Oh For Cryin' Out Loud
WARNING: Character death!!!!
Pairings: Tara/Willow, Fred/Daniel, and more to come...
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.
Spoilers: Takes place in season seven of SGC, around the time right before Heros until Lost City.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy, Angel or Stargate. Buffy and Angel characters are all owned by the great Joss Whedon. Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis are owned by MGM and others I can't think of at the second.
Feedback: YES! I love feedback. Sometimes I feel like I rarely get it and yet I crave it. Please look for me to even answer back on the feedback page for this fic!Part One
“Uh, Jack, you may want to look at this,” Dr. Daniel Jackson called out.
Colonel O’Neill frowned. They had only been on PX9-614 for ten minutes, and Daniel had already found something in the massive structure that housed the Stargate. He wasn’t for sure if he should be happy about this or not. It could mean several different things, ranging from some rock he could care less about to something significant when it came to the Goa’uld. Running a hand through his graying hair, Jack walked through the large dark room they were in to a door where Daniel was standing. As he approached, Daniel moved into the room to allow him space. Stepping in, O’Neill frowned. “Oh for cryin’ out loud! Not another one.”
They were standing in what appeared to be a storage area. All the walls were covered with shelves. The shelves were all full of artifacts, normally something that would have Daniel salivating. Instead he was glued to the floor, his gaze on an object in a corner on the other side of the room. Sitting there, in all its glory, was what appeared to be a quantum mirror. Behind O’Neill, Carter gasped, “Another one?”
“Someone can say that again,” Daniel commented, stepping towards the object and then stopping abruptly as it flared to life.
“Daniel?” O’Neill asked, as if he was asking why the anthropologist just activated the thing.
“It wasn’t me.”
“Then turn it off.”
“Right, and for that I would need the remote,” Daniel muttered to himself, looking on the shelves.
Moving further into the room as from behind him Carter started to help Daniel with his search, O’Neill studied what he was seeing through the mirror. He had expected to see the same storage area on the other side, but instead he was met with what seemed to be a totally different storage room with familiar looking objects lying about. It reminded him of the storage rooms at the SGC. Joining the group in the room, Teal’c remarked, “Am I correct in that we have found another mirror?”
“Yeah, and we need to find the off switch,” O’Neill replied, studying the mirror but not touching it as he finally had made his way across the room. “Any ideas on why it just came on?” he asked.
Looking over her shoulder, Carter commented, “Sorry, sir, but it just doesn’t make sense. We didn’t activate it and I don’t see anyone on the other side.”
Almost on cue, the door to the storage room on the other side of the quantum mirror opened. Red lights blared through it as three figures entered, one falling as she was starting to cross into the storage area. “Daniel, find that remote!” Jack ordered as he watched what was happening on the other side. There had been what suspiciously looked like the blast of a staff weapon as the woman fell in the doorway. Out of the other two, another woman turned around, screaming. She tried to run towards the fallen woman, but the third person of the trio, a man in what appeared to be a marine uniform, grabbed onto her. As she struggled, he got a hold of her and looked up. His eyes met Jack’s gaze, and it was now that Jack realized that what he feared was true: they were tying to get through the mirror. “Daniel!” The woman was now struggling, but the man dragged her on. Jack watched as the man fought with her in a way that spoke of not anger but a love to keep her going. He was trying to save her. Somehow, in all of her moving about, the man grabbed her hand. Backing up, Jack watched on as the man forced her hand to the mirror, the two of them touching at the same time.
With a scream they came through the mirror. The man kept trying to back the girl away from the mirror as she continued to yell. Over and over he called to her, “Tara! Tara!”
Keeping his eye on the mirror while looking back to the two, Jack noticed that now a Jaffa was stepping over the body of the woman on the floor in the doorway. “Daniel, now would be a good time to shut this thing down!”
“I can’t find the remote!”
The movement of Teal’c holding out his staff weapon at the ready caused the man to look back at the mirror. Turning to his companion, he shook her and yelled, “Willow wouldn’t want you to die too! Now close down that mirror!”
Jack jumped back as the girl looked up, her eyes completely black. With a shove, she somehow sent her companion flying across the room into one of the shelves. In a growl, she barked, “Out of my way, Miller!”
Getting up, he wiped a bit of blood from his mouth and spoke evenly, “Fine, go back through and kill yourself. Surely that is what Willow would want you to do after she tried to help save you.”
The woman stood stock still, staring at the man. Then, slowly nodding, the darkness started to leave her eyes. Tears flowing, she approached the mirror as the Jaffa was now coming right towards them. What happened next seemed to take place in a blink. For the first time O’Neill noticed the young woman’s hands were covered in blood. She quickly approached the mirror, and saying something O’Neill didn’t understand or quite hear, she touched it as the Jaffa was now in arms reach. A flash seemed to fill the room, and the next thing O’Neill knew, he was sitting up against one of the shelves, rubbing his head. Down from him, Daniel chuckled, “Found it.”
Throwing something that was probably very priceless at Daniel, he exclaimed, “Damn it, Daniel.”
Carter, pushing herself up, crawled to the young woman. She glanced at the mirror, seeing that it looked pretty much destroyed. Reaching the woman, she turned her gaze down, feeling for a pulse as the young man came over and placed the woman’s head in his lap. Gently brushing hair away from the woman’s face, he called out, “Tara. Tara. Wake up, please.”
Blinking, she looked up. Almost whispering, she asked, “Graham?”
“Right here.” The man stroked her cheek and smiled.
“I’m cold. So cold.” A tear escaped her eyes. “She didn’t make it.”
“She’s shaking,” remarked Daniel, from where he had joined them.
“It’s called shock, Daniel,” Carter commented.
“Daniel?” the woman’s soft voice called out. As he turned to face her, she reached out. He sat stock still as her hand, slick and wet with blood, touched his cheek. “Stay off world. Don’t go home, not even for the baby. She took her to the Tok’ra.”
Shaking his head, Daniel didn’t know what to say. It didn’t seem to matter though, because it was at this time she passed out. Looking up at the man, he was about to ask what she was talking about when Sam interrupted him. “We need to get her medical attention now, Colonel.”
Jack motioned with his head towards the girl. “Teal’c, if you would please.”
“I can carry her,” interrupted the man.
“No. You’re going to follow and tell me who you are.”
“Yes, sir.” As Teal’c picked up the girl, Daniel and Carter helped the man up as he mumbled, “Thanks Dr. Jackson, Dr. Carter.”
“Well, it appears you know us,” O’Neill wryly stated.
“Everyone on base knows of SG-1, sir.”
“Good. Then we can skip our introductions. Let’s move onto yours.”
Wincing as he went to take a step, following Teal’c out of the room, he answered, “Lieutenant Graham Miller, sir, second in command of SU-2. The young woman is Tara Maclay, part of the same team.”
“Special Unit. We deal with, believe it or not, the stranger jobs.”
“As if aliens aren’t strange,” Jack commented. “You wanna elaborate?”
Grinning, he answered, “Our team specializes in what, as our SU-1 leader says, goes bump in the night.”
“Goes bump in the night?” Jack frowned. “I would say that is a little vague.”
“Our job can be vague at times, depending on circumstances.”
Sam frowned at the two. “We can discuss this later. Right now, lets just concentrate on making sure Miss Maclay here is going to be fine.”
Jack acted as if he was going to argue when Daniel activated the Stargate. Wasting no time, not waiting for the rest, Teal’c stepped through. Daniel was next through and then Jack, Sam and Graham. When they entered, General Hammond was already at the bottom of the ramp. “Colonel, what is going on?” he asked as he looked at the girl in Teal’c’s arms to Graham.
“Looks like we found another quantum mirror, and these folks decided to join us, General.”
“Colonel O’Neill, I don’t know if that is such a good idea,” Hammond commented, his eyes staying on Tara.
Carter cleared her throat. “She needs medical attention, General. Permission for Teal’c and I to take her to the infirmary?”
