Chapter 32: An Ending & A Beginning.
Three Warriors. Author:
: Seasons 3-4 of Buffy and Season 5 of Stargate SG-1. Pairings:
Buffy-Jack O’Neill. Disclaimer:
All characters from BTVS
belong to Joss Whedon and the world of Stargate SG-1
and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret productions, and Gekko Productions. And the world of Highlander
and its characters belong to Panzer/Davis Productions and Marvel Entertainment Group. This fiction is purely for the entertainment of the writer and the readers, not for commercial benefit. Chapter 32 An Ending & A Beginning.
The library doors swung with a swoosh as Faith sauntered through them, ten minutes later. It was decided that since the majority of the day was already gone, Faith might as well start her patrol early.
“That was awkward,” Cordelia muttered as she watched the door close on the dark slayer.
“You’re telling me,” Xander muttered, letting out the breath he didn’t know he was holding. “For a minute there I thought there was going to be a fight. Although,” he mused with a grin. “I wouldn’t mind a little girl on girl action, but I’d like more warning so I can get a better viewing position. Also I’d prefer it if there was the involvement of jell-o.”
“What kind of things go on in your brain?” Cordelia asked as she gave Xander a disbelieving look.
Xander shrugged, shooting Cordelia a goofy grin, “Hello, teenage male here. Can look at floor tiles and have it cause NC-17 thoughts to magically appear in my head. Just like you and the latest Gucci collection. Not the NC-17 thoughts…but the looking at floor tiles…and I think that is my cue for the silence to begin.”
Cordelia gave him a look of disgust and moved towards a chair.
“Have you all really just been shopping?” Giles questioned his tone one of disbelief.
Willow nodded sheepishly. “Prom.”
“Prom,” Buffy muttered, the word disgusted under her breath.
“Why didn’t someone answer their phone?” Giles wondered.
Willow and Cordelia exchanged looks.
“We have the phone, see,” Willow said, digging her cell phone out of her overalls pocket. "Oops,” Willow said a few seconds later as she looked at the phone beginning to blush fiercely. “…my bad. I forgot to turn it on.”
“And my battery is dead,” Cordelia announced on a sigh, holding up her own phone.
“What about you Xander? Giles asks. “Didn’t you have a phone?”
The teen searched his pockets. “Oops,” he said echoing Willow. “I must have left it in the locker after gym class.”
Giles blew out a breath, rubbing his eyes wearily, “Next time, please, check in.”
“Yes Giles,” Willow agreed in a rush.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Look, I know that you guys are eager for the prom, so I will leave you to it, in meanwhile I’ll make a call to Joyce to tell her that Faith’s okay.”
“What is this about the Mayor?” Wesley asked, this time with exasperated tone.
“Nothing to worry about,” Buffy said, waving her hand dismissively. “He’s just going to kill us, that’s all.”
Wesley mouth dropped open in shock.
Voices flowed to Buffy on a hint of sweet breeze as she stood silently on the second floor balcony of Angel’s Mansion, which overlooked a large manicure garden. ‘What is a vampire was doing with a garden, with a sunny exposure
? She thought, although she couldn’t think of any rational answer but it was there anyway.
Everyone had begun moving in an hour before.
At first it looked like she would have riot on her hand, especially considering the way Jack, Methos and even Giles had been acting, but in the end they all decided to corporate. They had agreed that moving to the mansion was the best move, even if it was only to accommodate everyone as the Scooby Gang had decided to move in as well. What they chose to tell their parents, Buffy didn’t know and at that point she didn’t care. Although, from what she had experienced with regard to the parents of Sunnydale, she doubted they would have even noticed their kids were gone.
How someone can neglect children? It was a thing Buffy could never understand, and it wasn’t as if the parents of Willow and the others had the excuse of poverty, war or even social upheaval to explain their behavior, for the lack of attention. As far as Buffy could see they were just self absorbed.
She pressed her hands tightly to her stomach, above her womb, feeling the emptiness. Reminding her how much she loved and wanted children of her own, children she could never have thanks to her immortality - her blessing and her curse. She wondered if she was given the choice of giving up her immortality and having a child of her own, which one would she chose. A few years ago the answer would have been simple, but today, not as much.
