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FIC: Fragile Existence (27/?) Rated FR13
by Laney (laney_1974)
at May 29th, 2008 (08:51 pm)

Fic:Fragile Existence
Author: laney_1974
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy and Angel people belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy. The Stargate people belong to Gekko Productions, Double Secret Productions, MGM/UA, Showtime/Viacom.
Rating: 15
Spoilers: BTVS – to Lessons then it is AU. No First Evil at all – disregard everything in the show after Lessons. I’m pretending it never happened. For SG-1 – Season 7 Fragile Balance.
Timeline: I’m going to pretend the Buffy/Stargate timelines are parallel so what happens in Season 7 of Stargate happened at the same time as season 7 in Buffy. This fic takes place a year after Lessons and almost a year after Fragile Balance. If you get confused, the full timeline of this fic will be placed on my list in the ‘Files’ section (in a few days) with the other timelines for my Stargate epics and series.
A/N: The idea of this fic was not mine. I haven’t seen Fragile Balance, one of the members of my list suggested this idea and I decided to take it up. Thank you, Marleen. I give her all the credit for the premise of this story. There is no pairing in this fic. There will be a little bit of one sided romance but nothing more.
Please note – the sixteen year old clone will go by Jack, the real version will go by O’Neill.
Feedback: Yes, please. Especially for this fic, I’ve never done a Dawn fic before so I’m more than a little nervous about it.
Summary: A clean slate opens up a whole new existence for Jack.

Previous chapter here.



Author's Note: Upon the advice from the very wise Zeph, I hereby warn you guys that this chapter is not going to be the one you're expecting (or perhaps hoping is a better word). There is no resolution to the events in Chapter 26 in this chapter. This will also (and most definitely) be the last update for at least three weeks (Exams! *whimpers*)




"Buffy, you got a sec? Privately?"

Buffy looked up from the text in front of her and blinked in surprise. She had known Carlos for almost two years and she could count on one hand -- actually, on no hands -- how many times Carlos had asked to speak to her privately. Oh, she had had plenty of conversations with him, just never the 'one-on-one' type. Dawn or Kit were always with him. Always. And the fact that he was asking to speak to her privately… well, it worried her a little. Carlos really wasn't the sharing type. At least not with people who weren't Kit and Dawn.

She glanced towards to the dining room table, where all her friends were watching the exchange curiously. "Sure." Carlos nodded and she followed him into the living room. "Are you okay?"

"I'm cool," he told her, then grimaced. "Well, as cool as I can be given what's going on."

He seemed really nervous… and it was making her feel the exact same way. "What did you want to talk to me about?"

He hesitated, clearly struggling with whatever he was trying to say. "Has Riley called back, yet?"

She blinked in surprise. That wasn't the topic she had been expecting to discuss. "Not yet."

"Angel's on his way, though, isn't he?"

She nodded. "He should be here soon." Carlos knew all this already. "Carlos…"

"I love Dawn."

Oh… Oh! Oh God! Carlos was in love with Dawn? "That's um…" What was she supposed to say? She knew Dawn didn't feel that way about Carlos and --

"Not that way," Carlos hastened to explain, blushing. "I just wanted you to know that I love her, like a sister, and I want her back as much as anyone."

She frowned, confused. Where was he going with this? "I know that, Carlos."

He nodded. "Good, because I didn't want you to think that what I'm about to say meant that I didn't care about Dawn. I do care about her and I'm fuc…really scared for her. There's nothing more I want than for Dawn to come home."

She reached out and placed her hand on his shoulder. "I'll do everything I can to get Dawn back."

He smiled, almost awkwardly, and nodded. "I know. You all will. Giles, Xander, Willow… you'll all do everything to protect Dawn. You'll fight for her," he said. "That's why I don't think she'll mind."

"Mind what?"

"I don't think she'll mind if I take Jack's side, so to speak, instead of hers. Not that there are sides, but you know what I mean."

Actually, she didn't. "Take Jack's side?" What was he talking about? "I don't understand."

"Dawn doesn't need me to put her first," he explained. "She has you guys for that. Jack doesn't have anyone looking out for him and I figured I owed it to him. I mean, if he hadn't saved Dawn and they activated her or turned her back, the whole world might have been toast." He shrugged and suddenly Buffy found herself thinking of Oz.

