Esprit de Corps
Spoilers: Seasons 1-4 of Angel; All of BtVS (including ‘Chosen’); Seasons 1-7 of Stargate SG-1
Pairing: Dawn/Daniel Jackson, among others
Disclaimers: I don’t own any of the characters, situations or dialogue found in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the Series, or Stargate SG-1. Well, I own some of them on DVD, but I am well aware that I have no other legal right to them or to any profits from them. This is purely a work of fiction and no intent to defame or gain profit from this enterprise is intended.
A/N: Gotta love us Americans. Who else on the planet would celebrate and honor the hard work millions of people have put into making the country what it is...by giving them the day off?
“Hey guys! Grab a beer, grab a chair, whatever.” Xander waved Dawn and Daniel over towards where he was contemplating the grill, unsure whether it was hot enough to begin cooking. “Think I need more charcoal? Maybe more lighter fluid.”
Dawn looked at the fire, which was currently burning a lovely shade of blue. She took a step forward, felt the hairs on her arm begin to curl, and immediately took a few steps back, dragging Daniel with her. “I don’t think you need that fire to be any hotter. Kinda looks like a jet engine.”
He turned his head sideways, then straightened. “Huh. I guess you’re right. Should probably tell Sam and Fred that we didn’t need that much oomph after all.”
“Sam and Fred made the lighter fluid?” Daniel blinked once, studied the blue flames again, and dragged Dawn back a few more steps.
Xander nodded and took a swig from a glass of iced tea. “Sure. Said something about it being an experimental by-product and to let them know how things turned out.”
O’Neill poked his head out of the house, looking remarkably annoyed. “What? I was kinda in the middle of something, Daniel.”
Daniel pointed at the flames, then at Xander, almost unable to articulate in his shock over the younger man’s actions. “He’s...he’s using something Sam and Fred made in the lab to power the grill. I think we may need to evacuate Colorado Springs.”
Jack walked out of the house, closing the screen door behind him. He stopped when he got to where Daniel and Dawn were standing, unwilling to get any closer to the fire. He stared at the flames for a second, noting their color. “Huh.” He turned and yelled towards the house, “Carter!”
The screen door opened and his 2IC’s blonde head poked out. “Yessir?”
He frowned. “Outside, now. Bring your sidekick with you.”
Sam grinned and turned, saying something towards the inside of O’Neill’s living room, then stepped through the screen door. She was neatly dressed in a black tank top and khaki shorts. Fred Burkle followed her a few moments later, looking a bit more casual in a t-shirt and jean skirt. Both women were barefoot.
Fred took in the situation with a glance, and decided to play innocent. She blinked once and adjusted her glasses. “You wanted to see us, Colonel O’Neill?”
Jack decided to ignore, just for the moment, that Winifred Burkle had just called him by his proper rank for the first time since he’d met her. He pointed to the fire, then at Xander, who was starting to poke at the coals with the barbeque tongs. “Explain.”
She smiled. “Well, Wesley’s out of town, and you said you had too much work to do setting things up, and Charles took the baby for a walk so he wasn’t here, so Buffy said she would take care of things, but then you told her about how it was a man’s job to cook over the open fire and how Daniel would back you up about that when he got here, so she went to go spar with Vi down in the basement so she didn’t accidentally kick you in the head, and Xander came out here to set things up, figuring it wouldn’t offend your delicate male sensibilities too much.”
O’Neill rolled his eyes, then noticed that Dawn, Daniel, and Xander were smirking at him and Carter looked like she was trying to restrain a case of the giggles. “All I wanna know is if the food is gonna be safe to eat.”
Carter grinned. “Yessir.”
He smirked. “And if Harris is ever going to be able to father any children.”
She shrugged nonchalantly. “I don’t know. You may have to ask Buffy or Dr. Brightman about that. If he can’t, though, it’s not because of the stuff he used on the grill.”
