Chapter 23: Introspective.
The morning dawned bright and clear, and Adam Pierson, a.k.a. Methos, stood on the Summers’ front porch sipping a cup of black coffee. After everyone had gone to bed early that morning, he had lain awake, unable to sleep. He inhaled deeply, scenting the heavy air filled with ozone and dead things. ‘What a life’
he thought wryly. He looked over the quiet street, gazing around him in amazement. He could not believe this was the same town Bella had described as a mecca of evil. It seemed like an everyday small town, in one sense boring and the other ordinary.
He nodded at a man who came out on his porch to retrieve a newspaper that was nestled in the shrubs. The man gave him a suspicious glare that Adam could see from the distance between them and scurried back inside his house. Adam grinned briefly, saluting the closed door with his cup. He gave a contemplative sigh as he watched life come onto the street. Not for the first time in days, he was feeling introspective. He shook his head, marveling at how his life had changed in a matter of a couple of days.’
It had started with a phone call. He gave a derisive laugh. It sounded like the first line to a novel. It had started with a phone call.
He had thought he had put his past behind him. Some of it was good and some was definitely bad. And for the last odd years, he had been trying to make up for it, to redeem himself. ”Hah,” he said aloud in the clear morning. When Bella had told him that Angelus, one of the most vicious persons he was likely to meet, was atoning for his sin, he had laughed in her face. Angelus atoning? Even now, he still didn’t believe it
, he thought with a frown. But If Angelus could do it, so could he.
Over the years, he had mostly hid, not participating in the Immortal game. But that wasn’t atoning, that was hiding. That’s why he had more or less become friends with the Highlander
, he thought ruefully. And he knew that around the Boy Scout, he had to be good.
As an Immortal he had encountered people from his past that still had grudges against him, but that didn’t faze him as much as the thought of being a Goa’uld, he thought with a shudder. He thought he had left it behind him, but since he came to Colorado, all that pain, doubt, and fear had come rushing back. Sometimes in the middle of the night, he would wake up screaming as if he felt Onuris burrowing its way through his neck and attaching itself to his spinal column. That day he had felt helpless. His hands tightened on the brown coffee cup. He never wanted to feel that way again.
Bella had told him, what the Watcher’s Council had done during her fictional eighteenth birthday. She had told him how she had felt that day. Helpless. She had felt helpless.
She had described the feeling as if part of her was missing, like an amputee. And someone out there right here in this picturesque little town was having the same problem. He never wanted to visit that particular memory, and he frowned. He felt as if the rug had been jerked out from under his feet. He, Jack, and Bella had sacrificed a lot all those years ago to get Ra to leave Earth. Friends and family had to die. He didn’t want to sacrifice any more family. He knew both Jack and Buffy would probably agree.
He remembered the last time he had seen Bella before this. It was a couple of months ago; a distraught Bella had come to him, telling him that she had to kill Angelus. At the time, she was like the walking wounded, and he knew he never wanted to see that look upon her face again. But if Robert Gannon had really killed his sisters and was in league with a Goa’uld, then Bella was going to be in a load of pain no matter what she thought.
Thinking about Bella made him think about Jack. He had to smile; at least something good had come out of them going to Colorado. Bella had stopped lying to her friends about who she really was somewhat. And most of all, Jack and Bella had reconnected once again. He knew they had done more than reconnect, because whenever they were together, they couldn’t help but smile.
He didn’t have to have Angelus’ sense of smell to figure that one out. But they weren’t the only ones. He had noticed how Rupert was getting friendly with the blond Major. He sighed. How could love be so complicated? Around the base, he had picked up rumors about the Major and Jack. Having known Jack O’Neill for years, he knew if Jack had wanted to be with Major Carter, no amount of regulations would have stopped them. Then he shrugged – if they were meant to be, they were meant to be. Regulations or no regulations.
Even though he had been married several times, he had only loved a handful of them. The others he had married for companionship. He wasn’t lucky like Jack and Bella. But if love was like theirs, then forget it; he didn’t need it. “Right,” he snorted into his half-empty cup.
Inside the house, Samantha Carter stumbled into the Summers’ kitchen. “Coffee,” she moaned, her eyes partly closed. She pulled up short when she spied Buffy at the table sipping her own cup of coffee.
“What are you doing here?” Carter demanded, looking around.
Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “My kitchen,” she said.
Carter blushed, chagrined. “I meant, why you are up? When I went to bed, you were still awake.”
“I’m a Slayer,” she said with a polite tone. If Major Carter wanted a fight, she wasn’t going to give her one. “My body doesn’t need as much sleep as the average human,” she admitted eying the other woman over her coffee cup.
“Really?” said Carter, her steps slowing as she pondered Buffy. She cocked her head curiously. She wondered if they studied Buffy and were able to duplicate her strength, what it would mean for the program.
