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Hello Again

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More than a year and a half had gone by since John had last seen the Little Supergirl. In that time they had found real live Ancients. Those same Ancients had taken over Atlantis and kicked the Expedition back to Earth, kicking and screaming all the way. His mind had been on the injustice of all, and about Teyla, Ronon, and all of the other people they had left behind in Pegasus.

It had taken him until nearly half-way through their exile to remember his pint-sized savior and her promise to come by the next time he was Earthside. Any attempt to get Jackson to talk had failed; the annoying man was more stubborn than a donkey in a bad mood. For a supposedly harmless, at least to anyone who had not read any of SG-1's mission reports or seen him in action, geek he sure knew how to keep his mouth shut about a subject while talking you half to death about something else. Four years on a team with Rodney McKay had taught him to tune out the useless parts of the monologue while retaining the parts which could be used for something later on.

All John had to show for his persistence was a promise to contact her, but by the time he, Elizabeth, and Carson 'borrowed' Earth's only Puddlejumper he hadn't heard so much as a peep. All Jackson would reveal was that Supergirl was doing well, but that she was incredibly busy at the moment and couldn't come and see him.

Between then and now Elizabeth had been killed and Carson had died of a randomly exploding tumor. Atlantis had faced disaster after disaster and for the most part, they had come out of it well, if not a little singed around the edges at times.

John was once again on Earth, but it wasn't another string of endless meetings or an exile he had faced this time. No, it was the death of his estranged father, seeing his equally estranged brother, and very unexpectedly seeing his ex-wife again after more than four years. Nancy had looked beautiful as always and he'd been forcefully reminded of what an idiot he'd been to give up on their marriage so easily. But the funeral was over, the human-form Replicators had been dealt with, and he'd had a semi-decent conversation with Dave last night about their father. They'd even managed to have a polite, but short, conversation regarding both of their choice of careers.

An unexpected knock on the hotel room door had revealed a welcome distraction from his family. On the other side of the threshold stood the Queen Bee herself, once again clad in black leather pants and what he assumed were stylish black boots. Her top was blueish-green with short sleeves and something glittering. Her hair was loose and flowing around her shoulders.

"Hello, John. I'm so sorry for your loss."

He awkwardly accepted her condolences and then invited her inside. Returning to both Earth and one of his childhood homes made him remember his manners and he offered her a seat and something to drink. She chose to accept the first but declined the second.

"I can't stay for long, I just wanted to drop by since I didn't manage to catch you any of the other times you were here." She smiled a little apologetically. "Daniel relayed your messages. I'm sorry I couldn't make it, but, you know, world saveage and other obligations."

John certainly knew about 'world saveage and other obligations', he'd had too much experience with both of those. The former was probably different than his, and not just because his version of saving the world usually didn't involve Earth or at least not directly.

He smirked, "I'm sure you know something of what I've been up to since our last meeting. More than you're going to tell me, especially since you seem to have become friends with Jackson."

Supergirl returned his smile, "Yes, I do. Daniel is much with the sharing of stories and telling me all about the amazingness of the Lost City, and how much he wants to go there."

"He's been begging General O'Neill to let him go since the Expedition got the all-clear. Have you met the General?"

She got more comfortable in her chair. "Everyone keeps asking me that, but no, I haven't met him. I've been avoiding military people as much as possible since the incident I mentioned to you last time. That experience was of the bad."

John quickly decided a change of topic would probably be good at this point, so he changed tactics. "Since I can't call you when I'm Earthside, and Jackson isn't always available, could I have an email address? We get email in Pegasus, you know. Well, once a week, but we can keep in contact with people back here if we want and if we don't give any classified details."

"I still have the clearance, mister military-man. I can legally know everything." Her amusement was clear, but she hadn't shot down his suggestion so...

"I know, but you're not in a secured facility and who knows who can read your email. You'd just end up with an email full of missing words or entire paragraphs."

While he'd been talking she'd found a small spiral notebook and a pen, and then began writing. As she got up from her chair she handed him the scrap of paper. "I have to leave, I have meeting in 20 minutes, but here's my email. Don't spam me and don't share it with anyone, or I'll block you."

They exchanged some small talk on the way to the door, and then she left with a promise to meet him in three days. As he closed the door behind her, he read the text on the note: bas@idc.com.

Chapter Text

Three days later and Buffy's inbox was suspiciously free of any emails from her intergalactic acquaintance. Truthfully, she'd expected there to be at least one email waiting for her the day after her visit, at the latest. But there was nothing. Nada. Nill. Not even an email simply saying 'hi'. Huh.

