to fix Daniel a plate. Smiling sweetly at him, she asked, “Daddy, can you please feed Charity while I move her pack-n-play?”

Roger frowned. Here he was trying to eat, and now he was feeding Charity while his wife fixed his daughter’s boyfriend a plate. He wasn’t exactly happy about it, but there was no way he could tell his daughter “no” when she was looking at him so sweetly. “Alright.”

“Thanks, Daddy.” Fred kissed him on the cheek and then slipped out of the kitchen to head to the guest bedroom. The darkened room was filled with Daniel’s even breathing. Taking a deep breath, Fred tiptoed to where the pack-n-play was set up. Slowly, she lifted it, carefully trying to move it without making a noise or bumping Daniel. It seemed to take forever as she brought it up into the air. Gingerly, Fred backed out of the room, only allowing herself to breath once she was back outside of the room. She quietly shut the door before moving the pack-n-play to her room.

~*~

Univ. B A Brief Interlude

Tara sat in the garden of the Hyperion Hotel. Everyone had decided to stay to help not only clean the hotel, but to also lay Jonas to rest. They planned on having a funeral for him in the morning. It really had been his favorite time of day. Jonas loved getting up, watching the weather channel to see what to expect weather wise and meeting the sun with anticipation. There wasn’t a more perfect time to celebrate his life than in the morning. The garden behind the Hyperion was beautiful. Apparently Kebechet had kept it up since making the hotel her base. They would say goodbye to Jonas with the calm of morning and beauty surrounding them.

A lone tear fell down Tara’s cheek as she thought about what would happen in the morning. A smooth voice broke into her thoughts. “I’ve been watching you.”

Tara wiped away a tear that was trickling down her cheek. Her eyes moved to the shadows where Spike was standing. He exhaled and cigarette smoke surrounded him. “Why?”

Spike threw down the cigarette and put it out with his boot. His blue eyes met her gaze. “Because you are too sad.”

“Too sad?”

“Yes. You’ve lost a lot of friends, but with what all of you just accomplished, you should be at least be celebrating a little. Instead, you appear to be in complete mourning. Every time you look at your friends, you act like you are looking at them for the last time.”

Tara frowned at him. “I am looking at them for the last time, in a way.”

“What do you mean?”

“My heart is literally breaking in half since she left.”

Spike sighed. He knew exactly who Tara was talking about. Willow had left through the mirror the morning after the final battle with Kebechet. Since then Tara had looked lost. “I don’t remember you looking like this the last time the two of you split ways.”

“It was different this time. When… when we were using our magic against Kebechet, we joined our magic.”

“Damn it.” Spike sat down beside her on one of the Hyperion’s benches. “The spell connected you, didn’t it?”

“It isn’t like I can feel her or share her thoughts. I just feel like there is a part of me missing. Being apart feels wrong.”

“You don’t belong in her universe.”

“And you don’t belong in this one.”

~*~

Univ. A – Back to Daniel and Fred

Daniel woke up to darkness. It took a few seconds for his addled mind to recall where he was. The long trip from Antartica to Texas had taken a lot out of him. When Fred’s mom had him lay down, he wasn’t going to argue with her. He was too tired to. Now, still worn out from everything, Daniel slowly let his mind and body wake up as he reached over to the night stand beside him, searching for his glasses. With a clatter, his hand found them and hit them against the top of the stand before picking them up. Placing them on, Daniel pushed himself into a sitting position.

Behind Daniel came the noise of someone stirring. He reached out and turned on a lamp, squinting as the bright light stung his eyes. Blinking a few times, Daniel then turned to see Fred yawning as she sat up in bed, rubbing sleep out of her eyes. For a few seconds the two just stared at each other. Daniel wasn’t exactly sure what he expected her to say, even though what she said surprised him. It wasn’t the anger he thought he would get when first seeing her. Instead, Fred simply asked, “Are you hungry?”

Daniel shook his head, opened and closed his mouth a few times, blinked and then remarked, “Yes. Actually I am.”

Fred nodded and got off the bed. She headed to the door and then paused as she pointed into the hall. “The bathroom is the next door on the left. I’ll be in the kitchen. Mom saved you a plate, so I will warm it up for you.”

