A/N: This is the first in a three-part series (the other two parts are much longer than this one, but it just stands on it's own too well to be a chapter in another story). Just a warning, this is not a happy story. It's not a total
angst-fest, but bunnies and puppies this is not. Puppies with broken legs, maybe... Or maybe I shouldn't write author's notes on my thirty-eighth hour without sleep.
For those of you who are curious, this takes place in Stargate early season five, Buffy between 5 and 6.
Disclaimer: I have no Danny's or Buffy's of my own, though it saddens me greatly. BTVS and Stargate SG-1 are properties of people who are, among other things, very decidedly not me.
. . .
The stone under his hands still held a touch of the sun’s warmth, though the night air was cool. The darkness and quiet somehow seemed appropriate for this meeting, for all he’d planned on being there by late afternoon. Late flights and poor directions had postponed the meeting until well after nightfall, but standing there in the moonlight, he couldn’t begrudge the delay. He would have thought it would be more disturbing to be a cemetery alone so late at night, but the silence leant the neat rows of stone a sort of dignified serenity that calmed his nerves and warmed his spirit. With a soft smile, Daniel laid a small bouquet of flowers on the ground and, after a moment’s hesitation, took a seat at the foot of the grave.
“So, umm… hello,” he greeted sheepishly, blushing at his own need to speak out loud. “I’m Dr. Daniel Jackson, and you… you must be Joyce.”
There was, of course, no answer. Daniel stared at the headstone for a long time, committing its inscriptions to memory. An entire life chiseled down to the simplicity of a few lines, a name, dates. Beneath these was inscribed: ‘Beloved mother. Many are the hearts that will carry you always’. It was a beautiful stone, a pale rose granite tablet with a delicate flower motif around the words.
“She must have loved you very much,” he told her, his voice nearly a whisper. “Your daughter, I mean. I… suppose that’s why I’m here. I wanted to talk to you first, ask about her, see what you thought… if I should meet her. To ask for your permission, maybe even your blessing. Now… I felt I should at least let you know, should pay my respects.
“I owe you… so much, I can’t even say. My debt, my thanks… there aren’t words, but I hope… I’m not sure what I hope. I just… I thank you, for being there when I couldn’t.” Daniel felt helpless to convey his thoughts, his feelings to this woman he’d never met yet owed so much. Logically, he knew this visit was far more for him than Joyce, but he felt he at least needed to try. Part of him hoped she somehow heard him, that somewhere she was listening and understood, but even if she wasn’t, at least the words had been said.
He sat a while longer, letting his gaze wander about the cemetery. He was in a far corner, near a small copse of trees. Joyce’s grave really was in a beautiful spot, at the end of one of the rows furthest back from the entrance. He imagined the spot must be well shaded in the late afternoon, a welcome respite for anyone who might visit her in the height of southern California’s sweltering summer. It was even somewhat secluded, as most of the plots behind it had yet to become occupied. Between the relative isolation and the trees, it was a place people could come to remember in privacy.
Getting to his feet, Daniel stretched and groaned a little. He wasn’t ready to leave yet, but his back was starting to protest to his choice of seating arrangements. Giving Joyce’s grave an apologetic look, he wandered back toward the trees. Even at night, it was cooler underneath the branches, the day’s heat likely never fully penetrating the thick leaves. Daniel wasn’t surprised to find the grass unkempt; he suspected it wasn’t technically part of the cemetery. It was probably part of the property, but it wasn’t worth the upkeep as it would likely never be used.
This conclusion in mind, Daniel was surprised to see what looked like a headstone as he peered into the shadows. Curiosity piqued, he ducked under the trailing branches and pressed further into the shadowed corner. Sure enough, he found a lone tombstone, complete with fresh flowers at its base. At a loss for who might be laid to rest at such an odd location, Daniel waited for his eyes to adjust as he leaned over the dark granite memorial.
At first he thought he was misreading the name, his imagination completing the letters before his eyes had become fully accustomed to the darkness of the shade. Brushing his fingers lightly over the chiseled words, he ignored the tightening in his gut as he stared at name cut deep into the rock.