“Permission granted,” he answered with a frown on his face.
As the two left, Hammond turned back to Daniel, Jack and Graham, “There better be a good story behind this.”
Graham answered, “Our world was being attacked by the Goa’uld Anubis. He has shown great interest in two of the SGC’s members, Tara Maclay and Willow Rosenberg. Our gate was being attacked, so the only way of securing their safety was to travel through the mirror.”
“I only saw one other person with you, son.”
Smiling as he remembered the way his own General Hammond called people ‘son’ and then frowning, Graham stated, “Miss Rosenberg was shot down by a Jaffa staff weapon before we could get through.”
“And the mirror?” asked Hammond.
“Pretty much destroyed, sir,” Jack answered. “Miller’s young companion came pretty close to blowing it up trying to shut it down.”
“She blew it up?” Hammond frowned. How could that young lady he just saw passed out in Teal’c’s arms have blown up a mirror?
“More like singed it,” Jack answered.
“Which was good,” Daniel added.
“It was?” Jack turned to Daniel. “Could you please explain that?”
“Even if we had turned it off, there was a chance the Jaffa on the other end could reestablish a link. By pretty much destroying it, Miss Maclay ensured that wouldn’t happen.”
“But it also ensured they may be stuck here, Dr. Jackson,” Hammond added.
“Yeah. You know that entropy thing isn’t good. Before long they are going to be phasing all over the place.”
“You don’t know that, Jack,” Daniel commented. “We don’t know anything about their doubles here.”
“And what if they do have doubles?” Jack asked.
“Then we fix the mirror,” Graham answered. When they all looked at him, he added, “We don’t know that Tara permanently decommissioned the mirror. If your Dr. Carter…”
“Major Carter,” O’Neill corrected.
“She is Major Carter here,” Daniel explained. “An astrophysicists with the Air Force.”
“A Major?” Taking it in, he shrugged, “Still an astrophysicist. If she is anything like ours, then she may be able to return it to working condition. Then again, there also is Dr. Burkle. In our reality, she studied the mirror more than anyone.”
“Dr. Burkle?” asked Daniel.
“Winifred Burkle. She joined the SGC straight after receiving her doctorate, and is one of the foremost rising physicists on our Earth.”
“We have no Winifred Burkle here,” Jack commented, “So that just leaves Sam.”
Taking everything in, General Hammond sighed. “I’ll send a team through to collect the mirror and have it moved to Major Carter’s lab. Meanwhile, I want all of you, guests included, checked out in the infirmary.”
“And our guests after their check ups?” O’Neill asked.
“Find Mister Miller a room and Miss Maclay also, for when she can leave the infirmary. I want a guard with them until I find out more to their stories,” Hammond ordered.
“Yes, sir.” Jack started to leave the gate room, pausing to turn and ask Daniel and Graham, “Well, are you comin’?”
Quiet. Peace. Pain. The whirling of her machines always left her feeling calm. This place, in all its lonely walls of crystallized halls and rooms, was oddly too silent. Outside her room the Tok’ra walked about their business, most of them not speaking except when needing to. Closing her eyes tightly, she tried to shut away the sounds in her mind that echoed around the noiseless void. Why couldn’t there be more noises here? Just being able to hear the tapping of her laptop’s keys and the breathing of her and Charity wasn’t enough. She needed more – like the sound of Daniel trying to be quiet while scratching away in his notebook.
Looking up from where she was sitting against her bed, Winifred Burkle tried her best to smile. Since coming to the Tok’ra when they first found out about the impending attack, she had stayed mainly to her room. Even with an open doorway, not very many of the Tok’ra seemed to pay her any attention. The only one she ever saw was Jacob, who was now standing in her doorway. “Jacob?”
Walking in, he gave her a slight smile and then sat down on the bed, leaning over to where a small baby was lying fast asleep, her lips puckered in a slight pout and her cheeks rosy. “How’s our little girl?”
She sighed as he eyed her, knowing that he wasn’t speaking about Charity but actually her. “She’s scared and misses Daniel.” At Daniel’s name, Jacob’s eyes seemed to darken. “Jacob?”
“Buffy, Riley and Jonas just arrived through the Stargate.”
“The BETA site?”
“There haven’t been any attacks there, and they don’t have any news of Earth.”
“And SG-1? Is there any news of them?” She watched Jacob closely as he took in a breath, and a deep sadness passed over his face in a matter of a second. “Oh no,” Fred muttered to herself as he took one of her hands in his.
“Jack and Teal’c came through with a few injuries, but Sam is barely hanging on and in a coma.”
“And… and Daniel?”
“He didn’t make it through, Fred.”
Tears were already falling down her face, streaming as she pulled her hand away. “No, no, no. He… he is su.. supposed to…Charity… Me…”
Firm arms - not Jacobs - wrapped around her. Turning and falling against someone’s chest, she cried for several minutes, not even hearing that Charity was now crying also in the background. Above her someone was trying to make calming noises, rocking her back and forth. When she thought she could cry no more, she continued on. Then, finally backing away, Fred looked up as she wiped her face. Jonas, his own eyes red, reached out and helped her out by catching a falling tear on her cheek. “Hey, Fred.”
Stepping around Jonas, Buffy held out a box, her eyes staying towards the floor. Quietly, she barely got out, “Jack said there was no way to bring him home, but was able to grab these for you.”
Taking the box, Fred opened it up, freezing at the items inside. Sobbing she sat the box down on the bed, almost dropping it. She felt Jonas reach out for her again, but this time she slapped him away. “Don’t touch me, Jonas.”
“Don’t!” She pointed at him, her eyes angry and radiating pain. “I just want…”
As she trailed off, Riley, standing behind Buffy now, commented, “You should know that he saved Sam, that he is…”
“Is what? A hero?” Fred found herself laughing, then crying even more because she was laughing. How could she laugh? It wasn’t funny. No, it was unfair.
“Daniel…” Riley went to speak again, trying to get through to her. He knew that Daniel would have wanted to die as he did, that is if he was to die while on a mission. Protecting his friends was at his core, just like it was with the rest of his team.
“I don’t give a damn if he’s a hero, Riley. Got that? He’s dead. He’s not coming back to us!”
“Fred…” Buffy went to interrupt.
“…a dead hero,” Fred was now muttering. Literally collapsing to the floor, she whispered, “Danny’s dead.”
Jonas stepped forward, wanting to comfort her, when Jacob stepped in front of him. Holding out Charity, who was still crying, he ordered, “Take Charity. Fred keeps a bag with supplies near the door. Take them with you and I’ll collect her when things are in more order here.”
Nodding, Jonas took Charity, who seemed to calm down just a bit more in his arms. He had watched the baby girl several times on the base, and just knew that when she made the “un nun nun nun nun,” noise, that it was a prelude to ‘Uncle Jonas.’ As she laid her head on his shoulder, he whispered, “Come on, sweetie. Uncle Jonas is going to watch you for a while.”
Jacob watched Jonas leave, picking up the bag on the way out. When Buffy and Riley left behind him, Jacob slowly moved to sit beside Fred. Before he knew it, Fred was in his arms, crying. He held her close. Ever since he had met her, Fred had been special to him, just as Daniel. It wasn’t fair that Daniel was gone, that Fred would have to live without him, or that Charity would never know her father. Hell, it also wasn’t fair that his daughter might not wake up – ever.
“So, you are?” asked Janet as she readied a needle beside Graham, Teal’c and Sam only escaping her clutches a few minutes before.
“Miller. Lieutenant Graham Miller, Mam,” he answered.
“It must be strange knowing all of us, but none of us recognizing you,” she commented.
Turning his gaze to her, Graham studied her before slowly replying, ignoring the sharp prick at his arm, “I expected it would be this way, and there are a few people I don’t know.”
“Like who?” asked Daniel, not thinking that if Graham didn’t know someone, he couldn’t exactly come up with a name.
