Jack’s silence persisted through out the entire ride to the motel. It was an uncomfortable silence that no one wanted to penetrate. His gaze fell upon nothing and he appeared to find recluse within his own mind. It was uncomfortable to be in the van with the ambiance that settled over them. Teal’c with his usual serious face was moving ever so slightly to show his discomfort. Daniel was fidgeting in his seat trying to think of something to say yet he could not get the words to sound right when he thought to open his mouth. Any thought he had fled him as soon as it opened. Sam was focusing her attention on the road but the glances back to her CO showed her concern toward him.
It seemed was an eon before the van stopped at the motel. Jack’s face had settled to a sad visage with eyes full of grief and anger. It was unnerving but he exited, his hands at his side in an all too mechanical manner, and then headed toward his room. He left the door open. Sam, Daniel and Teal’c exchanged uneasy glances.
It was unnervingly silent when they exited; the slamming of each of their doors resonated across the empty lot. The few other guests had left for town it appeared or maybe they had left all together.
Daniel felt as heavier with each step he took to the door, it was not unusual for a tense feeling to prevail through them but this did not appear to be one of them yet it was. He almost felt too heavy as he made it to the door. It was a relief when the weight dispersed as he crossed the doorway. It was only a momentary relief. Teal’c was the last one who entered.
The door closed with a small clank. Jack sat on his bed; his head was in his hands. Sam slowly moved to sit on the sofa in the room. Daniel followed at a slow pace. Teal’c found the solitary chair in the room and sat in it. Jack looked up. His eyes wandered on Sam to Daniel to Teal’c and back to Sam. The energy between all of the crescendoed a symphony of emotion played all at once but rescinded with the next blink from their eyes.
Someone swallowed. Jack spoke quietly, his voice full of longing. “All I wanted was a normal vacation. A vacation free from all the bullshit we go through. I just wanted a family reunion with my friends along. Is it too much? Is that too much to want?”
“No, it isn’t.” Sam replied seriously.
“What exactly happened, Jack?” asked Daniel.
“I saw Buffy’s collar. It wasn’t Buffy. I was rather upset, walking up and pacing when Buffy stood up. She said hugs made Dawn feel better and hugged me. I looked down. I¬¬––¬“ Jack paused. “Buffy said Dawn didn’t react to her hugs like she does to Giles’ hugs or that Rosenberg’s hugs but that I was reacting like Dawn was to hers.”
“What did you see?’ Teal’c asked.
“When I looked down I saw wires and metal. Along her collarbone was a tear that looked like it came from a large knife. It looked like someone had tried to repair it but failed. It wasn’t flesh. Buffy was too strong for her size and too hard. She didn’t even budge when I tried to pull away. She was mechanical. I think that was
a robot. I know it was a robot.” Jack finished.
“Sir, are you saying that someone built a robot of your niece and replaced her with it? Why? I don’t doubt that you saw what you saw sir but there has to be a good reason.”
“Yes, it doesn't’ seem like the others around her are unaware of the condition of the robot as well. It could explain why half Buffy’s friends were at the home. They know and they don’t want us to know.” Daniel added.
“Indeed. O’Neill how did know of Buffy Summers’ condition? You said that she was dead. How do you know she is not nearly a captive?” Teal’c asked quite curious now.
Jack sighed and moved to lie down on his bed. He paused before getting up and pacing around the room. ”When I spoke to that thing it said something that made me sure Buffy was dead. She said…Asked actually:
‘Where did Joyce go? Where did Buffy go? They left Dawn all alone.’
It can only make sense that they are dead. Joyce is dead. Everyone knows that. There isn’t––God, I hope there isn’t! –– a Joyce robot running around masquerading as her.”
“That could indeed explain Buffy Summers’ odd behavior. She did not once eat or partake in any interest when we left on our outing.”
“But why the robot?” asked Sam. “Why would someone go to all the trouble to build one? Not to mention how they built it. She looks so real and acts a bit awkwardly but still acts on its own consciousness.”
“She’s sentient on some level. She is aware of herself and those around her. Jack, she tried to comfort you. That can mean that there is a person out there that knows how to make robotic creatures with fully functioning systems.”
Jack sighed irritably. “Who made her though? Why go to all the trouble to make a robot to take Buffy’s place? Why not just admit she is dead? It doesn’t make sense. This is a small town it doesn't seem like it should matter. I can only think it is alien doohickeys.”
Jack sighed. “We won’t call Hammond. Not yet. First we have to discover what the robot is here for. And why the damn obituary section is so damn long.” A new energy weaved through them. Jack’s thought focused on Dawn. What did she think? She knew, Jack was certain. He would take Dawn if necessary to prevent her from harm. Something had happened to his family, until he knew it wasn’t all connected, he was not going to let it go. Joyce and Buffy gone, dead, if something was after the family then Dawn could be next.
“We’ll go stake out the town for now, sir. You should rest.” Sam said toward her CO.
Jack nodded and moved to his bed. He needed a drink but he wanted to think straight so drinking himself drunk was out of the question. Maybe a few hours of sleep would take his mind of it. Jack kicked off his shoes and crawled into bed as the others exited the room. He sighed staring at the ceiling, closing his eyes, his head buzzed with plans and scenarios.