Title: Tall Tale
Spoilers/Season – After the end of Buffy and oh, I don’t know, season 5-ish for Stargate
Summary – Jack is late for work…where could he be and what has he been doing?
Disclaimer – I hope to god no one responsible for either series ever reads this – I’m not entirely sure if I want to claim this story as my own.
General Hammond looked up at the knock on his door and quickly called for the person to enter. Walking into the small office were the members of SG-1 – with the exception of their leader, Jack O’Neill.
Hammond frowned at the absence of his second-in-command, who was now over four hours late for work. Before Hammond could speak, Carter spoke up.
“I’m sorry, sir. We checked his house but it doesn’t look like he’s been home for a while.”
“And no one has had contact with him since your time off started four days ago?” the General asked, though he was sure he already knew the answer. O’Neill was rarely heard from while he vacationed at his cabin – and Hammond doubted that Dr. Daniel Jackson or Major Samantha Carter were aware of the passing of time as they worked on their own projects.
“No, sir,” Carter replied, looking a little ashamed that her commanding officer could possibly have been missing for four days and she had not realized it. A similar look of chagrin was on Daniel’s face. Teal’c remained as stoic as ever – especially since he had been off world visiting his son for the last four days.
“Have you tried his cell phone?” Hammond asked.
SG-1 exchanged a series of guilty glances.
“Um, Jack lost his old cell phone and he never got around to telling us the new number,” Daniel supplied.
“I’ll start making some inquiries and see if…” Hammond was interrupted by the ringing of his phone and answered it. A young man’s voice began to talk.
“Sir, Colonel O’Neill has shown up at the gate, sir.”
Hammond released a huge sigh of relief.
“Thank you for alerting me, Sergeant. Tell him to report directly to my office.”
“Uh, sir, the Colonel is requesting the admittance of a civilian.”
“Yes, sir. A young woman, sir.”
“And did he explain why he wanted to bring an unknown civilian into the most classified military compound in the United States.”
“Yes, sir. He said that he needed a shield and you can’t court marshal a civilian…his words, sir.”
Again, Hammond sighed only this time it was with the familiar frustration of having to deal with Jack’s antics.
“Very well, please escort both the Colonel and his ‘guest’ to my office”
Hanging up the phone, Hammond found himself staring into the three very curious faces of SG-1 who had heard half of the conversation.
“It seems our wayward Colonel has found his way home.”
Five minutes later a dishevelled looking Colonel and young woman entered the General’s office. Taking in O’Neill’s appearance, Hammond wondered what his second had gotten himself into this time.
“General,” O’Neill said, standing wearily at attention before his commanding officer. The young blonde beside him covered a yawn before a discreet elbow to the ribs from O’Neill brought her to attention as well.
The members of SG-1 looked at the General, wondering if they were supposed to stay or go. Hammond waved for them to stay – realizing there was no point in trying to keep secrets amongst the members of SG-1.
“Colonel, where the hell have you been?” Hammond yelled, in no mood to beat around the bush.
“Sir, I am ready to accept any punish you deem fit to give,” O’Neill said, obviously hoping to avoid opening that particular Pandora’s box. Beside him the blonde’s body trembled slightly. At first Hammond thought it was from nervousness, but as he looked closer he realized it was from barely contained laughter. Jack glared at the girl, muttering under his breath about ‘slayers’ and ‘alcohol’.
Hammond glared at the both of them and said, “My question, Colonel.”
“In Los Vegas, sir.”
“And what exactly were you doing in Los Vegas? And the phrase ‘getting married’ better not enter anywhere in the explanation,” Hammond demanded.
The blonde made a disgusted sound and Jack glared at her before answering the General.
“Well, I was on my way to my cabin when I was kidnapped…”
“I did not kidnap you!” the blonde protested.
Sending a glare at the blonde, the Colonel continued.
“As I was saying, I was kidnapped and taken to a bar. I agreed under coercion, planning to leave after having a few drinks. The rest is her fault.”
“My fault! You’re the one who accepted the dare to do a drinking contest with shots of Bloodlust!”
“Which I wouldn’t have if you had told me what was in one of those!”
“Your old, I expected you to be smart enough not to get into a drinking contest with a …biker!”
“Old! I’m not old!”
“Sure, whatever you say.”
“At least I didn’t get involved in a fight because someone called me tiny.”
“I am not tiny!”
“Ya, sure, you betchya.”
The members of SG-1 and Hammond watched in amazement as the argument continued. From the information he was able to glean from the insults, Hammond was no longer sure if he really wanted to know what Jack had been up to.
Startled, the two combatants fell silent and looked at the aggrieved General.
“No ‘Miss’, just Buffy.”
“Buffy, perhaps you can enlighten us as to what transpired,” as the Colonel opened his mouth Hammond continued, “and not another word from you, Colonel, until I say so.”
Buffy smiled smugly at Jack and then continued on with the story.
“I invited,” Buffy glared at Jack, “Jack to help me celebrate my newfound freedom and so we went out to a bar. Jack got into an argument with a…biker over whether or not …the military could hold their liquor better than…bikers. The idiot agreed to shots of Bloodlust – he’s lucky he didn’t get alcohol poisoning.”
