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Starting Over

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Summary: Buffy and co. move to Colorado Springs... Ethan Rayne follows.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Dawn-Centered > Pairing: Mini-JacksallaFR13116,44611369,72829 Jan 0529 Jan 05Yes
Title: Starting Over

Author: salla salla@thebronzealternative.com

Rating: PG-13

Pairings: Dawn/Jonathan O’Neill Murray, Buffy/Jack

Summery: Buffy and Co. move to Colorado Springs.

Spoilers: Buffy - post season seven, SG1 - post Fragile Balance

Author’s Note: Slight slide in time lines, Fragile Balance happened two years ago. Also, yes, Jack lies about his age.

Disclaimer: Buffy and Co. belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, et al. SG1 belongs to MGM, Scifi, et al. This story was written with full knowledge that it violates US and international copyright laws in regard to derivative fiction. As such all rights to it belong to the holders of the original copyrights listed above.



Starting Over



Overheard in a bar in Reno, Nevada



"...it opens a portal to other worlds, all right. But you'll never get close enough to use it. It's better defended then Fort Knox."

"Let me worry about that. Just tell me more about how it works."



Coronado High School, Colorado Springs, CO

Monday, Oct. 6, 2003, Morning



"123... 130.... 135.... 140!" Dawn pushed her way through the early morning crowd to the locker number that had been assigned to her. She tried the combination written on the slip of paper with the locker number, "2... 24... 17... or not. Ok, maybe it's not a 4, maybe it's a 9. 2... 29... 17... damn!"

"Maybe I can help?"

Dawn looked over to where a boy was leaning against the locker next to hers. "Umm... hey." He was cute, sandy-blonde hair, brown eyes, a little taller than her. And he was talking to her. Her first day at a new school and already a cute guy was offering to help her. A cute guy who was currently standing in a beam of sunshine from the windows that caught all the highlights in his hair, and hey, that meant he wasn't a vampire, always a plus. A cute guy that was now staring at her like she was mentally defective because she had been staring at him and not talking... "Umm... hey. Umm.. locker, yeah, help would be great." Well, that was completely lacking in all things suave. "It's just that Mrs. Saunders wrote down the combination, but now I can't tell if it's supposed to be 24 or 29 but neither works and ..."

"Here, let me see." He took the slip of paper from her hand and looked at it intently for a moment, turned it upside down and studied it that way, then turned it back over. "Well, that is definitely a 24."

"But, I tried that, and it didn't work!"

"Yeah, well, that's because it only works on locker number 146." He pointed to a locker a few down. "See, the problem is with the 0, and that it's actually a 6." He handed her back the slip of paper.

Dawn looked at it closely, "Are you sure? 'Cause it really looks like a zero, goes all the way around back to the top and everything."

"Well, considering that 140 is my locker, yeah, I'm pretty sure." He smiled at her. "But, just to be on the safe side, let's check and see if the combination works." He swiped the paper back and strode to the locker marked 146. With a few quick turns of the dial, the locker swung open. "Voila!"

"Thanks." Dawn joined him and started to shift things from her bookbag to the locker. "I'm Dawn Summers, by the way."

"Jon Murray. So, you’re new huh?"

"Yeah, what gave it away?" Dawn smiled at him as she closed the locker and lifted the lightened bookbag to her shoulder.

"I am all seeing, I am all knowing. For instance, I know that you are headed to French with Mr. Flambe right now."

"And you knowing that wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that you're holding the paper with my schedule on it, would it?"

"What! This?" Jon held up the slip of paper. "I am offended that you think that of me. To make it up to me, I insist that you allow me to escort you to French."

Dawn giggled at his overly dramatic speech. "Well, I wouldn't want to make you late for your own class..."

"It just so happens that French is my first class, so it's really no problem. So, milady?" He bowed slightly and led the way down the hall. Dawn followed, thinking that he kind of reminded her of Xander.



Summers/Rosenberg/Harris house, Colorado Springs, CO

Afternoon

"So how was the first day of school?"

Buffy was busy unpacking the kitchen stuff that Giles had sent them from England. After Sunnydale was destroyed, Giles had headed back to organize what was left of the Watchers. He wanted to be able to provide guidance for all the new slayers, and still felt that the Watchers were the best way to do that. However, he did agree with Buffy, that the girls had to be treated as more than just a tool to get the job done. That training did not mean controlling.

Buffy missed having him there, but on the up side, he had taken most of the new slayers with him (Kennedy and two others had been sent to cover the hellmouth in Cleveland), and he was raiding his relatives houses for furniture and stuff to help Buffy set up house. So that was cool. "What on earth do you think this is?”, she asked holding up a cup type thing with a hole in the bottom.

Dawn wandered into the kitchen and opened the 'fridge. She grabbed a soda and then shut the 'fridge and leaned against the counter with a dreamy expression on her face. She didn't appear to hear either of Buffy's questions.

"Dawn... Earth to Dawnie!" Buffy set the cup-thingy down and walked over to wave her hand in front of Dawn's face.

"Oh, hey Buffy." Dawn came out of her daydream and popped the top on her soda. "So, more goodies from merry old England, huh? What'd we get this time?" After sipping the soda, she set it down on the counter and started poking through the boxes.

"Kitchen stuff," she eyed the cup-thingy, "I think. So, once more, how was your first day?" Buffy went back to unpacking as she waited for Dawn to answer.

"Umm.. it was good. Very good. Good classes, good teachers.... all good. Hmmm it's a doll.... or maybe a sifter?" Dawn held up a small figure in a bowler hat.

"Ok, the British are weird, but we already knew that." Buffy took the doll/sifter and set it on the windowsill over the sink. "So, classes and teachers are good, how about the students, they good too?" Buffy watched as Dawn picked up her soda and played nervously with the tab.

"Yeah, students were good. Everyone seemed very ... helpful..." Dawn trailed off.

"Ok, spill. I want to know who he is, what he looks like and what he said. Spare me no details."

"Who who is and what details?" Xander asked as he walked in the back door dressed in a nice suit.

"The guy Dawn met in school today who has her staring into space and saying that everything is good." Buffy told him.

"Ah, the guy of good. I always wanted to be that guy." Xander plopped down on a chair at the table and loosened his tie. "So, Dawnie, a guy?"

"I never said there was a guy!" She glanced back and forth between their skeptical expressions. Then, admitting defeat, she sat down at the table with Xander. "Ok, there might have been a guy."

"I knew it!" Buffy crowed and sat down. "So, name, rank, species."

Dawn took a deep breath, "Jon, junior, human. He helped me this morning when I was having trouble with my locker."

"Couldn't get the combination, huh? Yeah, those can be tricky. I was forever forgetting mine and having to ask Wills what it was."

"Actually, Xander, I had the right combination, just the wrong locker." Dawn shrugged. "Anyway, it turns out that we have first period French together, so he walked me to class. And then later we sat together for lunch. He's sweet and funny and so very hot!" Dawn blushed a little as she added the last.

"Hot, huh? I don't know about this... what else do we know about this guy?" Xander gave Dawn his 'concerned-older-brother' look, though anymore it was more of a 'concerned-pirate' look, which was kind of disconcerting. "What sports is he in, who does he hang with, what do his parents do?"

Buffy glared at Xander then turned back to Dawn, "Hot huh? Cool. So, what sports is he in, who does he hang with, what do his parents do?"

"Guys, we aren't in Sunnydale anymore. You don't have to worry that any guy I like is going to try to eat me. Remember, no hellmouth here."

"While it's true that there's no hellmouth here, that we know of, that doesn't mean we stop worrying about you. Besides, as your sister, I would ask these questions for strictly prurient reasons anyway, even if I wasn't you guardian. So, spill." Buffy leaned forward.

"Alright! He's on the hockey team, he's the center, though I have no clue what that means. He hangs with the team, I guess, though he's also in the astronomy club. And his parents used to be in the Air Force." Dawn got up and went to throw her can in the recycling bin. "Well, I have some stuff I have to read for English, so I guess I will just head upstairs now...." She edged toward the door.

"Hold it right there! You're hiding something, and that is not allowed, anymore, in this household, young lady.” Buffy crossed her arms and stared at Dawn. “Now, finish. His parent’s used to be in the Air Force and they are now…” Buffy left it hanging for Dawn to fill in.

“Dead. They are now dead. They both died in a helicopter accident a couple of years ago. So, if that’s all you needed to know, I have that reading to do.” Dawn took another step toward the door before she was stopped again, this time by Xander.

“So if that’s all, that his parents are dead, why is it, Buff, that she didn’t want to tell us this?”

“Hmm, Xander, I’m not sure. It must be something about his current guardians that she doesn’t want us to know. I’m voting demons.”

“Nah, that’s so passé. I think they’re Euro-trash terrorists who are out to sabotage NORAD.”

“Maybe, we should get Willow to look up his address on the ’net and then we could just go ask them ourselves.”

“You wouldn’t!” Dawn turned and looked at them in horror.

Buffy and Xander looked at each other, then at Dawn, and said, in unison, “Oh, but we would.”

“Fine, fine! I’ll tell you. He doesn’t have any guardians, because he was already fifteen when his parents were killed and because he didn’t have any living family. He was granted emancipated minor status. He lives off the money from his parent’s Air Force benefits.” And with that, Dawn stalked off to her room, leaving the two stunned adults behind her.



The apartment next door to Dr. Daniel Jackson, Colorado Springs, CO

Later that evening

Jonathan O’Neill Murray looked up from his dinner preparations as Daniel walked into the kitchen. “Hey, Danny, bring the beer?”

“One bottle for you and one bottle for me, as always, Jon.” Daniel put both bottles into the ‘fridge, then walked over to lean against the counter next to the stove where Jon was cooking. “So, what’s on the menu tonight?”

“Grandma O’Neill’s spaghetti and meatballs.” Jon held up a wooden spoon for Daniel to taste from. “Takes two days of simmering to get the flavors to blend right. This is from the batch I froze last month.”