“Thank you,” he replied.

A few minutes later, Daniel walked into the kitchen. Fred had already warmed his plate of food and was sitting at the table, waiting for him. He joined her, his gaze never leaving her as he sat down. “Fred, I…”

Fred pointed to his plate. “Eat Daniel. I want to hear all the news, then we’ll really talk.”

“All the news? What do you want to know?” Daniel took a bite of mashed potatoes and relished the taste. They were probably the best mashed potatoes that he had ever tasted. They were whipped perfectly and were highlighted with a light buttery taste.

“You told me Jack was in stasis. What happened there? Is he going to be okay?”

Daniel closed his eyes and sighed. With a frown he shook his head. “At the moment he is okay, but we don’t know how to fix this. If we could get in contact with Thor, he could probably help, but we haven’t been able to reach him. All I know is that Jack placed himself in an Ancient stasis chamber and there is no telling how long he can stay in there. Sam thinks he’ll be fine for now, but…”

Fred reached across the table and took one of his hands into hers. “He’ll be okay.”

“I hope you’re right,” he agreed.

“What about Stargate Command? Is everyone okay there?”

“I talked to Dr. Weir on the way here. She said that they got everyone to the BETA site and had the iris up before Anubis attacked. They monitored everything from there and have been sending out teams to help with the clean up. Even Xander and Vi have been helping.”

“General Hammond?”

“He was in command of the Prometheus.” Fred turned pale as she went into panic mode. The Prometheus would have been part of the front lines. Then Daniel calmed her down by adding, “He came out of it fine. The Prometheus was badly damaged, but from what I’ve been told, there were no causalities.”

Fred let out the breath she had been holding. It sounded like out of everyone she personally knew, Jack was the only one that had not turned out fine.

“I have a bit of other news I got from Dr. Weir.”

“Oh?”

“When Kinsey came back through the gate, he pronounced that Stargate Command was once again on shutdown. We aren’t to use the gate or the mirror. Dr. Weir said that at the moment, the mirror is at an undisclosed location, so she has no control of who comes or goes, but once Ms. Rosenberg returns with the mirror, the only exception to activating the mirror will come down to you.”

Fred didn’t say anything at first, and Daniel didn’t continue. She knew he was waiting for her as he worked at eating his dinner. He had just finished his pork chop when Fred quietly stated, “You really hurt me, Daniel. I was so angry at you.”

“I don’t blame you. To be honest, I’m surprised you still wanted me to come here. I thought you might ask me to send Sam or Teal’c instead.”

“To be honest, that never crossed my mind.” Fred got up and walked to a window above the kitchen sink. She stood there, looking out at the moon and stars. Softly, she continued, “I’m not mad at you anymore, Daniel. It still may hurt a little that you didn’t tell me until now, but the fact is you finally did tell me. You wanted me to know everything when it came to my decision, even if it might go against you. That honesty in the end helped.”

“It helped?” Daniel sounded hopeful as he pushed his chair away from the table to turn it to where he was looking at her straight on.

Fred nodded, still looking out of the window. “Sometimes it hurts being around you. I know that I lost someone special that I loved dearly, and you remind me of that. At the same time, I can’t help but feel for you. Even though I tried separating myself from you at first, you have become not only a part of my life, but an integral part of Charity’s also.”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Daniel couldn’t help but hope.

Fred turned towards him. The moonlight from the window highlighted her as she walked to stand in front of him. Her eyes held onto his as she inched forward. Slowly, Fred lowered to where she was straddling his lap. A smile grew on her face, reaching her eyes, as she raised her fingers to lightly move through his hair. “I knew what I wanted before you called, and even though I was angry after talking to you, I still wanted the same thing.”

Daniel closed his eyes and took a deep breath. For some reason he had to hear it. “What do you want, Fred?”

Fred leaned down and brushed her lips against his. She sighed against his lips, her breath warm, and then whispered, “You, Daniel. I want to stay here with you.”

With a smile, Daniel commented, “I’ve been yours since I first saw you in the mirror. I just never dreamed it would be possible for you to accept me until you kissed me in the hall.”

