A/N: Big thanks to Jo for BETAing this monster. She has been a real help and a dear to try to fix my mistakes.
A/N: I need more BETAs and Prereaders.
A/N: Thanks to AMS for always supporting my writing.
General Jack O’Neill nearly danced off the elevator he was so happy! He had just spent an uninterrupted night with his wife. Of course they were both so tired all they could do was just hold each other while they slept. He didn’t know how he hit the jack-pot with Carter and he wasn’t about to analyze it. He was the luckiest guy in the world and that’s all he cared about at the moment. He was just going to thank his lucky stars that someone so beautiful, so smart, and so loving would even bother with him, much less decide to love him. She had seen him at his worst and stayed. Sometimes amazing things happened in the universe.
“Good morning, General,” Walter said as he handed O’Neill his coffee. “At 06:15 we received a flash message from Teal’c. He, Master Bra’tac, and Gerak are requesting an immediate meeting with you at the SGC.”
“ACK! Walter, what did I tell you about my coffee?” Jack stopped in the middle of the hallway, forcing people to skirt around him or run over the General. He glanced down at his aide, waiting for him to reply.
“That I’m not supposed to talk until you have taken at least two sips,” Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman uttered. The man then looked down at the files he was carrying, patiently waiting for O’Neill to start walking again.
“Thank you, Walter,” Jack said smugly. Though, he could tell that Walter enjoyed playing this game each morning. If Jack thought that it really bothered the Sergeant then he wouldn’t do it. It was enjoyable to drive your senior officers to distraction. It was abuse to do it to a NCO.
Jack relished his coffee as he walked to his office. He sat down in the big chair and motioned for his aide to sit down on the other side of the desk.
“So Walter, what’s happening with Teal’c that they want to visit?” O’Neill asked. If Teal’c called ahead then he remembered their special VIP guest and wanted to make sure his visit wouldn’t cause problems. One of the main problems they should try to avoid is letting a little girl slay Gerak because of his snake. The Jaffa Nation and Earth were wary allies as it was, their relationship could quickly turn sour if a Slayer mistakenly killed one of their leaders.
Walter stood and placed the first file on Jack’s desk next to his hand. “Here is the translation of the information Teal’c sent ahead of the meeting.” The NCO waited until Jack picked up the file. “Since Major Frasier was unsure of how a symbiote would affect the Slayer’s,” he coughed, “Spidey sense
, I’ve notified her to come up her at her earliest convenience.”
“Good thinking, Walter,” Jack mumbled as he read the translation of the coded message. The SGC used codes for their off-world allies because the captured Goa’uld communication devices were not secure.
The next sentence of the message wiped away Jack’s good mood and sent a shiver of fear into his gut.
“SNAKES are on earth!” Jack glanced up at the Master Sergeant and saw confirmation in his eyes.
“Yes Sir, the Goa'uld are on earth and the N.I.D has been actively helping them. If you read the next paragraph it claims that the Goa’uld inhabiting the former Senator Kinsey reached out to the N.I.D. to offer – Goa'uld in Exile – services,” Walter said the words as if they were choking him.
This reeks of what the US did at the end of World War II in bringing over and protecting Nazi scientists, only to discover that they sold secrets to the Soviets. O’Neill felt sick. Everything he worked for, everything he stood for shifted under him. Jack shoved back from his desk and stood. For some reason this was not something he wanted to deal with sitting down.
He trusted the Jaffas’ intelligence because he knew that Teal’c would have checked it out before contacting the SGC. After that fiasco with the Russians last year, how could the N.I.D be so stupid? Clearly the Snakes were playing the N.I.D because how else could the Jaffa have found out about it? This was the last thing Earth needed to get in the way of their negotiations for a permanent treaty with the Jaffa, or the Tok’ra?
His first instinct was to pick up the red phone and call the President, but he quickly pushed that idea down. If he called the President and Hayes ordered him off the N.I.D’s trail then he would have to obey or lose his command. While, if he didn’t notify the President the same thing could happen, only it would happen after he personally killed every single Goa'uld on the planet!