“MMmmm. Delicious, but what’s the occasion? You only haul out the spaghetti after major hockey wins or major victories against the Goa’uld.”

One of the things that Jon loved about Daniel, was that he treated him the same now as he always had. A complete refusal to put up with any bullshit. Jon had found that a lot of his old friends, those who knew the whole truth, couldn’t deal with him as he was now. They were either stiff and formal or they tried to treat him like a kid. Only with Daniel was it the same as it had always been. And besides, Daniel was willing to bring him beer. Admittedly only one and only about once a week or so, but still. Beer was beer and beer was good.

“I just had a good day, that’s all, and felt like a little spaghetti.” Hey, just because Daniel wouldn’t put up with the bullshit wasn’t any reason to come clean too quickly.

“Okay.” Daniel let it slide for the moment, though the both knew he would come back to it later. “So, how was French? Doing any better?” Daniel walked around the kitchen getting out the things to make garlic bread.

“Yeah. Gotta admit, it does help this time through to have a linguist as a best friend. Though if you suggest that we only speak French during dinner again, I will kick your butt out and you won’t get any spaghetti.” Jon added a friendly glare to the warning.

Daniel, who had been about to suggest just that, quickly changed his mind. “Wouldn’t think of it.”

They finished their dinner preparations in companionable silence and sat down at the table. Jon took a long swallow of his beer for the week. “Ah, now that hits the spot.” Daniel laughed at him, as he did every week, then updated him on the basics of what was happening at the base. Though he couldn’t go into details, for security reasons, these weekly (at least when Daniel was on the planet) updates helped to keep Jon from feeling totally cut off from his previous life. ‘Cause there’s nothing like waking up one morning as a fifteen year old clone of yourself to make you feel cut off from your life!

After the update, talk ranged from Jon's hockey team to intergalactic politics throughout dinner. As they were cleaning up Daniel broached a subject he had been meaning to talk to Jon about for a month or so now.

"So, have you thought about starting to date yet?" Normally at this point, Daniel had asked a couple of times in the years since Jon came to be, Jon would sputter and yell and then break down and tell Daniel that it just didn't feel right. That he felt like a pervert even looking at the teenage girls he went to school with. And Daniel understood that, as much as he could. It was just that he didn't want Jon to look back on this second chance he had been given and regret that he hadn't participated as fully as he should have. He also knew that Jon caught a lot of flack from the other guys on the team. They seemed to feel that any teenager who lived on his own should be bringing home a different girl every night and hosting wild parties on the weekends. To the best of Daniel's knowledge, Jon had thrown one wild party, and had then complained so much about his friends wrecking his home, that he had vowed never to do it again. So Daniel was ready to restate all the reasons why it was okay for Jon to date somebody his own relative age, and to reassure him that he wasn't a pervert for admiring the girls at school, when Jon shocked him.

"Actually, I met a girl today that I'm thinking about asking out." Jon said this without looking up from the dishwasher he was loading.

Daniel blinked then said, "Really? Umm.. so, tell me about her."

"I met her this morning. Yet another victim of Mrs. Saunders’ writing, she was trying to open the wrong locker. Turns out we have French together. Then I sat with her at lunch and we talked. She just moved here from California. She's a Simpson's fan." Daniel shook his head, unsurprised that this would be one of the first traits Jon would look for. "She lives with her sister. Her mom died about 2 years ago and her dad is out of the picture. She's... she's funny and sweet, but... I don't know, watchful. Like she's constantly evaluating everyone around her for their threat potential. Anyway, I thought I might ask her to go out to dinner or a movie Friday night." Jon shrugged and shut the dishwasher.

Daniel stared at him. This was more talk then he had ever gotten out of Jack. After two years of existence, Jon was starting to show more and more changes from the core Jack personality.

"So, you gonna finish that beer?" And in some ways, he was Jack, through and through.

Outside Salt Lake City, UT

Oct. 7, 2:00 Am

Ethan kicked the side of the car and swore viciously. “Bloody piece of Japanese crap!” The ‘piece of crap’ in question had just quit running on the side of a deserted desert highway and was proceeding to billow smoke from under the hood.

Ethan Rayne was a man of many talents. He was a gifted actor, a decent drum player, spoke several demon and extinct languages, and was a master spellcrafter. A mechanic he was not, however, so he didn’t even bother looking under the hood. Instead, after reaching into the back to grab his duffel, he headed down the road to Salt Lake.



Coronado High School, Colorado Springs, CO

Lunch

“Hey, is this seat taken?” Jon indicated the empty place next to Dawn at the table.

“Hey, Jon. No, it’s free, as is that one, and that one, and that one.” Dawn pointed to the other empty seats around the table.

“Sweet.” Jon lowered his tray to the table and set down. “So, how was your second day of school and the ever popular Coronado High?”

“Well, you know about French, I have to write about why I moved here for English, Algebra is just a fancy word for math, and I seem to have missed the first fifty years of US History. So, pretty much, it’s school.” Dawn was glad to see Jon again today. All of last night she had been afraid that she would come to school and he wouldn’t even remember her. But he had been waiting by her locker this morning to walk her to French, and now he was sitting with her at lunch again, so life in Colorado was good. Cold though.

“Yeah, Mr. Flambe is something else. Let me know if you need any help, I live next door to a professional linguist, who I am using shamelessly, and it would be no problem to extend that to cover you.” Jon gave another of his oh-so-cute half smiles and continued. “As for the rest, I can help you study History, I still have my notes from last year, sorry about math, but it’s not really my subject, and as for why you moved here, well, I too would love to hear the tale.”

Dawn swallowed her bite of taco salad before launching into the ‘official’ version of last spring. “Well, my town got swallowed by a giant sink hole. It took my sister and the Scoobies a little while to sort out where we were going, but finally they decided on here and, after a short detour to Cleveland, here I am.”

“A sinkhole? Swallowed the whole town?” Jon set down his burger and stared at her.

“Yeah, well, Sunnydale had apparently been built on top of an extensive cave system, and recent building caused the whole thing to become unstable and collapse. It was actually pretty cool as it got me out of finals last year.” Dawn smiled at him and tried not to remember what she had actually been doing last year at finals time.

“Wow. I hope nobody was hurt.” Jon was amazed that a whole town could be swallowed up and he hadn’t heard anything about it. He really had to start paying more attention to the news.

“A few. But most people cleared out before the end.”

“Again, wow. Ummm… who are the Scoobies? And why the detour to Cleveland?”

“The Scoobies are Xander and Willow and Giles, they’re my sister’s best friends. Well, not Giles, I mean he is a friend, but he’s old…” Dawn stopped and took a breath. “Ok, when we first moved to Sunnydale, my older sister, Buffy, was a sophomore in high school. She met Willow and Xander, who were already best friends, and the three of them used to hang out in the library a lot, not reading… well, Willow probably was, but Xander and Buffy were just hanging out… anyway, the librarian was Giles. He became a friend too, and he kinda dated my mom once. Anyway, Willow and Xander, and Cordelia and Oz who were their significant others then, called themselves the Scoobies, cause Willow is so Velma and Xander makes a perfect Shaggy. Cordelia was Daphne, but now that she’s gone, I’m lobbying for the position. Oz was Scooby.”

Dawn finally stopped to breath again and Jon quickly cut in. “Ok, so they hung out in high school and compared themselves to a cartoon from the seventies, got it. And some of them moved here with you and your sister?”

“Yeah, Willow and Xander did. Giles is in England, ‘cause he’s English, and Oz is traveling. Cordelia is in LA. As for the detour to Cleveland, well, we were helping Willow’s almost girlfriend get set up there. Then we came here.”

“Once again, wow. So, ummmm… do you want to go to a movie Friday night and maybe get something to eat afterwards?”

“Yeah, I’d like that.”



O’Malleys Bar & Grill, Colorado Springs, CO

Evening

“Buffy, you’re up!” Buffy looked up from where she was wrapping silverware in napkins to see her shift supervisor point toward one of Buffy’s tables, where a man was just being seated.

“Thanks, Tish.” Buffy grabbed a menu and some of the freshly wrapped silverware and headed over.

“Hi, I’m Buffy and I’ll be your waitress tonight. What can I get you to drink?” Buffy set down the menu and silverware and pulled out her pad, then looked at her customer for the first time. He was older than her, maybe mid to late forties, but still very good-looking. Nice build, great eyes, and the silver in his hair made him look distinguished.

“Buffy? Ok, Buffy, I’ll have a beer to drink, domestic, and some chips and salsa while I look over the menu.”

“Be right back with that.” Buffy headed over to the bar to get his beer and chips and was surprised to see them already on the counter waiting for her. “I take it he’s a regular?” Mike was behind the bar tonight, and in the week Buffy had been working at O’Malley’s they had struck up a loose friendship.

“Yeah, that’s the Colonel. Colonel Jack O’Neill. He works out at the mountain. You’re lucky, he’s a good tipper. Though I actually expected to see all of them in here tonight.”

Buffy glanced over her shoulder at the Colonel then back at Mike. “All of them?”

“Yeah, he sometimes comes in here with a group of three others, a gal and two guys. Usually a well-behaved group, but occasionally some asshole shows up and, well, they take care of it. That’s what happened two weeks ago and tonight is the first night they’re allowed back, so I was really expecting to see all of them. Here, you better get this over to him,” Mike pushed the tray toward her, “he usually orders quickly. He’s a man who knows what he wants.”

Buffy grabbed the tray and walked back toward the Colonel’s table. “Here you go Colonel. One beer, domestic, and chips and salsa. Now, what can I get for the Army today?” Buffy pulled her pad and pen back out and smiled down at him.

“You may get the Army thin gruel and old bread. The Air Force, however, would like your biggest steak, well done, a baked potato, and steamed broccoli.” Jack closed his menu and passed it to her.

