Four: Oh, For Cryin' Out Loud!
a/n: Yeah, I know, when is "Ooh, Shiny!" updating again...
...soon, soon, my childer. I promise! ^_^
In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, another chappie of my Xmas Fic-a-thon for Kayley!
Chapter Four: Oh, For Cryin’ Out Loud!
DISCLAIMERS: See previous chappies.
Obviously I own none of these fine folks; I’m just playing with them for a while. ^_^***
“Buffy! Dawn! We’re here!”
Joyce Summers, accompanied by her brother, Jack O’Neill, and his traveling companions Major Samantha Carter, USAF, and Dr Daniel Jackson, pushed open the door to the Summers home. “Let me get your coat, Jack,” she began, holding out her hand for Jack’s light jacket.
“Nahh, Joycie, I got it; sounds like your herd of teenagers is on the rampage,” smirked Jack, taking Joyce’s jacket from her and hanging it neatly on the coat tree. “Sam?” He quirked an eyebrow at his 2IC, who rolled her eyes at him before passing her light raincoat into his awaiting hands.
“Thanks, Sir,” she started to say. Jack shot her a look, and she hastily amended her thanks to “Jack”.
“That’s better, Sam; remember, we’re off duty, so you don’t have to call me ‘Sir’ for a whole week,” O’Neill reminded her, teasingly waving an index finger at her.
Daniel snickered quietly as he hung up his own coat. Then innocently looked around with his hands behind his back, all but whistling, as Jack pretended to glare at him.
Running footsteps proved Jack’s previous assertion about a rampage of teens correct; within moments, Buffy, Dawn, and Faith had burst into the living room from the kitchen.
“Hi Mom, hi Uncle Jack!” Dawn excitedly flung her arms around her uncle, whom the girls hadn’t seen in nearly five years. Ever since he’d gone to work at NORAD (which, Dawn felt compelled to point out, tracked Santa Claus every year), his visits were few and far between.
“Hiya, kiddo! Hey, Buffy, I have two arms for a reason, y’know,” Jack grinned, waggling his fingers at his oldest niece. “Get over here, Shorty!” Buffy smiled widely and snuggled under his arm, wrapping her arms around him tightly. Holy cow, she’s strong,
thought Jack, wincing a little bit as the little blonde’s grip increased. She let up on the hug and just stayed cuddled up to her uncle, as did Dawn on the other side of him. Each of the girls gave shy waves and smiles to Sam and Daniel as they muckled onto Jack, which their uncle’s teammates returned cheerfully. What nice kids!
thought Sam. It’s such a nice change to see more teenagers like Cassie instead of spoiled brats.
Faith stood uncertainly near Joyce, fidgeting a little bit. She hadn’t met Jack and the others yet, since she was in a coma the last time he’d been in town, and in jail for the two years prior to this one. Until the Watchers Council had decided the Hellmouth really needed two Slayers after all, and decided to let Faith try to prove herself again, she’d pretty much resigned herself to an 8x8 cell and three (institutional quality) square meals a day for the next twenty to twenty-five years.
Joyce looked kindly at the brunette Slayer. “Faith, I’d like you to meet my big brother Jack O’Neill; he’s a Colonel in the Air Force, and he works at NORAD. Jack,” she went on, “this is my adopted child, Faith Lehane Summers
.” The last was said with great pride, earning Joyce a wondering look of gratitude and affection.
The younger woman looked at Jack, feeling unexpectedly shy. Pretty hot for an older guy,
she thought, speculating on whether she ought to give him the full ‘Faith treatment’ or not. A glance at the elegant, blonde Sam Carter made Faith re-think that; there was just a hint of possessiveness in the way Carter glanced at Jack, and a lot of true affection. There was no way the brunette was getting between them. So, she decided that a little harmless
flirting wouldn’t be amiss.
“Hiya, Flyboy,” she grinned, reaching forward to shake Jack’s hand firmly. She noted with satisfaction that he didn’t flinch or try to increase his own grip when he felt the strength of hers. “Nice to meetcha; B and Little D have been talkin’ my ear off about you and your buds here for weeks!”
Out of the corner of her eye, Faith saw the blonde cover up a smirk; and the Cutie in Glasses (as she had dubbed Daniel to herself) was trying not to laugh.
Behind her, Joyce grinned. “And this is Major Samantha Carter, and Dr Daniel Jackson. Sam is Jack’s second in command, and Daniel is an archaeologist specializing in ancient languages; Rupert is going to be thrilled,” she concluded.
Faith shook hands with the other two (Daniel didn’t bother concealing his flinch when Faith pumped his hand vigorously), being much more gentle with Sam, but not giving her a cold fish handshake either.
“Come on into the kitchen, there are more people to meet,” Buffy demanded, taking one of Jack’s hands as Dawn took the other. Together, the Summers sisters dragged the unresisting Jack through the swinging door.
“I’m going to run upstairs and ch--urf!
” Joyce was cut off by Faith spontaneously hugging her and bussing her on the cheek, whispering, “Thanks, Joyce-Mom!” before she scooted off to join the “kids” in the kitchen.
Daniel and Sam grinned and winked at her as they passed, following in Faith’s wake.