“Hey!” Xander yelped, taking a few steps back from the grill and glaring at Fred, waving the tongs at her as he spoke. “Did you know that could be a problem? I didn’t know that could be a problem. I’ve got a fiancee aga...er...now, and I can’t be fooling around with stuff like that.”
Sam patted Xander’s shoulder, trying to calm him down. “Relax, Xander. We tested it in the lab. It’s perfectly safe.”
He eyed the flames suspiciously. “Are you sure?”
“Eighty-seven percent positive,” Fred beamed proudly.
“What?” Xander paled, and he, Daniel, and Jack all took a few more steps back.
Sam and Fred started giggling. Jack’s glare made them laugh harder. Dawn just stood there in the backyard, amused as her boss, her future brother-in-law, and her significant other stared at an inanimate object and two physicists in absolute horror. Apparently they had no problem with invading aliens, demons, or vampires, but they were afraid of a grill and two scientists.
She glanced at the grill again. Maybe the fear was just the tiniest bit justified.
“Whoa. What’d you do to the grill?” Charles Gunn walked up to the group, carrying a tiny brown-haired girl in pink overalls and pigtails who was sleeping with her head on his shoulder.
“What?” Xander’s innocent expression definitely needed some work.
“It’s glowing, dude. Did you use that stuff of Fred’s, ‘cuz I thought I warned you about that? Didn’t I tell you about the toaster?”
Fred put her hands on her slim hips. “For the last time, Charles! It wasn’t a toaster!”
He grinned at her and adjusted the child in his arms so his left arm bore the weight of her for a while. “Looked like a toaster.”
Fred ‘hmphed’ and reached out her arms. “I’ll just take my daughter, thank you.”
Gunn made the transfer easily, without waking the sleeping girl. “Yeah, I see how it is. You hand her off to me when she’s being whiny and asking more questions than Dr. J in a new crypt, I get her to sleep by walking her around the neighborhood, and now that she’s being all quiet and cute, you take her back.”
“As long as you know the system.” Fred walked back to the house to put her daughter to bed in a more conventional location.
“Hey! What about this grill? It looks like it’s ready to launch into orbit out here. Burkle? I’m not kidding...” Jack called after Fred’s retreating back as he eyed the grill suspiciously from his position. Sam was also beginning to eye the grill with a great deal of alarm, which worried Jack even more. “Carter, can you fix this?”
She ran a hand through her hair. “I’m not sure, sir.” She looked at Xander. “How much did you use to get the fire started?”
Xander shrugged. “A couple of squirts, I think.”
Sam groaned. “You were only supposed to use a dime-sized amount, Xander. Because it was a highly concentrated compound? Remember? Geez, what is it about guys and fire?”
Daniel slipped his hands in his pockets as Xander mumbled something about how he’d missed that part of the explanation and Sam thwacked the younger man on the arm. “It’s thought to be a remnant primordial instinct from the days when fire was a largely unknown quantity...”
Jack groaned and threw up his hands, then pointed at Sam, who was currently in the middle of berating Xander. “Fix it, Carter.” He stalked back into the house without another word.
Dawn patted Daniel’s shoulder when she noticed his offended expression. “Probably not the best time for a lecture, Daniel. It looks like the grill’s going into nuclear meltdown over there.” The grass around the grill had begun to char from the heat and the enamel paint was beginning to bubble.
“But Sam asked...”
“It was a rhetorical question, Daniel.” Sam sent Xander into the house for the fire extinguisher, walked to the side of the house and began uncoiling the garden hose. They wouldn’t be able to use water on the grill or the flames, but it could be used when the grass ignited in a few more minutes.
“And I thought we couldn’t possibly outdo the Fourth of July...” Dawn grinned at Daniel and pulled him around the corner of the house. “C’mon. They’re going to be dealing with that for awhile, and while I appreciate the high probability of entertainment, I haven’t seen you in a week and have much better things to do. ”
He took a seat on the wall surrounding O’Neill’s patio and took Dawn’s hand in his as she boosted herself up next to him. “Yeah, I thought the Fourth would definitely be an all-time best, but somehow we just seem to keep raising the bar.”