John had invited her out to a working dinner. It wouldn't actually be work, as much as him attempting to convince her to come and work on his base. It was no doubt also an attempt to wheedle information out of her, particularly her name, but she was having too much fun withholding it. And Daniel and his people were playing along for whatever reason. They appeared to have given their tacit approval for whatever they thought she was doing, or not doing as the case might be since they hadn't tried to interfere in any way. Which was of the good. Less military in her orbit was good. Definitely.

Right now she was standing on the curb waiting for John to pick her up. Before she'd left his hotel room he'd told her he'd pick her up at 8, so not knowing how punctual he was she'd managed to get there early. Five minutes to eight, but it counted as early! Right after she'd stopped and begun looking at the passing cars to see if he was in one of them, a yellow taxi came up beside her and Buffy could see her 'date' in the backseat. He smiled and motioned for her to get in. From what she could see of his outfit he'd gone for casually nice; new black jeans, what looked like a dark green t-shirt, and a reasonably new black leather jacket over it.

Buffy definitely approved, but he wasn't snuggle-bunny material. Nope. She could still enjoy the view though. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see him checking her out as she got into the car and got settled. She had briefly considered wearing a skirt or a dress, but given his trouble magnet potential she'd opted for a pair of nice black slacks, and a pink blouse with roses printed on it. Pants were much easier to fight in and they also meant a much lesser chance of flashing someone unintentionally. Not that she'd even flashed anyone, intentionally or not, but the possibility was always there.

"So, Lt. Colonel John Sheppard of the United States Air Force," she grinned mischievously at him, "where are we going?" He'd told the driver to go, so no help there. John had no doubt filled him in on the plan to pick her up on the way to their destination.

Clearly, he was in a good mood, as he easily replied, "Well, my Queen Bee, we're going for this semi-casual Italian place. It's only five minutes away and their food is magnificent." He paused then added, "I haven't been there in a few years, but it's an old family owned business, so it should still be great."

They spent the rest of the drive chatting easily about nothing in particular, and soon they were seated in the restaurant and waiting for their food to arrive. As he was familiar with the place she let him order for her. She wasn't picky, as long as the food wasn't prepared by Dawn and her weird habit of combining things that should never be mixed together.

"So, I've been wondering, "John commented, "'B.A.S.' are your initials, right?" She nodded, and he continued. "Bad Ass Soldier? Bulletproof Assassin Slaughter? Boudicca Artemis, um..." He thought for a few moments, "Shieldmaiden?"

Buffy laughed outright at that. "My name isn't nearly as interesting as any of those, nor as mythical." Her destiny was definitely mythical and mystical, at least to those not in the know. It was all much to real for her sometimes.

Their food arrived to distract her dinner partner, at least long enough for the waiter to arrange their food elegantly on the table and make some polite small talk. Apparently, their waiter recognized John and offered his condolences regarding Mr. Sheppard's death before leaving. Temporarily sidetracked from the guessing game, they began eating and John was soon proven right: the food was absolutely delicious!

However, once they'd eaten their fill, Joh turned the topic back to her name.

"Come on, just your given name! Jackson knows, and probably others in the program as well. We're the ones talking. Shouldn't I know who I'm talking to?" He gave her the charming smile again, and yes, he was right. But...

She returned the smile with a glint in her eye, "You should, but I fell like being mysterious. My name doesn't sound anything like Queen Boudicca, or Artemis. But I'm sure my friends back home would laugh themselves silly if I ever told them you called me a shieldmaiden." Her lips twitched, it was sort of fitting. Who knew, maybe one of the Scandinavian shieldmaidens had really been Slayers. Or the stories of them were based on Slayers who had lived back then. If she asked Giles he would probably tell her.

"Not a fitting title, according to them? They've never seen you fight?" He was about to continue when his cell phone interrupted him.

"I thought you didn't have one of those?

While he fumbled for the offending device, he replied. "Err. Someone just handed it to me, so they could reach me while I'm on Ea-, while I'm Stateside." Buffy laughed.

As the conversation continued it became clear their dinner would get an early end, and rather than wait for the inevitable, she got herself ready to leave.

"I'm sorry to be the one to cut it short, but there's an emergency on base. Raincheck on the dessert?"

He truly looked apologetic, but what could you do? Bad guys didn't care about your social life.

"It's okay, go. I'll be fine."

Truthfully, she'd had fun, and she had expected it to be her who had to run out, not him, but emergencies were emergencies no matter their origin. He left in a hurry, while she walked much more sedately from the restaurant and hailed a taxi.

Chapter Text

From: j.sheppard@sgc.com
To: bas@idc.com
Subject: Update

So, the situation is all good. Wasn't even forced to stay in the infirmary! The doc cleared my entire team.

Still sorry I had to run out on you. I'm back in the City, but let's try it again the next time I'm Stateside?

J.S.



