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Fragmented Path

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Summary: The final battle brings a loss that the white hats never foresaw and with it a hero may learn another form of peace.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Buffy-Centered > Theme: Friendship(Moderator)AvaFR181021,5112012951,5965 Apr 0623 Feb 08Yes

NOTE: This chapter is rated FR13

Chapter Eight

Daniel turned his attention away from his heated discussion with Jim as the door to the café jingled merrily and opened to reveal a delicate woman. She stepped into the vapory air and moved toward the first booth of Ascended beings. They looked up at her and the group slipped into conversation. Her face angled toward him and he was struck by the familiarity of her features, the shine of long blonde hair swept back into a high ponytail.

“Now he’s getting it!”

Daniel shifted his focus back to the other man looking at him expectantly. “Oma helps people ascend but she’d never help someone like Anubis!”

“Maybe not on purpose.”

“Are you saying he tricked her somehow?”

Jim leaned into him, his voice thrumming with excitement. “Rule number one! No lone ascended being shall help a lower ascend. Lowers are what we call humans and such. If you deserve to be here you should be able to get here on your own. If there’s an exception, for whatever reason, a majority vote by the collective can get you in. But Oma thinks she knows better and she’s taken her licks for it. I admit for the most part, she’s brought good people onboard, but as the old saying goes, nobody’s prefect. Even us higher beings.” He rolled his index fingers in the air in a small celebration of his revelation.

Daniel stared at him horrified. “Oma helped Anubis ascend.” Jim’s smiled widened and he snapped his fingers at him.

“Get out. Get out now.” Oma’s gaze had narrowed and she glared at the other Ascended.

Jim’s smile spread. “Maybe I don’t want to leave just yet.”

“How ‘bout I make you?”

Daniel’s eyes widened as the small woman who had just entered, placed herself behind Oma. Up close he noticed her eyes were a clear, angry green and focused solely on Jim.

The man beside him chuckled. “They stopped you last time.”

Daniel frowned at his answer to her thinly veiled threat and watched her eyes narrow. “This time I won’t hesitate.”

Jim laughed out loud. “No need for violence. I’m late for a previous engagement anyway.” He rose and pulled his jacket from the back of the chair as he patted Daniel’s knee, “Nice talking to you, kid.”

Jim paused beside Buffy and winked at her. “Good seeing you Nemie.” His hand dropped down to slap the curve of her hip as he passed and she spun to go after him, Oma caught her arm.

“No.”

“Oma.”

“No.”

The blonde shook her head and then did a double take as she noticed Oma’s outfit. A small twitch to either corner of her mouth was the only facial response to the baby blue uniform with peach trim.

“Nice dress.”

Daniel watched, slightly amazed as Oma smiled with relief before answering, “I like your shoes.”

The blonde grinned up at the taller woman. “They make my calves look hot.”

Daniel couldn’t help his gaze from dropping and silently agreeing with her in his head. His eyes swept up her form, taking in the fifties style dress with large pink flowers embroidered across the front.

Buffy laid a hand on Oma’s arm. “Table three needs a refill and I need a little alone time with your prodigy.”

Daniel’s voice dripped sarcasm, “You mean you’ll actually talk to me?”

She flicked her gaze to his and arched a brow. “Shut it, space monkey.”

He blinked and echoed confused, “Space monkey?"

She rolled her eyes, “Jack called you it when you were reunited after your first real battle with Apophis.”

His head inclined, he remember Jack’s brief but tight embrace but the nickname meant nothing. With a shake of his head he began to ask, “How did—”

“You showed me,” was her short but straightforward interruption as she strolled away from him to sit in the booth he had occupied earlier. He turned, watched Oma walk behind the counter without so much as a backwards glance. Sighing Daniel picked up the paper Jim had left behind and sat across from the little blonde. She stole his coffee and took a small sip, before grimacing and shoving it back towards him.

“Ugh, would you like any coffee with your sugar?”

Daniel rolled his eyes. “Help yourself.”