Sighing, Graham answered, “I’ve never met Dr. Fraiser here, but I have seen her picture and heard stories.”
“I’m no longer with the SGC in your universe?” Janet asked, pulling out the needle.
At first they thought he wasn’t going to answer, but then, quietly, he spoke. “No you’re not.”
Reading his expression correctly and then sitting the needle down, she asked quietly, “When did I die?”
“It was the beginning of the SGC’s third year. You… you were killed while tending to someone. When I transferred in, people were still talking about how much it had torn up Dr. Jackson.” Glancing at Daniel, he added, “You weren’t exactly having the best luck when it came to women back then, Daniel.”
O’Neill, who had decided that just listening was probably the best way to get information, snorted. Daniel having good luck with women? Hell, almost anyone Danny had fallen for ended up becoming a Goa’uld.
Noting that Graham had called him by name, a sign that Graham must have known him well enough to get past the ‘Dr. Jackson’ moniker, Daniel asked, “What do you mean by that?”
Looking from Daniel to Janet, and then back to Daniel, he answered, “Well, where I’m from, you were dating each other at that time.”
Daniel shook his head, ignoring Jack’s muffled chuckle. Here, at that time, he would have still been trying to find Sha’re. “What about my wife?”
“Sha’re?” Graham hesitantly asked, as if he wasn’t for sure whom Daniel was talking about. When Daniel simply nodded, he explained, “Where I’m from, Sha’re died on Abydos. From what I’ve been told, you were with O’Neill and Carter, looking at a room of gate addresses. Some of Apophis’s guards came through the gate, and Sha’re was hit by the crossfire. By the time you arrived, Apophis was walking through the gate with prisoners – including Skaara – and Sha’re was dead. After her funeral, you returned to Earth. Getting Skaara back was your main goal – and for that, you needed the SGC.”
“With all the time you spent in the infirmary, the two of you became good friends, or at least that is how my Dr. Jackson put it. Daniel, he said that Janet made him feel again, even if it wasn’t the same type of love that he felt for Sha’re. It broke his heart when she died.” Slowly smiling, even though it was a sad smile, he asked, “I take it you are just friends here?”
Jack just couldn’t help it. “The doc and spacemonkey?” Laughing and shaking his head, he added, “Yeah, they’re just friends.” He raised an eyebrow, “Or are they more?” He glanced at Daniel, “You do end up here a lot. Could it be that you enjoy the lovely doctor’s company?”
“Jack…” Daniel groaned.
“Daniel and Janet, sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” Jack started to sing.
From the bed behind Janet, a small groan sounded. The group got up, surrounding the bed as Tara slowly opened up her eyes as if it was hard for her to do so. Her hand reached out, lightly falling on Daniel’s arm. “We had control of the gate at the beginning. Weir sent Fred and the baby to the Tok’ra.”
“Tara,” Graham tried to interrupt.
Ignoring Graham, Tara added as she concentrated on Daniel, “She was so scared you wouldn’t come back.”
Finally looking at Graham, she asked, “Yes?”
“What do you remember?”
“Bra’tac had come through the gate. He said that the rebel Jaffa network had come across rumors that Anubis was going to attack Earth. We immediately contacted the Tok’ra and started to send a few people through, just in case.” Closing her eyes, she tilted her head and continued. “We thought we had more time, which was why Willow and I hadn’t been sent through, but then Anubis dialed in our gate. There was no way to get control back.”
“So what did we do?” Graham asked quietly.
Taking a deep breath, Tara shook her head, her eyes squeezed tightly as if it was taking a lot to remember. “Dr. Weir was afraid if Anubis attacked and Willow and I were still there, he would try to take us for his own use. She ordered Faith and you to lead us to the mirror Fred had stored away. We… we headed to the storage room when they started coming through. Faith… Faith…”
Opening her eyes, a tear slowly fell down her face as she quietly commented, turning her gaze from Graham to her hands, “Faith was shot down. The staff weapon caught her in the neck. Her blood was all over my hands and I didn’t have the time to save her.” Face growing pale, she added, “And then Willow fell, right after I activated the mirror from the hall.” Graham took her hand in his as she whispered, “Willow’s dead, isn’t she?”
“You don’t remember?”
“It goes hazy after that.” Sniffling, she looked up as Dr. Fraiser handed her a tissue. Her face taking on a mixture of confusion and pain, Tara asked, “Where are we?”
“I had to bring you through the mirror. After we got through you tried to shut down the mirror.”
“Mirror go ka-boom,” O’Neill remarked, making the gesture of something blowing up with his hands.
“Wha…what?” stuttered Tara. Had she just doomed them to this reality?
“Don’t worry,” Daniel added. “It was probably more singed than blown up. I’m sure Sam will have it back to going in no time.”
Suddenly turning red, Tara whispered, “Oh goddess, I’m so sorry.”
“Sorry?” asked Daniel.
“I thought… I thought you were my Daniel.”
“No problem. Just one thing though: who is Fred?”
“There’s no Fred here?” asked Tara, turning to Graham.
Shaking his head, he answered, “At least not with the SGC.” Turning to Daniel, he explained, “Fred is the Dr. Winifred Burkle I was talking about earlier. When I said you had bad luck with women in our dimension, I meant in the past. Fred joined the SGC not quite three years ago. A lot of people weren’t very sure about you dating, especially after Janet, but you were happy. The two of you got married around two years ago and have a six month-old daughter by the name of Charity.”
“Daniel, a family man?” Jack asked, laughing as he did so.
“I think Daniel would be a good father, Jack,” Janet remarked.
“Says the woman he should be kissin’ in a tree.”
“You’re getting an extra long needle, Colonel.” Turning her attention to Tara, Janet asked, “How are you feeling? They said you passed out.”
“Do you mind if I run a few tests, just to make sure?”
Frowning, Jack asked, “Hey, why does she get asked about the tests and we are ordered?”
Tara smiled lightly. Same old Jack, no matter what dimension. “She’s just being nice.” Turning to Janet, she asked, “Dr. Fraiser, right?” When Janet nodded, Tara added as she held out a hand, “I’ve seen you’re picture. I’m Tara.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Tara. Do you mind if I check out the boys first?” asked Janet as she took Tara’s hand in hers.
“Not at all.”
Smiling, Janet nodded at Tara’s reply and then looked up. “Okay boys, back to your beds. Lt. Miller, I’ve already taken some blood to test for you, so why don’t you just wait for me to get to the others, and then I’ll finish your tests after that.”
Sitting down, crossing his arms, Jack commented, “I see how it is. One off comment and Miller gets to sit to the side while you torture me.”
Carrying over a tray of needles, Janet grinned. Acting as if she was taking great pains to pick one just for him, Janet stated, “Why, I have no idea what you’re talking about, Colonel.”
Jacob Carter smiled as he entered the room set aside for Jonas Quinn. The young Kelownan was stretched out on his bed. What strangely appeared to be powder was covering Jonas’s clothes, and he had a sinking feeling that the crusty stuff on the man’s shoulder was dried up formula - or at least that was a better way of putting it than spit up. Beside Jonas slept Charity, her small bit of dark brown hair sticking up. Every now and then she would kick or move one of her small chubby hands, a sign she was dreaming. The sight, with everything going on, made him smile.
Sitting down beside Jonas, Jacob slightly shook the man. “Jonas, wake up.”
Stirring, glancing at Charity first before turning back to Jacob, Jonas asked, “What… what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Fred’s settled down, and I thought you may want to have a break.”
“Are you sure? I’ve only been watching her for a few hours.”
“I’m sure. Get some rest.” Jacob patted Jonas on the shoulder before picking up Charity’s bag. Scooping up the baby, artfully not waking her in the process, he started down the halls. “Well, it looks like it is just you and me, sweetie,” he whispered to the sleeping baby.