From: bas@idc.com
To: j.sheppard@sgc.com
Subject: Re: Update

That's good to hear.  Is your entire team American? Daniel said something about many teams hiring locals to make introductions, give background information, and make sure you don't step on any indigenous toes. My group has done something like that.

Are you avoiding dark alleyways and other places you shouldn't go? Or does wearing a uniform make you lose your small dosage of self-preservation when in company with your own kind?

Bad Ass Soldier



From: j.sheppard@sgc.com
To: bas@idc.com
Subject: Haha

Yes, I have two natives on my team. Let me hire you and I'll introduce you, I'll even give you a guided tour of the City. I'm sure Jackson has talked your ears off about how amazing and beautiful she is.

Part of my job is to look for the monsters under the bed and the bad guys hiding in the dark alleys, and creepy buildings. But, it's okay. I have a great team and there's always someone in the City who's ready to come and fetch us if necessary.

Do you have a team and backup teams if you need it?

J.S.



From: bas@idc.com
To: j.sheppard@sgc.com
Subject: Re: Haha

Sorry about the six-week silence. Had some trouble that needed to be dealt with, and it took much longer than anticipated. But we're good now.

Yes, I have a team. Kinda. They're more there for research and moral support than getting in on the action. They play nicer than I do. There are sometimes other teams around, but not always. We work best on our own or at least in small teams. Unless there's something big going on, then there's many of us.

Bulletproof Assassin Slaughter



From: j.sheppard@sgc.com
To: bas@idc.com
Subject: Teamwork

I hope you had a big team and a lot of support for whatever you did, and that everyone made it out.

Teams are great. Maybe you just haven't found the right people yet. Our teams consist of both military and civilians, and sometimes a native. It helps to balance the situations we get ourselves into, so we can always get back out again. You need someone you can be around both when you're working and when you have time off, without wanting to claw their eyes out for existing.

J.S.

P.S. I see what you're doing.



From: bas@idc.com
To: j.sheppard@sgc.com
Subject: Re: Teamwork

There were quite a few of us. We saved the day and then we partied after we had all slept for a week. It was a memorable one. We lost people, but they all knew what they were doing. It hurts, but sometimes you're damned if you do and even more damned if you don't.

My team works fine, but too many people and there are too many different opinions. That leads to things not getting done, at least not on time, and people dying. Tell me you've never cursed the chain of command. Tell me you've never disobeyed an order to save someone when you've been explicitly told not to. Tell me your *team* has never disobeyed *you*.

Boudicca Artemis Shieldmaiden

P.S. I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about.



From: j.sheppard@sgc.com
To: bas@idc.com
Subject: Re: Teamwork

Giving that kind of orders suck beyond the telling of it. I'm sorry you had to give it, and I'm sorry for your losses.

You're right. Giving and taking orders can get... problematic at times. Sometimes disobeying is the right thing to do but you'll still get in trouble for it. We have more leeway out here, but there are still laws and rules to follow. I'm sure your group/organization has your own.

What does IDC stand for?

I might come Stateside soon. Maybe. Bad guys and politics permitting, of course.

J.S.

P.S. Copycat.

Chapter Text

From: bas@idc.com
To: j.sheppard@sgc.com
Subject: Re: Teamwork

Rules were made to be broken, some of them at least. There are situations when you just have to throw them out the window and to heck with the consequences because there's no other way. The people sitting in their isolated offices can be as upset as they want, they weren't there, and their hindsight can just go and ...you know.

IDC stands for Including Dumb Clowns.

How soon is soon, and exactly where are you going?

Bast Avenger Slayer

P.S. So not a copycat.



From: j.sheppard@sgc.com
To: bas@idc.com
Subject: Acronyms

Very true, but the consequences will still come back to bite you. Unless it saves a lot of lives, then you might get a medal instead. Maybe, you're a civilian.

Hilarious. What does IDC really stand for? And what does your organization do?

J.S.

P.S. You ran out of my guesses, so you had to either give me your name, or invent something else. And I didn't think you'd be a fan of geeky superhero comics.



From: bas@idc.com
To: j.sheppard@sgc.com
Subject: Re: Acronyms

Anything interesting happening over the rainbow? Things on my side have been suspiciously calm lately.

I was just kidding with the abbreviation, it really stands for I Don't Care.

Also, B.A.S. is an acronym because it can be read as a word, but I.D.C. is an initialism because the words are pronounced separately.

Brizo Athena Saraswati

P.S. They released a movie based on the Iron Man comic last year. They also released a movie called the Incredible Hulk. My geekier friends played dirty to get me to come along to see both. I told them I'd go see Iron Man 2 with them next year, but I'm not wasting money on another Hulk movie.

P.P.S Does that mean you're a geeky comic book fan since you recognized the reference?