Buffy reached across the Formica tabletop and tugged the paper from his grasp. She opened it and scanned the headline, a frown pulling at her brow.

Daniel cleared his throat and picked up his coffee. As the woman looked up he met her gaze over the rim of the mug and asked, “We were friends?”

Buffy waited until the liquid reached the back of his throat before dryly amending. “Lovers.”

His eyes widened and he choked. The air rushed from his throat with a harsh bark of sound as he sputtered with a blush staining his cheeks—good God had she missed his blushes.

“Excuse me?” Buffy calmly pulled a napkin from the silver dispenser and wiped up his spilled coffee with a small smile of satisfaction. “You are joking…right?” She glanced up at him with a raised brow and finished cleaning the table and set the damp napkin to the side. “I mean…I’m positive I’d remember something like that.” Her smile spread to reach her eyes and Daniel blushed harder. “I think I’ll stop talking now.”

“I’ve missed you.”

He stopped avoiding her gaze at the softly uttered words and his annoyance vanished at the longing on her face. “Who are you?” She winced and Daniel followed suit. “I’m sorry.” He offered his hand. “Daniel.”

She gazed at the offered limb for a moment, internally debating on allowing herself to touch him. His smile wilted and he began to lower the hand, when hers reached over the table to be engulfed by his. He marveled at her petite size for a moment before her cool hand was removed and she nodded to him.

“Nemesis.”

“Nemesis?” He echoed, voice doubtful.

She blinked, startled by his reaction. “That’s what the others call me.”

“What does Oma call you?”

She stiffened with his line of questions and suppressed the sorrow building at the core of her essence. “Buffy.”

He paused and smiled. “It suits you.”

With the warmth in his gaze directed at her, Buffy felt her heart shatter just a little bit more. “So you died again?”

Daniel stiffened at the switch in topics, “Apparently.” She nodded as if that seemed reasonable and maybe for her it was. “Why doesn’t anyone try and stop Anubis?”

“I did. The others stopped me.”

“Why?”

“Why do you think?”

“I think I’d like a straight answer for once.”

She raised her brows at him, “Then ask a question that can be answered.”

Daniel stopped and simply stared at her for a moment before nodding. “Alright, why did I choose to become human again?”

“You thought you could make a bigger difference.”

“I did?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think I have?”

Buffy stiffened and averted her gaze. Her face fell into neutral lines as she shifted back in the booth and shrugged. Daniel frowned and opened his mouth to ask her again, when Oma moved to their table and placed the coffee pot down. She slid in beside Buffy and met his gaze.

“I’m sure you have questions.”

He blinked as he realized she was protecting the small blonde. “Why have the others allowed Anubis to become as powerful as he is?”

Daniel listened amazed as Oma told him of Anubis’s deception and her role in his ascension. His anger rolled up through his chest as he stood and filled his voice as he pleaded with the others. Their heads remained down, still ignoring him. They always ignored him. Daniel’s shoulders dropped and he turned back toward Oma. Her face was perfectly neutral and she had placed a hand on Buffy’s shoulder.

Daniel’s brows drew down as he caught the look of sadness in her green eyes before she shielded her emotions from view and erected the walls between herself and a lower. With a sigh he sat across from them once more.

“It isn’t right.”

The delicate blonde nodded. “You’re right.”

Daniel blinked startled by the admission. “Then do something.”

Oma shook her head. “She can not.”

“I can.” The others in the diner shifted.

Daniel’s eyes widened. “You can?”

“Yes.”

“No.” Oma sent the linguist a pleading look that he couldn’t understand. Buffy flicked her gaze to his resolved as she slid across the booth, through Oma, to stand beside the table.

The bells above the diner’s entrance jingled ominously and Buffy’s gaze narrowed as Jim strolled in cheerfully calling out to Oma as he leaned over the booth’s side beside Daniel.

“Can I get a coffee?”

Oma reached out and grasped the blonde’s wrist as she began to move and smile thinly at the other Ascended. “Get it yourself.”