She grinned evilly at him. “Not that you didn’t look great without your swimsuit...”
Daniel blushed and mumbled something about an undertow and cold water, then kissed Dawn as she giggled. When they finally came up for air, her arms were around his neck and the palm of his right hand had slid onto the back of her shorts, where it gently cupped her behind and held her against him.
Daniel pulled her even closer, his breath warming her neck, making her shiver. “I missed you.”
Dawn kissed him slowly, letting her tongue entwine with his. Oh, the benefits of dating an older man...maybe her sister wasn’t wrong all the time. “Good.”
He pulled back and nestled her against his chest. “I hate when you’re not here.”
She snuggled in closer and inhaled. She smelled the aroma of dust, pencils, coffee and aftershave that was intrinsically Daniel. “Me, too. Plus, busy season on the Hellmouth. Not nearly as fun as it sounds.”
“I thought the busy season was in May.”
Dawn shook her head. “The old busy season was in May. Now that the big H is in Cleveland, all the big bads schedule their evil plots for world domination for before it starts to get all cold and snowy. It’ll get really bad right after Halloween, but Giles had some stuff he wanted me to look over to make sure they were on the right track and could prepare properly.”
He kissed the top of Dawn’s head and began rubbing her shoulders, kissing her once on the back of her neck. “And were they?”
“Not even close. Turns out they’d been letting Andrew do the translating.” She smiled in remembrance. “They won’t be doing that anytime soon.”
She grinned and looked up, kissing Daniel quickly on the jaw. “He mistook Klingon for Engathi in a prophecy and, well, there was a lot of yelling from Giles, since he’d just put all the slayers on apocalypse watch.”
Daniel laughed. “No wonder it took you a week. Hey, did that prophecy from February end up relating to anything coming up?”
The prophecy she’d just begun working on around Valentine’s Day had predicted the end of the world–but instead of fire and earthquakes (which was apparently usual), it had mentioned shards of ice and frigid cold. However, it hadn’t included any kind of temporal reference, which had worried Wes and Giles considerably. Wes was currently in L.A. to see if anyone there knew what was going on or could point him in the general direction of some books or prophecies that could help him pinpoint when this particular apocalypse would occur.
Buffy’s current working theory on the prophecy was that it was just a supernatural rant about how much winters in Cleveland stunk, but her head was so full of wedding details these days that her judgment on these kinds of matters was questionable.
Dawn smiled to herself, internally gooey all over again that she’d found a guy who was not only able to deal with her life, but who was also able to help her with the translating when she got stuck. They’d spend a good part of their spare time in March and April working their way through the translation. “They’re not sure yet. According to Robin, who spoke to Wes yesterday, right now it looks like there’s another few years before it kicks in.”
Daniel wrapped his arms around Dawn, enjoying the feel of her warm, slender body. You wouldn’t know that she would feel so substantial to look at her–most of the time, it appeared that a strong wind could blow her away, but in his arms and in the quiet late summer afternoon, she felt solid and real. She’d told him about having been the Key after they’d been dating for a few months, and he’d been touching her pretty regularly ever since–just to make sure she was still there.
At least that was how he rationalized to himself about consistently (and unprofessionally) touching her at work.
Initially, there’d been a lot of teasing and jealousy from the guys at the SGC about Daniel being a cradle robber. Jack himself had been strangely silent on the subject. When she heard about it, Dawn had taken the situation (and a mop handle) in hand and addressed the issue (and most of SG-3) head-on.
The last seven months hadn’t been easy, especially considering that he’d been missing and assumed dead (again) for most of March. Dawn hadn’t taken that development well at all–she’d been thrilled that he was back, but backed off from their fledgling relationship immediately after welcoming him home. After a month of monosyllabic conversations in their office and what was apparently a very long conversation between Dawn and Teal’c that Daniel was still figuring out how to repay the Jaffa for, Dawn had decided to give them another try. They were pretty much on an even keel these days.