From: j.sheppard@sgc.com
To: bas@idc.com
Subject: Smartass

Teyla, one of my teammates, is pregnant and she got kidnapped. I took an accidental side trip and got some much-needed information to find her, but it's a long story better told in person. Spoiler: It ended well and she named her son after me: Torren John.

Want to try and tell me what IDC really stand for? I really doubt it's short for 'Including Dumb Clowns' or 'I Don't Care'. Does Jackson or anyone else in the program know?

They did what? How did I not know that they released an Iron Man movie? I'm surrounded by geeks every day and no one has even hinted about a new attempt to remake any of the Marvel comics!

Edit: Rodney, another teammate, didn't know either but he'll get it and we'll watch it for either team night or movie night. It's also your fault he gave me an endless complaint about this, and for the first time in a long time, I was relieved to attend a boring meeting.

J.S.



From: bas@idc.com
To: j.sheppard@sgc.com
Subject: Re: Smartass

Sounds like a thrilling story I'd love to hear, and congratulations on your namesake. I'll make sure to get all the good details the next time I see you.

No, but Daniel has been pretty insistent in trying to find out. As has someone named Samantha Carter, who is either a doctor or a colonel. So far my computer geeks have been better at keeping her out of our systems than she'd been at getting in. You might want to inform her that our patience is running thin and we'd hate to get her thrown in prison for hacking.

Have fun watching Iron Man, you're probably in for some military hackling from Dr. McKay. It's still a good movie.

Battle Authority Strategist




Buffy re-read her email to John. The story he was hinting at sounded interesting, and she was tempted to just call Daniel and ask him about it. If he wasn't buried in one of his books he was liable to tell her almost anything she asked without hesitation. But. But this was something personal to John and he deserved to tell it himself. After all, you didn't just name your child after someone without a good reason. 'Accidental side trip' was probably secret code for something much more exciting than getting lost in a back alley, with or without the fanged company.

She tapped her fingers on the table. Patience wasn't really her thing but it had been months since he was last on Earth, so an interrogation by his superiors regarding what he'd been up to lately was probably on the table soonish. She could wait. She hit 'send' and watched her email disappear.

Chapter Text

From: j.sheppard@sgc.com
To: bas@idc.com
Subject: Jackson and Other Disasters

Jackson finally got his wish and was allowed to come and visit my base. Which lead to some interesting discoveries, plus meeting a splinter group of some old allies. The problem was they turned out to be enemies, a lot of people were killed as a consequence, and Jackson was sent home to recover from his injuries.

After that things have been busy, so I'm really sorry about the lack of emails. The Jackson thing also pushed back my trip Stateside. Rodney is currently there on some kind of science shindig with our head M.D.

Fine, you won't tell me your name or what IDC stands for. I can be patient, someone will slip eventually and I'll know your name at last.

Your message has been forwarded to Sam, who, for the record, is both a Ph.D. and a Colonel. She's also one of my former CO's. She wasn't too pleased about the warning but has conceded the point and is backing off. Apparently, some higher-ups are vouching for both your organization and someone named Dr. Giles. Do you know him/her?

J.S.

---------------------
One vague paragraph wasn't enough to explain the disaster Jackson has caused with his visit, but both he and Rodney had enjoyed telling Woolsey 'I told you so' after SG-1's resident troublemaker/-magnet had been sent back to Earth. It hadn't stopped Rodney, Zelenka, or any of the other scientists from gleefully exploring Janus' newly discovered secret lab though.

Sam had taken Supergirl's warning in stride. It wasn't to say she was happy about it, but she had been expecting it a lot sooner, and from someone much higher up in the hierarchy. He got the impression she was more upset that she was unable to get through their firewalls than she was about being told to back off. In the same call, Sam had told him General O'Neill had tried and failed to get any information about the IDC. All he'd gotten for his inquiries was a warning to stop digging or else.

John still wanted to know what Supergirl's name was, and he wanted to know what exactly her organization did. Did they fight vampires like the Queen Bee? Were all the people in it as strong as her, and were they even human? Was Supergirl human? She wasn't a vampire since he'd seen her in daylight several times, but that still left a lot of other mythological creatures. Was she/they (part) demons, shapeshifters, or some kind of aliens? If they were part aliens or descended from them then he could relate, sort of. Maybe she came by her strength the same way he got his ATA gene or a similar unfortunate way to how some of the Athosians got their strength.

That train of thought lead him to a bad place; maybe that was the reason she was so wary of the military. She had said her past experience with the military had been 'of the bad', so maybe they had attempted to either control her for their own nefarious purposes or tried to experiment on her. Or maybe it even both. The various military branches had a long and sordid history of attempting to create super soldiers and there was a young woman with obvious superior strength, it was unlikely they had just passed up that opportunity.

