I own nothing. Buffy and Angel people belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy. I'm just playing. Don't sue. The Stargate people belong to Gekko Productions, Double Secret Productions, MGM/UA, Showtime/Viacom.. a hell of a lot of people, if you ask me! Authors Note/Timeline:
Set in the Search & Rescue 'verse between Instinct
. None of this will make sense unless you've read one of the series. TTH100 Prompt:
090 - Angst~ * ~ * ~
She wasn’t surprised to see his reflection in the mirror behind the bar. She would’ve liked to believe Dr Jack... Daniel was here just to keep her company. It wouldn’t be the first time, since the rescue of Colonel Carter, the two of them had gotten together at this bar – the place they first met – or his apartment.
However, she knew that wasn’t why he was here.
He wasn’t here for company or to teach her Goa’uld...
He was here for comfort.
Willow knew that the second their eyes connected. The look in his eyes, on his face... It told her far more than she wanted to know. So much so that she found herself unable to hold his gaze for longer than a couple of seconds.
Just like she couldn’t hold her own gaze.
She heard, more than saw, Daniel sit down on the stool beside her. When she saw, in her peripheral vision, him motion to the bartender, Willow studied her near empty glass. Her grip on it tightened, her knuckles going almost white. If she had been a Slayer, the glass would have shattered by now.
IF she had been a Slayer... The thought made her laugh grimly.
Technically, she was a slayer... Just not the vampire kind.
“Kawalsky is looking for you,” Daniel told her, breaking the silence. “He was a little upset when you snuck off the base. I’m pretty sure he sent Hayes to your apartment to take you back.”
Normally, news of her commanding officers looking for her – and no doubt pissed as hell – would have sent her into a panic, especially since she wasn’t alone. But today... Today things like obeying orders and keeping her friendship with Daniel a secret seemed unimportant.
Almost everything seemed unimportant.
Willow drank the remainder of her scotch and then motioned to the bartender for a refill, all the while feeling Daniel’s mournful eyes on her.
“Grogan is okay,” he went on when it was clear she wasn’t going to respond. “Janet says there’s no permanent damage. He should be out of the infirmary in a week.”
The way her stomach churned had nothing to do with the alcohol or lack of food.
“Lou’s team is all right as well.”
She drained her glass and, again, signaled for another. Willow didn’t have to look at Daniel’s face to know that he was frowning...
He would have been there when Major Kawalsky gave General O’Neill an informal debrief of the mission. Daniel was always there whenever SR-1 was overdue. He would have, like usual, pretended that the reason he was hanging around was solely because of his friendship with Kawalsky. He would have been standing right next to the General when the Major filled them in.
He would’ve heard it all.
He knew... And she wasn’t sure how she felt about that.
“Is there anything I can do?” he asked, the helplessness in his voice caused her heart to constrict.
She wanted to ignore him, pretend he wasn’t there. He’d never leave, of course, but he wouldn’t force her to talk either. He would try, but when he failed he would let her drink herself into a stupor and then he’d take her back to his apartment to let her sleep it off.
This was Daniel... It was what he did.
But she couldn’t do that, as tempting as it was. This wasn’t something Willow couldn’t NOT talk about. As much as she just wanted to close her eyes and pretend P9X-181 never happened, she couldn’t. Even if she avoided this conversation with Daniel, she would have to have it with the General... and probably Doctor McKenzie.
Though, there was a reason she didn’t want to avoid this conversation with Daniel. Every other personal conversation she and Daniel had in the past, Willow had wanted to avoid. But this one was different.
She had to know what he was thinking, how he felt.
If this changed things as much as she felt it did.
If it changed her...
“Can you turn back time?” she asked, meeting his eyes was far harder than it should have been.
Daniel blinked in confusion. “Can I what?”
“Turn back time,” she repeated. “You asked if there was anything you could do. If you could do that... That would be great.”
Confusion turned to compassion. “Would you really want me to?”
“Wouldn’t you want to?” she countered. “After all, you’re now sitting next to a cold blooded –”
“No!” Daniel’s quiet protest was laced with anger.
She held his gaze, but her next words were cut off when the bartender moved towards them. Willow found herself relieved by the bartender’s presence. Now that she’d almost admitted to Daniel – and herself – what she was, she wasn’t at all surprised to discover that she didn’t want to talk anymore.
Maybe if she handed in her resignation, she’d be able to avoid this conversation with everyone. She couldn’t talk about this. She couldn’t even think about it. Yet, she couldn’t think past this, beyond it. It was everything right now.
This was an aspect of her job Willow had never allowed herself to contemplate. If she had, she probably wouldn’t be sitting here.
She jumped when Daniel’s hand covered hers. “Come on.” He pulled her to her feet and led her to an isolated booth at the back of the bar and far away from the rest of the patrons.
Fear knotted in the pit of her stomach. There was a determination on Daniel’s face Willow had only seen a couple of times. The last time had been when they were rescuing Colonel Carter.
“You’re not a cold blooded killer.”
She flinched when he said the words and she suddenly became fascinated with the table where they were now sitting.
“You did what you had to do.”
Her eyes involuntarily closed and then reopened a moment later when she was assaulted by the memories of the last twenty-four hours. For once, her nightmares weren’t going to be about watching her friends die.
No, they’d be about watching other people die.
People she killed.
People who were no longer breathing because of her. People who had spent the last moments of their lives frantically trying to stop the blood spilling from their neck or stomach...
She took a deep breath and leaned back in the booth, fighting the urge to throw up. She’d done enough of that already. Both on 181 and again in the gate room after Kawalsky threw her through the gate.
