It was two days after her phone conversation with Daniel before John finally got back to her. The email didn't say much aside from apologizing for the long wait and listing the name of the restaurant he'd picked along with a time later that same day. Like the previous restaurant, it was family owned and somewhere in the middle where prices were concerned. It was actually a place she'd been to with her parents several times before they had divorced.
This time they had decided to meet there rather than share a taxi, which was fine with her. She had opted for charcoal-grey slacks, a simple white blouse, and a matching grey jacket. It made her feel very business-y. When John arrived he wore black jeans again and the upper half of a suit; white shirt, black suit jacket, and for some random reason a yellow and blue tie.
They made small talk until about half-way through dinner, when Buffy couldn't keep quiet anymore.
"How's the brass doing and why did they allow you out so soon? I didn't expect to get an email for at least a week." She grinned to make sure he understood she was kidding. He did look exhausted and very much like he needed a break, or possibly a week of sleep. He gave her a shadow of his usual smile.
"It's Saturday and we can't have the brass and all the important politicians work on a Saturday night, now can we?"
Buffy smiled, "Of course not, that would be a cruel and unusual punishment and we can't have that." John laughed and dug back into his food.
"The endless meetings start back up again on Monday so I get to sleep tomorrow. Finally. I feel like I've been awake for a month and I desperately need some shut-eye."
She took a sip of her wine and continued her own small questioning. "Is it just a debrief or are they accusing you of something?" That worried her because accusations could be very bad. Especially for someone is a super-secret program like the Stargate Program, and John already had a black mark on his record. It wasn't like they could have a normal trial if it came to that, could they?
"Naw, I'm good." His eyes lit up, "They're going to promote to full bird!"
Oh, he had so been waiting to spill that little secret. Buffy's lips stretched into a large smile of her own, "Congratulations! You deserve it!" He did. He really, really did. It was good someone got recognition for partaking in world-saveage, even if he couldn't tell anyone not in the know.
"So, I have a little request." He paused for a moment and Buffy raised an eyebrow as if to say 'go on'. "The ceremony is on Tuesday. Want to come and see General O'Neill remove my silver oak leaf and replace it with an eagle?" The look on his face was adorably eager and she simply told him yes. Because he wanted her there and because it was probably her only chance to see this kind of ceremony.
While they had been talking they had finished their dinner and moved on to dessert. She spent the rest of their time at the restaurant asking him about the ceremony, how it worked, what would happen, and who would be there. The answer to the latter was O'Neill, of course, and some other brass. SG-1, because apparently they were invited everywhere, and John's own team. The rest of the command staff on Atlantis would probably be present as well, which meant she would get introduced to a lot of people even before she got to set foot on the Lost City.
The location of the ceremony was uncertain at that point, but Buffy was really hoping for Atlantis. It meant she wouldn't have to be down in a bunker with recirculated air or in a stuffy conference room or whatever. Her Dream had shown a beautiful snowflake-shaped city-ship with a lot of fresh air. If it was in Atlantis she could use Faith as a buffer so she didn't have to deal with all the military on her own, and they could get their tour with the newly minted Colonel Sheppard afterward.
But she was getting ahead of herself. She would just be another guest, and it would most likely take place at the SGC so they could show whoever the main base of the Program. There would probably be a spectacular tour of Atlantis for all the important people at a later point. Oh, my god. Buffy suddenly thought. What if I get grouped with all the brass and politicians? No, she had to make sure she and her sister Slayer got a private tour with John and Daniel. It couldn't be that hard, could it?
As they got up to leave the restaurant, she asked him if they could take a walk in a nearby park. There was a conversation she didn't want to have with so many potential witnesses, or rather in an environment with so many eavesdroppers. Being a gentleman he agreed and they left on foot.
The walk to the park was silent, both of them contemplating their own issues. After entering the park they continued their stroll deeper into the park until they came across a convenient bench not too far from a street light and they took a seat.
"Is this where you tell me the super-secret reason why your group took off with a Dark and five of the wraith?" She blinked at the question. That hadn't even crossed her mind.
"Could you tell me anyways, because Jackson is pretty upset about it for some reason. I'd like to know too, but he keeps babbling about the President and carte blanche." He stopped to think for a few seconds. "Are your group trying to find similarities between space vampires and the classical kind?"
Did she finally admit to vampires being real now? She sighed, why not? The undead kitten had been out of the bag for a couple of years by now so she might as well. "Yes, it's one of the reasons why we wanted them but also because of the technology and some other stuff. We have geeks and scientists just like you. Not as many or as well paid, but we have them and they all saw this as a once in a lifetime chance to study those things."
Most of the Slayers couldn't have cared less about the aliens after they were dead, but the Watchers had insisted so they had fetched. The corpses had brought much joy and unintelligible babbling and very little sleep for the happy scholars. The Slayers had just left them to their own devices while shaking their heads.
"And the dart?"
"Same thing, just a different set of scientists. They want to know how the wraith works with their technology and how the people with the ATA gene work with the Alterran tech, and if there's any kind of overlap." They had been equally as gleeful and both she and Faith had every intention to avoid Andrew and his friends for the foreseeable future. "I don't have anything to do with that. I slayed and then transported them back to the others, and then my part was over."
"Right, so if you didn't want to talk about that, then why the secrecy?"
"Well, Daniel brought up a very good point during that same conversation." It was John's turn to raise an eloquent eyebrow. "Atlantis is in the San Francisco Bay and a friend and I would like a tour."
"You could've found a way to say that in the restaurant without spilling any secrets."
Damn him for being so reasonable. Fine, she just had to jump into this. "He pointed out that by getting a tour I would need to introduce myself to a lot of people or have you introduce me them. Whichever."
As she talked his grin got bigger and bigger. "I'm finally going to learn your super-classified name!" His huge smile went back to a satisfied grin, "So what is your real name, Queen Supergirl?"
This was going to be a letdown for him, she thought and held out her right hand to him so he could shake it. He took it by reflex. "Hello, Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard of the United States Air Force. My name is Dr. Buffy Summers of the IDC. Yes, that is my real name. No, it's not a nickname or short for anything." There. She'd said it. Her longtime game had finally reached its conclusion.
John blinked but shook her hand on autopilot before letting go. "Your given name is Buffy?" She nodded patiently. "Buffy. I don't know what I was really expecting, but that definitely wasn't it." He laughed a little as he shook his head. "So now that you've finally declassified your name, can I call you Buffy?"
She returned the smile, "Yes, John. You can call me Buffy, most people do."
Rather than keep talking about her parents odd choice of name for her, she continued with the part she really wanted to talk about. "Can a friend of mine and I get a tour of Atlantis, with you and Daniel as guides?"
"Of course. General O'Neill wanted me to ask if you wanted a tour now that the City is on Earth, and he wants to come along. I'm sure your friend can come, too. I just need to find a day and time when we're all available."
He produced a phone from the pocket of his jacket, "Your phone number, Dr. Summers?" She humored him and rattled off the numbers. She found her own phone and he returned the favor.
Then a thought hit her, "Is this your personal phone or another one someone just handed to you?"
"It's mine. Rodney went out and bought cell phones for all of us since we're going to be stuck here for a while."
Buffy nodded; that made sense. John dialed a number and called for two cabs, one for each of them.
"Not to ruin the night, but I wasn't kidding about needing sleep. If I don't get back to my hotel I'm going to fall over."
They returned to small talk as they waited for the cabs and John promised to keep in contact, by text messages if nothing else, and they parted ways. His final words were, "I'll call you when we have a day and time." And he entered the cab. She waves and entered her own. The next week promised to be interesting.