She squeezed his shoulder gently. "Carlos, I'm looking after Jack's. We all are. We want Jack back as much as Dawn."

"Buffy, I'm not saying you don't want to save him. I'm just saying…" He hesitated and then took a deep breath. "I'm just saying that calling Riley isn't in Jack's best interests. You need to call Riley back and tell him we don't need him anymore."

What?

"Involving Riley is a mistake, at least at this early stage. Involving anyone connected to the military is too risky for Jack," he explained. When she opened her mouth to argue, he held his hand up to stop her. "Buffy, think about it, if you didn't know that Jack was in trouble, and if Willow hadn't done that location spell, would you honestly think the military was behind their disappearance? Would you be calling Riley for help?"

"But Willow did do the spell, and I do know Jack's in trouble." She made a face. "They're the only things I really know for sure."

Carlos gave her a thoughtful look. "Okay, you're right. She did do the spell and it did show Jack in Colorado -- at NORAD -- but… We don't know why he's there. We don't know what it means."

"That's why I want Riley here to help us," she said. "He'll be able to help us figure it out."

"He could also lead the people Jack's running from right to him."

Buffy froze at his words. "Riley would never…"

"Yeah, I know. Riley's a good guy and I'm not saying that he isn't, it's just..." He let out a frustrated sigh. "This is my fault. I should have realised this at the time, but I didn't start thinking about all this stuff until after you called him. Look, Buffy, there's a lot of shit we don't know about Jack, The Creeps, or whoever is behind this. But we do know a few things. We know that Jack was created, we know Jack told Dawn he was in trouble. He refused medical treatment, Buffy, because he didn't want to be discovered! It was the last thing he asked of Dawn before he passed out!"

"I know that Carlos," she assured him, thrown. "I do, but the fact is that the spell showed…"

"The spell showed that he might be in Colorado. It's not concrete, Willow explained all that to us," Carlos argued. "And it's a good lead, it's a great lead, but that's all it is, a lead."

She nodded. "Which is why…"

"Which is why you called the military, yes I know."

"No, I called Riley."

"Do you think Jack's going to see the difference?"

For the second time, Buffy froze.

"When all is said and done, Buffy, do you think Jack's going to be happy that one of the first things you did after he and Dawn disappeared was call in the military? He'll be upset, especially when he finds out what you know. You know he was on the run from someone and didn't want to be found… and, in spite of that, you contacted the one person who could be a part of the program that created him."

"Riley would never hurt Jack."

Carlos stared at her in disbelief. "Buffy, what if Jack is part demon? What if Riley and the people he works for know this? What if they think he's dangerous? Do you think they won't hurt him then? God, Buffy, Dawn told me that she told Jack that you protected Riley so he would know you could protect him! Why would she do that if he wasn't scared of the military?"

"Carlos…"

"Jack's only helped us Buffy. He saved Dawn and the first thing you do when things go bad is call the military before we exhausted all our other resources," he went on to say. "I know you did it for the right reasons, for Dawn, and I'm pretty sure Jack will get that, but he won't like it. Not when you think about all the things we could have done first. Besides, even if Jack is in NORAD, then having Riley in the loop is not going to make any difference. There's no way in hell they'd let him in there unless he has clearance. The only person who could get into NORAD without clearance is sitting in the next room next to Kit. We don't need Riley."

Buffy understood Carlos' fears, but he didn't know Riley like she did. Riley wouldn't betray her, she was sure of it, but… What if Riley didn't come alone? "Carlos, I know you think…" Suddenly she wasn't so sure what she thought… or what she had been thinking.

"We didn't even do the origin spell on the Jack in Colorado. That would answer all our questions, if it was our Jack or another Jack…" Carlos' eyes went wide at his own words and he reached out and grabbed her arm. "Buffy, we don't even know if Jack is the only 'Jack' they made! There might be more than one 'created' Jack!"

All the blood drained from Buffy's face. He was right. Oh God! He was right! The thought had never occurred to her. What if it was another created Jack? What if just by calling Riley she had exposed their Jack?

She jumped to her feet. "Willow!"

At her alarmed shout, everyone ran into the room. "Buffy, what is it?"