The other thing he could do was refuse the meeting with Teal’c, which he was sure the big guy could figure out that was a green light for the Jaffa to hunt the Goa'uld on earth. Except that was wrong in so many ways, the least of which was letting an armed military force operate within the US borders.
Jack shook his head at his own stupidity and anger.
“General,” Walter said, thankfully interrupting O’Neill’s thoughts. The NCO had sat in the chair next to the desk. “We still have to do the rest of your morning briefing?”
Jack turned back to face the Chief Master Sergeant, trying to get his mind off the Snakes. Walter was right. Part of being in command of the SGC was that he needed to know what was happening in all the levels. He sat back down in his chair trying to compartmentalize the Snakes on earth, so he could concentrate on other aspects of the briefing. When he was a Colonel, he focused on just one issue at a time. As the General, he had to juggle the different crises, though, the Snakes working with the other kind of snake in the N.I.D was a pretty damn big crisis.
“Ok, Walter, hit me,” he told the NCO as settled into his chair. ‘I’ll meet with Teal’c and Bra’tac then decide what we need to do about it.’
“Thank you General, at about 03:30 our VIP guest went into some kind of seizure …”
Buffy took her time waking up. She allowed her body to transition from the dream with Daniel, into waking slowly. It was a luxury she was normally never allowed. It felt almost decadent to simply lay still while the different levels of awareness washed over her like a warm rain.
The first thing she heard was the whirring of the machines around her. Then she heard someone next to her bed flipping the pages of a magazine, and next thing was the four distinctive heart beats of the people in the room.
After that came the wonderful warmth of the bed, and she let herself sink into its comfort.
Finally, the smells came. Yes, there was the yuck that told her this room was being used as a hospital, the smell that told her that she really, really, needed a shower, and finally the smell of Nancy, her Slayer. And with the realization that Nancy was next to her, she accepted the familiar buzz of the connection that came from her fellow slayers.
Energy surged through her from the recognition that her Slayers answered her. Buffy wanted to sit up and throw off the blankets ready to meet the day. She didn’t, she couldn’t. While, she could tell that the few hours’ sleep had done her a world of good, she was still weakened from the lack of food and rest.
Instead, she reached out with her Spidey sense, trying to feel where her Slayers were located. She had so very missed their constant psychic touch while she was sick. Buffy was immediately rewarded for her efforts because she found Spring and Tracy heading up and away from her. Then, to her surprise, she discovered two more extremely young Slayers close-by. The young girls were only a few miles away and headed towards her.
Despite waking up so peacefully, her mind was still clouded from exhaustion and it took her a few moments to place the girls. They were so new, she hadn’t met them yet. She couldn’t wait to have them start training with her and the others. She wanted to teach them about their new body and what it could now do. Most of all, she wanted to teach them how to stay alive.
Buffy felt Nancy softly take her hand and give it a gentle squeeze. The young woman was letting Buffy know she wouldn’t disturb her. Buffy held on to Nancy’s hand as she slowly woke up. Her mind was becoming sharper as each moment passed.
The door to the room opened and a man walked in. She could tell by the lightness of his step that he was used to combat. He instinctively softened the noise of his steps and the brush of his clothes against his body as he moved. It probably had become so much a part of his everyday life that he now did it without even realizing it. She knew, because she did the exact same thing.
“Doc, I’m sorry to barge in but I need to talk to someone on the Council,” he said quietly. If Buffy hadn’t been a Slayer she never would have heard him.
“Outside General,” Doctor Janet’s voice was equally soft, but her tone was steel. Buffy was glad she wasn’t the General.
“Doc, Dr. Giles is resting and the two other Slayers just left, if I could have a minute with Dr. Meadows?”
Buffy could tell by the way he stayed put that it was important, maybe even an emergency.
‘Oh, well, all good things come to an end,’
she thought. Buffy opened her eyes slowly, expecting to be blinded from the harsh lighting most hospitals had, only to be pleasantly surprised that the room was in near darkness. She could see; however, to normal humans, it would be nearly total blackness. It was such a simple thing to do, and yet, no one ever thought of it, except for this one military doctor.
