Slowly Buffy shut the door to the bedroom that she was sharing with Dawn. With a soft click, the door snapped shut. Her hand gently lifted from the knob as she turned to head down the second floor hallway. There had been so much going on last night that she hadn’t really looked around that much. In the quiet of the morning, she took her time to make her way down the hall. Whereas the house Daniel first had was quite small, this house was much larger with five bedrooms, three baths, living room, dining room, kitchen and basement – not to mention the sizable garage where they could park cars inside now, away from the Colorado elements. The plain look with historical décor here and there was gone now. Instead, they had decorated this house more in the style of Tara with touches of Daniel. It was pleasing to the eye and made Buffy feel like this place was homier.
For a minute, Buffy paused in the hall to look at the pictures they had placed there. They were simple black and white pictures of the family at the park. Buffy studied one of Tara and Daniel sitting at a picnic table. Tara was sitting on the bench while Daniel was perched on the table, his chin resting on her head. The two of them looked so happy, without dealing with the weight of the world at that moment. From what Buffy could tell, it must have been taken when they first got married. Both of them had their wedding bands on, and Malita was still pretty young in all the pictures with her in them.
Buffy stopped at the picture closest to Tara and Daniel’s bedroom door. It was her favorite. Tara and Malita were both sitting on a tire swing. The picture was a bit blurred from the movement of the swing going around, but both of them were laughing quite a bit, their hair flying out from them in a moment of relaxed enjoyment. It wasn’t a look that Buffy had seen on Tara’s face much, and seeing it here in this picture made her smile to herself. This life, even though difficult, had given Tara so much more than what she probably would have had if she still was with the Scoobies.
With a sigh, Buffy continued on down the hall, trying to be quiet. She could hear that Daniel and Tara were both up at the moment. The hushed tones of their conversation made it past their door to where Buffy had been standing. Buffy couldn’t tell what was being said, and in all honesty, she was actually trying not to hear. With her slayer hearing, it could be simple, but what was being said behind the closed door wasn’t her business. They deserved a quiet time together without someone else intruding.
Steps soft, Buffy padded her way down the stairs to the first floor. She headed into the kitchen to find Malita and Jonas were both up also. Malita was at the microwave dancing to whatever she was listening to on her headphones. Jonas already had his leg up with ice resting on his knee. Strangely, he also was holding an ice pack against his head. As soon as he noticed that she was in the room, he remarked, “Morning, Buffy.”
“Good morning.” Buffy sat down in front of him, only to smile as food magically appeared in front of her.
Jonas laughed at the look on Buffy’s face. “Malita is working on getting breakfast for everyone since Daniel is upstairs with Tara. Thankfully, I think she is sticking to oatmeal and toast.”
Malita joined them at the table with a stack of toast. She pulled it to the side of the table where she and Buffy were sitting. “Just for that, Jonas, you don’t get any of my cinnamon and sugar toast.”
With a shrug of his shoulders, Jonas placed the ice pack he was holding on the table. Buffy frowned as she saw a bruise towards the top of his cheekbone. He grabbed hold of the bowl of oatmeal and sighed in contentment. With a grin, he commented, “Fine. I’m just going to enjoy this nice warm bowl at the moment. It will thaw out my fingers.”
Buffy got up and moved around the table. Jonas took it in stride as she automatically moved in the way of his eating to get a look at his face. “What happened?”
“My knee gave out when I went to get up this morning. I lost my balance and hit my head on the way down against the baseboard. It’s just a little bruise. Nothing that bad.”
“Dad helped me get Jonas up, and then I made him put ice on his head.”
From the doorway, Daniel remarked, “Dr. Lam says to stay here today, Jonas. She will look at your knee when she comes by to check on Tara.”
“I’m not an invalid,” Jonas muttered, his voice quiet but with an edge to it. He hated the fact that his leg gave him so many problems. Usually he was able to work around the pain, but every now and then he had days like this. It made him feel useless.
Buffy moved a chair so that she could sit by where he had his leg resting. She worked at his pajama bottoms so that she could get a better look at his leg than she had the night before, which had been a quick glance at his knee. Scars lined his leg from right above the knee down. The largest was at the top of his shin, a good six inches down from his knee cap. From what she remembered, that scar would be where his bone had broken through the skin when he broke it. Eyes serious, she looked up at him and remarked. “No. You’re not an invalid. You are the guy who injured his leg saving my sister.”