Upon entering his quarters, Jacob sat down the baby bag and then settled down into a chair, leaning back some. Just as he was drifting off to sleep himself, Charity sleeping on his chest, a voice asked from his door, “Enjoying the company, Jacob?”
Opening one eye, Jacob noted Martouf standing in the doorway, studying him with his cool blue eyes. “Actually, yes I am. I haven’t seen my own grandchildren in years, and as everyone that meets Charity seems to adopt her…”
“Ah, I see. Grandpa Jacob once again.”
“Yes, and Selmak is quite taken with her also.” Turning serious all of a sudden, Jacob added, “Are you here with news?”
“Our spy within Anubis’s ranks reports that the base at Cheyenne Mountain has been completely taken over.”
“And Earth’s fate?” Jacob’s voiced changed, showing that Selmak had taken over.
Martouf frowned, glancing down. When he looked back up, it was evident that he two had relinquished control to his symbiote. Lantash stated, “Earth’s fate will be that of total destruction. Anubis has already taken over half of it, mainly by destroying everything in sight. There will be no survivors when he is finished. I am sorry, Selmak.”
Selmak nodded, knowing that the news of Earth had left his host shattered. Jacob’s son, Mark, and his family would be dead soon, if they were not already so. “What of the BETA site?”
“Anubis does not know of its location, or at least that is what we have been led to believe. However, he along with many of the System Lords, are set on destroying the Tau’ri utterly. The BETA site will be searched for extensively. Plus, any of the Tau’ri that are still alive will be hunted down, including the child you hold in your arms.”
Frowning, studying Charity, Selmak remarked, “Then we can’t let that happen.”
“What do you propose then? Just having Tau’ri on this base puts the Tok’ra in danger.”
Selmak appeared to be in deep thought before finally replying, “I propose that the Tok’ra work with Dr. Burkle in continuing her work. She studied the mirror, and if there is a chance she can rebuild one in some way…”
“You’re speaking of jumping to another dimension.”
“I’m speaking of Fred taking Charity with her to find help, where the Goa’uld can’t find her. Here the two would be hunted down more than the others, merely for their connection with Daniel Jackson.”
Lantash nodded. “Martouf and I agree that this may be a plan for them, but as for the rest of the Tok’ra…”
Selmak tilted his head and took in the man before him. “The Tok’ra have questioned my allegiance many times since taking this Tau’ri host. If it needs be, then let it be known that in this case I most definitely give what my host would call a ‘rat’s ass’ about what they think.”
Smiling, Lantash remarked, “Just let me know what she may need. Jolinar and I will help in any way.”
Daniel, surrounded by papers that he was currently ignoring, glanced up from his computer as a knock sounded at his door. “Enter.”
Opening the door slowly, Tara stuck her head in, “I hope I’m not disturbing you, but I was told that you were investigating our doubles here. Any news?”
“Actually, you were pretty easy to find information on, but Graham…” Not finishing, he studied her as she sat down on the other side of his desk. It was the first time that he had really looked at her, and he hadn’t realized how breath taking she was. Her long hair was the color of honey, somewhere between blonde and brown. In all, Tara seemed to be a small woman, but he could tell that she was naturally curvy, and that apparent workouts kept her very fit. Large gray eyes studied him also as he tore his eyes away. She looked at home in the seat, not even looking around at the cluttered office as most people would. Changing the subject, he asked out of kindness, “So, I take it you have gotten a clean bill of health from Janet.”
“After several tests she decided that I was just really tired and sent me to my room. I have had some rest and coffee since, so back to normal.”
Frowning, Daniel shook his head. He could tell that the now confident woman in front of him was still just as scared and as upset as she was earlier. She was just hiding it better, and he really didn’t feel it his place to question her on it. If she wanted to talk, she would. “Sooo, if you don’t mind my asking, what exactly did you do in your universe?”
“I was the linguist for SU-2, and uh, the team’s resident witch.” She watched him, waiting for more of a reaction than just staring blankly at her, which was what he was doing at the moment.
For about a minute Daniel just studied her. Did she think him crazy or something? Then again, if aliens exist, why not witches? Plus, hadn’t Graham said that their team fought what went bump in the night? Finally shaking his head and sitting back in his chair, Daniel remarked, “Okay, that wasn’t what I was expecting. I know that Graham eluded to the fact your team was special, but…”
Holding up her hand, Tara commented, “Look, I know it is a lot to take in, so I’ll try to explain. Then again, after I’m through, you may want to send me in for a psych evaluation, but…”
“Try me,” he interrupted.
“Okay.” Taking a deep breath, Tara explained, “When the SGC was formed in our dimension, your team, SG-1, was often used as a model for other teams. There were medical teams, science teams and engineering teams. They were made up of specialists only in those fields, but all other teams – mainly military – mirrored that of SG-1. All of them had at least one person who had the same type of scientific knowledge as Dr. Carter and someone who mirrored you in the field of linguists and ancient cultures. Now, about three years into the program, one of the teams came upon a discovery. It appeared that when the Goa’uld took humans from Earth as slaves, they also took other creatures such as vampires and demons.”
“Vampires and demons?” asked Daniel, raising an eyebrow.
“They exist on our world, though most people never realize it. Our government, however, did know, though they had not shared that with those running the SGC until it was discovered the problem was now not only local, but, uh, galactic in nature. At the time there was an operation underway called the Initiative. It was in the preliminary stages when they decided to shut down operations, due to reasons unknown. Several of the marines training for the Initiative – the best - were sent to the SGC. These men had been trained specifically in the area of how to eliminate hostiles – demons that is. Graham was one of these men.”
“And how did you become involved?”
“You, actually. I am only in my twenties, and yet I fluently speak ten languages. Since I was a child, rifling through my mother’s magic books, I have been fascinated by other languages. They are like puzzles, waiting to be figured out by me, especially dead languages. It was because of my knack for languages that I probably caught your eye. I was only a freshman in college when my Daniel Jackson came and offered me a deal of a lifetime. I joined his linguistic team, studying texts brought through the Stargate, and in only a few years, had worked my way up as only second to him, age never being a factor.”
“Only ten, huh?”
“And how many do you think I can learn by the time I reach your age?”
Ignoring the statement, Daniel asked, “And what about your team and the whole magic thing?”
Tara grinned at him. Daniel saying, “magic thing,” just didn’t sound right. “It just happened that my mother had been a witch, a very powerful one at that, who made a bad decision. When I was ten she decided she had had enough and left my father, me in tow. There was a coven in England, where she had several friends that she had made through her connections. They took us in, and it was there that I learned to harness my magical power. It just happened to be a bonus when I joined the SGC and they decided to make special units just for fighting demons and vampires off world, with a bit of Goa’uld mixed in for fun. There are two teams only at the moment, each led by a civilian with the title of Slayer.”
“Actually, if Buffy was here, she would correct me by saying ‘The’ Slayer. According to tradition, the Slayer is a girl chosen every generation to alone fight the forces of darkness. She is always young when chosen, and fights vampires until her death, when another Slayer is chosen. There has always been just one, until several years ago, when the slayer at that time drowned. She was revived by CPR, but by dying…”
“Another slayer was activated,” Daniel supplied.
“Right. There are two now. Buffy, who was the one who actually died all that time back, and then there is Faith. Buffy heads SU-1 while Faith led the team I was on. Each team also has a marine from the Initiative for their second in command. Ours is Graham. Next there is a linguist – me, and lastly, someone with a science background – Fred. Both teams also have a member with magical abilities, and I just happen to be that person for my team.”
“So you do magic?”
Rolling her eyes, Tara asked, “Would it help if I perform Willow’s favorite party trick?”
“What is that?” asked Daniel.
“Why, floating a pencil,” she answered. Almost as soon as she spoke, a pencil rose from his desk, and Daniel gasped as in his head, Tara asked, “That enough for you?”
“Actually, yes. Declare me convinced.”
“Good. Now what about my double here?”