“General, you will leave, now, or I will have the Gunny remove you,” the petite doctor’s posture was ramrod straight. The General towered over Janet by both rank and stature, but it was the General who took the step back.
“I’m awake,” Buffy said, before her doctor could get into trouble. “I’ve been awake for a while,” she quickly added as the doctor’s expression turned thunderous.
‘She really wants to rip into her superior officer over waking me up. She is seriously angry with the general. Wow!’
“General O’Neill, with two Ls, what can I do for you?” she said, pushing up so she was sitting. Just like the night before, Nancy hit the controls on the bed to bring the head up so she could lean against it.
“Miss Summers, we have a bit of a dilemma. One of our off-world allies has requested an urgent meeting, and well…” the General paused as if searching for the words.
During the UN/IOA briefing, Buffy didn’t spend much time with him. It was mostly Giles, Robin, and Xander’s show, she was just there for muscle and window dressing. However, she did remember that the man before her had saved the world many times over. What little she saw of the General during the briefing she got the impression that he spoke what was on his mind.
‘So why was he having trouble now just spitting out what he wanted to say? And should I just let him get to the point in his own time?’
Buffy didn’t know how he would react if she interrupted him so she kept quiet.
The doctor stepped forward, towards Buffy. “General, if I may make a suggestion?”
‘Oh, so now the doctor asks permission to speak, when five seconds ago she was about to wrestle the man out of the room? As fun as this is to watch I’m getting tired again.’
O’Neill gave the doctor a go ahead gesture as if he wasn’t upset at her at all.
“Buffy, do you remember during the UN/IOA briefing the Council and the SGC compared some of the different life forms both organizations had encountered?” Janet asked her. She got the impression that the doctor was also trying to figure out how well she was doing following the conversation.
“Yes, I didn’t like the idea of those snake guys being able to control people, it was too much like what a incorporeal demon could do,” Buffy answered, as completely as she could. While she was still weak as a kitten and was about to go back to sleep, her mind was finally clear.
“Exactly, in the reports from the briefing, and in the findings from some of the experiments conducted by the scientist who ran the N.I.D operation The Initiative, it was mentioned that Slayer’s had the ability to sense certain life forms,” Janet explained. The doctor was trying to lead Buffy down the road without actually being insulting.
‘And wow, why did General O’Neill suddenly go white?’
The General was behind Janet so she couldn’t see him. For a second there Buffy thought he might faint. Nancy stood with the intention of helping the man, but he straightened his shoulders and his back like he was at attention.
Janet continued, oblivious to her commanding officer’s plight. “Dr. Giles didn’t know how your Slayers would react to a Jaffa who carries a Prim’tah in a pouch or to our allies the Tok’ra who carry an adult symbiote. He didn’t know if they were considered demons or if they were normally evolved life forms.”
Buffy tore her eyes away from the General to answer Janet’s concerns. The entire situation would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. Of course, Buffy wasn’t used to dealing with people who were so competent.
“Ok, Janet, look, my Slayer’s aren’t total barbarians. If we can sense a, what were they called? Gold’s, oh, never mind, snake, the Slayer wouldn’t go all crush, kill, destroy,” she told Janet, trying to be nice to the kind doctor. “There are good or neutral demons in this world and we do have some control over our urges. Gee, what do you think we are anyway?”
The general walked up to the bed then, his color returning to normal. “My apologies if we have insulted you, or your Slayers, Miss Summers. I think you can understand that we would rather ask and risk being insulting than be sorry later?”
Buffy did understand why he was asking; however, she was worried what good old Maggie Walsh had written about her. Now that was a gift that kept on giving.
“Apology accepted General,” Buffy said slowly.
He nodded to her and she thought that now he was reassured that her slayers’ were housebroken he would leave. Instead, he stayed where he was, staring at her as if trying to figure out what made her tick.