“Do you think we’re in a rut?”
Oh, it just figured. Daniel glanced down at Dawn, who had apparently gone insane or begun taking illicit pharmaceuticals in the last few minutes. “I beg your pardon?”
She looked up at him. “Rut. As in, do you think we’re in one?”
“No.” Daniel had no idea what Dawn was talking about. He knew the monks made her human, but did they have to make her quite so female?
Dawn began to fiddle a loose thread on the seam of his jeans. “I don’t want you to get bored.”
He blinked behind his glasses. “Bored?”
She began picking at her nail polish and refused to look at him. “When we’re together, all we do is relax, talk, or snuggle. We’re always quiet. Fred said we’re Zen dating.”
Daniel grabbed Dawn’s left hand to get her from peeling off more polish. “Yes. And I happen to like the quiet. Or, as I like to think of it, as contentment.”
Dawn pouted for a second. “Contentment doesn’t sound very exciting, Daniel. Where’s the fire, the grand passion? We argue over translations, and things like how stupid it is to wander off into a cave to investigate Ancient writings without telling anyone, and how frustrating it is that you can out-stubborn or out-charm almost anyone on any planet, or how it’s bad to fall prey to alien women, but is that enough?”
Daniel furrowed his brow in thought. He knew she had a pretty strange perspective on how relationships worked. “I think you need another frame of reference. You probably shouldn’t use your sister or any of her friends as a template for healthy relationships.”
She rolled her eyes. She wasn’t an idiot. “Duh. Well, except her and Xander. They’re doing okay so far, even if she is threatening to barricade all the doors and windows and have Willow spell-check every person at the wedding so he doesn’t take off on her.”
Hmm. Maybe that wasn’t the problem. “Okay, then I’m completely lost.”
Dawn pulled from Daniel’s embrace and turned to face him, sitting cross-legged on the bricks and crossing her arms in front of her. “Jack told me about Sha’re. About how she was this incredibly beautiful woman, and how you made this incredible star-crossed couple, and how you fell in love the day after you met her and mourned her loss for years and years.”
“I’m going to shoot Jack in the head the next time I see him.” Daniel was furious, but restrained himself from walking across the lawn and punching his friend. Not that anything Jack had said wasn’t true (at least he hoped not), but there was a way of delivering that kind of information diplomatically, and O’Neill had never had more than a nodding acquaintance with tact of any kind.
Daniel’s blue eyes met Dawn’s. “I thought you were okay about Sha’re, Dawn.”
Dawn sniffled. “I was. But then Jack said...and I realized that we’re never going to have that, because I’m not all passionate and dramatic...and we’re not at all star-crossed...”
“Okay, one more time, and then I’m leaving this topic for good, Dawn. I mean it. Clear?”
She nodded, then looked down at her crossed legs.
“What Jack told you was the truth. But he didn’t get to see Sha’re and I together, functioning as a couple, with her teaching me her customs and me teaching her to read, and then becoming a real part of the community on Abydos, just living our lives. What we were was...”
Dawn thought for a moment, then looked up. “Content?”
He smiled. “The contentest. Oh, and I’m telling your sister and Xander that you thought you weren’t passionate and dramatic. They’ll laugh themselves sick”
Her eyes widened. “Can I change your mind?”
“Well, I’m always open to a good bribe. Fresh-picked Columbian coffee the next time Willow goes south of the border, three hours of translation work, or sexual favors. I’m easy.”
Dawn grinned and Daniel knew that the storm had passed, at least for the moment. “I’d heard that. What would you say to best two out of three?”