Her mind went to the foundlings; the ones she had taken in over the years. She had loved them all, but over the years she had grown tired of watching her ‘children’
dying by things such disease, old age or just plain working themselves to death.
That part of immortality she would have given up in an instance. That when she decided to foster young immortals instead. Wouldn’t these immortals be hers? She could teach them how to take care of themselves, teach them to survive. These children wouldn’t wither in front of her, these children would live. And for years that what she and Jack had done.
Then Joyce came into her life. She had needed someone to care for, especially after the break up with Jack. She had took a chance of loving and caring for Joyce, even knowing that Joyce was mortal and even knowing that someday Joyce life may gone in an instance, due to old age, an accident or some illness. At first Buffy was scared, but life had taught her that sometimes loving someone is a risk.
A moan escape Buffy throat as she thought about her foster son Robert, who could this moment working with the Goa’uld or he could be one, hell, he could now be the host of the one they were looking for right now.
Where did she and Jack go wrong? She wondered in despair. She had seen the cruelty and selfishness in Robert, but she had dismissed it as the foibles of youth.. But now she wasn’t quite sure, had she blinded herself to Robert’s true nature in the way only a mother could?
She was startled out of her revere by Angel, who had moved to stand beside her. “Angel?” she said slightly startled, giving him a brief look before turning to over look the garden.
“Buffy,” he said with an acknowledging nod.
There were a few minutes of companionable silence, before Buffy broke it by saying. “Sorry we had to invade your place like this.”
Angel shrugged matter-of-factly, before noting mildly, “Big place.”
Buffy turned to bestow on him a curious gaze. “Angel?” she began.
“I always wondered, why such a large place for one person?”
Angel shrugged again. He didn’t want to explain that this house was part of his atonement. That the house had just the right amount of bedrooms for his family, his human family if they were alive, if he hadn’t killed them. Instead he said, “It seemed like a good deal, so I bought it.”
One of Buffy eye brow shot up. “Okay,” she drawled noting his avoidance. “If you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine, but I will get it out of you at some point.”
“I don’t doubt it,” Angel replied with a grin, then the smile dropped from his face as he took note of Jack O’Neill entering in the garden.
Buffy followed his gaze and her jaw tightened almost susceptibly.
Angel noted her reaction, he frowned. “What’s going on between you and Jack?” he wondered aloud.
Buffy stiffened. “What do you mean?” she asked, still looking towards the garden, where Jack was now being joined by Major Carter.
“I thought both of you would be locked behind closed door - becoming reacquainted?”
Buffy blushed. “We don’t have time for that.”
Angel gave Buffy a disbelieving look. “No time for sex?”
Buffy blushed deepened. “Yes.”
Angel shook his head. “Since you were reunited, both you and Jack stink of want.”
“I am not talking about lust, Buffy,” Angel admitted. “Although that’s there as well,” he mused staring down at the other man, his competition. “…but what I saw is something deeper. I don’t know what happen between you two, but most people don’t even get one chance at a love like yours. Especially, a love that has seemed to withstand the test of time. Now, you both have another chance and you both seem to be blowing it.”
“I wish you could love me….” Angel said, abruptly. “But I know you never will.”
Buffy swiveled around to shot him an incredulous look. “Of course I love you.”
Angel shook his head. “Not like you love Jack,” he pointed out.
Buffy’s mouth tightened and she wanted to deny it, but it was the truth. She and Jack had over four hundred years together. You couldn’t be with a person that long and not love them only a little - it was deep down love, that reached so deep that when she had left, part of her wanted to die.
Angel seemed disappointed at her hesitation, “You can’t deny it,” he said, his tone bleak.
Buffy shook her head mutely.
“I understand, that’s why….” He paused. “I've been thinking... about our future, my future. And the more I do, the more I feel like…that’s it is unfair to both of us.”
“What’s unfair,” Buffy asked puzzled.
“So, I decided that I'm going to go.” Angel continued as if Buffy hadn’t interrupted.
“What?” Buffy said mouth opened in shock. “What did you say?”