“Enough General, just ask!” It was enough for her to become irritated. If she’d been able to stand, Buffy would have been tempted to slug him already. She wondered if that would freak them out. She didn’t know, her energy was fading fast, and with it her mind was becoming fuzzy.
“You don’t know if you can sense a snake or not?” he asked, his expression became more intense. He was leaning towards Buffy aggressively and she got the impression that he was doing it unconsciously.
Buffy and O’Neill locked eyes. She could tell he wasn’t challenging her, or well, he wasn’t trying
to challenge her. He was trying to will
her to answer his question the way he wanted it answered. Only if he had done that with Faith then he would be picking his teeth up off the floor. Ok, so maybe not all
of her slayers were barbarians, just a few.
“I just really don’t know.” Buffy wished she could give him a definitive answer.
Nancy took her hand again, causing Buffy to break eye contact with O’Neill, and look at her.
“Buffy, if the allies he’s meeting with have,” Nancy glanced at Janet, so the doctor would correct her if she used the wrong term. “If they have a Prim’tah then I could be close by and tell General O’Neill if I felt anything? Xander said my Spidey sense is one was of the strongest of the Chosen after Sunnydale.”
O’Neill’s intense stare snapped to Nancy’s face. It was then her turn to lock eyes as he searched her face for something, what Buffy didn’t know. She just knew that it suddenly had become extremely important to the General to find out if a Slayer could sense aliens.
“Would you let her do it?” the General asked Buffy.
Before she could answer him, Nancy retorted, “She’s not the boss of me!” Then the girl looked stricken, as she glanced around the room at everything except Buffy.
The blonde slayer squeezed the girl’s hand and tried to let her know how proud she was that Nancy stood up for herself.
The General just stood still, though Buffy could tell he really wanted for Nancy to do this experiment.
“All right, I guess I meant to ask, would it be safe for her?” O’Neill responded, speaking slowly.
“My Slayers are not wild animals, General O’Neill!” Buffy repeated, with as much venom as she could put in her voice. She would have followed it up with a Slayer stare if Janet hadn’t stepped between them.
”Buffy, Nancy, I don’t think the general meant it quite that way, or at least he had better not have meant it that way,” the doctor said, glancing behind at her superior officer. When he nodded, she turned back to Buffy. “Like you, we’ve dealt with some different life forms and each had different abilities, so we are just trying to keep – ”
“Ok, I get it.” Buffy made up her mind on the fly. She looked directly into the General’s eyes, staring at him and trying to gauge whether the impression she got of him at the briefing was right. “All right, General, as Nancy just said, I am not the boss of her; however, I am the Slayer Prime. If you are sure your allies are trustworthy and Nancy is allowed to have her weapons on her, then I agree?”
She could see O’Neill working out the details in his mind. After a few seconds, he nodded to her demands. “And when this little experiment is done, you will tell me why you had that reaction when Janet was telling me about the Initiative findings.” Score!
Buffy thought, as she watched the surprise flicker across O’Neill’s face. Again, he nodded.
Suddenly, Buffy could barely keep her eyes open and all she could think about was going back to sleep. She felt herself sinking back into the bed. Nancy released her hand and the head of the bed began to lower.
The tiny dictator then stepped up into the General’s personal space. “General O’Neill, I still would like to have a word with you, outside.” The steel was back in her voice and again Buffy was glad she was not the General.
“Sorry Doc, I gotta go… organize, yeah, I have to go do General type stuff,” the man said as he was backing towards the door. The serious and challenging general gone as the doctor followed him step for step.
“Dr. Meadows? I assume you can help get Buffy settled? Maybe possibly let her go back to sleep?” the little power monger said as she followed O’Neill out.
And Buffy gave into sleep, hoping that The Dream
was well and truly gone. As sleep took her, she wondered if the Alteran would be waiting for her in that strange desert.
Thank you for read my story.
A/N: I want to thank very one who sent me the links and tutorials for Windows 8. My opinion is still very negative towards the product, but at least I am now able to use it without too much frustration.