“Dawn saved me.”
“Semantics all around,” Daniel replied. “From the way I heard it, you broke it on the way down to the shelter you were taking her to.”
“What all did they end up having to do to your leg?” asked Buffy as her eyes were still taking in the scars. Every time she had seen him in the past his leg was either bandaged or covered. This was the first time she had really studied it. “I never really heard everything that was wrong with it.”
Before he could answer, Malita jumped up from the table. “Uncle Jack’s here!”
She ran out of the room, only to return seconds later with her coat on and a book bag slung over her shoulder. Daniel, held out her lunch as she gave him a big hug. He kissed her on the top of her head during the hug and remarked, “Thank you for helping me out this morning, Malita.”
“No problem, Dad. Love you.” She stood up on her tip toes as he bent down for her to give him a quick peck on the cheek, which he then returned.
Daniel watched as she ran out the door and then headed to the truck. He stood at the window and waved to her before Jack pulled out of the drive to take her to school. “Wow.” Buffy looked up at Daniel with awe. “The two of you are great together. I was basically giving my dad the cold shoulder at that age.”
Daniel couldn’t help but laugh at the comment. “I keep on waiting for that stage. Before long I won’t be cool anymore, and she’ll be running out of the house without a word. Until then, though, I’m enjoying my sweet girl.”
“Yeah, uh Daniel… you’re not exactly cool.”
“Really?” Daniel looked hurt at Buffy’s comment but his eyes belied the fact they were joking with each other.
“So, the leg?” Buffy turned her attention back to Jonas.
Jonas was about to answer when the phone started ringing. Daniel glanced at the Caller ID before answering, “Hello Giles. It’s Daniel. Do you want to talk to…” There was a pause in the conversation as Daniel listened to what was being said. “Uhm, okay. Just give me a second will you?” With a frown at Jonas and Buffy, he remarked, “I’ll be downstairs if you need me.”
Buffy watched Daniel disappear down a door at the side of the kitchen where the stairs to the basement was. Just as she turned to Jonas, he answered the question she had asked several times. “My leg fractured at the top of my shin. The bone tore through tissue, muscle and skin. There were also multiple fractures throughout the tibia with several of them leading to my knee, where the blast also knocked my knee joint out of place and destroyed most of the cartilage.”
“And all of these scars?” asked Buffy, pointing out numerous small scars that ran up and down his leg.
“What did the doctors say when it came to how you would recover?”
Jonas frowned at the questioning, knowing exactly where this was going. Buffy was about to make a valid point, but that didn’t mean he should be completely at peace with his condition. “They said I would need extensive physical therapy, and even after that, I most likely would need assistance to walk, be that a crutch or cane.”
“And do you need crutches or a cane on a normal basis?”
“No.” Jonas actually rolled his eyes at the question, knowing full well that Buffy already knew the answer to her question. There was no way he could be on a SG team if he used crutches or a cane all the time.
Buffy smiled at his reaction and tried not to laugh. “Sounds like you far surpassed what anyone predicted. Plus, the SGC wouldn’t let an invalid on any of their teams, and I can tell you Faith would never have brought you onto her team if she thought for one minute that you would hinder her team to the point they couldn’t do their job.”
It was hard not to shake her head at the way Jonas was pouting. Buffy sat back, crossed her arms as if hugging herself, and stated, “Look, I wouldn’t have said this a month ago, but I’m doing this new thing where I try to be supportive when it comes to you and Dawn, so here goes… Personally, Jonas, I think what you’ve done is impressive. While a slayer may have bounced back more than you have, most people wouldn’t have come close. What you’ve done is nothing to scoff at, even though I understand throwing your own personal pity party now and then.”
“Personal pity party?”
“Callin’ it how I see it, bud.” Jonas raised an eyebrow at the word ‘bud,’ but didn’t comment as Buffy continued. “I know I haven’t been the easiest to get along with, because hey, dating my little sister.”
“We’re not dating.”