“Don’t mind if I do.” Buffy yanked herself free of her teacher’s grasp and moved toward him. He spoke as she walked to the counter that separated them. “Oh Danny boy, see the paper?” Jim pulled a cup from the stack beside the coffee maker.

“No, what’s it say?”

Buffy frowned as Daniel played into the bastard’s hands. “The trick worked. Those stupid Jaffa took half their ships to hunt down Anubis, meanwhile his army was posed to attack Dakara. The remaining rebels guarding Dakara are being slaughtered. Its only a mater of time before ol’Anubis gets his hands on the weapon.”

Daniel watched Buffy place herself between Jim and Oma and he frowned at her aggressive body language and the other Ascended’s words.

“I’m sorry, you seem almost happy about that.”

“Who me?”

The pieces fell into place and Daniel shifted his body forward and leaned outside the booth. “Yeah you, what do you have against Oma?”

Oma leaned forward. “Daniel…”

He flicked his gaze to her and shook his head. “No, I want to know.” He focused back on Jim. “I mean you’re not just watching. You’re coming here to rub it in. Why are you taking such pleasure in her punishment?”

Jim placed his hands on either side of his frame as he leaned forward and sent Buffy a wink before answering Daniel’s question. “Me? I don’t have anything against Oma. I think she’s great, don’t I?” He grinned at her. “Hell, she’s the one that helped me ascend.” Buffy stiffened as she felt Daniel’s shock, as he finally understood. Jim pointed at him and grinned. “You’ve got it now.”

The linguist spoke, his voice devoid of emotion. “You are Anubis.”

Jim began to laugh and raised his coffee cup to them. “Cheers.”

Buffy’s gaze chilled as she focused her will on the other Ascended. He choked and slammed back against the metal counter spanning the wall behind him. She tried to step forward; to finish what she had begun so long ago but the woman reading a book at the counter reached out and calmly grasped her arm. The others’ will engulfed her, brought her actions to a standstill. Jim laughed and straightened himself, his tie before smiling at Buffy and moved out from behind the counter.

Daniel watched as the small blonde tried to free herself from the other’s grasp. Jim’s amusement multiplied at her entrapment as he nodded to Daniel and Oma.

“Well, gotta go.” He gave a small wave.

Daniel turned to Oma who gazed at him sadly, but made no attempt to stop her former charge. He rose and leapt at the other man. His body passed through Jim’s and Daniel shuddered with the cold that tripped its way down his spine. He turned around to find himself being laughed at.

“There’s nothing you can do. You don’t have the power and those that do…” He trailed off and sent Buffy a smile. “Aren’t allowed to interfere.”

“But I am.”

Jim frowned as he shifted his body to gaze at Oma. The Ascended rose and her clothes melted into the shapeless smock that Buffy took so much joy in mocking. A small part of her mourned the loss of never speaking with her charge again, but she suppressed the emotion and focused on the task at hand.

“You can’t kill me either.”

“I can fight you.”

“Oma, no!” Oma didn’t understand the battle cry. She’d never win.

Daniel turned to see the blonde, frantically trying to free herself from the other as Jim took a small step back and voiced Buffy’s thoughts. “Well, you can’t win.”

“It won’t matter, you won’t be able to do anything but fight me back.”

“What are you going to do?”

Buffy watched Oma step forward and called forth her essence, her knowledge. “Something I should have done a long time ago.”

Jim looked terrified as he raised his hands as if to ward off a blow. “Oh no, no. No!” The two converged and floated upward in a spiraling mass of power and light.

The blonde shouted with him. “NO!” The other holding her arm released Buffy and she stumbled forward as Daniel moved to look around the area they had just vacated.

Tears filled her eyes and she met his gaze as the diner and the people surrounding them fell out of focus and faded away. Daniel sank into the surface beneath him and he glanced around to see a field of clouds. They rolled outward and he spun in a circle, seeing only sky as he turned.

“Where…”

“Oma created the diner.”