Daniel frowned. “Well, we don’t have to worry about entropic cascade failure when it comes to you. Apparently our Tara Maclay died of a gunshot wound on May 7th, 2002. She was a resident of Sunnydale, California, where she attended the town’s university.”
“And Graham?” asked Tara, her expression neutral at finding out her double here was dead.
“Now I’m having problem’s with him. Apparently all information comes to a close a few years ago – in Sunnydale actually. He went to the same university as Tara. As for now, there is no trace of him.”
“Sounds like someone doesn’t want you to know anything about him.”
“Which makes me wonder…” Snapping his fingers, he stated, “You said that he was part of a group called the Initiative.”
“Well, what if he is involved with a similar group here?”
“One with ties to the military,” Tara remarked.
“It may be that we need to have someone a little further up than us study Graham.”
“General Hammond?” asked Tara.
Daniel nodded, “Time for the red phone.” Getting up, he asked, “You know General Hammond, but who is Weir? In the infirmary you mentioned she sent Fred through the gate.”
“General Hammond was promoted about two months ago and Dr. Weir took his place. It’s been quite a change, but she was warming up to the program.”
“Until Anubis came,” Daniel remarked.
Tara nodded. “Yes, until Anubis came, and I pray that she still is.”
“You want me to do what?” asked Fred.
“Build another mirror,” Selmak answered instead of Jacob.
“Are you crazy? I can’t just build another mirror. The materials alone would be near impossible to find, and as for the inner workings…”
“You are the only scientist available that knows how the mirror works.”
Fred eyed Jacob, or rather Selmak at this time. There was no way that she could build another mirror from scratch, and if she could, it would be a miracle for her to get it running. “Selmak, there is no way that I can do this,” Fred tried to explain. “I was scraping the surface with my studies on the mirror. I can’t just go and build another one.”
“Why not?” asked Jonas from where he was sitting around a table in the room Martouf had found for them to meet in.
“I’m not a miracle worker, Jonas.”
“No, you’re Fred,” Buffy supplied. Sitting forward, she added, “Look, this may seem cliché, but the world as we knew it is gone. There is really nothing we can do at this moment, except try not to be caught by some crazy Gould guy.” A few snickers sounded around the table as Buffy, as usual, mispronounced Goa’uld. Ignoring them, she continued, “If we knew how to beat them, we would have already. The world that Tara and you had concentrated on, there is a possibility that they may know things we don’t, something that could destroy Anubis and turn the tides.”
“Turn the tides? Buffy, there are no tides to turn! Earth is gone. Our whole world was destroyed,” Fred exclaimed.
“That may be true,” Martouf supplied, “but would Daniel want you to give up now, to risk the life of your daughter?”
“Don’t bring Daniel into this!” Fred beat her fist onto the table. Just the pain of hearing his name at the moment caused her to want to flee and cry.
“But he’s right,” Riley pointed out to her. “Dr. Jackson wouldn’t have wanted for Earth to be destroyed, but if it had and there was still a way he could make a difference, especially if that entailed keeping those he loved and cared for safe…”
“Shut up!” yelled Fred. Getting up, she literally screamed, “How dare you talk about what Daniel would have wanted!”
“I do dare,” Riley countered, getting up and facing her. “Fred, Earth is gone. You aren’t the only one who lost someone. We’re all in mourning, but we are also all going to be hunted down for who we are, including you and Charity. If it takes us reminding you of how much Daniel would have fought to keep you safe in order to get you to do something to help the two of you, then so be it.”
Eyes tearing, Fred shook her head. “I can’t do it.”
“Aren’t most of your files for the mirror on your lap top’s hard drive?” asked Jonas.
“Then you can do it.” Leaning forward, trying to hold her gaze, Jonas continued, “If there is anyone that can rebuild the mirror, or rather something akin to it, then it is you. Think of how many hours you spent working on the mirror, studying frequency after frequency.”
“Frequency,” muttered Fred.
“Remember what you told me, about how the frequencies were endless?”
“Never ending,” Fred whispered, here eyes now on the top of the table, staring as if she was trying to see through the surface.
“You chose a handful to study, to learn them in and out, how they interacted with the mirror, trying to find the spark that caused the mirror to open that doorway. And then… then you stuck to one.”
Gaze looking up to Jonas, Fred softly commented, “I don’t need to build an exact replica of the mirror.”
“It’s just another equation, mixing to open a portal to another dimension.” Jonas smiled at Fred as he could see the wheels turning in her mind. He knew that look well. She had just gone from disbelief to trying to figure out a way to make it work. This was her element. Hopefully she could stick to it, to use the pain of losing Daniel as a reason to go onward, if anything for her child.
Sighing, Fred turned to Jacob, “I can’t do this on my own.”
“Just let me know what you need, and we will try to provide for you,” Jacob now answered, Selmak taking a step back for this part of the conversation.
“I’m not talking just supplies here. Back at the SGC I had help from Sam and Tara.”
“Tara was helping you with the mirror?” asked Buffy, not knowing anything about this.
Jonas ignored Buffy by remarking, “I’ll help.” Everyone knew that Jonas was a valuable asset when it came to being a quick study. He could take in information faster than most humans, and his ability to utilize what he learned had helped the SGC out of numerous occasions.
In acknowledgement Fred nodded. She knew that Jonas was probably the best one to help her at the moment. Fred got along well with him and the idea of having to deal with one of the Tok’ra – Jacob aside – really didn’t leave her with a good feeling.
Tara was tired. After resting earlier, she had been edgy. Staying in her room only caused her to dwell on things she didn’t want to. Memories were starting to come back. She could remember the burnt smell that radiated off of Faith, made even more pungent when she had reached out to try and help. The crisp skin had broken off, and Tara could feel the dampness of blood on her hands. Then there was Willow, who had fallen from the same fate. Tara hadn’t been able to even turn to help, as Graham had grabbed onto her. When she closed her eyes Tara could still remember the panic of wanting to get loose, to run to Willow’s body. She had been so angry when he had brought her through the mirror, so much so that darkness seemed to cover her in a sweltering blanket. It was because of all these memories that she had gone to talk to Daniel. Now she was back in her room. The memories kept on coming, and she was feeling the weight.
Getting up from where she had been trying to meditate on the floor, she started to the door. Usually, on her world, Tara would go to Daniel to talk, but after leaving this world’s Daniel not too long ago, she opted instead to visit Sam. Stepping out the door, ignoring her escort that kept to a few feet behind her, Tara headed to Sam’s office, stopping on the way by the cafeteria to pick up a cup. Twirling the empty cup in her hand, she finally made it to her destination, waiting in the hall while she knocked.
Running a hand through her blond hair as she sat in front of her computer, Sam sighed. A knock interrupted her thoughts and she called out, “Come in.” When the door opened, on the other side Tara stood, slightly smiling. “Can I help you, Tara?”
Walking in, Tara looked around. Sam’s office looked much like her own Sam’s office, with a few minor differences. It also reminded her of Fred’s, and she could almost picture the scientist moving around the space, never staying still. After wistfully looking around, she held out her cup. “In my universe Daniel has the best coffee, but as I’ve already bothered him once today, I thought I might act as I would there.”
“Second best, huh?” Smiling, Sam added, “But you are correct. Daniel does have the best coffee. Help yourself.”
Pouring some coffee, Tara turned to the mirror that had been retrieved and placed in Sam’s office. Scorch marks marred most of it. Frowning, she commented quietly, “I really did almost blow it up.”
Sam’s gaze turned sharply to Tara. “Excuse me?”
“I remember trying to shut it down now, but then it is pretty fuzzy until I woke up in the infirmary.”
“Do you mind if I ask what you did to the mirror?”
Putting down her coffee, Tara moved to the mirror, her hands running over it. “In my universe, Fred and I had discovered that our mirror was not only accessible through the remote, but also by magic. Just as most things, the mirror contained magical harmonics that I was able to manipulate.”