Buffy Anne Summers. It couldn’t be, wasn’t possible, and yet…
Daniel sat down, hard, utterly unable to process what he was seeing. It was her name, the dates etched beneath them too current for there to be any mistake. The reality that his mind refused to believe was literally carved in stone before him. He raised his hand to his face, his surprise at finding tears distant and muted. Buffy Anne Summers. 1981-2001.
“Did you know her?”
Daniel hadn’t heard anyone approach, but the soft voice from behind him failed to startle him.
“I… no, I never got the chance…” he breathed, his mouth somehow forming words that had yet to from in his mind. “How long…?”
“May,” the girl said simply.
“May,” he echoed dumbly. “Two months. Two months, and I never… I didn’t know…” he trailed off. He didn’t even know what he was trying to say.
“Why are you here?” she asked. This time he did jump; he’d almost forgotten she was there.
“I- Joyce. I came to see Joyce,” he stammered as he finally turned to look at the stranger. The girl was young, maybe fifteen, long brown hair and wide eyes. “Did you- did you know them? Her?”
The girl nodded, but didn’t speak.
“She saved the world a lot,” Daniel murmured to himself, noticing the inscription for the first time. There was no response from behind him. “What was she like?”
She ignored the question. “Why are you here?” she asked again. He could hear tears in her voice, frustration.
Daniel brushed his fingers over Buffy’s name again, memorizing the angles of the stone. “I wanted… I came to see her mother. It’s odd, I suppose, but I wanted to… introduce myself, let her know my intentions, even if she couldn’t answer. I was going to find Buffy tomorrow, see if… if it looked like there might be a place for me in her life. If she might give me the chance to be there for her, her friend, if not…”
“If not what?” the girl asked when he didn’t continue.
“I never even knew about her until a few years ago,” he said, shaking his head. “I had no idea
I might be a father, and I was so… amazed
that I might have a daughter out there…”
“What?” The girl sounded genuinely surprised. “You mean Buffy?”
He nodded. “And I knew I’d missed so much, and I might never really have the chance to get to know her, that she might hate me for abandoning her, but to know that she even existed was so incredible, so remarkable… and it never occurred to me that after twenty years, two months might matter so much-“ he broke off, not trusting his voice to continue.
“I don’t understand,” the girl insisted. “Hank- she has a father.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you didn’t know,” he apologized awkwardly. “I didn’t mean to-“
“It’s okay,” she interrupted. “I mean, I don’t mind, only I’m not sure… I’m just confused.”
“You didn’t know she was adopted?” he asked, more collected this time.
She sat down beside him, her large blue eyes mystified. “Are you sure?” she asked.
He nodded apologetically, looking back to Buffy’s grave. “It took me a long time to find her. Years. But yeah, I’m sure. I wouldn’t have come here if I weren’t.”
“I never… she
never even knew, I don’t think,” the girl said. “I mean, she would have told me. She couldn’t have kept it a secret, not from… not from me.”
“I’m sorry,” he said again.
“Why?” she asked. “Why would you… why did you give her up?”
Daniel sighed deeply. “I didn’t. I didn’t even know. I was only fifteen, and it never even occurred to me… I just thought we were in love. Anna knew better, I think, but she needed so desperately to be wanted that it didn’t matter. She was… she was one of the best people I’d ever known. We were both in foster care, I think that’s why we bonded at first, but she was kind, and she actually listened to me…” Daniel smiled softly at the memory. “I think she was the first person that had really listened to me since my parents died, and I loved her for it, I really did. I was just a kid, but I really did care for her.
“I-“ Daniel stopped, suddenly turning to the girl as he remembered her age. “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this.”
“Please,” she said softly. “I… I have to know.”
Daniel sighed and shook his head, but he went on. “We only- it wasn’t a long relationship. I don’t know what happened, exactly, but she stopped coming to school, she stopped… I think at the time I thought she’d grown tired of me. She was older than me, seventeen, and… I just couldn’t imagine what she’d want to do with me. And then a month later I was relocated to another family in another city, and I never got the chance to see her again.”