“Oh! Air Force.. I’m so sorry.” Buffy stumbled over an apology. “Mike just said you were a colonel, he didn’t say which branch, and I just assumed…” Buffy trailed off feeling very embarrassed. She remembered from Riley and his friends talking how the rivalry between service branches was, and now with a careless slip she had probably offended the first cute guy she had met in Colorado Springs.

Jack smiled at her. “That’s ok, Buffy. Just don’t let it happen again.”

Buffy smiled back. “Aye aye, sir.” She turned to go place his order.

“Oh, and Buffy.” She turned back to see him smiling at her again. “Only sailors and jarheads, that would be the Navy and the Marines, say aye aye. We civilized folk just say yes.” Buffy blushed and headed back toward the grill.

She managed to get through the rest of his meal with out making any more of an idiot of herself and even managed to work in a little discreet flirting. And Mike had been right, he was a good tipper. Her shift was over shortly after he left, and when she headed out of the restaurant, she was surprised to see him leaning against an SUV in the parking lot.

“Hello again, Colonel. I thought you already went home?” Buffy walked over towards him.

“Well, I overheard you telling one of the other waitresses that you were getting off soon and I know they make you guys park way in the back. I thought I would be a gentleman, as well as an officer, and walk you to your car. Never know what might be lurking in the bushes after all.”

Buffy smiled at the last, since she was pretty sure that she was better suited to handle the lurking than he was. “That’s very sweet of you Colonel, but actually, I walk to and from work.” Buffy started walking out of the parking lot and toward home. Jack fell in beside her.

“Walk, huh? Car broke down?”

“No, Xander won’t let me drive it. He says if he gets me added on to his insurance it will raise his rates higher than the national deficit.”

“Well, that’s… rude.” He paused. “Is Xander your brother?” Jack added the last hopefully. Buffy just smiled.

“What would you do if I said he was my husband?”

“I would say ‘what a shame’ and walk forlornly back to my truck.”

“Good answer.” Buffy smiled at him. “Xander is my Xander-shaped-friend, as opposed to my Willow-shaped-friend. We’re all sharing a house to cut the expenses. The car is Xander’s. And, in his defense, I am a lousy driver. Giles, another friend, but he lives in England now, says I’m too busy looking at the scenery to watch the road.” Actually, what Giles had said, was that she was too busy looking for demons, vampires, and assorted monsters to watch the road, but she didn’t want to tell the cute colonel that.

“Well, we do have some beautiful scenery hereabouts. Mountains, trees, more mountains, more trees. Gotta love it. Are you from around here?” Jack tried to probe without appearing to probe. He failed.

Buffy looked at him for a moment, then said calmly, “Buffy Summers, formerly of Sunnydale California. Just moved here with my little sister, Dawn, she’s sixteen, and my two best friends who are helping me raise her. They weren’t lying when the said it takes a village to raise a child.” Buffy turned down the block toward her house. “And you?”

“Jack O’Neill, Air Force colonel,” only a slight stress on Air Force, “at your service. Originally from Chicago, I’ve lived here for the past couple of decades. Divorced. I like fishing and long walks.”

“Well, sorry Colonel…”

“Jack, please, and what could you possibly have to be sorry for?”

“Ok, Jack. I'm sorry to say it, but this particular long walk has reached it's end.” Buffy pointed at the house in front of her to indicate that it was her destination.

“That’s too bad, it was just getting interesting. I don’t suppose we could continue the conversation, say Friday night over dinner?”

“Yeah, I’d like that.”



Jon’s apartment, Colorado Springs, CO

Friday, Oct. 10, 5:00 Pm

Jon was getting dressed for his date with Dawn. Though it was just a movie and dinner, he was still nervous. He hadn’t been on a date since he had been cloned. Actually, he hadn’t been on a date for quite a while before that either. Life at the SGC had always seemed too hectic for dating. And then there was Carter. Waking up as a 15 year old clone had put a final end to a dream that had been slowly fading.

Now, he was wondering if maybe he should get Daniel. He might know if a dress shirt was appropriate or just a t-shirt. As if summoned by the thought, Daniel walked into Jon’s bedroom.

“Daniel, I was just about to come get you. What do you think, dress shirt or t-shirt?” Jon held the two pieces of apparel up to his bare chest.

“Dress shirt, but no tie. So, I suppose this is the part where I take my life into my own hands and give you the lecture about responsibility and sex, huh?” Daniel leaned against the wall and watched as Jon dressed.

“I’d rather you didn’t.”

“So would I actually, but the general asked me to, so consider yourself lectured.”

“You told the general I was going out?” Jon glared at Daniel’s reflection in his dresser mirror.

“He asks how you’re doing, I tell him. He worries about you, you know that.”

“Yeah, I know.” Jon sat down on the bed to put his shoes and socks on. “So, what exactly did he say?”

“Well, I believe his exact words were, ‘Talk to him. I don’t want any incidents.’ So, here I am.”

“Yeah, incidents, that’s what you have to worry about. My first date in two years of being a teenager and he’s worried I might knock the girl up? Please!”

“He’s just not sure how to handle it Jon. He knows that you know how to be responsible, but at the same time, he knows you’re trapped in the body of a teenage boy.”

“Yeah, I guess. Daniel, do you really think I should be doing this? Dating I mean? Honestly, I’m fifty-one years old, my mind anyway, I can’t go out with a sixteen year old!”

“Yes, you can, because you are not fifty-one, Jack is. You are about two and a half. So, technically, she’s the one robbing the cradle.” They had already had this discussion, but apparently Jon was having last minute jitters. Daniel decided to handle them by not giving Jon anymore time to think. “Now, go get your jacket, and go pick up the girl. She’s waiting for you.”

“Ok, ok. You’re right, I know.” Jon grabbed his leather bomber and headed toward the door. Looking back he said, “Thanks, Daniel.”



Summers/Rosenberg/Harris house, Colorado Springs, CO

5:50 Pm

Buffy ran into the house and up to her room. Jack was going to be here for her in half an hour and she had had to work late, now she had hardly any time to get ready. It was a good thing she and Willow had picked out what she was going to wear last night. “Hey, Willow!”

“Yeah, Buffy?” Willow poked her head around the door to Buffy’s room.

“Come on in for a second. Dawn’s date should be here in about ten minutes, and I was going to interrogate him, but I’m running behind. Think you and Xander can take care of it?”, Buffy asked while stripping of the black tennis shoes she wore for work.

“No problem Buffy. You just worry about your date, and we’ll make sure that Dawn’s is on the up and up.” Willow turned to head downstairs.

“Thanks Will. Oh, and no bright lights!”, Buffy yelled at her retreating form.

Downstairs, Willow and Xander were already set up. Xander was dressed in his suit from work and Willow had changed into a nice pants suit. Both were sitting in the living room reading, or pretending to read, the paper and waiting for Dawn’s date to show.

“Do you think I should have a pipe Wills? Would I look more authoritarian if I had a pipe?”

Willow lowered her section of the paper. “Xander, we want to make an impression, not kill the boy with second hand smoke. Besides, you have an eye patch, and that’s much more authoritarian than a pipe.”

“I guess you’re right. Ohh! That’s him now.” Xander got up and answered the front door. Willow came to stand behind him and saw the nice looking young man standing on the porch. He was dressed in jeans and a dark blue dress shirt with a leather bomber jacket on over the top.

“Hi, I’m Jon Murray, I’m here to pick up Dawn.” Jon stood calmly on the porch. He wondered if the redhead was Dawn’s sister or the friend that was living with them. The two motioned for him to come into the living room and sit down on the couch.

“So, Jon, I understand you live alone? Why is that?” Xander stood over him and asked in his best patriarchal voice.

“Xander!” Willow pushed Xander toward on of the armchairs and sat in the other one. “Sorry, Jon. Dawn told us about your parents and we’re very sorry for your loss. We’re just concerned about Dawnie. A boy with his own apartment is… well, it makes us parental types worry.”

“I can see how it might. Dawn’s a great girl and it’s nice to know that she has people who care about her. As for me living on my own, I do understand where that might cause any big sister to worry… ”

Willow broke in, “Oh, I’m not Buffy, I’m Willow. A friend of the family. Buffy was running late and asked us to talk to you.”

“Ok. Umm… as for my living arrangements, though I technically live by myself, I am right next door to an old friend of my parents, Dr. Daniel Jackson. He checks in on me frequently and he has a firm rule about no girls in my apartment.” Jon had been practicing this speech for a couple of days, after Dawn said how leery her sister was when she found out he lived alone. And while the 'no girls' rule wasn’t strictly true, it hadn’t really been needed, Jon had no intention of taking Dawn back there, anyway, so he felt no real qualms about the lie.

“Dr. Jackson hmm? You wouldn’t happen to have his number would you?” Xander was still suspicious. Jon was starting to remind him of Eddie Haskell from ‘Leave it to Beaver’ reruns and he wanted a little more verification than just a name. “His office number.”

“Actually, he’s not that kind of doctor. He’s a linguist and works up at the base. I can’t give you his office number there, but I can give you his home number. Let me just write that down for you.” Jon was just finishing when Dawn came down the stairs. He stood as she reached the bottom.

“Hey, Dawn.”

“Hey.” Dawn seemed almost as nervous as he was.

“So, you ready to go?”

“Yeah, let me just grab my coat.” Dawn reached over to the pegs in the hallway and grabbed her jacket.

“Dawn, you have your cell phone, right?” When Dawn nodded, Willow went on. “Well, call if you need us. Buffy will be out tonight, but Xander and I will be home all night. Have fun.”

Jon and Dawn quickly walked out of the house and out to Jon’s Jeep.

“Sorry about that, Jon. They can get a little overly… well just overly. But you still like me anyway, right? Even if I live with weirdoes?”

“Yeah, sure. You betcha.”

As Jon’s Jeep pulled off and rounded the corner, Jack’s SUV pulled up to the curb in front of the house. Jack got out and headed up to the house and rang the bell.