Sam nodded in thought. “It makes sense now that we never saw anyone with a remote on your side.”
Tara sighed, “I activated it. Fred and I had been studying the mirror for quite some time, and out of all the universes, we concentrated on one in particular, hoping we could learn how the mirror worked to connect with that frequency.”
“Why our universe?”
“It was the first one we happened on and did not see destruction on the other side.” Tara’s eyes seemed to glaze over as she added, “Plus, it was the easiest for me to mentally connect with, as if it called to me.” Glancing up, she asked, “Does that sound strange? I know my Dr. Carter, when I first met her, would have laughed at such a statement.”
Sam chuckled lightly. “In this universe, from what I know, magic isn’t real. Then again, I didn’t think aliens were real either until the Stargate.”
Merely softly smiling, Tara closed her eyes. Her fingers played over the surface of the mirror, running about several wires Sam had attached to its surface. “I was angry and hurt when Graham made me shut it down. My magic was in control, not me, and the mirror must have been - pardon the elementary definition - fried.” Tara’s eyes closed even tighter and her brows knitted together in concentration. “This mirror felt dead at first, but there’s something here. It’s… it’s like there is a short in the, uh, wiring. The energy can’t flow correctly.”
“But you can feel energy?” asked Sam, raising an eyebrow in a Teal’c like manner.
“That is the easiest way to put it.”
Tara’s hand hovered over a part of the mirror. Sam watched as the so-called witch frowned and closed her eyes again, looking as if she was trying to find something with her mind. Then, all of a sudden, a reading blared for only a second on Sam’s computer screen. Studying the reading, her mouth fell open. According to her sensors, it had come directly from under Tara’s hand. “Can you do that again?”
Nodding, Tara answered, “I can try.” Yes, this was what Tara needed: to feel like she was doing something useful. At least this way she wasn’t going to be spending every minute thinking of what had happened to Willow, just every other one instead.
Buffy stood beside Riley, watching as the Stargate in front of her activated. As the chevrons locked into place, she asked, “Heard any word on Fred?”
“Jonas and Jacob have talked to her since the meeting yesterday, but other than that…” The whoosh of the event horizon, erupting violently before peacefully settling across the gate, cut him off.
Sighing, Buffy returned her attention back to the gate. This had been the moment that she had been wishing to avoid when it came to dealing with the Tok’ra. Tensing, she watched as her one time, somewhat nemesis walked through the gate. Plastering a smile on her face, knowing that she shouldn’t hold grudges and that the girl had changed, Buffy looked up on a face she knew all to well. At the gate Cordelia Chase stepped through the event horizon.
Cordelia, her hair worn in an elaborate style and adorning a spectacular dress, hurried over towards Buffy and Riley. After graduating from Sunnydale, she had traveled to Los Angeles for an acting career. Before long the career was gone and she had gone to work with Buffy’s ex-boyfriend, Angel. They headed up a detective agency for the supernatural. In the course of a few years she had gained powers of foresight that were slowly killing her. Luckily, through her connections, she had been offered something strange and life changing. The human that had been host to Jolinar for the last few years after Carter had been in an accident. There wasn’t much time left for her, and they had no host available for a transfer. One thing led to another and Cordelia volunteered. Jolinar was able to live on, as was Cordelia. The union, in all honesty, was still strange, as there were two personalities feeling as if they should have separate responsibilities. However, weird or not, it worked - well, at least most of the time.
Smoothing out the wrinkles of her dress as Cordelia made her way to them, she went right to business and asked, ignoring the gate shutting down behind her, “Where’s Jacob?”
“The room they set up last night as Fred’s lab, I believe,” answered Riley.
“Show me,” she remarked. It was somewhat between a request and a command.
Riley didn’t take offence, but Buffy bit her cheek to keep from saying anything as Riley took off, asking as Cordelia and Buffy followed, “What news do you bring?”
Frowning, Cordelia answered, “Mainly that Earth has been decimated. Almost all human life has been wiped out on it.” Taking in a breath of air, as if calming herself, Cordelia added, “Anubis is ruling from the SGC at this moment, and has made it clear that any remaining Tau’ri are to be sent to him for execution. All ruling System Lords aligned with Anubis will be helping him, and they know that certain SGC members are still out there.”
“I’m sorry, Buffy. I know it won’t make you feel any better, but the surviving members of SG-1 are more of a priority. Anubis was glad to hear that one of their members has already met an end.” The last was said with a tinge of pain. Everyone, it seemed, that met Dr. Jackson felt some type of kinship with him. Trying to put on a smile but ending up only being able to look upset, Cordelia added, “And add Graham Miller and Tara Mclay with that, and you guys have been placed on priority two instead of one.”
“Graham and Tara?” asked Riley.
“My sources say that…” Cordelia paused as they entered their destination. Jacob looked up from where he was working with Fred on something, several strange objects lying about the lab. Nodding towards the elder member of the Tok’ra, Cordelia allowed Jolinar to take control for the moment, “Anubis’s war against the Tau’ri will not end until either he is eliminated or there are no more Tau’ri to hunt.”
“So it is true that Earth…?”
“Sorry, Jacob. I know you were hoping for some chance that Mike and the kids…” Jolinar shook her head. It was easier for Jolinar to discuss the deaths on Earth than Cordelia. “My host also lost many on Earth.”
“Any other news?” Taking a cue from Jolinar and Cordelia, Selmak had taken control of the conversation.
“Some of Anubis’s Jaffa tracked a group of four from the gate room to a storage room. Two of the group, who have been confirmed as Faith and Willow Rosenberg, were shot down.”
“The other two?”
“They disappeared through the mirror, or at least that is what the Jaffa have come up with.”
“Through the mirror?” Selmak remarked. “Have they…?”
Fred interrupted him, “They shouldn’t be able to activate the mirror, unless they have Tara.”
“Why do you say that?” asked Selmak.
Digging through a pocket of her lap top case, she pulled out a flat remote. “I took this with me. Other than Tara, no one else would be able to activate the mirror.”
“Which brings us back to Graham and Tara,” Riley interrupted.
Glancing over at him for a split second, Jolinar brought her attention back to Selmak. “According to the surviving SGC reports and roster, Tara Mclay and Graham Miller are both missing, even though they should have been on Earth. It is the belief of the System Lords that they may have made it through the mirror.”
“Yes!” Riley excitedly remarked. Noticing that everyone turned to him, he added, “Hey, why can’t we celebrate at least some good news?”
Beside him, Buffy commented, “Graham wouldn’t return through the mirror. He would bank on the fact coming back would be dangerous.”
Glancing down to where her daughter was sleeping in a small bassinet provided by the Tok’ra, Fred stated, “One more reason for us to find a way to build our own mirror.”
Standing at the entrance to NORAD, Riley Finn turned around from where a guard was checking his credentials. Walking towards him was a small red head, her smile infectious. Smiling back at her, he had to laugh as she walked faster so that she could reach him quicker and deliver a bone-crushing hug. Laughing and hugging her back, Riley remarked, “Hey Willow. I take it you got a call last night too?”
“Giles, actually. Since I was in Cleveland, he called me. I’m here for the watchers and Faith for the slayers.”
“Faith?” asked Riley, his face growing somewhat pale.
“It’s okay, Riley. She’s…”
“Standing right here,” a voice remarked from behind Willow. Stepping out from behind Willow, she slowly reached out a hand towards Riley. “Look, I know sorry really doesn’t cut it, but…”
“You… you…” Riley started to stutter.
“Switched places with B and took a bit of an advantage with the situation?” As Riley winced, she added, “Don’t worry, I’ve changed. I promise not to try to sneak into your room for another ride.”
“Oh God,” Riley muttered, running a hand through his hair, going from sickly pale to blushing.
“Play nice,” Willow reprimanded. “We’re here for business, even though I’m not sure for what kind.” Turning to Riley, she asked, “Do you have any ideas?” Willow wasn’t about to mention the strange but eerily familiar feeling she had been having.