Thank you, God for bringing this woman into his life and smacking him upside the head with her until he got a clue? No, probably not what she wanted to hear. “Okay. Besides, I don’t really want to tell Buffy or Xander, or any of your friends, really, that we were fighting. I was threatened enough over Easter dinner. Vividly. By your sister, Xander, Gunn, Wesley, and Fred. Oh, and Willow threatened me over e-mail. Giles called me from England, saying something about interdimensional portals. Spike and Faith sent a box with some kind of demon eyeball in it and no explanation other than a note that said, ‘Don’t do it.’ I’m still waiting to hear from Angel and Cordelia, actually.”
She laughed. “Because Jack didn’t warn me that if I broke your heart he’d leave me on some planet and lose the coordinates and no one would ever be able to find me?”
“He what?” Daniel hadn’t heard this.
She nodded. “Yup. Teal’c just stood behind him and looked menacing, which he’s really good at. No sweat, though. Just means they love you.”
Bemused by his friends’ antics, he leaned in to kiss her, then paused. “Are we good?”
Dawn nodded and wiped a stray tear off her cheek. “Yeah.” She leaned in to Daniel, and met him halfway in the kiss. She pulled back and considered him. “You really don’t mind all the quiet?”
Daniel’s eyebrow rose in a rough approximation of Teal’c’s expression, making Dawn laugh. He must have been practicing. “First of all, you need to be aware that you’re not really that quiet. You even sing in the shower. Second of all, your friends wouldn’t know quiet if it wore pink sequins and danced the lambada. Third of all, with what we deal with every day, I’d overload if I had to deal with all the fighting that Sam and Jack seem to thrive on.”
“Yeah, they really do fight a lot, don’t they?”
Daniel nodded knowingly. “Unrelieved sexual tension because of the stupid fraternization regs., like they care any less about each other because it’s not official. I swear, only the military. They’ll have a huge, screaming argument or one of them will get trapped off-world for a couple of months, and it’ll get better for a while. Actually, I think that they’re overdue.”
“DAMMIT, CARTER! What the hell did you do to my grill?” Jack’s bellow could be probably be heard inside the SGC, a few miles away and many levels underground.
“Okay, now I’m dying of curiosity.” Dawn stood and grabbed Daniel’s hand, pulling him after her around the side of the house.
They stopped rather abruptly at the sight in front of them. Sam was dripping wet and holding a fire extinguisher like an Amazon in front of a smoking, white foam-covered, twisted piece of metal that looked like it might have been O’Neill’s pride and joy twenty minutes earlier. At her feet was a smoky patch of mud with what looked like some remnants of O’Neill’s lawn.
Their fearless leader alternated between aggravation and appreciation of his sopping wet 2IC. The shorts and tank top had molded faithfully to her body and she appeared to be unconcerned about the situation or the effect she was having on her superior officer.
Buffy had obviously come outside at some time during the chaos. She was sitting on the porch next to Gunn and Vi, who were laughing hysterically. Xander was dripping wet and seemed to be missing the bottom half of his T-shirt, the edge of which was still smoking slightly. He was standing next to Fred, who was holding the garden hose and looking embarrassed.
Daniel slung an arm over Dawn’s shoulders as they walked over. “Do I want to know what happened?”
Jack scowled. “Carter, Burkle, and Harris managed to obliterate my grill and a good chunk of my lawn, that’s what happened. They’re a menace.”
Daniel grinned at his friend. “I can see that, Jack. But why are Xander and Sam all wet?”
Fred raised her hand sheepishly. “That’s my fault,” she said, watching Xander wring out what remained of his shirt.
Xander scowled at the ex-grill. “I was standing a few feet away. That shouldn’t have happened.”
“That would be why I told you to only use a little bit of that stuff, Xander. It’s really powerful once it’s ignited. You’re lucky the heat surrounding the grill didn’t set more of you on fire.” Sam had put the fire extinguisher on the ground and was wringing out the hem of her tank top, exposing her abdomen and drawing Jack’s attention like a lodestone. From the amount of time she took with the procedure, it was apparent that she was aware of Jack’s interest and had decided to milk the situation a little.