“Hey, you must be…” Willows welcome died on her lips as she took in the man standing at the door. Though in his forties, he was still very handsome, but his age wasn’t what shocked Willow. It was his clothes. He was dressed in jeans, a blue dress shirt and a leather bomber jacket. Xander walked up behind her.

“Hey, déjà vu all over again! You must be Jack. I’m Xander and the lovely lady doing her impression of a fish is Willow. Come on in.”

Xander led Jack and the now recovering Willow into the living room and settled back into his chair. Jack sat on the couch and Willow once again took the other chair.

“Sorry, about that. It’s just that I saw someone else dressed exactly like that earlier.” Willow didn’t want to embarrass Buffy’s date by telling him he was dressed just like a teenager. “Anyway, Buffy’s running a little late, but she should be down in just a minute. Can I get you anything?”

“Nah, that’s ok.”

After a few moments of strained silence, Xander attempted to fill in the gap. “So, what did you have planned for the evening? Dinner? Dancing?”

“Actually, I’m making her dinner, then I thought we might talk, see what happens.” Jack refused to be intimidated by a twenty-something kid.

“Making her dinner? At your house? That’s..” Willow stepped in before Xander said something Buffy would have to kill him for later.

“That’s very sweet of you. And nice that you cook, since Buffy rarely does. Xander, why don’t you go see if she’s ready?” After Xander reluctantly went upstairs to get Buffy, Willow turned back to Jack. “Sorry about Xander, we just got done meeting Dawn’s date and he’s still in parental mode.”

“I guess that’s one explanation.” Jack wondered if there might be another, such as jealously, even though Buffy had said that she and this guy were just friends. Just then Buffy came down the stairs trailed by Xander.

“Hey, Jack. Sorry to keep you waiting. I had to work late. So, we ready to head out?” As Buffy grabbed her coat from its peg and opened the door, Jack took in her outfit that consisted of a peasant top and painted on jeans.

“Yeah, sure. You betcha.”



Jack’s house Colorado Springs, CO

Evening

Dinner had been wonderful, Jack had made what he assured her was his grandmother’s spaghetti. Served with a salad and what Buffy assumed was a nice wine, it had all tasted delicious. Throughout the meal they had talked, about anything and everything. And though Buffy couldn’t tell him everything that had really led up to her move to Colorado, what she could tell him was close enough to the truth that the lies at least came easily.

Jack talked a little about himself, mentioned that he worked up at the base on the mountain, but that the project was classified and he couldn’t talk about it. The conversation wandered from there to current events, movies, books and music. Though they had similar tastes in movies and television, their tastes in music were polar opposites, and neither was big on reading for recreation.

After dinner they moved to the living room and Jack turned the radio to an oldies station, the one form of music they had decided they could agree on, and then offered Buffy a beer.

“No, thanks, I don’t drink.”

Jack looked at her for a moment, then asked, “You are old enough to drink right? I mean, you didn’t say anything about the wine with dinner and…” Jack trailed off. Though he had been attracted to Buffy from the first, and not just for her looks but also for the good natured way she took his teasing over her mistake about him being in the army, he had been concerned about the age difference. He had never before gone out with someone so much younger than him, at least not without the influence of alien cake, and that she might even be too young to drink wasn’t something he wanted to think about.

“Yes, I am old enough to drink, and before you ask, twenty-two. The wine with dinner was fine. My mom used to do that sometimes, make a special dinner and let us girls have a watered down glass of wine with it. She was an art dealer, and liked the idea of doing something so European. But, as for beer or hard stuff… let’s just say, I’ve learned through experience that they aren’t for me.” Buffy paused for a moment. “Does it bother you that I’m twenty-two and you’re… not?”

“Forty-nine and no not at all. Ok, yeah a little.” Jack took a swallow from his beer before continuing. “It doesn’t bother you?”

Buffy thought for a moment before answering. It wouldn’t do confess that two of her last three boyfriends had been past the centennial mark, so no, forty-nine didn’t really bother her. “I’ve found that age has very little to do with a person’s maturity. Yeah, I’m twenty-two, but not your typical twenty-two. Remember, I’m raising a teenager. It gives a certain insight.” Facing demons and averting apocalypses also gave insight, but once again, not something she could say out loud.

“True.” Jack gave a weak laugh. “And I have been told that I frequently act like a child so…”

“So, we’re good with the age thing?”

“Yeah, we’re good.”

“Great, now that that’s out of the way, we have so got to talk about this opera thing. What is up with that?”



Summers/Rosenberg/Harris house Colorado Springs, CO

10:50 Pm

Jon pulled the Jeep up in front of Dawn’s house and cut the motor. “So... I had a great time tonight.”

“Yeah, it was fun.”

“So, I guess this is goodnight then?”

“Yeah, guess so. I’ll see you on Monday?”

“Bright and early.”

They both sat for a moment looking at each other.

“I guess this works better if I get out of the car, huh?” Dawn finally opened the door and started to get out.

“Dawn?”

“Yeah?” She turned back toward him.

“I... I’ll see ya Monday.”

“Okay.” Dawn got out of the car and walked up to the porch. She turned back and watched as Jon waved and then started his Jeep and pulled away. After he had gone around the corner, she turned and entered the house.

“Hey, Dawn. How was the date?” Willow was sitting on the couch watching a movie, but turned the TV off as Dawn walked in. Dawn sat down on the couch beside her.

“It was nice. Enjoyed the movie, it was funny. And dinner afterward was good. We didn’t seem to have any trouble talking.”

“Talking is good.”

“So, is Buffy back yet?”

“Yeah, she got back about a half hour ago. She said he got called back to the base. She said it was still nice though. They were talking about opera and...”

“He didn’t kiss me.”

“What?”

“Jon. He didn’t kiss me goodnight. I mean, we were in the car and saying goodbye, and he could’ve, but he didn’t.”

“Awe, Dawnie. It was a first date. Maybe he doesn’t believe in kissing on the first date?”

Dawn looked at Willow in disbelief. “In this day and age? You have got to be kidding. Everyone kisses on the first date. I bet Buffy’s date kissed her goodnight.”

Buffy chose that moment to walk down the stairs and into the living room. “Ok, why are we discussing whether or not I got a goodnight kiss?”

“’Cause Dawn didn’t. Get kissed that is. But I was telling her that that doesn’t mean anything, because it was a first date and all. Jon was just being a gentleman.”

“Yeah, Dawn, Jon was just being a gentleman, that’s all. Hey! Dawn and Jon! It’s .... cute?”

Dawn looked at her sister like she had lost her mind, then groaned. “Oh, god! Dawn and Jon! That’s like totally gross. What am I gonna do?”

“Well, does he have another name you can call him?” Willow asked, trying to sound hopeful, because truthfully, Dawn and Jon was kind of a sickening alliteration.

“If not, you can always give him a cool nickname!”

“Like what? Jack? I don’t think so!”



Hell’s Bar & Grill Cheyenne, WY

Saturday, Oct. 11, 10:30 Pm

Ethan was sitting at a booth in the back of the room nursing his beer. It had taken him a week to get his car fixed in Salt Lake, but he had used the time to call ahead and arrange a few things. At the moment, he was waiting to make contact with the mercenary group he had hired. The mercenaries were run by a man named Nigel Waterford, and Ethan had worked with them before. They were a mix of human and vampire, and so long as you paid them, they stayed until the job was done. They were also the only ones Ethan could find who were willing to go anywhere near Colorado Springs. Ethan had been surprised to find that for the last decade or more, Colorado Springs had been unanimously avoided by the demon community, and none of them knew why. The most that Ethan could get out of any of the ones he had talked to was that the ‘vibe’ was bad. So, instead of going to face the slayer with an army of demons at his back, he would be facing her with a couple of dozen human and vampire mercenaries. It would require more devious planning this way, but devious planning was one of Ethan’s specialties.

“Ethan Rayne, we meet again.” Nigel Waterford was nearly seven feet of solid muscle. Though human, his African ancestry not only made him a warrior but allowed him access to mystic secrets that he used to keep a firm hand on the non-human members of his group. His refusal to share those secrets was one of the reasons that Ethan hated him.

“Nigel, still spouting off bad lines I see.” Ethan looked up, and up, to meet Nigel’s eyes. His height was the other main reason Ethan hated him. “Have a seat and let’s discuss things.”

After Nigel had sat down and placed his order, Ethan began. “As I said over the phone, I intend to take something the slayer has. Now, because I can’t seem to find anyone else even willing to go near Colorado Springs, the plan has changed a little.”

“You will give up and let the slayer keep her possessions?”

“No. I will go in and do a little discreet snooping first. After I get the lay of the land, I will can in you and your men.”

Both men paused while the waitress set down Nigel’s drink. After she walked away, Nigel asked, “And how long do you expect us to wait? My men expect action.”

“And they will get it, don’t worry. I should be ready for you to join me within a week of my arrival. Just make sure your men are ready.”



Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Thursday, Oct. 16, 5:15 Pm

“So, Doc, how’s the patient today?” Jack breezed into the infirmary for his daily inspection of the Jaffa currently housed there. The warrior had been accidentally brought back by SG2 when they returned last Friday. They had been outrunning an unexpected Jaffa patrol and had cut their return close enough that one of the Jaffa had been able to follow them through the ‘gate before the iris closed. The troops in the gateroom had been able to subdue the warrior and he had been escorted to one of the SGC’s rarely used holding cells. He had remained there while decisions were made on what to do with him. However, before a decision was reached, he had begun acting sick and been moved to the infirmary under heavy guard. That had been on Tuesday and with any luck, Doctor Fraiser had finally discovered what was wrong with him.

“The patient is fine.”

“Oh, then we know what’s wrong?”

“Yes, we know what’s wrong. Teal’c returned from Chulak this morning and was able to help me with a diagnosis. It turns out that the primta is mature, and its need to leave the Jaffa is what’s causing the problem.” Doctor Fraiser led Jack into her office and sat down behind her desk while Jack hoisted himself onto the table along the wall.

“So, the snake wants out, huh? And our plan to deal with this is...?”