Instead of Riley answering, a voice commented from the entrance, “You’re here for information.” Stepping out of the doorway and handing the guards papers for the visitors, their new companion stated, “I’m here to take you down to your briefing.”
“Briefing?” asked Faith.
“It has been agreed that if we are to expect any answers from you, then it would be best to put all of our information out there.”
“The military is going to spill the beans to just anyone?” asked Willow, not too sure about this.
The man chuckled. “You’re not just anyone. We’ve done a bit of research, Ms. Rosenberg. Plus, with the awful debacle that was the Initiative, you’ve been flagged. The military behind our project sees you as possible allies, which means they are more than ready to be open with you.”
“The military isn’t open,” Riley remarked, filing away that this individual had received enough clearance to learn about the Initiative.
Studying Riley, the man took a deep breath. “Look, in all honesty, I would agree with you. The US government and military can be corrupt and dangerous. However, I can attest that right now everyone is safe, and we are going to be as open as possible.”
“You’re a civilian, aren’t you?” Riley asked.
Holding out his hand, the man introduced himself, “Daniel, Dr. Daniel Jackson.”
“THE Dr. Daniel Jackson?” asked Willow.
Looking at her strangely, Daniel stated, “I don’t recall many people calling me ‘THE’ Dr. Daniel Jackson, but yes, I’m him.”
“I’ve read some of your work on the ancient Egyptians. The papers were a great read but I must say that your ideas were a bit…”
“Far fetched? Crazy? Crack pot?”
Laughing at his descriptions of his own ideas, Willow answered, “Interesting, and if you ask me, you made several key points that most historians ignore.”
“Well, thank you. Most people that read my writings think I’m mad.” Grinning, he added, “And I can’t wait to hear what you think after you see what we have in this mountain.” Glancing at the soldier near the door, who nodded that everything checked out, Daniel added, “So, if the three of you will follow me.”
As they followed him into the mountain, Faith asked, “So, if you’ve checked out all of our histories, then why are you letting me in and not sending me to the brig?”
Escorting them into an elevator, Daniel answered, “Wolfram and Hart cleared you, Faith. We have no legal obligation to carry you off to jail or the brig.” Frowning, he added, “People can change. I’m a firm believer in that, and from what I’ve been told about you, there is no need to worry.”
“And what have you heard about me?”
“Not much, but I also haven’t read anything that would make me believe you have turned back to your old ways.”
Changing the subject, Willow asked, “How far are we going down, Dr. Jackson?”
“27 floors to a briefing room.”
Grinning at Riley, Willow remarked, “I wonder what it is about secret military installments being located so far underground.”
Riley shook his head as the door opened onto floor 27. “I have a feeling that this isn’t anything like Sunnydale’s, Willow. It’s just not, uh…”
“As white?” she asked.
“Sterile,” Faith supplied. When they turned to her, she shrugged her shoulders. “B said once that it was sterile.”
“Since when do you talk to Buffy?” asked Riley, a little hateful.
Faith turned her attention back to the doors of the elevator as Willow answered, “Buffy and Faith have actually gotten along just fine these last few years.”
As the doors to the elevator opened, Daniel started to explain, “Now, when we get to the briefing room, I will need all of you, including you Agent Finn, to sign a confidentiality contract. While you are reading and signing, I will let General Hammond, the leader of this base, and Major Carter know you are here.”
“You’re not staying for the briefing?” asked Willow.
“Oh, I’ll be there.” Leading them into a room, he pointed to several folders lying on the table. “If you’ll please.”
Willow watched him leave and then sat down beside Riley on one side of the table. Across from them was a large window with what appeared to be a metal shield behind it. “Looks like they have something behind that window they don’t want us to see.”
“At least not yet,” Riley answered as he read the fine print.
Across from them Faith sighed. “Damn, I feel like I’m in school again.”
“That’s right, Faith. Do your reading assignment and then sign your life away.”
Faith narrowed her gaze on Willow. “Why don’t you just read it for me and then tell me what it says?”
“But that’s cheating!”
“There’s another reason,” Jolinar stated, her face growing even graver than before.
“What?” asked Buffy, noting that Jolinar had turned Buffy’s way for a split second, her face belying pain.
“Anubis revived Willow in the sarcophagus and gave her a symbiote.”
Buffy felt her knees go weak. It was already upsetting knowing that her best friend had been dead, but to know that she was now host to a Goa’uld was even worse. Behind her Riley wrapped his arms around her, holding her up, and asked, “Then they know…”
Jolinar shook her head. “No. They haven’t found out anything. Before she became a host, Willow was somehow able to wipe all of her memories. In essence, Willow Rosenberg doesn’t even exist in her body. The symbiote is truly in an empty shell, with none of Willow’s memories.”
“What about her power?” Buffy took in a deep breath as she asked her question. It had always been a fear that Tara or Willow would be captured. She had known that they were working on a spell to do exactly what Willow had done, but didn’t know they had succeeded. However, just because Willow erased her memory didn’t mean she hadn’t locked her powers.
“We don’t know,” Jolinar answered. “The Goa’uld within her has yet to show potential, but as she can’t read Willow’s past memories…”
“Then it doesn’t know how to locate Willow’s power,” Jonas supplied.
“Which means Willow will be a wild card,” Selmak added.
“Plus, any secrets Willow knew about the Tau’ri are still shut away from Anubis.” Voice changing from Jolinar’s, Cordelia then added, “If you guys don’t mind, I’d like to go see Martouf before returning to my post.”
Selmak nodded and watched as Cordelia left the room. From where she was wrapped in Riley’s arms, Buffy asked, “What do we do now?”
“I don’t know,” he answered. Running a hand over his head, Selmak added, “The Tok’ra will want to relocate as soon as possible. If there is a chance they can get back Willow’s memory, then our location, along with the BETA site, will be compromised.”
“And where will we go?” asked Fred.
“I’ll keep all of you safe, with or without the Tok’ra. As for now,” Selmak nodded to where Jonas was studying away at a computer already, “keep up with your work on recreating a mirror. If the world Tara and Miller went to can help in any way…”
“Understood,” Fred remarked sadly.
“Oh. My. Goddess.” Willow stared out the window at the large circular ring below. It was massive, and what it was used for… It all just seemed too much, reminding her of how she felt years ago when she learned that vampires were real.
Her concentration was broken when Riley asked behind her, “So, what does this have to do with us?”
“Yes, uh, good question,” Dr. Jackson stated as he started to turn through some papers. Finally settling on one, he continued, “On one of our teams last missions, they came upon what we call a quantum mirror.”
Sam explained, “A quantum mirror is able to connect to an indefinite number of alternate dimensions.”
“Alternate dimensions?” asked Faith.
Willow answered instead, “In any given time or instance, there is an infinite number of possible outcomes. Each of those outcomes would have their own universe, branching out even more after that.” When Faith just raised one eyebrow at her, Willow tried again. “Think of it in this way. Here, in this universe, Kennedy and I made the decision that we don’t work well together. In another universe the opposite decision could have been made, where Kennedy and I are still together. Understand?”
“Sure. I’m followin’ now,” Faith answered.
Daniel picked up where he had stopped, “Now, when SG-1 found the mirror, it was activated from the other side. Two people came through, both claiming to be a part of the SGC on their world. Going back wasn’t possible at the time, so we now have two guests we know nothing about.”
“And we will?” asked Willow.
Nodding, Sam stated, “When we brought them back here, the first thing we did was try to find their doubles in this dimension. The reason behind this is a basic rule of physics that the same object cannot exist more than once in time and space. If our guests were to have a double here, then they would become susceptible to what we call entropic cascade failure.”
“Entropic uh what?” Faith asked
“Entropic cascade failure,” Willow repeated for Sam. “Two exact cellular structures can’t both exist in the same time and space. If their guests have a double, then their guests will suffer from temporal distortions on the cellular level which will cause the double to basically die.”