And just like now, she hadn’t cared about witnesses.
Willow shivered. She was having a hard time getting warm. “I need another drink.”
She thought for a second Daniel was going to protest but, to her surprise, he motioned to a waitress and ordered two drinks. He didn’t say anything while they waited for her to return, except to ask Willow for the keys to her bike.
She handed them to him without argument and then buried her face in her hands until the waitress returned. Only after she drank the first glass and then started on Daniel’s drink did she dare look into his still compassionate eyes.
“I don’t think this is the first time I’ve killed someone,” she confessed quietly, the buzz of the scotch washing over her. “There was a mission, the one before Colonel Carter’s rescue. It turned into a fire fight. I’m pretty sure I killed some of the enemy then, but I’m not sure. I mean... I didn’t know if MY bullet was the one that killed them or if it I only wounded them. At least that’s what I used to tell myself to make me feel better. It’s surprisingly easy to convince myself that it was Grogan or Hayes’ bullet that was the deadly one.”
The compassion hadn’t shifted from Daniel’s eyes.
“But this time I know... There’s no doubt.” And in that split second, she regretted joining the Air Force.
“Don’t say it, Daniel,” she warned him. “Don’t tell me it’s okay, because it’s not. You know how we’re trained. What I’ve been taught. Today I used all of it. Every skill... I killed three men. Not with bullets, but with my hands.”
“And because of that, Kawalsky and Hayes were able to free Lou’s team,” Daniel reminded her gently.
“I don’t think that’s what Kawalsky meant when he told me and Grogan to cause a distraction.” Or maybe it was. The mission had gone so spectacularly wrong that Kawalsky had been desperate enough to order the two of them to use whatever force necessary. Everything would have been all right if Grogan hadn’t been injured. She wouldn’t have done what she did to make sure he stayed alive. “It doesn’t matter that I was following orders or that we got our people to safety. It doesn’t matter that I wear a uniform and carry a gun... I killed people.”
Daniel reached across the table and took her hand, a gesture that told her how worried he was about her. Touching was rare between them, something that only ever happened when one of them was hurting.
“I’m a killer.”
He squeezed her hand. “So am I.”
Willow’s next words fell away at his reply and she stared at him, stunned. His confession didn’t come as a surprise, not really. Daniel had seen more action than she could even begin to contemplate, but she had never really thought of Daniel as a soldier. An archaeologist, yes, a civilian, yes, but never a soldier...
“I wish I could tell you that it’ll never happen again, but I can’t.”
She pulled her hand away from his. Her heart was pounding so fast that it hurt. “That’s... That’s what I’m afraid of. I know this won’t be the last time. I’ll have to kill again.” The only reason she hadn’t seen more action than this was because she was search and rescue... Most of the time they were able to slip in and out without any casualties.
Except this time.
God, she didn’t want this to be real. Regardless of how she tried to justify her actions: self defense, to keep others alive... the fact that she had killed someone still remained.
No amount of denial was going to save her from this.
God, how would her friends react if they knew? What would Buffy, Xander, and Oz say if they were here with her now? What would they think of her? She had done the unspeakable. She had slain three human beings. It didn’t matter that they were born on another world. Three souls were dead because of her choice.
“We’re fighting a war, Willow,” Daniel told her, sounding more like General O’Neill than the man she had come to lo... care about. “It’s ugly and it’s horrible. You’ll do and see things that will change you forever. But it’s a war worth fighting. I would never... I would never have done the things I’ve done if I didn’t believe what we were doing was right.”
She knew that... and Willow felt the exact same way, but it didn’t make her feel any better. She met his eyes. “Does it get easier?” she asked, honestly. “Do you get used to the killing?” She never wanted to get used to this.
“Does it get easier? No,” he replied. “You learn to deal with it better...”
“Bury it, you mean?”
He nodded. “But you never forget.”
No, she didn’t think it was something easily forgotten.
“I don’t. They come back to you in dreams, in flashbacks, or when you close your eyes.”
“How do you live with yourself?” That wasn’t really the question she was asking. She wanted to know how SHE could live with herself. Because, right now, she wasn’t all that sure she could. “I mean... How do you look people in the eyes? What about... What about if I have kids one day?” She wasn’t planning to but... “How would they feel if they knew their mom hunted down and slaughtered three men?”
He flinched at the word ‘slaughtered’.
“Who would want to touch me knowing what I’ve done?”
Daniel reached across the table and cupped the side of her face. “I would.”
It was Willow’s turn to flinch. “Why? How?”
“Why did you kill them?”
“They were going to kill Grogan...” And then her, and then the rest of her team along with SG-2.
“Did you enjoy killing those men?”
“God, no!” She pulled away from him, offended by the question.
“THAT is how I can touch you and...why you can touch me.” He held his hand out, obviously wanting her to take it. She didn’t. “I wish you didn’t have to go through this. I know... Nothing will ever be the same for you. Taking a life... It changes you. It’s something you can never take back. But it doesn’t change what I think of you and it doesn’t change how I feel. It doesn’t change what your team or the General thinks of you either.”
Now she really couldn’t look at him. Instead, she focused on the hand in the middle of the table.
She felt so different than she had when the day first began. It was as though a part of her had died right along with the three men. Maybe a part of her had died... She had passed the point of no return.
She really was a soldier now.
With a shaking hand she reached out and took Daniel’s. Slowly, she met his watery gaze and, silently, they both mourned what she had lost.
The last of her innocence. End