“Well, I am just about to go see the general about that. My recommendation is to remove the goa’uld to a holding tank and to start the Jaffa on tretonin to compensate. As to what we will do with the goa’uld, I have no idea.”

“If we’re smart we’ll kill it. However, knowing us, we’ll probably ship the thing to Nevada so it can get loose and terrorize the countryside before we finally kill it.” Jack’s views on the goa’uld tended to be narrow.

“Well, considering that killing it would not only violate the Geneva Convention, but also my oath as a doctor, I suspect the we will ship it to Nevada.” Doctor Fraiser started shuffling papers on her desk in an attempt to clear her keyboard. “Now, if that was all, I need to type up my report before I go see the general.”

Jack jumped down from his perch and headed out the door. “Ok, I’ll see you tomorrow then, Doc.” Jack left the infirmary and headed back toward his office and grabbed his coat. As he was turning out the lights, he saw Daniel heading down the hall toward the elevators.

“Wait up, Danny!” Jack jogged down the hall and joined Daniel for the walk to the elevator. “So, how was your day?”

“Busy. I got most of the cataloging done of the artifacts brought back by SG7. There’s actually very fascinating. They appear to be Greek, but with Native American influences..”

“Yes, fascinating.” Jack interrupted at his driest.

“Well, I thought they were.” Daniel glared at his friend .

“So... how’s the mini-me doing?”

“Jon is doing fine. Getting ready for hockey season to start.” Daniel paused a beat. “He’s dating.”

“Really? I wondered when he was gonna get around to that.”

They arrived at the elevators and Daniel turned to face Jack as they waited for the car to arrive. “I got to meet her the other day, helping the two of them study for a French test. She’s nice. Bright.”

“Well, it’s always nice to know that one’s clone is doing well.”

“So, I never heard, how did your date go the other night?”

“It was going very well, right up until the moment I got the call about our visitor. Luckily, she has consented to see me again.” The door to the elevator opened and they stepped inside.

“Well, it’s good to know that all is right in the world of Jack O’Neill... both of them.”



An abandoned warehouse in Colorado Springs, CO

7:20 Pm

It’s amazing what you can learn from an Iglasia demon. While incarcerated by the Initiative, Ethan had been held in the cell next to one. Over the course of their enforced time together, Ethan had been able to pry many secrets from the passive demon, among them the key to astral projection. The Iglasia had only been able to travel within a hundred meters or so of its own body this way, but Ethan had found that by combining the meditation needed for astral projection with a spell he knew for seeing over long distances, he was able to achieve a much greater range. He had used this new found skill to help him break out of the Initiative compound. And now he was using it for a little discreet snooping.

He had noticed the feeling about the time he hit the Colorado Springs city limits. What had been described to him by various demons as a ‘bad vibe’, he had sensed as a feeling of power. Different then the mystical power he was used to tapping into, but power none the less. By driving through the city and out into the mountains, he had managed to locate the source of the feeling in a military base on Cheyenne Mountain. The base was heavily fortified and it was immediately clear that there was no way in which Ethan could physically get in. Lucky for him, the physical wasn’t his only option.

After locating a suitable base of operations in the form of an abandoned warehouse, Ethan had lit a few candles, said a few Latin chants, and gone into a light trance. Voila, he was wandering a top secret military base with no one the wiser.

Now he began making plans with the knowledge he had so illicitly gained.





Marshall Sprague Park, Inline hockey field, Colorado Springs, CO

Saturday, Oct. 25, Late afternoon

Dawn sat in the front row of the stands, cheering for Jon and his friends as they scored another point against the other team. This was Dawn’s second time watching Jon play field hockey, and though she still had no clue of all the rules, she was more than willing to be part of Jon’s cheering section. She sat with several other girls and one boy from school whom she had gotten to be friends with over the last couple of weeks. All of them were dating players on the team, and so had reason to hang out frequently. They were a nice bunch and had been more than willing to accept Dawn into their ranks.

As the game wound down, their team won but only by a few points, Jon skated over to the bleachers and sat down by Dawn to start taking off his skates. Dawn set his gym bag down beside him so he could get his regular shoes out of it.

“So, what’s the plan now? Victory lunch with the team?”

“Actually, I was thinking that you and I might go see that new horror flick that’s out, Jason vs. Freddy?” Jon looked over at her to see if the idea held any appeal.

“I don’t know, horror films aren’t usually my thing...” She had avoided them in the past because she didn’t really need any more horror in her life. On the other hand, a horror movie with a boyfriend wasn’t really about the movie, it was about an excuse to hide your face against your boyfriends shoulder and to have him hold you close... sounded like a plan to Dawn. “Then again, why not. Expanding horizons and all that.”





Memorial Park, Prospect Lake, Colorado Springs, CO

Evening

“Tree pretty.”

Jack glanced down at the woman by his side. She had leaned so that her head rested against his shoulder as they walked. Looking down at her in the moonlight, he thought she might be one of the most lovely young women he had ever seen. However, deciphering her unique mangling of the language was a task even Daniel would have found difficult.

“Huh?”

“The tress are pretty.” Buffy pointed to a cluster of trees across the lake that. Between the moonlight and the background of city lights, their fall colors were still clearly visible.

“That’s not what you said the first time.”

“Yes it is.” She looked up to see if Jack believed her blatant lie. His raised eyebrow said very clearly that he didn‘t. “It’s just something I said once, after my high school graduation.” The eyebrow inched higher, which she took to mean he wanted a fuller explanation. “My high school kinda exploded during the graduation ceremony, and.. well, afterward I was a little shell shocked. My friends tried to get me to talk, but about all I was capable of was ‘fire bad, tree pretty’. I was feeling a little like that now, is all.”

Jack stopped walking and turned Buffy to face him. “Shell shocked?”

“No, just...” Buffy looked up into his eyes for a moment before continuing. “Overwhelmed. The last three weeks have been... peaceful.”

“And you’re overwhelmed by peaceful, huh?”

“Ok, yeah, when you say it like that, it sounds silly. It’s just that the last couple of years, between mom’s death, and trying to raise Dawn, one really messed up relationship, then loosing our home...” not to mention hell gods, dying and coming back, and destroying a medium sized town, “everything has just been so crazy in my life. And now here I am, in a new city, Dawn’s happy in school, I have a job I actually like, I’ve met a great guy....”

“Buffy?”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up.” With that, Jack leaned down and kissed her. When they finally came up for air, they were both breathless. “Your high school exploded during graduation?”

“Yeah, go figure. The dumb thing waits until I‘m actually done with school before it explodes.”

Jack laughed softly at that, then looked into her eyes. “Will you come home with me tonight?”

“Yes.” Buffy dragged his dead back down to hers and continued the kiss. This time when the slowly came apart, they both turned and started walking back toward where they had parked Jack’s SUV.

As she was getting into the vehicle, Buffy glanced back at the park then at the area around them. Old habits were hard to break. She had just about finished her scan when she spotted movement at a darkened warehouse across from the parking lot. A door opened briefly and a familiar face showed briefly in the light from within.





Summers/Rosenberg/Harris house, Colorado Springs, CO

Late evening

Dawn walked into the house and immediately started ranting to Buffy , Willow and Xander who were all sitting in the living room. “It’s bad breath, isn’t it? I have the worst case of halitosis in the known world. That has to be it. Willow, you have a spell that can fix it right? Because, otherwise, I don’t think he’s ever going to kiss me. I mean it has to be bad breath, because tonight was the perfect time! We went to a horror moving, I hid in his arms, it was a darkened theater... perfect! And then just now, when he walked me to the door, he could have kissed me then too, but did he? No! Why? I’ll tell you why. It’s my horrible, awful, totally repulsive bad breath!” Dawn finally ran out of steam and flopped onto the couch.

“Dawn, Buffy saw Ethan in town tonight.” Xander moved to sit on the couch beside her. “We have no clue what he’s doing here, but we doubt it’s anything good.”

“Of course it’s nothing good, it’s Ethan. But this time, I am going to kill him. A lot.”

“Buffy, you can’t kill him.” Willow said it gently, but firmly.

“Why not? If you say because he’s human, I will argue with you.”

“No, because Giles would never forgive you if you killed Ethan without him.”

Buffy pouted for a moment, but brightened. “You and Xander can videotape it, then we can send it to Giles. It would be the same as him being there!”

“Why don’t we decide what to do with him later. First shouldn’t we find out why he’s here? Willow, didn’t you say that demons and whatnot didn’t like it here? Some vibe thing?”

“Well, yeah. From what Giles and I could find out, the demons all avoid Colorado Springs, and when we first got here I did mention that I could feel the power from up on the mountain. I just assumed it was some sacred place up in the mountains, and that was why the baddies didn’t like it.”

“Power, huh? Are we sure it’s a sacred place, or just a powerful place?” Buffy really didn’t like the idea of Ethan tapping into any sort of power. The man could provide more than enough trouble on his own.

“Well, I never really checked it out. I mean, I just assumed since evil didn’t like it....” Willow trailed off.

“Well, then. That’s Willow’s job, to find the source of the powerful vibes in the mountains. Buffy and I will see if we can find out what Ethan’s after here in town.” Xander rubbed his hands together in excitement. Retirement was all well and good, but it was nice to be saving the world again.





Mountain road outside of Colorado Springs, CO

Monday, Oct. 27, early morning

Captain Camicia Rossa stared out the front window of the transport truck. A hundred yards in front of them a small fire appeared in the pre-dawn gloom. As the truck got closer, Cam could make out the figure of a man sitting by the fire in the middle of the road.

“Sergeant Hemd, slow down and honk, maybe we can get him to move without stopping.”

“Ya think he’s just a loon, Captain, or do you think we’re about to be ambushed.” Sergeant Rotes Hemd asked, only half joking.

“You just never know, Sergeant.”

Sergeant Hemd did as ordered and slowed down while leaning on his horn. The man in the road looked up at the truck, then threw something into the fire that made it flare up. The truck suddenly slammed into an unseen force. Cam was stunned by the impact, but the sergeant’s head had impacted with the steering wheel and he was unconscious..