“Exactly,” Daniel remarked. Keeping his focus on Willow, he continued, “Now, our first guest was easy to find information on. She was a student with you in Sunnydale, Ms. Rosenberg.”
Paling, Willow asked quietly, “I knew her, didn’t I?”
“I believe so,” Daniel slowly answered. “Our records show that Tara Maclay died in the Summers’ residence on May 7th, 2002.”
Willow nodded. “She was murdered,” she stated quietly.
Faith reached out and took Willow’s hand. “You okay, Red?”
As Willow nodded Daniel went on, “Our other guest was a bit more hard. The last known record of him that I could find was in Sunnydale, where he also attended the same university. Now, knowing some of his double’s life, we decided to go deeper.” Turning to Riley, Daniel asked, “This is where you come in, Agent Finn. When we looked into the military, we were told that they would send a representative to answer any of our questions, and your it.”
Riley nodded. He knew what was coming somewhat, as he had been instructed on what he could say and couldn’t before flying into Colorado Springs. “You want to know about Graham?”
“In all honesty, Agent Finn, when all this started, I just needed to know if he was alive or not. I know it seems harsh, but…”
“But his double’s life could be at stake.” Riley leaned forward, running his hands through his hair. “Lieutenant Miller died in action only three months ago on what should have been a routine mission.” Getting up and turning away from the group, he stated, “Your double is in the clear.”
From where she sat, Faith remarked, “I still don’t understand why Willow and I are here. You already know about Tara.”
General Hammond, who had allowed Daniel and Major Carter to control the briefing, spoke, “The Tara Maclay and Graham Miller that came through the mirror were part of the SGC. They are both on the same team, which specializes in dealing with vampires and demons off world. Now, when we first heard their story, we thought it was crazy. Then, when we started looking into their doubles here…”
Riley, still not facing the group, interrupted, “Then they told you about the Initiative, which would have had files on Willow and the rest of the civilians who helped the military personal escape.”
“Correct. Now, we haven’t come in contact with any vampires or demons that we know of while off world, but if we were to…”
Faith finished for Hammond, “Then it would be nice for you to also have a team like what they were a part of.”
“Exactly. Now, we don’t need any decisions right at the moment but…”
Surprising everyone Willow blurted out, “Can we see them?”
“Red, I don’t know…”
Holding out a hand in a gesture telling Faith to be quiet, Willow calmly asked, “Can we see them?”
Still Univ. A
Graham sat in the gym, one leg stretched out on the bench. His ankle, which he had twisted when Tara had thrown him into the shelves, was throbbing. Dr. Fraiser had told him to stay off of it after his check up with her the day before, but here he had gone and used it while working out. Now he was stuck watching as Tara worked out with Teal’c and O’Neill. They were working on sparring moves, and not being military, she was holding up pretty good. Then again, it helped that in his dimension all civilians that were on teams had to go through military training in defense.
A commotion came from the door, and Graham looked over his shoulder. “Oh, hey Ri.” Almost as soon he turned back to watch Tara, his mind back wheeled. Riley wasn’t supposed to be here. Slowly looking back at the man who was now staring at him, Graham found his mouth opening and closing before he stated, “Sorry. Habit.”
Riley could only stare at the double of his best friend. He looked exactly the same, and the way he had greeted him… Slowly shaking his head, Riley tried not to think about it. Losing Grae had been hard. There were still nights that he would wake up yelling, scaring Sam half to death, as he remembered the day he had lost him. He had watched Graham die, blood pooling all around the man in the middle of the forest. There was no stopping it. The blood just kept on coming, and coming, and coming, and… Turning his head quickly, trying to step away from the image, Riley focused his attention on the petite red head that had just brushed past him.
Willow couldn’t help it. She walked straight to the mat where Tara was now standing alone. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t pull her sight from the young woman. Eyes that she had so lovingly gazed into locked with hers. Not able to help herself, she started to shutter in small sobs. This Tara’s eyes were the same, or at least they were when she first looked into them. They were beautiful gray, and the longer she stared into them, the darker they got. That was when she realized that they were going black. “Tara?” she barely got out in a shaky voice. Reaching out, she added in a whisper, “So much like my Tara.”
As Willow’s hand lighted on Tara’s face, Tara sighed and closed her eyes. Unlike Willow, she could not help herself. Her whole body convulsed with tears and she fell to her knees, taking Willow down with her. In a blink she was back at her SGC. Willow was behind her, and then once again there was the smell of burnt flesh following a flash. Her mind screamed out for the one person she had gave her whole heart to. Her Willow was gone, and this Willow with longer hair but the same caring eyes was now before her. Crying out in anguish, she spoke in between sobs. “My… Willow… Dead… Staff Weapon.”
Graham watched on in shock as Willow took his Tara into her arms, and then, surprisingly, they both fell very silent. There was something happening. He could feel the hair on the back of his neck stand on end as if an electrical charge was flowing through the room. Feeling as if he shouldn’t be watching, that what was taking place was personal, he gathered his crutches and stood. Silently making his way around everyone, he hobbled into the hall. After pausing a second, Graham started to head to his room when from behind him a voice asked, “Feel out of place?”
Turning, for the first time Graham noticed that this world’s version of Faith had been with the group. How he had missed her, he didn’t know. This Faith was nothing like his, and it surprised him that she hadn’t stuck out. Then again, maybe she had been standing behind someone. “Excuse me?”
“I asked you if you feel out of place?” Her voice was even, and he noted there was a hint of a smile at the corner of her mouth.
For some reason all the anger he was feeling from what both him and Tara had lost came coursing through. He was mad that he wouldn’t see HIS friends anymore, that he felt like he wasn’t supposed to be here. “Why? Do you not agree with what you have come to see? Am I anything like what you wanted me to be?” When she didn’t reply, he added, “I’m sorry not to meet any expectations.”
As he turned to leave, she replied, “I never met this world’s Graham Miller.” She watched as he once again moved to face her. His blue eyes were so sad and she, Faith, acted out of character. Stepping up to him, she whispered, “No expectations to destroy.” When he just stared at her, as if studying her, she tried to break the silence by asking nonchalantly, “So, I am on your world?”
Stepping to where he could lean against the wall and his crutches, he answered evenly, “You died when we tried to escape.”
Faith simply nodded at this fact. “What was I like?”
Graham actually smiled for a second. Yes, this Faith was nothing like his Faith. He could see that in her eyes. This Faith was wild, impulsive. His was laid back and calm. Eyeing her outfit of black jeans and a tight black shirt, Graham answered, “Her favorite outfits were baggy jeans, shirts related to the eighties and converses.”
“Nope. She always wore her hair in a ponytail, except for a few times when she would wear it in two braids. There was always a smile on her face and her favorite past time was bugging General O’Neill.”
Noticing the look in his eyes as he thought back to his Faith, she asked, “And you and her were…”
Graham finished for her before she could even utter it. “We were friends. First of all, I didn’t think a relationship with the leader of my team would be smart on my part. Secondly, she was in love with someone else.”
“Friends,” he remarked as if telling her that he was happy with the way things were, that there was nothing to read into.
“Sure. If you say so.” Glancing down the hall, seeing Riley standing outside of the workout room, Faith added quietly, “I know you feel like you’re on display right now, but I think there is someone who wants to talk to you.”
As she walked away, Riley headed over to where Graham was standing. Feeling uncomfortable and not knowing what to say, he simply commented, “Hurt your foot?”
“Tara did it.”
Riley looked as if he didn’t believe Graham. “Yeah, right.”
“No, really. She did. Threw me into a wall with her magic.” As Riley’s mouth fell open in shock, Graham sighed and asked, “You wanna go to the cafeteria? I hear every day here is jello day. The color depends on the day.”
“Sure.” Riley smiled. Maybe meeting this Graham wasn’t going to be so bad after all.