It would certainly explain why she didn't want to come and work in Atlantis with him, but it didn't explain why she was willing to talk to him or why she agreed to become intergalactic pen pals. If the IDC was a powerful organization with a lot of political contacts it would explain why the usual suspects didn't try and put any pressure on her or Dr. Giles. Maybe if he upped the offer and asked if she'd reconsider if he could get the SGC to approve more people?

--------------------

From: bas@idc.com
To: j.sheppard@sgc.com
Subject: Re: Jackson and Other Disasters

Daniel came back singed around the edges, but he was still thrilled about the visit to the City. He also couldn't wait to tell me all about it when I visited. According to him, I just missed General O'Neill and Colonel Carter, but I did get an introduction to Murray and a Colonel Mitchell who insisted I call him Cam. He also told me to send his greetings, so hi from Cam.

Giles is a former mentor/friend, so yes, I know him. If you're ever introduced you might want to have Daniel nearby since I'm sure he's a lot better with knowledge from the old, dusty books they're both so fond of. He's also very properly British, tweed suits and all. Daniel reminds me of Giles in a way, except Daniel is all muscular and yummy and Giles is Giles. They both love old books, dead languages, and get a lot of concussions. I don't see Giles planet hopping, so there's a difference.

Oh, and a friend of mine wants to know if Dr. Col. Carter is single? My friend has been single for some time and she really loves intelligent and independent women. Could you ask her if she's looking for a girlfriend?

I'll see you in San Francisco in a few days.

Bia Astraea Styx

-------------------

Daniel really had been thrilled about his visit to Atlantis and he had even invited her to come along, but she'd declined. It had been tempting to just go and see what all the fuss was about but she didn't want to give up her game just yet. There had also been a mini-apocalypse rearing it's ugly head at the same time, so her decision was already made for her.

Meeting Murray, or rather Teal'c, had been interesting since none of them knew about her abilities and therefore had been unable to warn her about his non-human status. It had been a really close call and she'd almost ended up spilling some of her secrets. Thankfully, they expected her to have a lot of questions once they revealed he was an alien. It was only after she'd left that she remembered Daniel had already told her about all of his teammates, including the Jaffa. Oops.

Cam had been charming in a Southern way, and he'd seemed to ask more questions about John than her. Which was okay, but a little odd for a man who was career military. If the man had questions he could just email John himself, so it ended up leaving her with the impression that his interest in her pen pal wasn't work-related. Hmm...

Willow really had taken a liking to Carter after she'd seen the woman's hacking skills, which had managed to get both her and Xander laughing their butts off. There had been a couple of hack battles, um cyberwars? Whatever they were called, the two of them had battled it out over who could access the other's servers, and Willow had won. Without using magic, which had her happily bragging to anyone within earshot for days afterward.

The chance of John forwarding that particular request was microscopic, but oh, how much she wanted to be a fly on the proverbial wall when he read that part of her email.

Chapter Text

It was May and the demonic apocalypse season was officially over for this year. All they had to do now was help the Stargate Program clean up the remains of *their* yearly alien almost apocalypse. According to her Slayer Dreams they had managed to stop the Superhive from culling Earth, but some of their smaller spaceships had managed to get past Earth's defenses.

Which meant Buffy and her Slayers were spread around wherever their Dreams had told them they would be needed. Buffy and Faith had gotten San Francisco, which suited Buffy just fine as that was where her Dream had shown her Atlantis would splash land. There were ten teams consisting of two Slayers and either a Watcher or a Witch or someone with some kind of useful power/ability. The excess of Slayers had more to do with their lack of knowledge of the Wraith, or rather their lack of experience with them. Daniel had been very helpful in answering all of Buffy's questions about them so that was very useful.

At the moment the two women and their resident geek, um make that novice Watcher, was standing at the edge of a park waiting for a spaceship to crash there. Both of their Dreams had been rather clear for a change, but the timing of the actual crash had been vague. So here they were, bored out of their skulls while waiting for the alien bad guys to make their flashy entrance.

Meanwhile, the brunette had a few questions for her. "So you're bumping uglies with another soldier?"

Resisting the urge to glare, Buffy replied, "No, we're just acquaintances. And he's an officer, not a soldier. Same with Riley. I saved him from a trio of vampires a few years ago, and he decided to try and hunt them on his own. He nearly became dinner before I rescued him again." She walked around their small area of the park, pacing, trying to use some of the built up energy. "He thanked me by attempting to hire me for his super secret program."

Faith gave an unladylike snort, "Of course he did, men either love or hate strong women."

"True," Buffy replied, "but I asked Daniel and he told me there is a more than humanly strong female alien on John's team, and apparently she kicks his ass every time they spar. She's also about my size." That got a grin from her sister Slayer. "So he isn't intimidated by me or condescending the way some men are but he also knows there are limits he can't cross. So, he plays nice."

"Nice enough that you're going to use this as an excuse to get us a tour of the Lost City of Atlantis."