“This is a lot to ask for, since when all this started it was temporary, but can Charity and I…”

“I may not be her true father, but Charity is already very much mine. There is nothing to worry about there.”

“So would you be okay with us staying with here permanently, with you?” Just because she wanted to stay in this universe with Daniel, didn’t mean he would want this. She wanted him to understand exactly what she was requesting. This was a major decision, even if Fred had been living with him for some time now.

Daniel reached up and took her hands from where her fingers were still threaded in his hair. Fred sat back in his lap as he placed both of their hands between them. Staring down at them, he replied, “Fred, I would love nothing more than for you and Charity to keep on staying with me.”

“Really,” Fred asked.

“Really,” Daniel answered, looking up at Fred. “You can stay with me, and we will take whatever this is as slow as you want so that you’re comfortable.”

“Or as fast?”

“Or as fast.” Daniel squeezed her hands and smiled again as he answered. She smiled back, let go of his hands and leaned forward. Her lips once again brushed against his gently. The first time he hadn’t kissed back, but this time, his lips returned the gesture. Their kiss started out tentative but continued to grow in need. The next thing Daniel knew, he was holding Fred as close to him as he could in the chair, his mouth open to her while he ached with need. With a gasp, he pulled away.

“Daniel?”

“In. Your. Parents’. Kitchen.” He spoke between pants.

Fred, lips swollen, laughed. “My Daniel, always worried about what people would think.”

“Just worried about what your parents would think.” He couldn’t help but feel happy she just called him ‘her Daniel.’

“Then maybe we should lay back down and sleep.” Fred got up and held out a hand.

“That sounds great,” he replied.

“Together?” she asked.

“Together,” he answered.

~*~

Univ. B

Faith sat alone in one of the rooms of the Hyperion. A brush lay in her hand as she stared in the mirror, not moving. There were a lot of thoughts going through her mind. She, along with McKay, had been left in care of Dr. Cameron for the last few days, and today was her first day out of their care. McKay and her had been alone most of the time with only a few visitors. It had been lonely and had given her mind time to come up with thoughts she didn’t want to face. Behind her, the room’s door opened. Graham shut it and then approached her. He took the brush from her and started to work at her hair. “You okay,” he asked.

“Your friends have lost a lot.”

Graham paused with his brush strokes. “Yes, they have. If you want to stay up here during the…”

Faith frowned. “They need you. There are so little of you left. I understand.”

“What?” Graham wasn’t for sure what she was talking about. Suddenly he realized he hadn’t exactly been there for her the last few days, which could have given her time to come up with some very wrong conclusions.

Getting up, Faith took the brush from him and sat it to the side. “We haven’t really talked much in the last few days. Everything has been about returning some type of order to your friends while we have been ignoring the discussion we really need to have.”

“There isn’t much to discuss. We will go to the service and then return through the mirror to your universe.” He had thought that it was evident how they needed to face this.

“Why?”

“Why? Because it will be better for you there with the resources they have, plus you can go through this with your friends and family.”

Faith grabbed Graham’s hand and held it over her stomach. His eyes met her gaze. “I’m not mother material, but with what John did for us and this child… I can’t do this alone in my universe.”

“You think I want to send you back through the mirror to do this alone?” Okay. So she had been coming up with some crazy things in her mind while being alone.

“Isn’t that what you were thinking, to send me back through the mirror so you didn’t have to…?” Her voice was soft but harsh at the same time.

Graham got down on his knees in front of her and hugged her midsection before placing a kiss on her stomach. “I am not leaving your side. We’re in this together. I just thought you would be more comfortable in your universe.”

“I don’t.”

“You don’t want to go home to your universe?”

Faith shook her head. “There isn’t much there for me. The people here, they need you. Plus, who would watch over McKay for Sheppard if we returned to my universe?”

Graham couldn’t help but laugh at the last part. Dr. Cameron had mentioned to Graham how Faith had been mothering the usually snarky but now quiet scientist. She didn’t put up with McKay not listening to the doctor, and seemed to be the only one the scientist would cooperate with. “It sounds like you may be needed here too.”