Fred laid the hose down on the grass. “I really am sorry I got you all wet, Sam. I got so scared when Xander caught fire that I didn’t look to see if anyone was behind him before I hit him with the water from the hose.”
Buffy wandered over, and pulled Xander’s hands away from his shirt, holding one of them in both of hers and leaning her head against his arm. She hadn’t been overly worried about Xander, but seeing her fiancée ignite had been more than a little disconcerting. “Thanks, Fred.”
Xander bent down and kissed Buffy, then grinned stupidly like he always did afterwards and looked at the physicist. “Yeah, thanks for putting me out. I’d hate to be all char-broiled for the wedding.”
Dawn grinned at her sister. “I still can’t believe you guys caved and are letting Andrew do the video.”
“Hey, the guy offered me a mint-condition Boba Fett. What did you expect?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “I already had to tell him we didn’t need a widescreen version, a gag reel, or a commentary track.”
Sam laughed, then sneezed. “I’m going to go change. Colonel, do you have a towel and some clothes I could borrow while I dry mine?”
Jack swallowed and tried not to think of Sam in a pair of his shorts and one of his t-shirts while her underwear tumbled around in his dryer, but was largely unsuccessful. Dawn and Daniel’s huge, knowing grins certainly didn’t help. He and Sam had to work out a solution to this thing they had going on sometime soon–this was starting to get ridiculous. “Uh, yeah, sure, Carter. Come on.”
“Got one I can borrow, too?”
Somehow, the idea of Harris in one of his shirts didn’t have the same appeal. “Everybody who needs me to supply them with clothes, follow me.” He motioned with his arm and walked into the house. Sam, Xander, and Buffy trouped after him.
“Buffy, why are you going to change clothes?” Buffy was completely dry and looked very fresh and pretty in a white halter top and flowered skirt.
The blonde flashed a wicked grin at her sister. “I’m not. I’m just there as an appreciative audience while Xander does.”
Dawn rolled her eyes as her sister walked into the house. Buffy might have been a little slow about figuring out how things should be with Xander, but once she’d gotten a clue at the holiday party, she’d certainly adapted quickly. Buffy was nothing if not adaptable.
Fred wandered over to the grill and began to study it. She’d have to speak with Colonel O’Neill later about taking it to the lab to examine what had happened to their compound during the burning process. Maybe once he’d eaten something and calmed down a little bit.
She thought quietly for a few minutes, then decided to wait for a few days and then have Sam ask.
Dawn watched Fred studying the grill, then looked at up at Daniel. “Kinda tough to have a barbeque when the grill’s out of commission. We should probably come up with a new plan for dinner.”
He grinned evilly. “Yeah. How do you feel about Cajun? Maybe some fresh tuna?”
Dawn laughed. “I’m not sure we should do anything that involves the word ‘blackened.’”
“You’re no fun. Chinese?”
Fred, overhearing the conversation, shook her head. “All the drivers are demonic.”
“So let Buffy answer the door,” Dawn said, unconcerned.
“Nothing Asian,” Vi called from where she was now sunning herself on the deck. “I’m allergic to soy.”
Daniel leaned down and whispered in Dawn’s ear. “I’m beginning to remember how we ended up grilling in the first place.”
“What about Mexican?” Fred, as usual, was happy to offer this suggestion. There was a groan of dissent from the patio.
“Dinner yesterday, Fred.” Gunn said, from his spot next to Vi.
She smiled over at him, glancing over at where the garden hose was sitting peacefully on the lawn. “And your point would be what, exactly?”
Gunn caught the glance and scooted back until he was up against the door to the house. He put his hands up in defense. “Right. Sorry. Forgot who I was talking to. But I promised Wes no more than three times a week while he was gone, and you’re already over your limit.”
Fred pouted. “Pizza?”
Daniel sighed. “I guess it’s the only thing we can all agree on. Whose turn is it to pick the toppings?”
“Teal’c’s, I think.”
“Maybe Jack’s got an MRE lying around...”