Buffy hung up the phone and headed upstairs to shower and change. Two thirds of the way up the stairs she realized she had forgotten something important. She spun around and practically ran down the stairs. Once in the kitchen she reread Dawn's third note. I'll be at the library until 6. Going to a movie with a friend. Will be home by midnight.
Buffy looked at the note in disbelief.
“No, please, please don't let her have taken the car,” she muttered as she headed to the garage.
Opening the door, she flicked on the light switch. There it was, in all it's glory—an empty space where the SUV was supposed to be. She was going to have to kill Dawn. The only transportation was Dawn's motorcycle. She closed the door and returned to the kitchen.
Okay, think Summers. What are the choices? Take cab? Too expensive. Cancel? Not going to happen. That leaves the motorcycle. Daniel said he wasn't supposed to drive because of an injury so he probably wasn't cleared to be a passenger on the bike. She checked her watch and picked up the telephone.
Dawn picked up on the third ring.
“Hey Dawn...Yes I'm home...I need the car tonight...I'm supposed to pick up Daniel. And why didn't you take your
bike instead of my
car?...No, I don't think that picking him up on the bike is an option so I need you to get the car back here by 5:30...What do you mean you can't...Fine, I'll meet you outside the library at 5:30 and make the swap. And so help me, if you are even a minute late...” she left the threat unfinished as her sister swore that she'd be on time. “Okay, then. I've got to hurry.”
Buffy replaced the receiver in its cradle and headed back upstairs for a very quick shower. So much for wearing a nice dress. Jeans or leather pants. What a choice. She'd probably end up with smushed bugs on them too. Not to mention what the helmet would do to her hair. She was definitely going to kill Dawn.
- - -
Dawn waited in the library lounge for her study buddy to turn up. Fifteen minutes later Cara showed up somewhat out of breath.
“Sorry I was late.”
“No problem. Do you mind studying here for now? My sister's stopping by at 5:30.”
“That's okay. Why is she coming here?”
“Buffy just got back from DC and needs the car so we're swapping. Ever ride a motorcycle?”
“Oh God, my parents would freak.”
“I'll take that as a no.” Dawn smiled. “It's a lot of fun. I've been riding for years.”
“Had my first ride at fourteen. One of my sister's boyfriends took me for a wild ride through the streets of Sunnydale. Buffy would have killed him if she'd ever found out. He gave me a few lessons later but Buff still thinks that I learned to ride in Rome.”
- - -
It was just after 7 when she pulled up at the guard post outside of Cheyenne Mountain. Her jeans only had the slightest evidence of roadkill on them. She had fortunately been able to repair the damage to her hair.
She gave her name and her driver's license to the guard. After confirming that her name was on his list, he passed the license back to her then directed her to a parking space just off to the left along with instructions for her to remain in her vehicle. She pulled into her designated spot and turned off the engine. She scanned the well-lit area and suppressed a mild feeling of unease. Luckily, she didn't have long to wait as a few minutes later a figure approached her car. She recognized him from photograph she had found in her mother's safe deposit box. His hair was shorter, a lot shorter actually, and he had the start of a beard but there was no doubt in her mind that this was Dr. Daniel Jackson, her father. He had bulked up a bit too. She rolled down the window as he reached the car.
“Yes. I'd get out of the car but the guy with the gun said not to.” A dull click sounded as she unlocked the car doors. “So Dr. Jackson, want a ride?”
“I thought you'd never ask,” he replied. He moved to the other side of the SUV and got in.
Buffy started the car and carefully pulled out of the parking lot. Daniel nodded to the airman on duty as they passed the guard post. Airman Rogers nodded in response and watched as the vehicle disappeared down the road.
“So, uh...” Daniel found himself at a loss for words. If Jack could only see him now. He found himself giving silent thanks for his friend's current assignment. He fumbled internally for a conversation starter.
Buffy kept her eyes on the road. Two cars passed them heading towards the mountain before she finally spoke. “So, awkward much?”
It took a moment for him to translate her comment into standard English.
“A bit,” he smiled.
“Let's start with basic introductions. I'm Buffy Summers, daughter of Joyce Summers and Daniel Jackson. I have one, somewhat annoying, little sister and we are both students at UCCS.”
“Daniel Jackson, son of Claire and Melbourne Jackson. No siblings. I'm an archaeologist with degrees from UCLA and the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute. I'm currently a civilian contractor for the Air Force.”
“See, that wasn't so hard.” Buffy slowed the car as they came to a particularly windy stretch of road.
“It's a start.” Daniel looked at his daughter as her face was illuminated by the lights of an oncoming car. “So, what's your major?”
“Psychology. I kind of fell into it.”
“A good professor?”
She laughed. “A cute T.A. The professor was a real killer but the class itself was fascinating. Since then I've done some peer counseling at my old high school and spent the last couple of years working with teenagers.”
“So how long before you get your degree?”
“Three years. I'm still a sophomore. I did my freshman year right after graduating from high school, then Mom died. I dropped out to take care of Dawn.”
“Didn't her father help?”
“Hank? He dropped out of sight by then. He only maintained contact for a couple of years after the divorce. I notified him but he didn't even send flowers.” The car accelerated as they reached a straight stretch. “Apparently any attempt to acknowledge that he'd ever been married interfered with his mid-life crisis.”
Her letter said that her mother had died early in 2001. That would have left a twenty year old to raise sister. “How old was Dawn?”
“I'm surprised that social services didn't step in.”
“There were some problems early on. Dawn was acting out and I was trying to get my act together. Luckily I had some friends that were able to lend a hand.”
“Your letter said that your mom told you about me in some papers she left behind. Why didn't you try contacting me sooner?”
“As I said, I was trying to get my act together. Finding out that Hank wasn't my father was a shock. Between that, mom's dying, and some other stuff, I was pretty much out of it for a few months. After that, I was too busy trying to keep the household going. Besides, I really didn't know if you would want to know. I don't think I could have dealt with rejection at that point.”
Daniel was a bit hurt by that but not too surprised. Being abandoned by the man she thought was her father had to do some serious emotional damage. Being dropped into foster care limbo by his grandfather hadn't done him any good. In retrospect, it probably was better that she hadn't contacted him at the time. Would he have made the choice to Ascend if he had known about her? Either way, he would have died, leaving Buffy alone again.
He braced himself as the car turned on the highway.
“My turn. So, what does an archaeologist do in the Air Force?”
“It's kind of hard to believe but Deep Space Radar Telemetry.”
- - -
As Rogers entered the base cafeteria he wasn't surprised to find it nearly empty. After getting a plate of chipped beef, a favorite of the new general, he joined his friends at one of the back tables.
“So, Rogers, did you hear about Dr. Jackson?”
“Yeah, isn't he supposed to ship out on the Daedalus
“Not anymore. He told the General that he had reconsidered.”
“No way.” Lt. Stone was stunned. Everybody on the base knew that the doctor been angling for that assignment for months. “Why?”
Rogers smirked. “Oh, I think I've got a good idea.”
Lt. Carstairs had trouble believing that. “Oh?”
“Dr. Jackson just left the base,” he left the rest of the sentence hang.
“So, he left the base. It has been known to happen.”
“I was at the gate when he left. Transportation was provided by a very hot blonde.”
“You think he gave up his slot for a girl?” Carstairs was ambitious. “No way.”
“I don't know, but Buffy Summers was hot.”
Both of his friends erupted in laughter.
Stone managed to choke out “Buffy?”
“Hey, that was the name on the license.”