: Challenging AssumptionsAuthor
: Jedi ButtercupDisclaimer
: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.Rating
: B:tVS, SG-1. In a universe where a woman who knew nothing of modern technology could create organically based cold fusion, Sam was willing to concede that anything was possible. It just hadn't occurred to her to extend that concept to her own planet... and daughter
: B:tVS through 2.22 "Becoming, Part 2". Stargate SG-1 through 2.03 "Prisoners".Notes
: For kerravonsen. With many apologies for the delay.
Captain Samantha Carter sighed and shuffled through the pile of file folders on her desk again, idly checking the front sheet in each one to see if there might have been some pertinent detail she'd missed. How could it possibly be so difficult to find even a temporary replacement for her position on SG-1? Of course her clearance level was a factor, and her degree of education and experience, not to mention her fitness and desire for a field position-- but even so, there had to be dozens
of would-be astronauts like she'd been before joining the SGC who would leap at the chance to step into a role on a first-contact and exploration team.
Unfortunately, most of the best options currently employed by the SGC-- Lieutenant Altman, for example-- already had SG team assignments, and Sam hated to break up two
functioning units just because she'd chosen to reduce the risk that she might not come home to her newly rediscovered daughter. Those who did not
have assignments were mostly civilian, and the options were... something less than inspirational. Dr. Lee was intelligent, but lacked the imagination and desire a regular field role required; Dr. Felger was almost too
imaginative and adventurous; Dr. Hamilton would be a disaster on any team with mixed military and scientific goals; and so on, and so forth. Some were disastrously out of shape, some had already expressed opinions that would discourage their placement on the same team with an alien and former enemy combatant like Teal'c, and some would simply be a terrible fit overall.
A scientist who lacked self-assurance would be a liability in difficult situations when their contribution could be crucial, for example. Too much
arrogance would be equally problematic, though, especially when dealing with a commanding officer like Colonel O'Neill. She could just imagine Jack's reaction to Dr. Rodney McKay, one of the more prominent consultants employed by Area 51; genius or not, the man's tendency to behave as though he were the gravitational center of his own universe would cause considerable friction, to put it mildly. Dr. Henry Deacon would be a far better choice-- he'd worked for NASA for years and had all the necessary qualifications without the arrogance-- but last she'd heard he was being courted by a think tank out in Oregon run by one of his former protégées.
She closed the last folder with a frown and propped her chin up on her hands, thoughts drifting from one seemingly insoluble problem to the other currently haunting her. Beth. No, Buffy; that was
her daughter's name, ridiculous as it was, and she really should start using it. The other nickname still reminded Sam more of the tiny baby she'd given up seventeen years ago than the moody, vulnerable teenager taking refuge with her now. While she'd accepted and catered to Buffy's obvious desire for a safe, reminder-free space prior to the other night's revelations, she wasn't sure that would be the best option for them going forward.
There were no two ways about it; Sam simply couldn't unhear what her daughter had told her. It was time to either declare Buffy disturbed and sign her up for therapy-- a tactic that had not worked for Joyce, and could easily drive the troubled young woman to run away again-- or accept that she had told Sam the truth as she saw it, and support
her. In either case it wouldn't serve either of them to pretend nothing had changed, or to let Buffy continue to hide from the past that had driven her there.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Dr. Frasier said, poking her head in at the door.
Sam sat up straighter in her chair and gave her red-haired friend a tired smile. "I think they're worth more on the order of sixty-four thousand dollars today," she said wryly.
Janet's eyebrows went up; then she smiled sympathetically and walked further into the room, carefully shutting the door behind her. "Impossible questions? And I'm guessing they have more to do with your daughter than choosing a replacement," she said, taking a seat in front of Sam's desk.
"Is it that obvious? Or is the voice of experience speaking?" Sam asked her.
"Honestly?" Janet replied. "A little of both. You do seem tired and a little worried, and most of the base has heard about your daughter by now; I think anyone could guess as much. Specifically, though, I am
raising a girl from a completely alien culture. Cassie's a delight-- she's bright, and caring, and I look forward to seeing the woman she's going to grow up to become-- but she does have unique challenges, when her basic assumptions about the way the world works unexpectedly clash with ours. I've seen that expression you're wearing in the mirror several times, when she's said something that I'm completely unsure how to handle."
Sam stared at Janet a minute as the comparison percolated through weary thoughts, then shook her head with a laugh. "I hadn't thought about it that way before," she said. "You're right, it really is as though she's from a completely different culture-- and I'm not talking about California. That could explain her stranger abilities and experiences, as well."
Janet stared back at her, startled. "Strange experiences?" she said. "Are you telling me you have reason to believe that Beth has had contact with nonhuman beings? How? And why haven't you said anything before?"
"She hadn't told me before," Sam said. "I think she was worried that I'd react badly, like Joyce did, but after the team got back from Hadante she told me she thought I should know the real reason she came here."
Janet nodded thoughtfully at that. "She'd already faced the idea of losing you when you were two days overdue," she said, solemnly. "It would have hurt less for you to reject her then, than if it had happened later on when she wasn't prepared for it." She paused then, studying Sam's expression in more depth. "You didn't
reject her, did you?"
Sam shook her head vehemently. "No. I just-- it's been a little awkward. I've had a hard time believing some of the things she's told me, but I don't want to send her away again, either. But if I reframe the problem as though she were from another planet instead of Sunnydale-- not literally, but in that I've been making certain assumptions regarding what is and is not possible based on the normal range of human experiences-- her story doesn't seem quite as crazy."