“Yet… You’re not dating ‘yet.’ That’s not the point though. The point is that I’ve never given you credit where credit is due. The fact you’ve come so far with your injury shows determination, alien healing abilities or not. You are pretty much a nice, stand-up guy with a steady, albeit dangerous, job. Any girl would be lucky to have someone like you in your life. Maybe that is part of the reason I’ve given the two of you such a hard time, because I know you actually would be a good guy for Dawn to leave for. Part of me sees you as the guy stealing her away, and if you actually do, it would be halfway across the world. Colorado Springs and England aren’t exactly close.”
“Well, if she decides to take the job in Atlantis, then she will be in a whole other galaxy away from the both of us,” Jonas announced wryly.
“Atlantis?” Jonas’s comment made Buffy pause. Yes, Dawn had mentioned Atlantis on the plane the day before, but Buffy hadn’t thought her sister would actually consider that posting. “We hadn’t talked much about it, more like hardly at all, but is she leaning towards it?”
Jonas ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “I’m not exactly for sure, but I can say she wasn’t exactly happy with me last night when I mentioned it was my least favorite of her options.”
“Maybe she thinks you’re going to be stationed there…”
“I doubt we will be stationed there anytime soon from what I’ve been told.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Faith won’t go without the rest of her team. As part of the latest agreement with the Watchers Council and the IOA, any team with Council members cannot be commissioned without permission from those on the Council board.”
Buffy nodded in understanding. “Faith is on the board. She won’t go anywhere without Tara, and there is no way any of us are going to want Tara near Atlantis anytime soon.”
“Especially with her being pregnant at the moment.”
“And what about you? Do you want to go back to Atlantis any time soon?”
“While the city is beautiful and the wealth of knowledge there seems limitless, I’d rather be on Earth.” Jonas turned from her to grab his mug of coffee. He took a slow drink and stared off to the side, as if in thought.
“You have bad memories there?”
Jonas turned back towards Buffy. “I think you already know the answer to that.”
“Faith told me about some of what happened to Tara there. That is why you don’t want to go back, isn’t it? Why you don’t want Dawn there either.”
“That may have a lot to do with it.”
“Then maybe you should tell her that.”
Jonas shook his head. “I tried that last night. In her mind, Atlantis is just as dangerous as anything that can happen here, and in all honesty, she is right. I can’t count the number of times that I have come close to dying while on patrol with Faith here on Earth. One wrong movement and a demon could take her out as easily as a Wraith. Plus, the SGC isn’t any better. The first time I met Daniel, he died trying to save my world.”
“I hear he has me beat on number of times he has died.”
“Not something to be proud of and exactly why the SGC isn’t exactly safe for her either. No matter what, there is something out there that can hurt her, be that demons, the Goa’uld or Wraith.”
“The Wraith made it more personal though.”
“Buffy, for the last few years, it was actually the Goa’uld that made it personal. The Goa’uld experimented on me, tortured me and tried to take over my home world. Even after all that, walking in that Wraith base and seeing what the Wraith had done to Tara…” Jonas trailed off and started to stare off to the side again as if in thought.
Leaning forward, Buffy reached out and took one of his hands in hers. “Faith said that she was hooked up with tubes and wires when you found her,” she prompted.
Jonas turned back to her and sighed. “Most of the tubes were feeding her with drugs. Others were draining her of her blood. The blood would go through several treatments and then was being fed back into her.”
“They were transfusing her with her own blood?”
“That is a simplified version of what they were doing.” Jonas rubbed his eyes before continuing. “The wires were monitoring her heartbeat, brain waves and other things. She was covered in bandages from where they had done experimental surgeries on her and was bruised all over from injection sites.”
“Faith didn’t tell me about the surgeries or bruises.”
“Faith probably glossed over most of the facts. Plus, she wasn’t the one that combed through the Wraith’s notes. I got to read about every experiment they did on her.” Jonas took another drink of coffee before continuing. “They didn’t let her eat much. She was skin and bones without enough energy to even open her eyes. The only reason we knew she was aware that we were there was because of how she would squeeze Daniel’s hand every time that he talked to her.”