Smiling back at the two of them, Joyce shook her head bemusedly as she trotted upstairs to change from her work clothes into something a little more comfy. ***
“Ooh, do I smell coffee?” Daniel perked up visibly as the small group entered the kitchen.
“You most certainly do,” Willow answered. “How do you take yours?”
“Black, two sugars, please; oh, I’m sorry, how rude of me. I’m Daniel, Daniel Jackson.” The archaeologist and former Ascended One offered a handshake to the pretty redhead.
“Hi there; I’m Willow Rosenberg, and this is my girlfriend, Tara Maclay,” she replied, shaking his hand, and indicating the curvaceous blue-eyed blonde perched on the padded barstool next to her, who gave him a friendly nod but did not offer to shake hands. He wasn’t bothered; lots of people were nervous of germs or just preferred not to have personal contact with people they had just met, so he surmised Tara was in one or the other of those two groups.
“Hello Willow, pleased to meet you Tara,” Daniel grinned, with nary a flinch at Willow’s very casual introduction, the blonde Wiccan was pleased to note.
“Nice to meet you too, Dr. Jackson,” they chorused, beaming at him. Turning away for a moment, Willow shortly produced a steaming dark blue mug patterned with bright white constellations, and handed it to Daniel with a flourish. “Black, two sugars, as requested,” she said with a chuckle.
Daniel smiled widely as he took his first sip. Perfect! Sumatra, even; his favorite.
The smile dimmed a little as he looked more closely at the constellations on the cup. None of these are visible from Earth!
he realized. His eyes widened a little behind his glasses.
“Is it too hot, Dr. Jackson?” the little redhead asked, genuine concern crinkling her brow. “’Cos I can get an ice-cube or some milk or-or something, if it is,” she offered kindly.
“No, it’s perfect, thanks, Willow—may I call you Willow?” At her nod and half-smile, he went on. “It’s just that I haven’t seen these constellations anywhere outside of a star map, and I was a little surprised, is all.”
The redhead grinned brightly at him. “Oh, I made that mug myself—well, not the mug, ‘cos that would involve ovens and maybe glazes, and I can burn Jell-O,” she giggled, as Tara looked on indulgently. “No, I found the star maps on the NASA web site, and I thought how beautiful they were, so I made copies and took them to this little kiosk in the mall, and they put the maps on this mug and another two for me. And how cool are they?” She actually bounced a little on the balls of her feet with excitement.
“What about licensing? Did you have to get the copyrights and all that?” the archaeologist wanted to know.
Willow was already shaking her head. “No, I didn’t need to,” she explained. “When I talked to my friend Fred—that’s Dr. Winifred Burkle, she’s the head of the second Hubble team—she said that all those are public domain and as long as I don’t sell them or anything I can make whatever I want out of them. It’s all free publicity for NASA,” she said, her green eyes twinkling.
Daniel chuckled appreciatively. He knew of Dr. Burkle; she was the youngest astrophysicist to work on the Hubble projects. Her reputation for on-the-fly calculations was just as solid as Sam’s, he recalled, smiling to himself at the thought. Paranoid, Danny-boy,
he berated himself. She’s just a kid; she has no idea what you guys do.
He looked up from another sip to find the blonde looking curiously not at
, but around
him. “Tara? Something on my face?”
She blinked, focusing on him more sharply. “Oh! I’m s-s-sorry, Dr. J-Jackson, I d-d-d-didn’t…” Tara stopped, and took a deep breath. Willow placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, and the blonde put her own left hand over it. “Don’t think this is weird, OK?” She gave him a pleading look.
The blue-eyed archaeologist gave her a slow smile. “Trust me, Tara—I’ve seen some very
weird stuff in my lifetime. Nothing you could say would surprise me,” he said encouragingly.
The blonde looked around them; seeing that Buffy was now introducing Anya and Duncan to Jack, she figured that no disturbances would be forthcoming in the next few moments, and decided to just blurt it out.
“Ooookaaaayyy…I can see auras, and I’ve never seen one like yours,” she stated baldly. “It’s pure white; no other colours at all. Just pure, white light.” Her voice was very soft, but full of conviction and another emotion Daniel couldn’t quite put his finger on.
Taken aback, Daniel just blinked slowly, trying to collect his thoughts. “Wow…” he said softly. A stool magically appeared behind him, and he sank onto it, leaning back a little against the backrest. Okay, maybe not so magically; Jack O’Neill had appeared behind him, pushing the barstool against the backs of Daniel’s legs.
“Everything OK over here, Space Monkey?” he asked with his usual grin. “Willow, Tara,” he greeted the girls.
“Hi, Jack,” Willow smiled.
“Colonel O’Neill,” Tara murmured shyly.
“Jack, Tara, remember?” O’Neill winked at the shy blonde. “Unless you’ve joined up since I last saw you,” he teased her gently.
Tara gave a startled laugh. “Not likely, Col-Jack,” she chuckled. Then, looking back at Daniel, she grinned suddenly, “'Space Monkey'? There *has* to be a story there!”
Daniel just groaned, and began gently banging his head on the countertop to the amusement of Willow, Tara and Jack.
“Uh, Dr. Jackson? Why are you trying to push your head through the counter?” came Dawn’s hesitantly amused voice from behind them.