“I had no idea she was pregnant. She never said a word, never contacted me, nothing. I would have… No, I can’t say that. I don’t know what I would have done, I was just a kid, but… She carried the baby to term and then gave her to a social worker at the hospital. Anything to keep the baby away from her foster-father was what she wrote in her diary. God, reading those diaries; she loved the baby so much, she was so thankful...
“I found out so many things when I… when I came back,” Daniel said, shaking his head. “A few years ago, I went away for a while, almost a year. I fell out of touch, didn’t keep up with the news or politics or anything. I spent a lot of time catching up when I got back, and at some point it occurred to me to look up Anna. I hadn’t thought of her in so long, but curiosity got the best of me, and…” Daniel shrugged. “There was so much about her I never knew. The first thing I found on her was an article about her foster-fathers murder trial. Apparently, after he found out she’d given up the baby, he beat her into a coma. She died three months later. Reading everything, I put two and two together, and I realized the baby could have been mine. I spent so much time, wrote so many letters… no one wanted to help me. Confidentiality, mostly; the doctors and social workers couldn’t really help me, not legally. Besides, a paternity test had never been done. After months, her foster-mother finally wrote me back. Sent me Anna’s diaries and told me in no uncertain terms to stop writing her.
“Reading those diaries… it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. She wrote about everything, all her rage and frustration and hate… Her foster-father had been abusing her for years, using her when his wife couldn’t give him children. Then, when she got pregnant… Its funny, but those were some of the best months of her life. The abuse stopped, he started treating her like a real human being. Like a princess, even. At first, she was terrified the baby might be his, used to pray that I was the father, but his wife… She wasn’t a nice person, either. She never hurt Anna, but she knew what was going on, and then… when Anna got pregnant, she accused Anna of being a whore, said she knew her husband hadn’t gotten the poor girl pregnant. Turns out the bastard was infertile, it’s why he could never have a baby with his wife. Not that he believed it, of course. He was convinced the child was his. When Anna gave her up…
“And I wasn’t there, not for any of it,” Daniel cursed. “I couldn’t protect her, the baby-“
“Stop it!” the girl interrupted angrily. “Please, just- don’t. There was nothing you could do for her, you didn’t know, and Buffy-“ the girl choked at the name, but continued- “Buffy had a good life.”
“I’m sorry,” Daniel said again.
The girl shook her head furiously, eyes bright with unshed tears. “No. Buffy had a good life. She had a family, and her friends were… they were amazing, and people loved her.”
“I can tell,” he said with a sad smile, touching her cheek softly.
“She was my sister,” the girl whispered brokenly, tears finally flowing. For a moment Daniel sat frozen, shocked by the sudden admission, but the moment passed and he pulled the sobbing girl into his arms. She buried her head in his chest, taking the comfort she’d obviously been lacking before.
As soon as she could speak again, she pulled away from his chest, though she let him keep his hands on her shoulders. “Sorry,” she said as she wiped away tears and snot.
“Don’t be,” he soothed. “I think I probably needed it too.”
She gave him a small, slightly sheepish smile. “Still, thanks.” She wiped her eyes again and settled next to him, her shoulder touching his as they sat facing Buffy’s grave.
“So, umm, Dr. Daniel Jackson,” he said after an awkward silence, extending his hand. She stared at it a moment before letting out a little chuckle.
“Kinda forgot that part, huh?” she said as she took his hand. “Dawn Summers.”
“Dawn,” he repeated with a smile. “I never realized she had a sister.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t know she had a dad that wasn’t Hank,” she pointed out. “Now we’re even.”
“So I guess it’s just you and him, then,” he observed, though it was more a question than a statement.
She snorted, albeit soggily. “Not exactly. Wonder-dad didn’t even show up for mom’s funeral. The number we had for him in Spain is out of date, I don’t think he even knows about Buffy. Some of Buffy’s friends are taking care of me instead. Don’t worry, they’re way better than Hank could ever be,” she assured him at his worried look.
“But Joyce…” he left it hanging, not sure how to ask, but she got the gist.