“So why didn’t you take him home, or order him a cab?” Carter asked, her curiosity getting the better of her, especially given the girl’s odd pausing. Buffy looked at her feet as O’Neill smiled smugly.
“Because she can’t hold her liquor.”
“Colonel,” General said in a warning tone and gestured for Buffy to continue.
“I didn’t know what Jack was drinking so I downed a couple of his shots…and those combined with what I had already been drinking…I was pretty drunk,” Buffy shifted her weight self-consciously as Jack snickered. Daniel frowned as he thought of something.
“But why did you drive all the way to Los Vegas to go to a bar?” he asked.
“Oh, the bar was in Colorado Springs,” Jack said. “We ended up in Los Vegas…after.”
“After what?” Hammond asked incredulously.
“We’re not entirely sure…sir.”
“You’re not sure?”
“We kinda don’t remember anything from the bar and until we ended up in Denver.”
“Denver? You said you were in Los Vegas.”
“Oh, we ended up in Los Vegas after we got sold.”
“Sold!” cried out the other members of the room, loud enough to cause the hungover duo to wince.
Jack and Buffy executed identical nonchalant shrugs.
“Picked up by slave traders,” Jack said.
“Sold to the highest bidder,” Buffy grinned smugly, “I got the higher price.”
“That’s just because they didn’t know your personality,” Jack muttered. “I can’t believe years of experience is worth less than youth.”
“Admit it, Jack, you’re past your prime. Your lucky they didn’t shoot you like they would a lame horse.”
“So, what happened after you were, um…sold?” Daniel asked in a slightly disbelieving tone, hoping to get the two back on track.
“We tried to escape,” Jack replied.
“Gave our new boss an idea though.”
“Entered us in a fighting competition.”
“In Los Vegas,” Jack supplied for Hammond’s benefit.
“Got our freedom.”
“Of course, now we were stranded without money or id.”
“And then our old boss offered us free drinks.”
“Would have been rude.”
“Getting drunk again didn’t help the situation,” Buffy commented.
“That’s your opinion,” Jack retorted.
Meanwhile, the members of SG-1 were listening to the exchange in awe.
“Do you think they’re telling the truth?” Carter whispered to Teal’c and Daniel.
“I don’t think Jack would ever outright lie to the General…” Daniel answered hesitantly – half listening as the duo continued to argue whether or not getting drunk had helped their situation or not. It was a fantastic tale, but the casual way the two were describing actually gave it more credence rather than less.
“I, too, believe ColonelONeill to be speaking the truth.”
The private discussion was interrupted as Jack and Buffy’s argument drew to a close.
“Anyways,” Buffy said in annoyance, “We didn’t have money or id so we decided that we would…borrow a car.”
“You mean, you stole a car,” Hammond stated wearily.
“We were going to return it afterwards, honestly General,” Jack said earnestly. “And we figured it easier to return the vehicle if took it from someone we knew.”
“Who do you know in Los Vegas, sir?” Carter asked, confused.
“Not so much ‘whom’, as ‘what’,” Jack said hedging. Hammond frowned and then eyes widened as he remembered there was a military base near Los Vegas.
“Colonel, you didn’t…?”
“I just wanted to take a jeep – he’s the one who insisted on taking a hummer!” Buffy said, pointing to the Colonel.
“You stole a hummer from the United States military!” Hammond thundered, rising to his feet as his second-in-command quickly returned to stand at attention.
“Yes, sir!” Jack replied sharply.
“And where is this hummer now?”
“Don’t know, sir!”
Sitting down heavily, Hammond turned to Buffy, who had also taken a rigid stance like her counterpart.
“Can you provide some details, Miss Buffy?”
Wisely, Buffy chose not to comment on the ‘Miss’, and replied, “I don’t know either, sir. We gave the hummer to a friend, sir!”
A sound escaped the General that sounded suspiciously like a whimper before he asked, “Why?”
“We were pretty drunk, sir, and we really shouldn’t have been driving. As luck would have it I ran into my friend, Clem, and after he drove us here we gave him the hummer as a way of saying thanks since he doesn’t have a car and he liked the colour.”
“Clem? The colour?” Hammond asked helplessly.
“Since it’s a stolen vehicle, I thought we should paint it a different colour.”
Buffy stopped there, hoping Hammond wouldn’t ask – but apparently Hammond was a glutton for punishment.
That was the final straw as Carter and Daniel quickly excused themselves; as soon as the door shut laughter could be heard. Teal’c chose to remain behind to hear the rest of his leader’s tale.
“So after driving you from Los Vegas, you were dropped off in a stolen pink hummer at our door step.”
“Not exactly, sir. We stopped off at the bank first,” Jack said.
“It really wasn’t safe to carry around that much money,” Buffy explained, backing Jack up.
“I thought you had no money?” Hammond asked, silently wondering if this was all an elaborate prank by Jack.
“We didn’t know about the winnings until after we stole the hummer, sir.”