“Tara was already having problems as soon as we unhooked her from everything. Her body had become dependent on what they were doing to her. As soon we set her free, she went into shock. Daniel carried her through the gate as fast as possible, but by the time we got back to Atlantis, she was already dying. Dr. Keller and the medical staff tried to make us leave when we got to the infirmary, but Tara flat lined before we even got out of the door. I remember the horror of thinking that we had lost her after all. Daniel was screaming and trying to get back to her while Colonel Mitchell held him back. Teal’c had to step in to keep him from hurting Colonel Mitchell while Sam was attempting to calm him down. I remember Sam yelling at Daniel, but he just wouldn’t stop.”
“How did they calm him down?”
“Vala walked up and punched him. She got a dirty look from the rest of SG-1, but it worked. By then Tara’s heart was back to beating. After that, it was touch and go. Tara had to be under medical surveillance for days, and Dr. Keller used everything at her disposal to keep her heart beating.” Jonas took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “When that machine sounded that long, lone beep, I thought my own heart had stopped beating. I froze.”
Buffy got up and walked over to the window and asked something that had been on her mind since talking to Faith the night before. “Faith said the Wraith had cloaked their presence from your team and the scientists when Tara was taken. Is it normal for them to go through all that work only to take Tara rather than trying to…” Buffy paused as if trying to come up with the wording before wryly continuing with, “…harvest the rest of you? After all, humans are nummy snacks for them, right?”
“We think they set everything up to get to Tara. While she wasn’t always with us on our missions, she had earned enough of a reputation when she was. There had been several occasions that she was with us under Wraith attack.”
“Tara doesn’t like guns,” Buffy simply stated.
“Tara doesn’t need guns. With her Ancient enhanced magic, she can swat them away with only a simple wave of her hands. I’ve seen her take down Wraith easily two times her size without being touched.”
“So the Wraith new about her powers specifically.”
“Yes. The high they got from her was just a bonus they discovered after somehow taking her prisoner, which we still haven’t figured out how exactly that happened.”
Turning from the window, Buffy then asked, “And if Dawn was to go there and somehow the Wraith discovered she was special?”
“Then the Wraith would try to obtain her for experiments too. If something like that happened, and I found myself in the same situation as Daniel…” Jonas shook his head and frowned. “I probably would react the same way Daniel did when Tara flat lined. The thought of putting the two of us in that type of position scares me more than Dawn realizes.”
Buffy switched her gaze from Jonas to the doorway of the kitchen. “We didn’t know everything that happened to Tara, Jonas. Just saying you didn’t want Dawn to go through what Tara did… that was something Dawn didn’t understand enough.”
Jonas moved to where he could see what Buffy was looking at, only to be met by the sight of Dawn standing in the doorway. Her large blue eyes were watery and tears were starting to flow down her cheeks. Slowly, Dawn walked into the kitchen. When she reached Jonas, she sat down beside him in the chair Buffy had been in moments earlier. She leaned forward, as did Jonas, until the two were only inches apart. “I won’t go… I won’t accept Sam’s job offer to go to Atlantis.”
“Thank you,” Jonas replied quietly as he let out a sigh of relief. He reached up to gently wipe away her tears before bringing her face even closer. Their lips gently touched before Dawn scooted closer, deepening their kiss. From where she was standing, Buffy simply shook her head before heading out of the room towards the stairs. This was their time together, and even though all she wanted to do was rip them apart from each other, she knew this was the right thing. Time for her to stop being over protective big sister and as she mentioned before, try for supportive sister instead. Damn it was hard though, especially when her little sister was kissing Jonas like that right in front of her!
~*~Dawn walked slowly down the hall to Tara’s dorm room. She had been there before, but it had been a while. It had been much easier seeing Tara when she had been living with them. Then Willow had to go crazy with the magic. Buffy had explained it as ‘magic addiction.’ Dawn really didn’t care what it was. Willow had been out of control, and many of the group had suffered, including Dawn. Tara had been fighting with Willow continuously about it, and when Willow had crossed the line, Tara had moved out. It sucked not being able to hang out with Tara as much, but as it was Professional Day at school for the teachers, Dawn was going to meet her for an early lunch.
Ignoring the chaos of college life around her, Dawn concentrated on the room numbers until she came to Tara’s. Her first knock was timid. It didn’t surprise her when Tara didn’t answer. Dawn knocked louder and waited for a few seconds. There was no reply. With a frown Dawn reached out for the door knob. It turned easily in her hand. “Tara?” she called out as she peeked her head inside.