Cam regained her senses quickly and glanced around. They were now stopped in the middle of a deserted road. She could see armed men approaching the truck from all directions. In front of her, the man by the fire now stood up and walked toward the truck. Cam pulled her service weapon and reached for the radio.

“Mayday, mayday. Base, this is Mailman, we are under attack. I repeat, we are under attack. The truck has been stopped by unknown means and we are being approached by a large group of....” One of the men reached the truck and grabbed the radio out of Cam’s hand. Cam turned and fired three quick rounds into his chest, but instead of falling down dead, he just smiled at her. Then his face changed, gaining prominent brow ridges and even more prominent teeth. The man grabbed Cam’s gun out of her hand and tossed it to the side. He then grabbed the stunned captain, quickly tilted her head to one side and sank his fangs into her neck.

Ethan walked past the feeding vampire to the back of the truck where the other mercenaries were finishing up with the soldiers who had been riding in the cargo compartment. Ethan pushed one of the bodies out of the way so that he could climb into the truck, and approached the holding tank.

“Well, now, aren’t you just a lovely fellow.”





Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain, CO

Tuesday, Oct. 28, mid-morning

“SG1, sorry to cut your mission short, but something’s come up. Meet me in the briefing room as soon as Dr. Frasier is done with you.” General Hammond turned away from the ramp and walked out of the gateroom.

“Well, that was abrupt.” Jack looked at the rest of his team for confirmation of the General’s odd behavior.

“Indeed.”

“Well, I guess we better go see Janet and then report, sir.” Sam moved past Jack and Teal’c with Daniel and headed for the infirmary.

An hour later, all of SG1 was once again certified goa’uld/virus/alien technology free and headed for the briefing room. There they found General Hammond and Major Paul Davis seated at the conference table.

“Trouble in Washington, sir?” Jack waved a hand toward Major Davis as he set down. Davis was the SGC’s liaison with the Pentagon, and usually only showed up when something had gone wrong, earning him the nickname of “Disaster Davis”.

General Hammond waited for all of SG1 to be seated before he started. “Shortly after 0500 yesterday, the truck transporting the recovered goa’uld was hijacked on its way to Peterson. All personnel assigned to the detachment were killed and the goa‘uld was taken. Major Davis was sent here to coordinate the investigation. Major.”

“The truck was attacked while it was still in the mountains, about 15 minutes outside of the base. The vehicle shows signs of having hit a large object head on, so we are assuming that who ever is responsible but up some kind of barrier. A check of the weapons indicates that our men did have time to get off several rounds, however, we found no traces of blood other than that belonging to our people. This leads us to believe that the thieves might have been wearing body armor. Tracks from several 4x4’s were found in the forest not far from the site. Before they were overtaken, Captain Rossa was able to get out a radio message and our people were on the scene within five minutes. The thieves had already cleared out, our troops did a search of the area, but no other vehicles were seen on the road in either direction.” Major Davis paused in his presentation of the evidence collected so far to take a deep breath, obviously disturbed by what came next. “All of the marines assigned to the truck were dead when backup arrived. They all had severe neck wounds that appear similar to an animal attack.”

Jack interrupted at this point. “So, what you’re saying is that an unknown group attacked our truck, ripped the throats out of ten, twelve highly trained marines, stole a snake, and vanished, all in under ten minutes?” Jack glanced at the rest of SG1, then asked, “Are we sure Mayborne isn’t on the planet?”

“It was the first thing we checked, Jack.” General Hammond was quick to assure him. “The Tok’ra assure us he is still right where they left him. We do have a suspect, though. Ethan Rayne?” Hammond looked at Major Davis for confirmation.

“That’s correct. We were able to get several prints from the truck. One set we have identified as belonging to one Ethan Rayne. A British national, Interpol has a file on him dating back to the early seventies. Mostly small time, robbery and vandalism. He came to the US in 1998 and Interpol lost track of him. He shows back up in January of 2000, in a small town in northern California. He was taken into custody by a top secret army operation , code named the Initiative, that was running in the area and transported to their facility in Nevada. Though they are unwilling to tell us why he was taken into custody, or to send us the full file, they did tell us that he escaped from their facility a month ago, and was last spotted in Salt Lake City one week later. They also included a list of his known associates here in the US: Rupert Giles, Alexander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, and Buffy Summers. Three of the four are now currently living here, in Colorado Springs.”

“Did you say, Buffy Summers?” Daniel and Jack asked the question simultaneously, then glanced at each other.

“Yes, Buffy Summers. Full name Buffy Anne Summers, born in 1981. Graduated from Sunnydale High School, Sunnydale California. Is currently listed as guardian of her minor sister, Dawn.” Davis read from the file in front of him, then glanced at Jack and Daniel. “I take it you two know her?”

“Yes, I know her.” Jack didn’t volunteer that he was currently dating her.

“I don’t actually know her, but I’ve met the sister, Dawn. Umm...” Daniel cast a wary glance at Jack before continuing. “Her and Jon have been dating for the last several weeks. I met her when I was helping them with their French homework.”

Jack exploded. “What do you mean, Jon’s dating her?! He can’t be dating her.”

“I mean that they have been going out on dates and other outings for the past several weeks. And why can’t he be dating her?” Daniel got suddenly suspicious. “Just how is it that you know Dawn’s sister Buffy?”

“Well, that is...” Jack glanced at the faces around him. All of them were waiting expectantly to hear his answer. “Fine, I’m dating Buffy. Have been for about three weeks. Are you happy now?” Jack glared at Daniel.

“So, sir, you and Jon are dating sisters. How... sweet.” Carter tried very hard to stifle her giggle but was unsuccessful and earned one of Jack’s glares for herself.

“Indeed.” Teal’c, though more successful in suppressing his mirth, was also obviously amused at Jack’s expense.

General Hammond just looked disgusted that SG1’s personal life had once again reared it’s ugly head in his briefing room. “Fine. Colonel, Dr. Jackson, since the two of you know Ms. Summers, you may have the pleasure of asking her about this Rayne character. Teal’c, Major Carter, and Major Davis can locate and talk to the other two on the list, Harris and Rosenberg.”

“Actually, General,” Jack reluctantly spoke up, “they all live together. Buffy, Willow, and Xander. They’re helping her raise Dawn.”

“In that case, you and Dr. Jackson can speak with them all at once. Use discretion. Dismissed.” General Hammond stood and left the room, leaving most of SG1 free to break into uninhibited laughter at Jack’s expense.



Summers/Rosenberg/Harris house, Colorado Springs, CO

Afternoon



“So, what have we got?” Buffy sounded annoyed as she surveyed the other two in the room. Her, Willow, and Xander were all gathered in the dining room for a planning session and to go over what they had discovered so far. Unfortunately they hadn’t found out much.

“Well, I did manage to track the quasi-mystical power vibes up in the mountains.” Willow offered brightly.

“Way to go, Wills! So, what is it? Native American artifact or New Age Coven? ‘Cause I go with Native Americans, but Buffy is totally blaming the witches. Bad Buffy.”

“Well guarded military base.”

“Huh?”

“The vibes, whatever they are, are coming from the base up on Cheyenne Mt. I think it houses NORAD. Anyway, I couldn’t trace it any farther, what with all the armed guards and such.” Willow shrugged apologetically. “Sorry. Did you guys come up with anything spying on Ethan?”

“No.” Buffy didn’t sound particularly happy about it. “We watched him and his goons for the last two days and we have no idea what they are up to. We know that the goons are mostly human, though my ‘spidey-sense’ did pick out a few vamps. So far as we can tell, all they have been doing is sitting in that warehouse. The vamps haven’t even been out to feed. Of course, we can’t watch them around the clock, what with work and all, so who knows what they do the rest of the time. Speaking of, Xander, are you okay taking this afternoon off?”

“Yeah, it’s all cleared. Turns out the nondescript hacking cough works as well in the real world as it did in high school. So, let’s recap.“ Xander got up from the couch and started pacing. “We have no idea what’s causing the big mystic vibes that may or may not be the reason Ethan is in town, other than to know that whatever it is is in the hands of the US Government. And we have no clue what Ethan and associates are up to, other than that they don’t seem to be snacking on the locals. Basically, we have squat.”

“Well, maybe Buffy can get her oh so cute fella to tell her what’s up at the base.” Willow looked at Buffy hopefully.

“No way! Jack made it clear from the beginning that his job is classified and that he can’t talk about it. I’m not gonna ruin things by trying to make him. Besides, whatever mystical doohickey is up at the mountain, I seriously doubt Jack knows anything about it. He’s just not the type to be involved in something that far out there.”

“’Cause certainly, no boyfriend of Buffy Summers could ever possibly not be exactly what he seemed or involved in anything evil or supernatural. ‘Cause that would never happen.” Xander quickly backed away as Buffy and Willow shot lethal glares in his direction. “I’m just saying...”

Just then the doorbell rang and Willow got up from her chair and went to answer it. Pausing midway to bop Xander on the arm before continuing to the door. Opening it, she found Jack and another man standing on the doorstep looking uncomfortable.

“Hey, Willow. Is Buffy here?”

Buffy heard his voice and walked over to the doorway. “Jack, I wasn’t expecting to see you again until Thursday. You said you were going out of town.” She walked up to him and was going to kiss him, but stopped when he cast a glance at the man beside him. “Did you need something?”

“Yeah, I was going out of town but got recalled. Uh, Buffy, can we come in and talk with you?”

“Oh, yeah, come on in. Sorry, my bad.” Buffy backed up so that they could make their way into the living room. “So, who’s you friend?”

“Buffy, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson. He works with me up at the base. Daniel this is Buffy and her friends Willow and Xander.” Jack made the introductions and then took a seat on the couch.