“She was great,” Dawn told him quietly. “Really great. I mean, we didn’t always get along perfect, and she and Buffy used to fight sometimes, but she tried, and it wasn’t easy after stupid Hank left with his stupid secretary. She really loved us.”
“That’s… that’s really good,” Daniel said. “You know, it’s starting to feel a little like you’re comforting me, when it really ought to be the other way around.”
She cracked a small grin. “Who says we can’t be comforting each other?” she said, almost teasing.
He shook his head. “You’ve lost so much in such a short time,” he said, barely even a whisper.
She closed her eyes against a new rush of tears, apparently determined to keep them at bay. “What about you?” she asked when she could finally open them again.
He was a long time in answering. “I have no idea,” he admitted. “I never… all this time I’ve been looking for her, hoping I’d find a young woman who’d had a good life so far, a good family, and it never… I never thought I’d be mourning her before I ever had the chance to meet her.” He was amazed at how dry his eyes felt, but he had an entire weekend of leave for reality to hit him. Tears could wait.
“She was amazing,” she told him. He turned to look at her to find her staring up at the sky through the trees. “And I mean really amazing. She was the bravest person I’ve ever met in my entire life.”
“I would have been so proud to know her,” Daniel said softly.
Dawn nodded. “Yeah, you would have.”
They sat in silence a long time, taking comfort in each other’s company. The night was silent around them, offering them both a solitude Daniel suspected Dawn sorely needed.
“How?” he asked, not wanting to break the silence but needing to know.
Dawn sighed and got to her feet, brushing bits of grass and leaves off of her jeans, her eyes never leaving the stars. “You should be careful out here at night,” she stated.
“Dawn?” He turned and looked up at her questioningly. She didn’t answer right away, but finally turned her gaze toward her sisters grave. He couldn’t help but follow her gaze, his eyes falling again on his daughter’s name carved into the stone.
“She died to save me,” Dawn told him.
He turned to ask her more, but she was gone.
. . .
Dawn found him standing at the far end of the cemetery leaning against a mausoleum, the pile of butts at his feet letting her know he’d been there all night. Not that she would have suspected otherwise, of course.
“That was quite the story,” Spike said as he flicked ash off the end of his cigarette.
“Keep an eye on him, okay?” Dawn asked.
He nodded. “You know this means he’s your da, too,” he told her, watching the lone figure at Buffy’s grave.
She nodded. “Yeah, he is.”
. . .
Daniel stood at the end of the driveway, fiddling with the card in his pocket as he stared at the house. 1630 Revello Drive. It was a nice house, large and in good repair, a pleasant place for a family. Even the yard was well cared for, suggesting that Dawn had been telling the truth when she’d said she was looked after.
“Can I help you?” a soft, low voice asked from behind him. He turned to see a shy young woman, probably about the same age his daughter had been. He couldn’t help but mirror her small smile.
“Not really,” he said apologetically.
“You s-sure? You look a little lost,” she explained. Her blue eyes were warm and caring, and Daniel found himself hoping this was one of Buffy’s friends Dawn had mentioned.
“Actually,” he said, pulling the card out of his pocket and tapping it against his thigh, “do you know a Dawn Summers?”
Her smile grew at Dawn’s name, though she was obviously trying to be cautious for Dawn’s sake. “May I ask who’s en-enquiring?” she asked, stuttering endearingly.
“Just a- a family friend,” he assured her. “I was hoping maybe I could ask you to give her this?” he said, handing her the card.
“Dr. Daniel Jackson?” she asked as she looked it over, noticing the phone numbers he’d written on the back.
He nodded. “Tell her, if she ever needs something, anything at all...” he gestured toward the card.
“Alright,” she said with a nod, her smile, if anything, growing bigger. “Are you- I mean, would you like some coffee or- or anything?”
He shook his head sadly. “I really should be going,” he apologized.
“Well, um, have a nice day, then,” she said, giving him a little wave as she went inside.
Daniel smiled to himself as he walked away, finding small comfort in the fact that even though he couldn’t be there for her, his daughter had been loved.