The room was eerily quiet. Usually Tara would have soft music playing. There was nothing. Stepping into the room, Dawn closed the door. The room was somewhat dark, the only light coming through Tara’s curtains. Even so, Dawn could see that Tara was lying down in bed. She moved across the room only to slow down as she reached the bed. Tara was lying face up with her dress perfectly formed around her on the bed and her hair fanned out on her pillow. She looked hauntingly peaceful. Dawn hesitantly reached out towards Tara as her eyes took in her friend’s pale skin and a bite mark with two twin holes on Tara’s neck. Her fingers searched for a pulse, and Dawn sighed in relief when she felt a light one.
Tara opened her eyes and quietly asked, “Did he leave?”
“Who?” Dawn asked as she reached for the phone, her heart beating so fast that she felt like it was about to come right through her chest. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. They were supposed to going out to eat lunch, not rushing Tara to the hospital. This was going to be Dawn’s break away from everything. The night before Buffy and Spike had gotten into a huge fight in the bathroom. Jesse had broken it up somehow, and from what Buffy said, he had timed it just right. Buffy had been scared what Spike may have done if they had fought any longer. Yes, this was supposed to be Dawn’s break from the dramatic.
Apparently her reply was answer enough. Tara moved her head to the side so she could see Dawn better. “It doesn’t matter.”
“No. It does matter. Who are you talking about? Who did this to you?”
Tara shook her head slightly, closed her eyes and fell back to sleep.
“No! Wake up!” Dawn called out as she sat up in bed. She was no longer in Tara’s dorm room but in the bedroom she was sharing with Buffy at the moment. Her mind tried to wrap itself around what she had just dreamed. It had seemed so real, like a memory, but she knew it never happened. Tara had never been attacked by a vampire and left for dead in her dorm room. At the same time she knew exactly when this would have taken place. In her dream she had thought back to the night before when Spike and Buffy had been arguing, when Jesse had stopped them. This she remembered, but it was Xander rather than Jesse, and he hadn’t interrupted the fight in time.
Dawn detangled herself from her covers and glanced around. Buffy was already up, as Dawn was the only one in the room. She quietly got out of bed and headed down the stairs, pausing at the bottom as she heard Jonas talking to Buffy about his leg. For some reason she didn’t want to interrupt. Instead she sat down on the stairs and half-heartily listened.
For a few minutes Dawn sat, thinking back to her dream and barely hearing to what Jonas and Buffy were saying in the kitchen. Then the mention of Tara’s name broke her out of her thoughts. She concentrated as Jonas described Tara’s condition on Atlantis. It hadn’t hit Dawn how bad Tara could have been. Giles had never gone into detail except to say she had been taken and then was healing from her injuries. Dawn knew it had been bad but not as bad as Jonas was describing it. Then Buffy asked the question Dawn hadn’t been ready for. “What if the Wraith found out Dawn was special?”
Slowly, Dawn stood up. Tears were already flowing down her cheeks. She had started crying thinking of what Tara had gone through. Then, when Jonas said he was scared of the same happening to her, it truly clicked as to why he didn’t want her to go to Atlantis. Dawn stepped into the doorway as Buffy and Jonas both looked over to her. She had a feeling that Buffy knew she was there the whole time and had steered to conversation there so Dawn would understand Jonas not wanting her to go. For the first time in quite a while Dawn felt she was getting the type of support she needed from her sister.
Daniel wrote down Xander’s flight information as Giles gave it to him over the phone. “I probably won’t be able to pick him up at the airport, but I’ll make sure someone is there.”
“Thank you, Daniel. Are you sure that Tara is up to having everyone there? Xander has no problem getting a hotel room until he can find something more permanent.”
“Tara won’t have it any other way. I think she likes having everyone here, even if she has pretty much been in bed since coming home last night.”
“Yes, well, if the two of you change your mind, don’t hesitate to ask any of your house guests to stay elsewhere. The two of you need to take care of yourselves also.”
“I promise we will ask them to leave if we need to.”
“Good. Now there is one more thing I want to talk to you about.”
Daniel leaned back in his home office chair and closed his eyes. “Willow?”
“I understand how you feel about Willow, but I think it best if she at least spends some time training you.”