"I've screwed up." Dawn was never going to forgive her for this. God, Jack would never trust her now! "Will, I need you to do that location spell again, but this time I want you to do the origin spell along with it. We need to know the origin of the Jack in Colorado. Once you've done that, Will, hack into Jack's computer and find out what you can about him. Giles, I want you and Kit to keep researching. Find out everything you can about the Creeps and Hell gods. Angel and the others will be here soon and we need to give them something to work with. Xander and Carlos, I want you to go back to Jack's apartment and go over it with a fine tooth comb and bring back anything that you think might help us know who sent him here." If she had screwed up and exposed Jack, then she might need help. Actually…"Guys, stop by my office on the way and grab Jack's file." She had emergency contacts for Jack which they might be able to use to gleam information.

"What are you going to do?" Carlos wanted to know.

"I'm going to call Riley and tell him we don't need him just now."

She was also going to pray that she wasn't too…

The thought was cut off by the sound of three sharp knocks on the front door. She couldn't help it, she froze. Everyone she knew and cared about was inside this room. It was too soon for Angel to arrive…

Buffy did not want to answer the door.

"Are you going to answer the door?" Kit asked, looking worriedly between her and Carlos.

She wanted to say no. More than anything she wanted to say no but, she couldn't. Slowly and reluctantly, she went to the door. Another rapid succession of knocks sounded just before she reached it and she faltered. Then, after a deep breath, she opened the door…

…and was met by a familiar and -- for her -- friendly face.

"Hey Buffy."

She forced a smile. "Hey Riley."

He wasn't alone.


~ * ~ * ~


Carlos knew the man standing outside the door was Riley Finn before Buffy even uttered his name. Although, when she did say his name, he was a little surprised when his stomach dropped down to his shoes. Even though he had told Buffy she had made a mistake, a part of him thought -- hoped -- that he was just being a little paranoid.

Now Riley was here…a lot sooner than any of them had anticipated.

He watched silently as Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles greeted their old friend, while he and Kit faded slowly into background. He didn't like this. He really didn't like this. Riley shouldn't be here, at least not yet. The fact that he got here so fast left a bad taste in his mouth. When Buffy left the message for Riley she had been deliberately vague, not giving out too much information. Yet, here he was… hours early. Maybe Riley thought it was the end of the world or something. Carlos prayed that was the case. If the reason he was here this soon was because of…

"Where's Dawn?"

The question ripped Carlos out of his thoughts and his eyes (everyone's eyes) immediately went to the Buffy. Buffy's eyes went to Carlos and he was suddenly reminded of a deer caught in headlights.

A shit scared deer caught in headlights.

He watched at Buffy struggled to find the right answer. If Riley had arrived ten minutes earlier, no doubt Buffy would have filled him in on everything. Now (thank the Powers that Be) she was hesitating. She opened her mouth, but was saved from giving an answer by the sound of a ringing cell phone. She frowned and looked around the room, looking for the source, but Carlos didn't need to look for it. Neither did Kit, if her gasp was anything to go by.

"Carlos, is that your phone ringing?"

If Riley (or the four men standing right behind him) hadn't been there, Carlos would have answered Xander's question honestly. But, the presence of Riley put him on edge and his instincts were screaming at him to protect Jack.

So Carlos found himself nodding and searching for the cell in the bag sitting next to the front door. The bag Kit had dumped onto the floor days ago when he, Jack, Dawn and Kit, had raced inside after just escaping the Creeps.

The bag Jack had given Kit to use as a weapon against the Creeps.

Deliberately avoiding everyone's gaze, he answered Jack's cell.

Comments

Posted by: Jo-Anne Storm (jo_anne_storm)
Posted at: May 29th, 2008 01:24 pm (UTC)

I think I officially love Carlos.

Posted by: Laney (laney_1974)
Posted at: May 30th, 2008 10:43 am (UTC)

I too share the Carlos love.

Posted by: beatrice_otter (beatrice_otter)
Posted at: May 29th, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)

Woohoo! This chapter was worth the wait. And just so you know, that's an evil cliffhanger.

Posted by: Laney (laney_1974)
Posted at: May 30th, 2008 10:43 am (UTC)

Thank you! :D

Posted by: Shalla (shallanelprin)
Posted at: May 29th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
jack oneill

You're evil for leaving off right there; you know this, right? Good chapter :) Go Carlos and actually thinking through possible consequences! More soon please?

Posted by: Laney (laney_1974)
Posted at: May 30th, 2008 10:44 am (UTC)

Thank you! Not sure when next will be. Stupid exams!

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