They had spoken about it among themselves, just the Scoobies. And the debate had been running hot over who got to go with Buffy to sight-see in the mystical city. Giles had wanted to go for academic reasons, Willow also wanted to go for the academic reasons but mostly because she was hoping to meet her hacker crush there. Xander just wanted to see the Lost City, and so did Dawn. Dawn was also interested in Atlantis because of the Alteran language and it's similarities to the Scandinavian Runes. Faith had simply said she was going because there was no way in any of the hells she would allow Buffy to go near the military again without proper backup.

In the end, Buffy had vetoed everyone but Faith. She'd put a maybe on Giles and told him he could go if Daniel came along for the tour. Hopefully, the two geeks could distract each other while she and Faith could just enjoy being tourists for a change. Everyone else would have to be content with the reports afterward. None of them had been happy about it, but the only one who didn't complain loudly was Willow and that was only because all of them had already been promised a tour of the SGC. It also included an introduction to SG-1, which meant a guaranteed meeting with Samantha Carter.

Overhead a loud whining noise could suddenly be heard and the Chosen Two straightened up and followed the alien spacecraft with their eyes. It had clearly been hit and was trailing large amounts of smoke behind it. They made a half-hearted attempt to hide behind some bushes while a bright light somehow dropped off a group of tall, greenish looking men with long white hair and facial tattoos. A few seconds later the aircraft crashed into a huge tree, probably killing the pilot on impact.

The Wraith looked human for the most part, except for the very much non-human skin color. Upon closer inspection, they had reptile-looking eyes, which would definitely have gotten them noticed. The group, which consisted of five of these alien creatures, turned en masse and came straight for the two Slayers. Buffy looked at Faith and grinned, how very polite of the bad guys to come and greet them!

What followed was an okay fight. The alien bad guys were strong, sort of on par with a master vampire who had been undead for at least a century, but it still meant they weren't the monsters the military had made them out to be. The main difference was avoiding their hands rather than their fangs, but it was doable. One of them was kept alive for further study, but the other four were all killed. All of them were tagged and magically sent back to HQ in Cleveland.

Faith checked the pilot and it turned out he was very much dead. They spent a good twenty minutes covering the oddly shaped spaceship with a couple of huge tarps and then added signs around it so it looked like some kind of official construction work. Nothing to see here, move along. The trick was to make it look common, it lessened the chance of nosy busybodies taking a peek at things that didn't concern them. They had considered taking the ship, but had decided that one of the other teams could send their ship instead, especially if it was intact, so not everything was missing from their 'crime scene'.

"All set?" Faith asked once she'd given their handiwork a good look.

"All set."

They walked over to a parking lot a good distance away, there was no reason to chance getting the car damaged by parking it close by, and Faith drove them back to their hotel. Buffy rode shotgun and after quickly checking her messages she sent off one of her own to Daniel. It contained the locations of all of the downed spaceships and the bodies of the attempted alien invaders.

The International Defenders Council didn't normally do cleanup work for the government, but since the PTB had chosen to send them Slayer Dreams they had to do it. Actual cleanup, as in removing bodies and collecting parts and pieces from the crash sites were so not a part of their job description and since the military had a lot of people at their disposal they could get the 'honor' of doing that part of the job.

Back at the hotel, the Slayers showered and changed into something light and sexy, before they went dancing. Meeting up with John could wait until the next day, especially since he would probably be stuck in meetings explaining why Atlantis was floating in the San Francisco Bay rather than on an ocean somewhere in Pegasus.

Chapter Text

The next morning began with an email from John, canceling their meeting that afternoon.

----------------------

From: j.sheppard@sgc.com
To: bas@idc.com
Subject: Rescheduling

I have to reschedule tonight's dinner because of meetings. Apparently, our spectacular return to the States warrants endless questioning from the higher-ups. Imagine that... I'll email you with a new date and time.

You didn't answer me earlier, how did you know I would be in San Francisco?

J.S.

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Oops, maybe she shouldn't have added that to the email. Oh well, too late to fix it now. The cancellation did mean that her night was free. Maybe she and Faith could go back to P3 tonight. Last night had been great and they had even made some overtures that might result in a working relationship with the club's owners. She typed a quick reply to John and sent it off.

Before she was able to make up her mind her phone rang, and when she picked it up off the table where she had left it when she logged onto her laptop, the display read 'Dr. D.J.'. Smiling she accepted the call, maybe she wouldn't be left to her own devices after all. "Good morning, Indiana Jones. How are you this fine morning?"

He despised being called that, but it was too much fun to rile him up. "Hello, Buffy. Do you happen to know anything about a missing dart? And half a dozen missing wraiths?" Business, it was then. She pouted a little, even knowing he couldn't see her.