“Hello, Buffy it’s nice to finally meet you. I’ve actually talked with Xander on the phone.” At Buffy’s look of confusion he explained. “I live next door to Jon, Dawn’s friend. Xander called me when they first started going out. He explained that you were a little uneasy about Jon living on his own and, hopefully, I managed to put his, and your, mind at ease.”

“I remember now, the doctor who’s not a doctor!” Buffy motioned for Daniel to sit down beside Jack while she perched on the arm of a chair. “So what can we do for you today? Dawn’s not in any trouble is she?”

“No, not at all. Actually, we came to ask you about an old acquaintance of yours. Ethan Rayne.” As Daniel spoke, Jack watched Buffy and her friends to see their reaction. They all went stiff and glanced at each other, but said nothing as Daniel continued with the story they had worked out during the ride over here. “He’s wanted for questioning in regard to the theft of government property early Monday morning. When we pulled his file, your names came up under known associates, and since Jack and I know you, the General asked us to come and speak to you. See if you know anything about Rayne.”

Another glance passed between the three friends before Buffy spoke up. “I’m not sure how much help we can be. The last time we ran into Ethan was over three years ago and he was being taken into custody by the army. It was our understanding that they intended to keep him indefinitely.” Buffy was trying very hard to stick to the truth and still manage not to let them know that she knew where Ethan was. There were a couple of reasons for this, not the least of which was that she didn’t know how much the Initiative had shared of their files on Ethan and by extension their files on her. Until she knew for sure that Jack knew she was the slayer, she wasn’t going to say anything that would make him suspicious. Then there was the fact that whatever Ethan was up to, he had vamps in on it with him, and that meant that he was beyond the Air Force’s abilities and it was up to her to deal with him.

“Yeah, well he escaped.” Jack’s response had more bite to it than he intended, but the whole situation sucked. That he had to question his girlfriend and that his girlfriend was obviously avoiding giving straight answers. Daniel quickly cut in before Jack could say something he would regret.

“Anything you could tell us about Rayne would be helpful at this point. The files we got from the army were somewhat less than complete. If you could tell us about him, his goals, any groups he might be associated with, what type of things he‘s done in the past. Anything you can think of.”

Buffy was glad to hear that the files they had received weren’t complete and figured there was no harm in explain a little about Ethan. “He worships chaos. Literally. Everything he does is designed to cause the maximum in damage and confusion. And of course the maximum in entertainment for Ethan. We met him through our friend Giles, they knew each other in England when they were young. As for the things he’s done..” Buffy shrugged. “Tainted band candy, kidnapping, ruining lives... the usual evil villain things.”

“I guess it’s safe to assume he’s not your favorite person. Is there anything else you can tell us, anything that might help us find him? The... property he’s stolen can be very dangerous if he’s not careful, to him and to those around him.”

“Rest assured he’ll take care to protect himself, it’s his specialty. As for how to find him, try abandoned shops or warehouses, he’s used those in the past.” Buffy hoped that was vague enough to keep them looking for a few days while she took care of Ethan.

Looking at the group, Daniel could tell that was all he was going to get out of them today, and it at least gave them a place to start looking. “Well, I thank you for the information, then, and I guess we’ll be on our way.” Daniel rose from the couch and headed toward the door with Jack following. “Thank you, again.”

“No problem, happy to help.” Buffy followed them to the door and was about to shut it behind them when Jack turned back to her.

“Buffy, be careful. If Ethan knows you’re in town, he may come after you again.”

“I hope he does, I have plans to kill him extensively.”

Jack looked at her for a moment trying to decide if she was serious or not. Her bright sunny smile was creepy enough that he was sure she was. He finally just dragged her to him for a long kiss and then turned and joined Daniel in at the car.

Daniel waited until they were several blocks away before he said anything. “You know they were lying.”

“Not lying. They never actually said they didn’t know he was in town.”

“Semantics, Jack. So what are we going to do?”

“Find him before they do, Daniel. Find him before they do.”





Ethan’s warehouse, Colorado Springs, CO

Evening

“Ow.” Jon woke to find himself in a cage. Sitting up, he took stock of his surroundings. The cage was suspended from the ceiling about ten feet off the floor, in the middle of a large open building, judging by the various stacks of boxes and pallets, a warehouse. And he wasn’t the only one in the cage. Dawn was still out cold beside him, a quick check of her pulse assuring him that she was alive.

Jon tried to think back to how they had gotten here, but the last thing he remembered was walking Dawn out of the school to his Jeep. They had reached the Jeep and Jon had opened Dawn’s door, but instead of getting inside she had turned and leaned toward him like she was going to kiss him... then the world went black. Must have been some kiss. Next to him, Dawn was beginning to stir.

“Ow.” Dawn’s eyes fluttered open and she looked up to see Jon leaning over her.

“That’s what I said.” Jon helped her into a sitting position and took a look at the bump on her head. “Good size goose egg, but it didn’t even break the skin. You should be fine.”

“Good to know.” Dawn looked around and took in their current predicament. “So, any idea where we are or who has us?”

“Well, we seem to be suspended in a cage in a warehouse. As to who has us, no clue, never even saw them.”

Dawn thought for a moment. “I think I might have seen them. We were by you Jeep and you were leaning toward me like you were finally gonna ....” Dawn broke off as she realized what she had almost said. “Anyway, I think I saw someone over your shoulder. All I remember is the impression of someone big.”

“Well, it doesn’t look like there’s any way out of this cage, bars and locks are pretty solid.” Jon avoided talking about the almost kiss and instead concentrated on their situation. “I think we’re stuck here for now, at least until your sister notices that you haven’t come home and notifies the authorities. Any ideas on why we were taken?” Jon was actually pretty sure it was the NID. They had managed to keep the knowledge of his existence from the agency for two years, but it was inevitable that they find out eventually.

Dawn, on the other hand, was sure it was Ethan. Taking her to get Buffy to do what he wanted was just the sort of thing the bastard would do. Besides, the abandoned warehouse and cage said Ethan all over. “Not a clue.”

“Well, why don’t I clue you in, lovey.” They both turned toward the figure that was walking out of an office against the side wall toward them. “Dawn, so good to see you again, though I don’t think we were formally introduced last time, what with you not existing at the time and all.” He glanced at Jon. “And I don’t believe we’ve met at all. I’m Ethan Rayne and you are Jack O’Neill.”

Jon was startled by that, but tried to play it off. “Afraid you’ve got the wrong guy. I’m Jon Murray.”

Ethan walked around the cage, forcing them to try to turn in the small confines if they wanted to see him. “Yes, you are... now. But first you were Colonel Jack O’Neill. Only, you weren’t really, were you? Just a pale imitation.”

“Not sure what meds you’re on, but last I checked, they don’t let teenagers become colonels.” Jon wondered why a guy who had to be NID, there was no other way he could know that Jon was a clone, knew Dawn, and what the hell he had meant by her not existing last time they met.

“Look, Ethan,” Dawn broke in, “you should just let us go now. You know that Buffy will kick your ass when she catches you. If you let us go and start running now, you may be able to get away.”

“Oh, I’ll get away from your sister, Dawn, and you’re the ‘key’ to my escape plan. He and my other guest are my guarantee when I get where I'm going.” Ethan chuckled softly then walked away, back into the office.

“Oh, shit!”





Sewers several blocks away from Ethan’s warehouse, Colorado Springs, CO

8:00 pm

“Ok, Wills, are we sure this tunnel comes out in the warehouse Ethan’s using?”

“That’s what the plans on the city site I hacked said, Buffy.”

“Alright then, we all know the plan?”

“We go in, kill everything, making a special point to kill Ethan twice, take back whatever government whatsit he took, then get out. Buffy, we went over this before we left the house, and I think Willow and I have done enough of this to know what we’re doing.”

“I know Xander, it’s just... this is Ethan! He’s gotten away from us too many times already.”

“We’ll, get him this time, Buffy. Oh! And I remembered to bring a camera, so we can get pictures for Giles.” Willow smiled at her friends as she patted the pocket where a disposable camera was tucked.

“I guess we’re ready then.” The three headed down the sewer toward Ethan.





Streets outside of Ethan’s warehouse, Colorado Springs, CO

8:00 pm

“I guess we’re ready then?” Jack was standing next to the van that was serving as headquarters for the coming assault. With him were the rest of SG1. They had located the warehouse Rayne was using when Carter had suggested using satellites to look for heat patterns where there shouldn’t be any. And sure enough, they saw a large group located a building that was supposed to be empty. Reconnaissance had shown that the men in the building were armed with a variety of assault weapons and seemed to be well organized. The plan was to go in quietly with zat guns and take out as many as they could before they were seen and the heavy fighting began.

“We’re ready, Colonel. We have snipers on the roofs of the facing buildings, but they say they don’t have a clear shot of anyone through the windows. Looks like we’re gonna have to go in.”

“Well, let’s go then. And campers,” his team looked at Jack, “try not to get hurt.”





Inside the warehouse, Colorado Springs, CO

8:05pm

“Rayne, we’ve got movement outside!” Nigel came into the office to inform Ethan of the situation. “Looks like the Air Force wants their property back.”

“Are we sure it’s the Air Force and not the slayer?” Ethan got up and followed Nigel out into the main room.

“Yeah, the guys at the windows report a large group in dark uniforms moving around, staying under cover. Unless the slayer suddenly got herself an army...”

“Damn! Ok, I’ll set up the spell and make us our exit, you keep those blokes off my back. It would’ve been easier to do the spell at midnight, but it should work now, I’ll just need a little more blood.” Ethan grabbed the tank from inside the office and pushed it on it’s cart toward the cage holding two of his guests. Nigel started barking orders to his men, getting them into position.

“Well, kids, looks like we’re starting the festivities a little early tonight. You'll recognize our travelling companion, I'm sure.” Ethan winked at Jon as he rolled the tank up beside the cage, then turned and went back to get the candles. Jon looked down and saw the goa’uld swimming in it.

“Oh, shit!”