He blinked. “Not that I’m complaining but why aren’t I dead?” She raised her gaze to his and he saw the answer. “You’re keeping me alive. Why?”

Buffy ignored the question and her eyes fell closed as she stated, “You’re friends have started the self-destruct of Stargate Command.”

He moved toward her. “Can you stop it?”

She raised a hand as if asking for a moment before she slowed the clock counting the seconds to his friends’ deaths. Buffy willed the Stargate to shut down and smiled at the sense of relief that came from the lowers. She opened her eyes and looked into his worried gaze. “They’re safe.”

“Thank you.” The blonde nodded and shifted her attention from his too perceptive gaze. “How do I get back?”

She sighed. “I can send you…or…”

He cocked his head to the side as she trailed off and prompted, “Or?”

“Or you could stay.”

He blinked. “Stay? How?”

“I could help you ascend.” Buffy watched him struggle with the right words and sighed, “Its all right. I know you have to go.”

“I would—”

“But you’re needed elsewhere.”

He sighed and wished that he had the memories that went with her features, the thoughts that understood her emotions and the reasons behind them. She swept her gaze around them again. “Do you have to leave right this very moment?”

He frowned. “I don’t believe so.”

She nodded. “Can I show you something?”

“Show me something?”

Buffy held out her hand and he stared at silently. Her face remained neutral and perfect as if she could stay there forever. Daniel took a deep breath and grasped her hand. Warmth spread up his arm to settle in his chest and the space around them wavered, faded until they were surrounded by a meadow of endless sky with only the burning gas of stars to light the nothingness.

Daniel frowned at the lack of cold and his need for breath. His gaze followed the slow pace of a meteor as it broke from a belt of stars and began to leave a trail of cosmic dust through the darkness.

“This place feels familiar.”

He felt her hand flexed within his own and he glanced down to see her staring up at him. “You liked watching the universe expand and other boring things.”

Daniel smiled. “Other boring things? Such as?”

“An advancement of a society or the discovery of a new world.”

He looked back out at the galaxy slowly unfurling to fill the empty space of the universe and felt humbled. He watched in wonder as a star flickered and died and knew the Earth wouldn’t see the first pulse of light until centuries after his death if ever. They stayed frozen, watching the beauty of creation forge its way outward. Minutes passed and faded into hours. Neither spoke, but their hands remained intertwined and Daniel only briefly thought on his contentment. He’d pondered it later when he wouldn’t muddle the feelings her presence invoked.

Buffy sighed with the fact that she had kept him too long. He was still between and she needed to return him to his proper place in the universe. “I should get you back.”

He turned back to her and frowned at sadness in her gaze. “Oh…sure, alright.”

She nodded and Daniel blinked. When he opened his eyes was in Jack’s office naked as the day he was born and listening to his best friend, Sam, Teal’c and Bra’tac discuss the outcome of Anubis’ attack.

Teal’c base alto was filled with amusement as he addressed Bra’tac’s question. “O’Neill believes that Daniel Jackson was somehow responsible.”

The linguist winced and called out, “Nope, it wasn’t me.”

Jack stopped and flicked his eyes around the room and nearly sighed with relief at the stunned faces around him but just to be sure he wasn’t going nuts, “Anybody else hear that?”

Carter nodded to him her blue eyes wide and then their favorite archeologist called out from the General’s office. “I’m in here.”

Jack pointed to his office, “That’s Daniel.” He rose and made his way toward the opened door. Intent on getting a good look at his friend just to make sure and Jack was indeed treated to a good look. The General saw more of Daniel than he had ever planned or wished too.

“Don’t! Don’t come in!”

The linguist eyes widened at Jack’s blurred image and he turned his back on him, silently cursing Buffy in his head.

“Woah, hey there.”

Jack stepped back and ignored the confused looks of the others in the room and turned toward the American flag as possible cover for naked Daniel. Which—by the way—he planned to never let the other man live down. His fists clenched as he paused and realized their country’s flag was probably not the best of choices. Spinning on his heel he pulled down the SGC’s flag, causing the pole to rock dangerously. He tossed the flag to Daniel with one hand and steadied the rod with the other all the while studiously avoiding looking at naked Daniel.