Who would ever believe in parasitic worms able to physically invade a victim's brain and take over control of their bodies, if they'd hadn't seen proof for themselves? The very existence of the Stargate was testimony that other intelligent species had set foot on Earth in the past; was it so impossible to believe that some may have stayed behind five thousand years ago when the rebels in Egypt buried the 'gate? And that some among those had tampered with human genetics? In a universe where a woman who knew nothing of modern technology could create organically based cold fusion, Sam was willing to concede that anything was possible. It just hadn't occurred to her to extend that concept to her own planet... and daughter. Obviously, the truth had become corrupted over the millennia, with those in the know identifying alien beings as various types of 'demons' and deciding people with unusual powers were 'Slayers' or 'magicians', and Buffy had been unlucky enough to get caught up in it.
"She didn't go into the how
very much," she told Janet. "I was a little overwhelmed with just the basics. But she said she's been facing creatures she calls 'vampires' for years now, which she describes as dead humans reanimated by parasitic spirits; and three years ago she was approached by a scholar who told her that she had unique abilities that would enable her to find and kill them."
"I see why you said it sounded crazy," Janet replied, wide-eyed. "Vampires? If they really exist, why haven't we seen proof of their existence?"
"Why do people keep anything dangerous secret?" Sam shrugged. "Why haven't we told the world at large that there is a very real risk of alien invasion now that the Goa'uld are aware of us again? Maybe there is
a military project set up to deal with so-called 'demons'-- and they happen to be as classified as we are."
"And Beth said she was fourteen
when she was recruited to deal with them?" Janet's perturbed expression shifted to something a little more horrified. "Girls that age should have to worry about homework and boyfriends, not inhuman monsters. Who in their right minds would approach a teenager
instead of an adult to fight their battles for them?"
"I know," Sam said, shaking her head. "It's no wonder Joyce flipped out. I finally called her a couple of days ago when Buffy was busy-- I'd sent her a letter when Buffy first arrived to let her know that her daughter was safe, but that she didn't want to be found yet-- and got more of the story. Joyce wanted to come get her immediately, but I think I managed to get through to her that Buffy's just not ready for that, and that we both might lose her entirely if she does something rash."
"What exactly did Joyce do?" Janet asked, frowning. "You've said before that Beth-- or Buffy, if she's started using that name again--?"
Sam nodded. "She answers to it more easily than Beth, anyway, and now that she's brought the past up herself...." She trailed off with a shrug.
Janet nodded at that. "You said that she seemed traumatized, but that she also seemed more angry at Joyce than afraid of her. It wasn't an abusive relationship?"
"No. Not physically, anyway. But the first time Buffy tried to talk to her about her... gifts, she and Hank put Buffy in an insane asylum for several weeks rather than even trying to listen." Sam tightened her jaw at that, still furious several days after first hearing about it. "So she stopped talking, and just kept that part of her life a secret from then on. When it finally came up again a couple of months ago, Joyce again refused to believe her, and basically told her not to come back home. Joyce admits she didn't think Buffy would actually follow through on that-- she was angry, and didn't really mean it-- but after her previous experiences, Buffy had no reason not to believe her."
Janet sighed. "Then I think you did the right thing, calling her. She raised Buffy for seventeen years, and she has a right to know her daughter's okay. But I also think you're right not to insist that Buffy see her again before she's ready. It would probably harm more than it helped, especially since Buffy was stubborn enough to live on her own for two months before deciding to come to you."
"Exactly. I just hope she doesn't change her mind and decide to report me for kidnapping. Buffy'll be eighteen in about six months, but until then she's legally Joyce's responsibility."
Janet studied her a moment more, then reached across the desk and clasped Sam's hand. "I don't think she will," she said, "not if she loves Buffy, too. I'm proud of you, Sam; Buffy's made your life a lot more difficult the last few weeks, but you've stuck with her, like you stuck with Cassie when we all thought the naquadah bomb was going to kill her. You're a good mother."
Sam swallowed and pressed her lips together until the urge to cry abated a little. "I hope I can live up to that." Then she chuckled raggedly as something else occurred to her. "And that my father doesn't completely freak out when I tell him. I'll have to, and pretty soon, or General Hammond will do it for me after that scene in the Gateroom the other day." She covered her face again with her hands.
"But she's worth it, right?" Janet asked, softly.
"Yes, she's worth it." Sam looked up again, eyes wet, and smiled at her friend. "Thank you, Janet. You've really helped me today."
"You're welcome," Janet replied, then stood up again and began prying the folders out from under Sam's elbows to stack them on the edge of the desk. "Now go home to your daughter, and worry about this
problem tomorrow. If you can get her to agree to come to the Academy Hospital sometime soon for a check of those unique 'gifts' you mentioned, I'll gladly verify them for you-- I can keep the reports classified unless there's a Goa'uld or something equally dangerous involved-- but don't push her on that, either."
Sam didn't argue. It had been a long day already, and if she left early, she and Buffy would have enough time for a trip up to Denver that evening.
According to Buffy, all larger cities had at least a handful of 'demon' residents, and though she had no plans to go back to hunting them full-time, she'd tentatively offered to accompany Sam to the city for a little "show and tell". Sam hadn't been sure whether she ought to take Buffy up on that, but now-- well. She'd take a zat'ni'katel with her, and an open mind. If it turned out that everything Buffy had told Sam was true-- they'd cross that bridge when they came to it, but if Sam had anything to say about it, Buffy would never have to face her 'destiny' alone, ever again.
'Slayer' or not, she was Sam's daughter; and now that Sam had her back, she was never letting go.