Sewers below the warehouse, Colorado Springs, CO

8:10pm

Buffy carefully slid the grate to the side and then peaked through the opening and into the warehouse. Looking around, she could see stacks of boxes around the walls with men crouching behind them looking out toward the windows. In the middle of the room was a cage surrounded by a circle of candles. Inside the circle, was Ethan. He was chanting as he bent over and drew on the concrete floor. Buffy looked closer at the cage and inhaled sharply when she saw who occupied it.

“We’ve got a problem.” Buffy ducked back down into the sewer and whispered to Willow and Xander. “He’s got Dawn and Jon, and it looks like he’s doing some spell with them as the focus.”

“Portal?”

“That’d be my guess, Xander. Willow, can you break through his circle so we can get them out?”

Willow closed her eyes and sent her consciousness out through the warehouse. “Yeah. He seems to be in a hurry, didn’t put up as many wards as he should of for this type of spell.” Willow opened her eyes and looked at Buffy. “No problem.”

“Ok, you do that. Xander, he has a lot of men in there, but they all seem to be focused outward. Added to what Willow said about his spell, I’m guessing he has company outside. We wait until we hear them start shooting, then we go in fast, straight for Ethan. Willow blows his circle, you grab Dawn and Jon and get them out. I take care of Ethan. Willow can cover our rear, keep the goons from turning their attention on us. Got it?”

“Got it.”



Outside the warehouse, Colorado Springs, CO

8:10 pm

“Shit! They know we’re here!” Jack ducked down behind a car in front of the warehouse as shots flew his direction. A quick look around showed that his team had also managed to find cover, though Carter seemed to be holding her arm. “Carter, you ok?”

“Yes sir, just brushed me.”

“Ok, well, don’t let it happen again.” Jack popped his head up above the car and fired a shot toward the window in front of him, then dropped back down. “Let’s do this people! Move in!”



Inside the warehouse, Colorado Springs, CO

8:12pm

“Janus, dio di caos, lo sente. Con anima entreat il thee, con anima che autorizzo il thee, con anima lego il thee. Sentalo.” Ethan cut his arm and allowed the blood to flow over a small statue of the two-faced god of chaos.

“What did he say?” Jon whispered to Dawn, staring at the man before him. He had no clue what was up with the candles and now the bloodletting, but something told him it couldn’t be good.

“’Janus, god of chaos, hear me. With blood I entreat thee, with blood I empower thee, with blood I bind thee. Hear me.’ He’s invoking the Roman god of chaos. We are so screwed.” Dawn backed into the far corner of the cage, as far away from Ethan as she could get. She had a good idea who’s blood came next in this little ritual. Ethan had started by placing and lighting candles in a circle around them and lowering the cage to within his reach, then had drawn a series of seven symbols on the ground that Dawn didn’t recognize, though strangely Jon had seemed to. Now he was invoking the power of his personal deity, and she had a feeling that he was going to use that power to activate her blood and open a portal. And this time Buffy wasn’t here to stop it from swallowing the whole world.

“Very good. I see Rupert has taught you well.” Ethan walked closer to the cage, holding the knife loosely at his side. “It’s amazing how well such different aspects combine, isn’t it? That two things, one based on science and one on magic, can work so very well together. As if they were made to compliment each other.” Ethan looked at the two teens. “Take you two, for example. One a clone created through alien technology, the other a magical construct, who meet and are immediately drawn to each other. Or, take that,” Ethan pointed at the symbols on the floor, “An ancient coordinate system used to traverse the galaxy, and yet it works so well as a way to direct what would be an otherwise random dimensional portal.” Ethan’s hand suddenly shot into the cage and grabbed Dawn’s leg.

“Leave her alone!” Jon kicked at Ethan’s arm and pulled Dawn back, trying to get her out of his reach. He had absolutely no clue what the guy was rambling about, but there was no way he was letting this loon hurt Dawn.

“Now, now. All I need is a little blood... or quite a lot of blood as the case may be.” Ethan held fast to her leg. and raised the knife.

“I don’t think so, Ethan.” Buffy came up through the sewer entrance and faced Ethan across the room.

Ethan let go of Dawn to face this new threat and Jon quickly pulled her back. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t the slayer. Or should I say, a slayer, since you aren’t alone anymore?”

“Oh, I don’t really think you are going to have enough time to call me anything, see, cause I have plans to kill you. Willow even brought her camera along so we would have pictures for Giles, since he’s gonna have to miss the big slaughter.”

“Now, Buffy, that’s not very nice. And do you really think you can defeat me? You’ve failed the last four times we’ve faced each other.” Ethan looked at her condescendingly. “Besides, I’ve got over twenty men on my side, all you have are a young witch and a one-eyed boy.”

“Yes, but your men seem rather distracted by the troops outside, and as for my friends, I’d take them as backup over you any day. Now Willow!” As Willow concentrated her magics and broke through Ethan’s circle, Buffy raised her crossbow and let loose a bolt right at him.

Ethan felt the protection of the circle give and threw himself to the floor, barely escaping the bolt. he quickly scrambled up and tried to get away, but Buffy was already upon him. In the course of the fight they managed to knock into the cage and set it swinging, they also managed to knock over the tank holding the goa’uld. Buffy managed to disarm Ethan and had him on the floor, apparently unconscious.

“Xander, get them out of here.” Xander stopped watching Buffy beat the shit out of Ethan and moved to halt the swinging of the cage.

“Stand back, I’m gonna have to break the lock.” Once the teens backed away from the door, Xander raised his axe and broke the lock, though it took several swings. “Ok, everybody out. The exit is to your left and through the whole in the floor.” Jon and Dawn scrambled out of the cage and headed quickly for the sewer entrance. Dawn walked carefully around Willow on her way to the sewer, the strain of keeping the vamps and mercenaries back so they couldn’t help Ethan was showing in her blowing hair and all black eyes. Dawn knew enough to stay away from her at times like this.

“Ok, Buffy, they’re clear. You got Ethan under control?”

“Yeah, he’s down, dammit! How am I supposed to kill him if he doesn’t get up and fight back?” Buffy glanced over at Xander and then back down at Ethan in disgust. She really didn’t want to leave him alive, but with him being out cold, she didn’t see that she had much choice. As she watched, the snake-thing from the tank slithered over Ethan and suddenly disappeared into the back of his neck. Buffy backed away as Ethan’s body jerked. Slowly he got to his feet and turned to face her. His eyes glowed.

“I am the god Tiamat. You will yield before me.” In addition to the glowy eyes, his voice was deeper and seemed to vibrate.

“I so don’t think so.” Buffy turned toward Xander and he lobbed her the axe. Before Ethan/Tiamat could even blink, Buffy swung the axe in a wide arc and his head fell to the floor. The body stood still for a moment and then toppled over.

“Did you get the snake thing?”

Buffy carefully looked at the neck of the corpse and could see a cross-section of the snake. “Ew. Yeah, got it. Willow, did you get a picture?” Buffy looked over to where Willow was standing. “Uh oh.” Willow’s hair was starting to darken. “Ok, time to leave and let the military do cleanup.” Buffy and Xander moved over to Willow and grabbed her arms and dragged her into the sewers. Once Buffy had the grate back on, she turned back to Willow. “Willow, time to stop now. We’re all out.” Willow didn’t seem to notice and her hair was rapidly changing. “Sorry, Wills.” Buffy decked the witch and caught her before she fell. Throwing the body of her friend over her shoulder, she and Xander headed off down the tunnel.



Outside the warehouse, Colorado Springs, CO

8:25pm

“We’re through, sir!” Carter yelled over at Jack as she saw the first of the SGC troops enter the warehouse. SG1 quickly followed. Inside, they found the warehouse quiet. Most of Rayne’s men had already been taken out or were being taken into custody. Here and there around the perimeter were small piles of dust. SG1’s eye’s quickly focused on the cage and body in the middle of the warehouse.

“Well, that's... odd.”

“It appears to be some sort of ritual circle, and you can see where he had written a gate address on the ground. It looks like he was trying to perform a rite of some kind.”

Jack looked at Daniel. “Magic? You think he was trying to do magic with a goa’uld and a gate address?” Daniel just shrugged.

“Sir, it looks like the body is Rayne.” Carter was looking closely at the decapitated body. “And it looks like he was.. infected... at the time he was killed. The blow got the goa’uld.”

“Well, good. That’s one less snake to worry about.” Jack looked about the floor and then up at his team members. “Question. Who killed him? None of us had an edged weapon and I don’t see any lying around here.”

SG1 looked at him, but didn’t have an answer.



Summers/Rosenberg/Harris house, Colorado Springs, CO

9:00pm

Dawn and Jon had walked to her house and were now seated on the porch steps waiting for the others to return, as Dawn had lost her keys somewhere during the evening. They were sitting side by side but not quite touching, and neither seemed to want to be the first to speak.

Finally Dawn off hand, “A clone huh? Cool.”

Jon looked at her for a moment before laughing. “Yeah, a clone. Magical Construct? Do I even want to know?”

“Basically it means that a bunch of monks created me out of a big ball of energy about two years ago then fiddled with everyone’s memories to make them think I had always been there.” Dawn glanced up at him shyly, then continued. “They did it to protect me from this hell goddess, it seems I’m some mystical key that can be used to open portals.”

“Ok, that’s different. I was cloned by a rogue alien a couple of years ago. The aliens in question had done something to protect the original me from just that sort of thing, so I turned out a teenager instead of the 40-something I was supposed to be.”

“Huh.” Dawn sat and thought for a minute. “You realize this means were the same age.”

“Yeah, two!” Jon smiled over at her and started to lean toward her, then backed quickly away. “Umm... I need to ask you not to tell anyone, about me. It’s kinda a national security thing and I know your sister saved us and all, but still the fewer people who know the better...”

Dawn finally got fed up. “Jon.”

“Yeah.”

“Shut up.” Dawn leaned forward and kissed him.

THE END

Special thanks to Mel, for bribing, threatening, and forcing me to write this.

The End

You have reached the end of "Starting Over". This story is complete.

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