Angel grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. “I'm sorry. Buffy, I love you. It kills me to say this.”
“Then don't,” she snapped, shrugging out of his hold.
“I'm leaving Sunnydale. I can’t stay here and watch you and Jack. I can’t be near you and… not touch you, not after…” Angel’s voice trailed off.
Buffy was silent for a moment. She finally heard him, the pain and the unhappiness, all the feelings he could no longer successfully hide. Feeling the worst sort of friend Buffy moved stiffly to a few feet away, feeling a stab of guilt of the pain she had caused him.
“Where will you go?” she finally asked.
Angel shrugged. “I don't know. Somewhere out of Sunnydale, somewhere where the memories aren’t as fresh.”
Buffy nodded her face pensive. She decided not to mention, that she too would be leaving Sunnydale as soon as this was over. From what she could tell, he’d made up his mind, but, the idea of Angel not there, not being in Sunnydale twisted something inside her. From the first…ever since she’d met Angel, he always had been there for her.
Now, that he was choosing to leave, she saw how selfish she had been, not only relying on him to pick up the pieces of her heart when her love affairs when sour.
But she also relied on the fact that he would always be there in the shadows, waiting for her - it was time to let him go. If he stayed, then Angel would never realize his destiny and what a glorious destiny he had in store. He’s one of the good guys, a champion; even though he would never believe it, Buffy thought sadly.
She was conscious of Angel as they stood silently staring at the garden and its occupants. Buffy wanted to say a lot of things, but each time she opened her mouth nothing came out. All she could manage was a deep sigh.
Angel unconsciously echoed it. They stared at each other; then Angel moved a hand to caressed Buffy’s cheek. His hand lingered while his eyes measured hers for a second, as he memorized her face. With that one last look, Angel moved inside the mansion, his heart heavy.
Buffy’s eyes shimmered as she gazed at the empty doorway. She touched her cheek, still feeling Angel’s lingering touch, reflecting on what he had said about her and Jack and getting another chance. She had wanted to dismiss it, but he was right; only a few individuals get a second chance, even with the aid of immortality.
Although, she and Jack were probably on their fifth chance by now, but this time, Buffy was resolved not to mess it up.
In the Garden, Samantha Carter moved toward the solitary figure sitting dejectedly on a stone bench. She watched him for a few minutes before she cleared her throat and said, “Sir, are you all right?”
“Carter!” Jack exclaimed, jumping up. “I didn’t see you there.”
Sam tilts her head to the side and gives Jack a thoughtful nod. “I guess you were lost in deep in thought,” she noted, moving to sit on the bench he had occupied.
“Yes,” Jack agreed. Since the blow up last night with Buffy, all he had been doing was thinking, he couldn’t concentrate on anything else. Then a stray thought entered his mind, he always wondered why the flirtation between him and Carter hadn’t gone further and since Sam was right there, he thought, why not ask it might be the right time to ask.
“Carter,” he began. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you?”
“What?” Sam asked nervously, not liking the look on Jack’s face.
“For all the attraction between us, why did we never get it together?” Jack said boldly.
Sam stiffened, wondering if her resentment which had been brewing over the past few days was finally going to be known. She thought only General Hammond had known about her feelings towards Buffy and Jack’s relationship.
“What are you talking about, sir?”
Jack rolled his eyes. “Carter, do me favor and dropped the sir,” he growled. “It’s just the two of us,” he said with a gesture.
Sam sighed, “Yes-sir.”
Jack growl deepened.
“Yes Jack,” Sam said, quickly.
“Don’t make me say it again,” he said, giving her an exasperated look.
Sam shrugged nonchalantly. She was reluctant to answer the question, but she saw the eager look in his eyes. “I don’t know sir, I think it was partly due to regulations sir, and ….”
“And what? “Jack asked, his eyebrows arched.
“Our friendship,” Sam pointed out.
Jack nodded. “Maybe, but I still think, we could have got around the regulation thing, if we truly had wanted to get together.”
Sam felt a small pinch in her heart as she nodded slowly. “True,” she agreed. “But the question is mute because…”
“You now have Giles?” Jack asked curiously.