"Hello to you, too."

"Buffy." It was remarkable how some people could make her name sound like both a warning and a reprimand at the same time, but her favorite archeologist always managed to add in sarcasm as well.

"I've told you; the IDC looks into incidents of unusual origin. Aliens and spaceships are definitely included in that." It obviously wasn't their main purpose, but aliens weren't new to them either.

"Aliens and all things related to them are the responsibility of the Stargate Program, *not* the IDC! I've told you that. Major Davis and everyone else has also told you that!" He drew a quick breath to get air into his lungs. "You have to return them to us."

Did she now? "I don't think so. It isn't like you can sue me or the IDC to get them back. We have a legal right to anything on Earth that can be considered to be a threat to the planet, as long as it isn't human or if it's somehow related to our work. The wrath and their ship don't originate on Earth or even this galaxy, so we're in the clear. Especially since we gave you an advance warning and then took care of what you couldn't." She so did not want to fight with Daniel, but she couldn't back down either.

She had done extensive research in the Council Libraries, looking for anything related to the Astria Porta, the Goa'uld, the Alterans or Ancients as John called them, and anything else related. It turned out many Slayers several thousand years ago had fought and killed Goa'uld during their tenure as the Chosen One. At one point there had even been 13 Slayers at the same time, battling the alien invaders in various locations around the world. Regrettably, there were no explanations as to how this had been accomplished. All the text said was that the additional Slayers had lived out their lives fighting evil, but the original line had continued through the 'real' Slayer. Which she took to mean that no new Slayers had been Chosen to take their place when they were killed, but instead the new Slayer had been Chosen after the last Chosen Slayer was killed.

In other words, it explained why there had not been any new Slayers after Willow activated all the Potentials in Sunnydale. The girls/women would fight and die, but the real Slayer line would continue through Faith when she was eventually killed. The only person Buffy had told was Faith since it directly concerned her. No one else needed to know.

"There's going to be someone official, probably some high ranking military person, contacting you or Dr. Giles if you don't cooperate. Most likely both. Just give them back and we can forget about this." His plea was honest, he genuinely didn't want her to get into trouble, but there was no reason for him to worry. A group of Watchers and some of the IDC lawyers had looked through their official agreement with the United States government and since there was a Slayer Dream involved, actually there had been a dozen, the case was squarely in their favor. There was nothing anyone could do, in fact, they could've confiscated everything they had been in contact with and there would still have been nothing the SGC or the US government could've done to prevent it.

Buffy heard him take a deep breath to continue his appeal and said, "Daniel," in an unyielding tone. He exhaled but didn't resume his monologue. "I understand what you're trying to say and the consequences you believe I'll be susceptible to if I don't comply, but the law is on my side. I can't give you the specifics, but if you or someone higher up give the president my name, especially if you say something like 'Buffy Summers of the IDC', or possibly use Giles' name instead, they'll tell you we have carte blanche and you need to back off."

To say she was shocked to learn the President knew her name was a major understatement, but in cases like this, it was immensely useful. If it ended up going that far up the chain she would probably never hear the end of it from the others, but what could she do? When the Scoobies had found out Willow and Dawn had teased her, but Xander's jealousy had reared it's ugly head for a while.

"...Buffy?" Right, because there was such a good chance of him letting that go without doing his best to make her confess her secrets. After a few moments of silence the man on the other end of the line went on, "Could Jack get this information? From you or the President?"

"Not without my approval. Or the approval of certain other people in the organization." 'Certain other people' being Faith and three other Slayers. Giles or Willow could spill the beans, but only under certain circumstances and satisfying anyone's curiosity didn't qualify. Yes, the secret got out on occasion, she was guilty of that herself, but deliberately going and telling people, especially military personnel or politicians, was a big no-no.

"Does Sheppard know what you do? Any of it, or how high your reach goes?" Wasn't that the million dollar question.

"He knows some of what we do, a very small part of it, or at least he thinks he does. But he's really even more clueless than you are." Yay, Buffy, vague-ing it up. Of course, John did know she Slew vampires, but not much else. He definitely didn't know about the POTUS knowing her name and she had no intention of telling him. She'd had no intention of telling Daniel either, and look what happened.

"Look, Daniel, let it go. You and the military will lose this, so please don't. You'll only make a mess and the last thing we need is for the wrong people to start looking into what we do. Dr. Col. Carter attempting to hack into our servers over a longer period of time was one thing, but if you pursue this you're going to give us the wrong kind of attention and that could end up becoming deadly for some of our members."

She heard Daniel breathe across the line while he contemplated her warning and the ramifications. Hopefully, he would respect what she'd told him and make the appropriate inquiries on the down-low to confirm her statements. He was a reasonable person most of the time, right?

"You're talking about organizations like the NID or the Trust." It was a statement more than a question, but she answered anyway.