“Yes, really,” she said nodding. “And I’m not a lab rat,” she murmured, seeing the zealous look in Carter’s eyes.
Carter’s blush deepened.
“Morning, B,” a voice chirped from the doorway.
“Case in point,” Buffy said pointing to Faith who wandered in wearing a t-shirt and multi-patterned boxer shorts.
“I see,” she said speculatively.
“Major Carter,” said Faith, bending to open the fridge.
“Faith,” she acknowledged with a nod.
“What do you want for breakfast?” asked Faith.
“You cook?” said Buffy in disbelief, eying the seemingly-domesticated girl.
“Joyce is showing me how,” she said holding up a bag of wheat bread.
“So what can you do?” Buffy asked, again eyeing the other girl.
Faith grinned. “Let me see,” she said. “I can do toast and…toast,” she said with a wide-eyed innocence that looked incongruous on her face.
“Mmm,” Buffy murmured. “What should it be,” she murmured tapping her teeth in a thoughtful manner.
Faith rolled her eyes.
“Toast it is,” Buffy said with an infectious grin. “How about you, Major Carter?”
“I wouldn’t mind some toast,” she said, noting that the tension between the two women the night before seemed to have dissipated.
Buffy nodded. “Here,” she said to Faith, walking over to the fridge. “Let me help. I think toast will be great with eggs. Scrambled or sunny side up,” she asked peering into the fridge.
“Sunny side,” said Carter.
“Go B,” said Faith admiringly. “Ms. Domestic Goddess you.”
“You don’t have to be a genius to cook eggs,” she retorted, whipping a few eggs in a bowl. “Where’s everyone?” Buffy asked, lighting the stove.
“Teal’c is doing kel'no'reemin the living room.”
“Kel'no what?”asked Faith, her mouth around a buttered toast.
“Kel'no'reem,” Buffy said absentmindedly. “It’s a deep meditative state.”
Carter shook her head. “Sometimes I forget you were once a Goa’uld.”
“It isn’t something one forgets in a hurry,” she said bleakly.
Carter nodded in understanding. “Although Jolinar was Tok’ra and not Goa’uld, it is weird having something inside your body making decisions for you,” she said.
“Yeah, it is,” said Buffy and for the first time their eyes met in agreement.
Carter was the first to turn away. “Daniel and Jack are still sleeping,” she said. She turned back to Buffy and took a deep breath as if she was getting the courage to do something she didn’t want to do. “What’s going on between you and Jack?” she asked point blank.
Buffy eyed her contemplatively. This is it
, she thought, the typical confrontation between two women who wanted the same man
. “We’re together,” she said noncommittally.
There was an acute silence for a minute.
Carter bowed her head and thought of all the things she wanted to say, but what actually came out of her mouth was, “You better take care of him or else.”
Buffy nodded. “Fine, but you must extend the same courtesy. What’s going on between you and Giles?”
“Giles?!” sputtered Faith, spitting orange juice across the table.
They both ignored her.
Carter blushed. “I really don’t know, yet,” she admitted, tormented by her confusing emotions.
“When you do know, please don’t hurt him. He deserves someone who will love him wholeheartedly.”
Carter sighed, what happened to the levelheaded young woman of yesterday?
She could blame it on the Jack and Buffy situation, but she was the one that chose to kiss Rupert Giles, no one else. “Touché,” she acknowledged with a wry smile, walking out of the kitchen with her toast and coffee.
“So B, what’s up with you and the Major?” asked Faith, her eyes speculative as she watched the woman walk out of the kitchen.
“Nothing,” Buffy said with a surprised air as she frowned. Part of her was surprised to say it was true. It felt as if the tension between them was a thing of the past, with just a few little words. She and Sam didn’t roll around and punch each other like two cats in heat, but they had settled their differences in a few worded sentences. Wouldn’t the guys be disappointed?
she thought with a hidden grin.
Buffy didn’t expect to like Carter but she did. Maybe it was because both of them were alpha females. They would continue to butt heads, but now there would be respect in it. She still couldn’t picture Giles and Carter together, but love is blind and to each his own... and all those clichés,
she thought with a frown. Both deserved happiness, and she prayed that each of them would get it. If not with each other, then, she hoped, with someone else.
Major Samantha Carter walked through the living room and around the snoring men to open the front door with one hand, while sipping her coffee. She was surprised to see someone else on the porch. “I’m sorry,” she said, blinking. “I thought everyone was sleeping. I’ll go back inside,” she said while turning towards the door.
“No,” said Adam startled out of his reverie. “If you want to catch your breath, this is the right place to do that,” he said with a wry smile that crinkled the little laugh lines at his eyes. “I’ll have myself some more coffee,” he said motioning to her steaming cup.