Sam’s face turned a dull shade of red, and she shook her head. “No, I don’t know about that, sir.”
Jack eyebrow arched. “Why not, you both seem to like each other.”
Sam blushed deepened. Sam never thought she would be having this conversation with any of her superior officers, much less Jack O’Neill. Someone, although a close friend, she’d always thought could be more than just friends. “Just because Mr. Giles and I are attracted to each other doesn’t mean we should rush into a relationship.”
“True,” Jack murmured in agreement, his face set into a thoughtful manner. “But, look at what’s happening to me and Bella---Buffy.…shit!” Jack exclaimed. “It’s Bella damn it. No matter what she is calling herself now. She’ll always be Isabella to me.”
“Jack is that what’s wrong between you two?” Sam wondered, thinking about the tension she had taken note of. It was so obvious, that the others had taken note of the same thing. She, Daniel and Teal’c had draw straws to see who would talk to Jack. Unfortunately for her, she had lost.
“Yes… no, oh hell, I don’t know,” Jack mumbled running his hands wearily through his hair. “One minute we are hot and heavy, next zip.” He sighed. “It’s frustrating figuring out what she wants from me.”
“Maybe you need to ask her,” Buffy said, mildly from behind them.
“Buffy…Ms Summers,” Sam exclaimed, jumping to her feet feeling a little flustered. She wondered, exactly, what the other woman had heard. “I-we didn’t see you there.”
“Obviously,” Buffy drawled, in a dry tone. “I hope I wasn’t interrupting anything,” she continued giving the couple a curious glance. They both wore a guilty flush on their faces.
“No-no… nothing, really,” Sam denied quickly. She took a step back. “I was leaving anyway. Uh-sir,” she stammered. “See you later.”
Jack gave Sam a quick nod.
“Don’t let me run you off,” Buffy said, as Sam made a move..
“No. You’re not,” Sam replied as she gave them a cheery wave before turning to leave them.
Buffy turned to Jack, who hadn’t said a word. “So,” Buffy said hands fisted in her jersey top. Now that she was standing there, she didn’t know quite where to start.
Jack eyebrow arched. “So?”
Buffy strolled a few paces away from Jack, before she stopped and she stood there with her back to him, watching her reflection in the pool of water, which were a few feet away. ‘Where should I start?’
She wondered. She sighed as she thought on what Angel had said, it had made sense. She couldn’t screw up her another chance with Jack.
“Bella,” Jack said, as he made a move of toward her, eventually resting his hands on Buffy’s shoulders.
He had moved so quietly, Buffy was surprised to feel his presence behind her. She turned to face him. His eyes were sharp and compelling.
“Jack, I want to apologize about last night. Not about what I said,” Buffy said, quickly amending her statement to make sure Jack didn’t misunderstand her. “Because, I meant that. I’m apologizing about how I said it. I had some concerns and instead of coming to you, I let it fester until it boiled over.”
Jack took a deep breath, turning his face towards the sky, mouthing the words. ‘Thank you, God.
’ Before focusing on her, “I apologize too,” he said quickly, “I didn’t mean what I said. I was angry and frustrated and I didn’t know how to get you to talk to me.” He took a breath, before he added with a guesture “I’m sorry that I was such horse’s ass.”
Buffy grinned, but the smile soon fell from her face. There was so much she wanted to say, but when it came to expressing it she was a total coward. Who would imagine her…the Slayer afraid to voice her feelings.
She chewed on her lower lip and stole a look at him. Oh God, how she loved him, how she still was in love with him, so much that her chest felt as if it was about to burst. “Jack,” she began in a in a soft tone. “I love you and I never regretted the years we had together.”
“Me too,” he agreed, with a gentle smile.
“When I’m with you, I forget everything…even the world,” Buffy continued.
Jack laid a hand to Buffy’s face and she leaned into it, soaking up the warmth of his hands.
Buffy stood there, in Jack’s embrace for a few moments, before she pushed him away. “I find myself thinking about you, wondering what you doing at every second, and that’s dangerous now, especially since we have a job to do.”
“I’d never stop you from doing your job,” Jack said stiffly.
