Colorado Springs, CO“She was my best friend.”
Daniel stared at Buffy in confusion. He had assumed that the guardian was an Ancient. Was she a recently ascended being instead? And did Buffy know about the Ancients or ascension? His head was really being to hurt.
Paul Davis, on the other hand, was mentally assembling the puzzle pieces. His ongoing, if discrete, research into Ms. Summers had included some information on her associates. Willow Rosenberg had been a classmate of Buffy's, a roommate in college, and later had moved into the Summers home following the death of Joyce Summers. After the destruction of Sunnydale, Ms. Rosenberg had been hired by the Travers Foundation. Could she be the witch that General O'Neill had mentioned? The one that had nearly, as Miss Summers bluntly put it, nuked the planet? Was possible that a witch could mistaken for an Ancient or an Ancient be mistaken for a witch? His head was starting to throb in concert with his stomach.
“Buffy,” Jay said trying to get her attention. “Buffy, what's wrong?”
Buffy blinked then sighed.
“I can't believe they asked her to do it,” she said quietly. “Not after what happened in Sunnydale. We almost lost her.”
“Who asked her,” Jay prodded.
“The coven. She wouldn't do it otherwise,” Buffy began to shake and was unable to continue.
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place for Col. Davis.
“I believe that Miss Summers is referring to Willow Rosenberg,” he looked towards Buffy for confirmation. The confirmation, however, came from another source.
- -Washington, DC
Gen. O'Neill was surrounded by silence, his staff long since gone home. The other nearby offices had also shut down hours ago. Other parts of the Pentagon were still occupied of course, theirs was a global enterprise after all.
The general sat alone in his office, a cup of cold coffee on his desk, his jacket and tie discarded. The latter would have caused talk had there been any witnesses. Today (tonight?) had been the crowning touch of week that registered high on the O'Neill scale of bizarre. Vampires, demons, slayers, a general that forgot what the chain of command was, a visit to the White House, and pissed off royalty. Now his problem child archaeologist and favorite Jaffa were missing, again. No word from Col. Davis either. He really hated this job.
O'Neill checked his watch again. Davis should have been on the ground nearly two hours ago. By now, the lieutenant colonel should be either speaking with Miss “I've got a hot date” Summers or at least camped out in front of her house. He mentally added her to his list of people he'd like to shoot as the telephone rang.
- - -SGC
“Jack, SG-1 has been located,” a relieved Gen. Landry told his friend and superior. “I don't have all of the details but they somehow found themselves back in Colorado Springs.”
His office door opened as Walter brought a fresh cup of coffee in. Landry waved him over with his free hand over as he listened to Jack's questions. Walter placed the coffee on the general's desk and quietly saw himself out.
“The team isn't back at the SGC yet and we didn't have a secure line. All Mitchell was able to report was that one minute they were in a cavern and the next they were Colorado Springs...Some sort of guardian. She recognized Dr. Jackson and sent them to a civilian's living room...No, the homeowner and her boyfriend confronted them...Actually, Dr. Jackson is acquainted with both of them...He's speaking with them know...Davis? He showed up at the location shortly after SG-1 did.”
- - -Colorado Springs, CO
“It had to be Willow.”
The group looked over to where Dawn had reentered the room.
“Merlin's cave is guarded by the coven. Willow owes the coven. It had to be Willow that sent you here.”
With the exception of Col. Davis, the men at the table were lost.
“Why does she owe the coven,” Daniel queried.
“A couple of years ago she kinda lost it,” the younger Summers sister said in what was the understatement of the year.
“What do you mean lost it,” Will asked his girlfriend.
“Willow's a witch, a very powerful witch. She had been having issues with misusing magic. When her girlfriend was shot, she lost control.”
“What Dawn is trying to say is that Willow went dark, as in big scary uberwitch,” Buffy said quietly. “She was a danger to everyone until Xander talked her down. After that, Giles took her to the coven and they helped her. If they hadn't been able to help her, they would have had to destroy her. That's why this is so bad. If she had killed you, she might have gone dark again.”
“So, why send us here?” Daniel was curious. “Why not just let us go?”
“She needed to get you away from the coven,” Dawn said simply. “Either that or I think you are her new version of cookies.”
“Willow apologizes with cookies,” Buffy clarified. “But she probably needed to get you as far away from the coven as she could. By sending you here, you become my responsibility.”
“Will they come after you,” Daniel asked worriedly.
Buffy shook her head. “I don't think so. They will probably promises from you guys to stay away from England until hell freezes over plus some major ass kissing.”
“I can do that,” her father said as Jay snorted.
“The ass kissing will be done by me, not you. You
will not be getting that close,” she said as she stood up and stretched. “I don't know about the rest of you but I'm exhausted. Can we pick this up tomorrow?”
Daniel realized that Buffy wasn't the only one that was tired. “Sure. Paul, is your car big enough to take us back to the mountain?”
“No, five passengers only.”
“I can take Teal'c and Col. Mitchell back,” Will said as he stood up.
“And Jay,” Daniel added.
“He stays.” Buffy said before turning hopefully to the aforementioned Jay. “That is, if he wants to.”
Jay nodded. “I'm staying.”
Before Daniel could voice any further objections, Paul interjected. “We'll be heading out then. Miss Summers, I'd like to arrange a meeting tomorrow, that is later today. Would you be available sometime late this afternoon?”
She nodded as she herded most of her guests through the living room and to the front door.
“But Jay,” Daniel began.
“Good night Dad,” Buffy said as she shut the door.
Dawn huffed. “You get to keep your boyfriend and I didn't even get a goodnight kiss. That is so unfair.”
- - -
Twenty minutes later, Buffy joined Jay back in her bed.
“So, Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” Jay chuckled. “That sounds like half of a bad double feature.”
“Hey, I resemble that remark.”