“So you are okay with me staying here and facing this together?”

“Of course. I can’t believe you thought I would leave you because…” He took a deep breath and said the words he hadn’t, “…because we’re having a baby.”

“I’m just used to people…uh…”

“Leaving?”

“Yes.”

“I’m not leaving. You’re stuck with me.” He kissed her stomach again and then stood.

Faith picked up the brush and started on her hair. It only took her a few minutes to get it how she wanted. Turning around, she frowned, “I hope they don’t feel like I’m intruding. I didn’t know Jonas well.”

~*~

Univ. B Still

McKay sat quietly in the back of the garden as everyone said good bye to Jonas. They had laid his body out on a table. Rodney would look up now and then to see the body of the scientist that had grown to be his friend over the last two months. At the moment Buffy was talking. She was telling a story about how Jonas had come to the rescue on one of their missions. A rare mix of linguist and scientist, Jonas had not only rigged their cell to open, but also had talked their way through a mass of angry villagers. In Rodney’s mind all he could see was Jonas being shot. “No,” Rodney yelled out in the middle of Buffy’s speech.

Beside Rodeny, Faith looked up. She could see the panic in his eyes, and knew in an instant that Rodney’s mind was elsewhere. It was something she had witnessed several times in the last past few days. There had been many times when Rodney had imaginary conversations or seemed to react to things that weren’t there while in sick bay with Faith. Standing, she reached an arm around him and whispered as everyone watched, “Rodney, wherever you think you are, you aren’t.”

Rodney’s eyes came into focus as he looked over at her. “I couldn’t help him.” Tears started to reach his eyes as he spoke. “I can smell it. His flesh is burning and the blast sent him across the room. I’m trying to reach him, but the rings are blocking me and…”

McKay was suddenly grabbing towards the stump of his arm. Graham pushed the scientist into a sitting position as Faith caught McKay’s hand. “My fault… my fault…” Rodney kept on saying.

Riley, Buffy and Tara moved to join the group. Buffy took McKay’s hand away from Faith as the other two stood behind her. “Doctor McKay,” she called to him.

Faith nudged Rodney. “B’s trying to talk to you, McKay.”

Rodney’s watered down blue eyes looked up at Buffy. The focused in on her, actually seeing her. “We don’t blame you.”

“I couldn’t help him,” Rodney whispered.

“You tried. We know that,” Riley stated.

“John would have been proud of you,” Tara whispered.

The normally hard as nails Faith rubbed Rodney’s back as he started to calm down. “You goin’ to be okay, McKay?”

“No, but one of these days I may be.” He nodded towards where Jonas was laying. Rodney was once again in control. “I’m going to miss him. He was one of the only scientists that could stand working with me.”

Radek snorted from his seat. Out of all the scientists, Radek was actually probably the closest to McKay, even though Jonas did have a certain way with Rodney. There was no denying that. “Jonas was patient.”

“He was innocent in so many ways,” Dr. Sam Carter added from the side where she was standing by her father. “When it came to Earth customs he was lost as can be at times, but he always took it in stride.”

“Jonas started his life new with us. Maybe that was why he was so fond of morning, because it was a fresh start.” Tara looked up towards the sun coming up over the buildings.

“JonasQuinn was a formable warrior in his own way,” Teal’c commented in his steady voice. “He cared for those he fought for, and never lost sight of what was best for them.”

Spiked stepped out of the shadows where he had been standing with Angel’s crew by habit. Sunlight hit him, which Faith found unnerving. It was a brand new development she was not used to yet. They had told her it had been a gift from Fred. Spike eyed the body and added, “Jonas was also great at playing poker. He saved many a kitten.”

Spike’s comment about Jonas put everyone at ease. Before long everyone was laughing, telling their own stories about Jonas. While it was sad that he was gone, it was soon realized that they shouldn’t be crying but celebrating his life. In the end, General O’Neill – who had joined the group the day before - stood up and held out a zat. “Jonas Quinn came to us and ended up losing his world. We became all he had. He joined Stargate Command and became a respected member of the SGC team. The two of us had our differences at times, but when it comes down to it, I am proud that I was able to serve with him even though we weren’t on the same team.”