“I know,” Buffy replied, with a nod. “That’s not my concern. My concern is that a lot of years had passed since we saw each other. You have changed and I certainly have changed. That’s all I wanted you to see, we were jumping back into a relationship after all this time as if nothing had changed, without getting to know the people we are now.”
“You right,” Jack agreed, with a sigh.
Buffy gave him an uncertain look.
Jack shrugged. “Maybe, I didn’t want to see that,” he admitted. “But, just having you in my arms again; it was heaven. When I saw you that morning, it was as like no time had past at all. You were there, looking the same, smelling the same, even…” Jack said huskily.
Buffy licked her sudden dry lips.
“…tasting the same,” he offered conversationally. “Do you know that I never allowed myself to think of you during all the years that we were apart? I didn’t want to know if you found someone else. Part of me, always thought you ended up with Angelus and I couldn’t bear thinking of the two of you together, so I put everything about you and our life together out of my mind.”
“Don’t!” Jack said sharply as he noted her reaction. “Don’t,” he repeated this time softly. “….imagine it was easy.”
“I only left with Angel to teach you a lesson,” Buffy replied, abruptly.
“What?” Jack asked.
“You heard me,” Buffy said. “Angel was someone who was always there for me. I knew he loved me, and I ruthlessly took advantage of that fact, because I knew he would have done anything for me. But in the end he was a friend, my friend and you couldn’t understand that.”
“No Jack, even back then, when I took lovers to our bed, it was all with your knowledge, just as it was when you did the same. So why did you think that I would have an affair with Angel and not tell you about it?” Buffy asked, the pain of that time still resonating in her voice. “Jack, in all the years that we were married, I never lied to you.”
“Technicality, we still are married.” Jack pointed out with a grin.
Buffy ignored him as she continued. “So, when you didn’t believe me about Angel, I left.”
“With Angel.” Jack pointed out.
“When I left, I kept waiting for you to come for me.”
“Oh God,” Jack said, wincing.
“At the time my thought was ‘teach Jack a lesson, he’ll be here in a day or two.
’ Instead, you never came.” Buffy’s pain echoed loudly in her voice. “I never imagined you wouldn’t come for me. For God’s sakes Jack, we had a fight, we were always fight, and then I’d leave, spend a couple weeks in Paris spending our money, where you would surprise me and then we’d spend a couple of glorious days in bed and everything would be right again in our world.”
“Bella.” The name burst of Jack’s mouth like a locomotive.
“I waited a week, then two weeks and after that, two months before I had to admit to myself that you weren’t coming. I don’t think a day hasn’t passed in the first six months that I didn’t cry.”
He looked away, not wanting to look her in the eye as she spoke of her pain.
“Then when the pain got to the point where I couldn’t bear it anymore, I got angry. Then, once the anger passed, I became numb. By that point a year had past, and yes Angel was there, but still I couldn’t see him as a man, like you thought I saw him and I have to apologize to him about that,” Buffy said almost reflectively.
Jack swallowed as she continued.
“He took care of me and all I had to show him was a complete emotional wreck. I hardened my heart not only against you, but against all relationships. But, in the end I was only pretending; pretending that you didn’t exist, pretending I didn’t care about you, especially when mutual friends would tell me about the women you were seeing.”
“Then, when I worked out that I still did care, that I had been living a lie, when I finally thought I’d had gotten you out of my system; everything went to hell in a hand basket when I found about Sarah.” Buffy said, emphasizing the other woman’s name with such venom, it shock both of them.
Buffy flushed, turning her face away from him, embarrassed at the naked emotion she was sure was written across her face.
Buffy pressed a hand to the knot in her stomach as if it would relieve the pressure. “With your other women, I could least pretend you didn’t care about them,” Buffy said almost in a monotone. “But with Sarah, no such luck.”
“I never meant to hurt you,” Jack admitted, “I never thought…”
Buffy shook head, causing her hair to flow, covering her face, almost like a veil. “You married her, Jack. You don’t want to know what I did when I heard that,” Buffy admitted on a whispering sigh.
“Oh God, Bella, I didn’t know,” Jack said gruffly, pulling her into an embrace.