"They're two of the issues, yes. But there are others. They don't have jurisdiction over us, but it won't stop them from trying to get it or to do something else unfortunate. And believe me, that would be very, very bad. For everyone." Just the thought of what they might do to Slayers or force the girls to do for them was enough to give her nightmares. It was one of the many problems with there being so many of them now. They could kill the monsters and protect people from them, but who was going to protect the Slayers from the humans?

"According to the IDC website, your specialty is rare artifacts. Specifically old and rare books. You've even given me copies of pages from some of them. How does that make the IDC or its employees interesting to any of the shadow organizations?" Okay, she'd walked right into that one.

"You're an archeologist, Daniel. Surely you know how rabid people can get over old stuff. I've read about people killing to steal both new and old artifacts, both for their value and to keep things from changing our perception of history, and stuff." That came out a little jumbled but he would understand what she meant.

"You're not. I get you know your way around certain artifacts, but there has to be more to it than that. You don't get a clearance like yours because you deal in old, valuable things. And you definitely don't get to use the leader of the country as a reference. Come on, Buffy. Give me something substantial."

"Short version; what we deal in is classified and on a need to know basis, and I'm sorry Daniel, but you don't need to know. If you're really, really lucky you'll never find out. I know you're curious and this conversation has probably made it a lot worse, but I can't tell you. So, please, just let it go. Getting read into what the IDC really does won't help you. Focus on the alien problems and leave me to deal with my issues."

Buffy was regretting picking up the phone more and more and if she didn't hang up soon, or at least get him to change subjects, she would end up saying something she shouldn't. So she tried a diversion.

"What happened to the gigantic evil spaceship?" Please, please let me direct this argument away from the things you're better off not knowing about she pleaded silently.

"You win, for now." He sounded a little resigned, but he had clearly decided to try again some other time. Probably in person, where he could read her body language for clues.

"The Superhive was destroyed by Sheppard and his team. He volunteered for a suicide mission but his team managed to get on board to stop him and find another solution. They detonated a bomb from the inside and then gated straight to the Alpha site just before it exploded. I'm sure he'll want to tell you the thrilling story in person after Jack and the IOA releases him from all the debriefs he'll have to go through." Buffy blinked. He *what*? John had some explaining to do when she got him somewhere private enough to talk about super-secret stuff and suicide missions. Not that he owned her any explanations, but still.

"Buffy?"

"Sorry. I didn't expect to hear John is willing to go that far to save Earth.  It threw me for a moment."

"Right," Daniel replied, his habitual sarcasm was back. "You're on a first name basis with him but he still doesn't know any part of your name, does he? Why is that?"

"Um," Buffy replied intelligently. "No, but he's the one who sort-of insisted I use his first name." It had started out as an avoidance tactic back when he was just some random person who got attacked by some fanged Americans. Then it turned into a fun game, but maybe it was time to give it up now.

She and Faith wanted a tour of the Lost City of Atlantis, and that involved getting introduced to a lot of people, including some high-ranking officials. I.E. Colonels and Generals, including the much talked about Jack O'Neill. It wasn't like she could ask John to put his fingers in his ears and go 'la la la' every time she had to say her name. There was also the tour of the SGC and the likelihood that Willow would remember to call her something other than Buffy or Buff. Or anyone else starting to call her Supergirl or something. Oh well, it had been fun while it lasted.

"Right," Buffy echoed his earlier comment. "I need to properly introduce myself to him before someone else spoils the surprise for me. I guess the dinner or rather dessert he owes me a raincheck on will work."

"Any chance I can witness this?" Daniel sounded amused all of a sudden and she laughed.

"Sorry, Dr. Space Traveler. No audience for this one, but you can tag along for the Atlantis tour I'm going to get him to give me and a friend." Some extra eye-candy would definitely be of the good, it would also stop John from asking questions she didn't want to answer.

"Ah ha! So you really are curious about what we do!"

"Careful, Daniel, you're sounding way to gleeful over there. But yes, I'm curious about the not-so-Lost City and since John has been trying to get me there and the military clearly wants me to sign on, we'll get the tour. Especially now it's on Earth. Your underground bunker doesn't sound nearly as interesting." The last part was said in a teasing tone even if she meant it. She'd had enough of secret underground bunkers for a lifetime.

"Well, I guess I'll see you then. Jack is finally coming out of his latest debrief, so I'll talk to you later. Call me when you get a time and date for the tour." He barely waited for her to agree and then he hung up.

Buffy put the phone in her pocket and surveyed the room. Faith had gone home with someone the night before and hadn't returned yet, so it was just her. She smiled at her own reflection in the mirror across the room, that meant there was a shopping spree on her agenda for today!

Chapter Text

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.

"Um, no."

"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.