“It’s good,” she acknowledged. “Buffy and Faith are in the kitchen making eggs and toast.”
“Mmm,” he murmured. “My favorite,” he said walking through the open door. What a handsome man
, she mused. Whoa
, she thought startled, where did that thought come from?
She could see that he was handsome, but she was noticing a lot of things lately. Like Rupert’s eyes, they were like melted chocolate, and she loves chocolate. One could say she might even be addicted to them.
She thought back to the day before and what they had done on the plane and she blushed. She could not believe she let down her guard like that and in public. What does he think of her?
Sipping coffee, she reflected on what had happened the past few days. Wasn’t it a surprise,
she thought sourly, that the Jack O’Neill they thought they had all knew turned out to be a stranger.
With her eyes bleak, she gazed out at the waking neighborhood. All of these years, they had depended on Jack for leadership, for friendship. For God sake, they were family. SG-1. To find out that he had being lying to them for years. Part of he could have forgiven the lie easily enough because everyone has secrets, but what she couldn’t forgive as easily was the wife, because that was the worst sin in her eyes – more so because he wasn’t free, free to love another person, but most of all he wasn’t free to be with her. But what other secrets isn’t he telling us?
she wondered as she continued to sip her coffee. She sighed. Adam was right
, she thought ruefully, this is the place to think.
The door behind her opened. She heard footsteps echo behind her, but she didn’t turn around. It seemed her peace was about to be broken. The other person walked up to her and rested a warm hand on her neck. She inhaled deeply then turned around to gaze into the warmest chocolate brown eyes that saw everything.
“Hey,” Giles said softly, massaging her neck.
“Hey,” she said with a slight blush. She stepped a few inches away from him, feeling as if he was disturbing her peace of mind.
Giles eyes narrowed. “It is not good for you to be alone out here,” he said in mild tones that did not show a hint of what he was feeling.
“What can happen?” she said with a frown. “I can take care of myself.”
“I thought with both my conversation and Buffy’s you had gotten the gist about the town last night,” he said.
“I did, but it’s morning,” she said.
“Yes, but not all demons roam in the night,” he said taking in the beautiful, serene morning.
She shivered slightly.
“Why have you been avoiding me?” he said softly, his eyes on the newly awakened neighborhood.
Her eyes widened. “I-I haven’t been avoiding you,” she denied, taking a quick glance at his face, but what she saw must have made her uncomfortable because she quickly looked away.
“Yes, you have,” he said. “You can barely look at me right now, and last night you rushed off to bed like the hounds of hell were after you.”
“I was just tired,” she protested.
“How about now?” he demanded moving to stand before her.
She backed up slowly.
Giles paused and cocked his head to one side. “See, even now you are retreating,” he said dryly.
Major Carter stood there willing her body not to flee. She was a soldier, a warrior that had been in combat situation, and she had never backed down from danger. But now she was a scared woman fighting the instinct to leave. Everything is happening too soon
, she thought. She wasn’t sure of herself. Is she using Rupert as a buffer between Jack and her feelings? And if she is attracted to Rupert, does that mean all of her feelings for Jack were an infatuation?
She stood there trembling as the bright sun seemed to disappear. She squinted as a shadow mist hid the cloud from view. She ran her stiff arms across her shoulders, her body half-turned towards the door.
“Why?” he asked softly, running a finger up and down her face. “Such soft skin,” he murmured to himself. “Such a beautiful face. She is so fascinating. Sometimes tough, the solider, and others times, when she lets her guard down, the vulnerable woman inside. Why are you afraid,” he asked gently.
“I-I’m not,” she stammered.
“Yes, you are,” he countered.
She took a deep breath and wandered away from him. “We’re going too fast,” she said, her back towards him.
His eyes watched her gently. “Why do you say that?” he argued
Her eyes widened in disbelief. “We practically attacked each other; it’s as if I was possessed or something,” she protested.
“So,” Giles said with mild inflection in his voice. “You think you have to be possessed to find me attractive.”
She sighed, her brows furrowed. “You are putting words in my mouth,” she said.
“What am I to think?”
Her eyes snapped to his and then looked way. “That’s what I felt,” she mumbled. “Look, Mr. Giles.”
“Mr. Giles?” he asked, eyebrows raised. “I had my tongue down your throat… isn’t that enough to call me something else?”
“Ru-rupert,” she said flustered. “I mean, Giles.”
“Call me either one,” he said, helping her out. “But I’d rather you call me Rupert in intimate moments, and we’ll be intimate,” he warned, giving her a deep look before moving towards the closed door. He opened it and went inside.
Samantha stood there for a few minutes, feeling Giles’ hands lingering on her face. She took a long deep breath, before she too stepped inside the house.