Buffy stiffen at first, then she relaxed as she felt the heat of his embrace.
“I didn’t know,” Jack repeated as he ran his hands up and down Buffy’s back in a smoothing manner. “I don’t know what I would have done, if I knew you were waiting for me. That last fight we had, I thought it was the last straw in a series of fights. Remember we had been fighting a lot.”
Buffy gave a small nod and pushed away from the comfort of his arms to stand a few feet away from him.
Jack’s hands fisted in an effort not to reach back for her. They both knew if he hadn’t chosen to let her go, she would have fought him and he knew he could never win a physical fight because she had one thing against him…Slayer strength.
“That’s not an excuse,” Jack admitted softly, his eyes clouded by memories of the past. “I was in so much pain; I’d denied it to myself. Then, okay I went a little overboard with the women,” he admitted with a rueful grin. “I won’t deny it. Then, Sarah came into my life and she was like breath of fresh air.”
“I’m not saying this to hurt you,” Jack admitted matter-of-factly. “Later after talking with a friend of mine, I found out that what I was doing was a form of suicide. I didn’t like myself during the first ten years so I would take the most dangerous mission, challenge immortals, eat and drink, sleep with any woman I could find until one day I met Sarah. She became my salvation---if you want to call it that. Then Charlie was born.”
Hearing the pride and joyfulness in Jack’s tone, Buffy felt a stab of pain. She would never hear that tone in his voice as he talk about her children, she thought bleakly.
“I thought I was in love with Sarah, but it was a type of puppy love compared to the love I felt when I held Charlie right after his birth. That’s why his death hit me so hard, especially…”
“Since it was your weapon,” Buffy mentioned softly. She felt as if her inside was being raked over hot coals. But now she knew that she had a hand in whatever situation that causes her and Jack’s breakup. She remembered the fights, some of which were dozies. At times she had equalized passion by being outrageous. ‘Oh God
’, Buffy thought with horror, she had blamed Jack for all their problems, not thinking that she was to blame too. She wondered bleakly if he could ever forgive her.
“Yes,” Jack said his voice thick and unsteady. He cleared his throat. “Even though I love our children, I cannot describe the emotion that flowed through me when I took Charlie from his mother’s body. That day, when I first held him, I decided that I wanted to be there for him. I started taking less dangerous assignments and took myself out the game. We were happy, my little family and I.”
“I am so sorry,” Buffy blurted out.
“About what?” Jack asked, taken aback.
“About everything,” Buffy said with a vague gesture. “About us, about Charlie… about everything.”
“Bella, I can’t blame you for my mistakes. It was my fault for not coming after you.”
“No,” Buffy said shaking her head.
“Yes, it was “Jack said stubbornly. “And it’s was my fault about Charlie too, because if it hadn’t been for me, he’d….”
“No,” Buffy said this time emphatically. “One thing I have learned during all these years is this - no matter what, we can’t go through life thinking about ‘woulda shoulda or coulda’.”
You know,” Jack began to say, with a thoughtful expression on his face. “You’re right. Looking back at our lives, those last few years together we lived frivolously, only for the next party. I think that back then we didn’t seemed to have enough substance, we’d become just fluff and the way we were going, we would have ended up hating each other. That last fight, and the split, it gave us the time to grow, become people we can be proud of.” ’Was Jack right?’
Buffy wondered. ‘Had their years together been frivolous?
’ She didn’t want to believe it. “I need to be alone,” she said abruptly feeling as if her chest would burst. “For a little while,” she offered, feeling stupid.
The wounded look on Jack’s face nearly ripped her heart, she knew that she didn’t need to be alone, but when the emotion got to her, she ran and that was what she doing now, she was running.
“I know, sweetheart,” he soothed, surprising her. He was trying to give her space, he didn’t look happy about doing it, but he was doing it. Oh Christ, how she loved him.
“I’ll be here if you need me.” Jack said, before he placed a gentle kiss on the tip of her nose.
Buffy gave one jerky nod and move quickly back toward the house.
: Yahoo! Another chapter. This probably will be it for a while, until my muse caught up me, but in the meanwhile please check out my story Warriors of Light. As always please Read & Review.