Did he mention he planed to never let him live this down?

Daniel wrapped the flag tightly around his waist and closed his eyes while counting to ten before cautiously walking into the main briefing room of Stargate Command. His fingers held the cloth in a vise like grip as he passed Jack. The General was known for having an odd sense of humor at the worst possible moments.

His eyes swept around the blurred shapes of his friends and he wished that Buffy had at least sent him back with his glasses and some clothes would have been nice. Well at least his memory was still intact.

“It’s uh…a long story.”

“And I’m so much better at telling it.”

Daniel stiffened and turned back into Jack’s office were Buffy was absently braiding her hair into pigtails. He blinked and frowned at the fact that he could see her clearly. “What are you doing here?”

She cocked her head to the side as she finished the last one and tugged an elastic band from her wrist, securing the end and flipping it behind her back. “Hello to you too.”

Buffy stepped forward and melted into the soft illumination of infinity and flowed through his body to the other side, as he blocked the doorway. Daniel shuddered at the warmth that swarmed his senses and shook his head as Buffy reformed and flicked her green eyes around the concrete room of the SGC.

“Its bigger than I thought.” A small, evil smile graced her lips as she turned back to Daniel and added, “I seem to say that a lot where you’re concerned.”

The linguist tried to fight the blush he could feel rising up his neck and prayed for salvation as Jack watched the byplay between them with interest. The General pondered placing the base on alert but the blonde hadn’t caused any harm other than to Daniel’s ego. Plus she had done that cool glow thing that Danny had when he ascended.

Leaning into the linguist he whispered, “Friend of yours?”

“Uh…maybe.”

Buffy arched a brow at his answer but swept her gaze around the room and they lit up when they landed on Bra’tac. The older Jaffa’s eyes widened as his dark gaze focused on the newest occupant of the room’s face.

“Nemesis!” He rose and moved around the table to stand before the tiny warrior. “You are indeed Daniel Jackson’s friend and mine as well.” His arm came to thump against his chest as his head bowed in acknowledgment.

Buffy returned the nod and felt the others confusion as if it were a blanket wrapping around her mind, forcing her to see the world through their perspective. Her image flickered at the sudden bombardment of emotion as she connected with every person within the walls of the SGC. She had not been in close proximity to humans in far too long—it was disconcerting.

Daniel frowned at her sudden shift out of focus as her jaw set in concentration. “Are you all right?”

She blinked and her image solidified as she raised her head. Buffy pulled her consciousness inward and allowed the sensations to roll over and away from her before she spoke to her charge. “Peachy.”

Carter raised a brow at the way the Ascended spoke and her casual teasing of Daniel. Her face was familiar and she listened only half heartedly as Bra’tac explained his first and only meeting with the petite being. Sam’s eye widened as she recalled where they had met the blonde before, she looked different without the leather cat suit.

Daniel cleared his throat. “As much fun as this little reunion is I should really get some…” His words trailed off as the green shirt and comfortable slacks Oma had put him in reappeared under the flag, along with his glasses. He blinked and looked up at the surprised faces of his teammates and friends.

“Thank you.”

Buffy arched a brow. “You’re welcome.”

“So you’re Nemesis?" Jack frowned, "We’ve met before.”

The linguist looked around at the nodding faces and he sighed. “When?”

“I was trying to talk you out of doing something stupid.” Buffy flicked her gaze back to Daniel and smiled.

Jack raised a brow. “You were threatening his life for interfering.”

“Like I said I was trying to stop him from doing something stupid.”

Buffy watched their faces and was flooded with the wealth of emotions they felt for one another. She should leave; her being there went against nearly every rule established by the others. Her eyes narrowed, Oma had followed the rules to some extent and now she was gone. Lost to battle for all eternity. Buffy ignored the will of the others and refocused on the question Sam asked.

~~~@~~~@~~~@
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