“From your fight,” Hammond deduced correctly, given the nods he received in return. “Exactly how much is ‘that much’, Colonel?”
“Fifty-thousand dollars, sir.”
“Let me get this straight, Colonel; you and Miss Buffy here got drunk, ending up in Denver where you were sold on the black market and forced to participate in an underground fighting tournament where you won a large amount of money and your freedom. But because you didn’t know about the prize money, you stole a hummer from a nearby base – painting it pink before giving it away to someone named Clem – and after depositing your winnings in the bank you arrived here, only five hours late for work.”
“That’s correct, sir.”
General Hammond stared intensely at the two people standing before him. As far as he knew, Jack had never lied to him – at least, not about something as important as this. But still…
The ringing of the phone broke the tense atmosphere.
“Hello, Mr. President, what can I do for you?”
Hammond listened for a moment, before staring angrily at Colonel O’Neill.
“Yes, sir, we found him. How did find you out, sir?” Another pause. “Yes, sir.”
Hammond reached down and pressed a button before hanging up the phone.
“Can you hear me, Mr. President?”
“Loud and clear, George. Jack, good to hear you made it back to Colorado alright.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jack replied hesitantly, wondering how the President knew about his little adventure.
“Do you think you will be returning our hummer to us anytime soon?”
O’Neill blanched and Hammond’s face grew red as the President continued.
“Because a General Tegan is currently holding the IOU you kindly wrote in exchange for the vehicle.”
Buffy groaned, and smacked Jack in the arm; giving a wounded cry, Jack rubbed his arm and mouthed ‘sorry’ to the irate young woman.
“But, Colonel, why exactly didn’t you just report yourself to the base and phone for a ride from there?”
Blinking in surprise, Jack thought for a moment.
“You know, it never occurred to us,” he said thoughtfully, smiling slightly as he spied the same look on Buffy’s face. It honestly never occurred to either of them to stop and simply ask for help.
“Us?” the President inquired.
“Colonel O’Neill had an accomplice during his little…adventure,” General Hammond replied, not sure how to explain to the President that not only had his most senior officer stolen a military vehicle, he had done so in the company of a young female civilian. Before Hammond could finish formulating his thoughts, Buffy spoke up.
“Hey, Bob,” she said cheerfully.
Hammond and O’Neill waited anxiously for the President’s response.
“Buffy? What the hell are you doing in Cheyenne Mountain?”
That wasn’t what they expected.
“I’m an old friend of Jack’s so I came to visit him since I have some free time now,” she replied, apparently not caring that she was talking to one of the most powerful men in the world.
“You…and Jack know each other – God help us all. No, I take that back; no kind God would allow you two know each other.”
“Mr. President,” an astonished Hammond said, unable to believe that he had just heard the President of the United States say that.
“Given the fact that both of you are involved, I can only assumed that there is more to this story than a stolen hummer. George, whatever fantastic story they’ve told you, no matter how unbelievable, it’s probably true. In fact, they’ve probably edited out the really unbelievable facts.”
“We’re just misunderstood,” Buffy said sadly and nodded, Jack mimicking her action, a forlorn puppy-dog look crossing his face. Feeling the situation spinning out of control, General gestured for Teal’c to come forward – who was standing almost forgotten in the corner.
“Teal’c, please escort Colonel O’Neill and Miss Buffy to the infirmary and have Dr. Frasier make sure they aren’t any worse for wear because of their adventure.”
Teal’c nodded regally, and the three left the office – with Buffy shouting a cheerful good-bye to the President. Alone with the President (so to speak) Hammond began damage control.
“Before you say anything, General, I have something to say. As far as the United States Air Force is concerned, Colonel O’Neill’s ‘little adventure’ as you called it, never happened.”
“But, sir, stealing military property is a court marshal-able offence.”
“I’ve already spoke with General Tegan and as long as the hummer is returned, he can overlook this incident. George, there is another matter I would like to speak to you about.”
“Yes, Mr. President.”
“I would like you to try and convince Buffy to join the SGC.”
“What?” Hammond shouted involuntarily before remembering he was talking to his Commander-in-Chief. “Mr. President, I don’t see how she could be an asset to the Stargate program.”
“Trust me on this one, George. It would be much safer for the Earth if we have those two on other worlds. I have a meeting with the Joint Chiefs, so I’ll leave you to it. Good-bye George.”
“Mr. President,” Hammond said and hanged up the phone in resignation. Despite the President’s assurance, Hammond had a hard time believing a tale as fantastic as Jack’s – despite his officer’s habit to get into trouble. He was about to check on Jack and his prospective new recruit when the phone rang once more.
Hammond looked at it in trepidation and answered it carefully.
“Sir, there’s a person at the gate who wishes to talk to Colonel O’Neill or someone named Buffy.”
“Did they say who they are or what they wanted?”
“Yes, sir. He says his name is Clem and he’s here to return the pink hummer he borrowed.”
A few minutes later, members of the SGC walking past the General’s office could have sworn they could hear sobbing coming from inside.