“Training me? Tara didn’t say anything about that yesterday. She said that Willow may be able to help with the magic side of the pregnancy.”
“But what does that have to do with me?”
“Since speaking to Tara, Willow and I’ve talked about it at length together and with the Coven this morning. It is rare, as witches usually grow into their power as they grow up, but there are times when witches are born with power. These pregnancies are usually hard on the mother, as the baby absorbs power from the mother, weakening her.”
“I still don’t know what this has to do with me.”
“The best way to ensure the safety of the mother and also baby is to have someone channel them magic as needed.”
“And as I can channel naturally…”
“Then the answer would be for you to act in this capacity.” Daniel heard Giles sigh on the other side of the phone and knew that he might not like what was coming next. “The problem is, Daniel, that while you are probably one of the most powerful channels we know of, you haven’t been properly prepared or trained. Tara has been adamant that you are where you need to be.”
“Where I need to be?”
“Tara has been able to teach you the basics, but the fact is, when you handle the magic inside, you are hindered by the fact that you can only do it by touch. She believes that if your training was to go any further, such as being able to see and control the magic more, then you could get to where the power overwhelms you. I can understand her not wanting this, as there have been many channels that have either been corrupted by the magic or burned themselves out.”
“Corrupted by magic? That sounds a bit like what happened to Willow. I’m not a witch like she is. How can the magic corrupt me?”
“While you can’t do spells, people who channel have power of their own. You can control the ebb and flow of magic, the good and the bad. Right now, you do this by feel with natural un-tainted magic, but what if you were able to see it. It would be much easier to access and control all types of magic. You could feed raw power into anything you wanted. You don’t need a spell to do something physical with magic.”
“You’re saying someone who channels can be just as powerful as a witch.”
“At times, more so. As someone that channels, you can give and take.”
“Are you saying up against a witch, I could take their power away?”
“If you were trained more, yes, but remember about power corrupting? When Willow went bad, I could have had a channel try to take her magic from her, but then when they would have channeled that into themselves, they could have also gone dark. Being a channel and having full disposal to those powers is a lot for someone to take in. It is why most active channels go about as far as you have and why Tara hasn’t wanted to continue your training further.”
“And now you think it would be best if I take my channeling to the next level?”
“I wouldn’t ask this normally, but it would help you take care of Tara and the baby much more. What we would have to do could be very painful for you, but it would open your eyes to magic. You will be able to actually see exactly how much magic the baby and Tara needs.”
Daniel sat quietly, mulling over what Giles had been saying. After a few seconds of silence, Daniel remarked, “Send Willow, but I’m not agreeing to this yet, not without talking to Tara.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to make this decision quickly. I just believe it is what may be best when it comes to the baby.”
“We have a device right now that can tell me how much magic to channel into Tara, so she may want to stick with that. I understand what you’re proposing would make it easier for me to help with her, but I don’t want to add more stress to Tara if doing this to me would worry her.”
“I understand, Daniel. In all honesty, I would rather you think this through and talk to her.”
“Thank you, Giles. Uh, before you hang up, I have a few other things I need to discuss with you.”
“Other than Tara being pregnant?”
“Yes. We… we found out yesterday that there isn’t just one baby. We’re having twins.”
“Yes. Twins. You’re going to be Grandpa Giles to two more Jackson children now.”
“It is what Malita thinks of you as, so why wouldn’t they?”
“I know Malita calls me that, but I thought that was because of my age.”
“Of course not. You’re part of Tara’s family, our family. I want you to know that after what you asked of her yesterday. She has always considered you a father figure. You’ve always been someone she’s looked up to.”
“Thank you, Daniel. That makes me feel… I would love to be Grandpa Giles to the twins also.”
“There is something else.”
“Something else?”Next time on Damaged:
“You’re a good man, Daniel.” Standing up, Vala headed to the door. Pausing, she remarked, “Go home to your wife as soon as you can. I’ll go bug Graham instead.”
“I’m sure he’ll just LOVE that,” Daniel muttered as he went back to his work. It was no secret how much Graham couldn’t stand Vala, or how much Vala loved bugging him. There was one thing Daniel did know for sure though when it came to Vala focusing on Graham. It meant she wasn’t bothering him!