Riley held Buffy close as General O’Neill shot the zat at Jonas until his body disintegrated. She quietly cried against his chest. He knew how much it hurt her that they had lost one of their own team mates again. Now it was just the two of them.

Everyone silently made their way back into the front lobby of the Hyperion. The mirror, which had been moved there, was hooked up, waiting in all its glory with a single duffle bag beside it. With a sigh, Tara stepped in front of it and turned to the group. Her eyes, already red from saying good bye to Jonas, started to tear up. “I guess it is time for me to say good bye.”

Spike turned to Faith and Graham. “Are you two joining her?”

Graham and Faith looked at each other and then back at Spike. All eyes were on them, as no one knew exactly what the couple would end up doing. Shaking his head, Graham answered, “We’re staying here.”

“Good. Good. I like you two here,” McKay stated happily from beside Faith. She was sure that he was once again only partly with everyone.

“Sounds like the mad scientist is happy with that news,” Spike remarked.

“And what about you,” Faith asked with an edge. She had watched McKay breakdown several times in the last few days. His mind had shattered with not only the loss of his hand, but also witnessing Jonas’s death. It also hadn’t helped that the one person who meant the most to the scientist was in stasis. Their only hope for John was if the Asgard would finally answer their pleas, and as that hadn’t happened yet since Anubis had first attacked earth…

“I figure this group needs more help than ours. I’m staying here to help them rebuild.” Spike turned his gaze from Faith to General O’Neill, “That is, if you have no problem having here.”

General O’Neill shook his head. “We’ll be happy to have you. I might not have been ecstatic about having a vampire on my base when you first joined us, but you’ve proven your worth.”

Buffy - her eyes puffy from crying - stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Tara. Before long, everyone seemed to move forward. Even Angel’s crew moved to say good bye to her. Ending with Graham, Tara picked up her duffle bag and activated the mirror with her magic. On the other side of the mirror Willow stood, waiting for her as if she knew this was coming. Tara turned back to all of her friends, people she considered family. “If you ever need me, you know where to find me. The mirror might be shut down on their end for a while, but we’ll get it back up and going. I’m always a long distance call away in an alternate universe.”

“That long distance phone call goes both way, kid,” Jacob Carter replied.

“I’ll miss all of you.” Tara blew a kiss at them and then turned to the mirror, her fingers brushing over the surface one second. The next second Tara was on the other side. She waved goodbye to them one final time before the mirror shut off.

~*~

Univ. A

Café Diem was full for the lunch rush. Eureka’s Sherriff Jack Carter found his party already sitting in a corner and eating as Henry waved him over. Jack quickly ordered before joining his best friend and Fargo. “Problems,” Henry asked.

“Some of Taggart’s animals got loose again. It took us a while to find them all.”

“What was it this time?” Henry took a bite of his turkey on rye sandwich.

Jack was just about to explain when his phone rang. “Sherriff Jack Carter,” he answered. He sat listening attentively. When the call ended he hung up and glared across the table at Fargo. “Allison’s trying to get a hold of you.”

Fargo started searching his pockets, frowning when he realized that he didn’t have any form of communication devices on him. “What did Dr. Blake want?”

Jack sat back in his seat and grinned. “Do you remember a certain little red head by the name of Willow Rosenberg?”

“Of course, she’s…” Fargo paused as his mind started to realize what had happened.

Laughing, Jack stated, “Oh for cryin’ out loud, Fargo. You forgot all about getting her out, didn’t you?”

Fargo rushed out of the café, worried that he had forgotten about getting Willow out of SARAH II. What he didn’t know was that she wouldn’t be upset at all. Miles underground, Willow laid in the embrace of the one person she loved in the entire universe and to her, all was once again right in her world.


The End


Last note from Author: While I'm working on my sequel to Shelter, another Stargate/Buffy fic, I will also work on a several Epilogues of such for this. It will be a collection of short stories that look at what happened to various characters after the events of Oh For Cryin' Out Loud. If there is anyone or any couple you want me to specifically look at, let me know!

The End

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