Title: Better Luck Next Time, Dr. Jackson
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: She already had two strikes against her in an environment like the SGC, just being blonde and audibly Californian, but with a name like that she really must be good at what she did for Jack and Landry to have hired her. 2600 words.
Spoilers: Post-series for SG-1 and B:tVS; follows Daniel's last appearance on SGA, in "First Contact/Lost Tribe".
Notes: A gift fic for flyingcarpet, who asked for "Any B:tVS/SG-1 crossover featuring Daniel Jackson". I've attached these universes together lots of ways; it was a fun challenge finding a route I hadn't used before. This chapter originally posted in March 2011 on LJ; I somehow missed echoing it here until I went to post the sequel!
Daniel looked up from the laptop balanced on his sheet-covered thighs and checked his watch as he heard the welcome sound of familiar footsteps approaching. It had been five hours since he'd been transferred from Atlantis' infirmary to the SGC's; the rest of SG-1 must have been off-world when he'd returned. He'd wondered how long it would take the bane of his existence- and sometimes, he had to admit, the joy of it as well- to hear about what had happened and come see for herself.
The footsteps paused at the foot of his bed, accompanied by a dramatic sigh.
"Back so soon?" Vala Mal Doran chided him, gently.
Daniel offered her a wry smile and a pained shrug, shifting one shoulder against his bracing stack of pillows. "You know me," he said. "Can't seem to keep out of trouble."
"Particularly when Atlantis is involved," she replied dryly, pursing her lips. "You've really got to stop this being kidnapped nonsense. I had no idea when I hijacked your ship four years ago that you made such a habit of it."
"Or you'd never have come looking for me?" He smirked at her. "We both know that's not true."
She sniffed at him, adopting an aloof air even as she stepped closer, dropping into a chair conveniently placed at his bedside. "Well. A girl has to preserve some semblance of dignity," she said.
"If you say so." He stretched his left arm over the edge of the bed and smiled as Vala reached back, lacing their fingers together. "Seriously, though, it was Rodney's fault this time. He has the ATA gene thanks to Beckett's therapy, but not much fine control over what it activates. It was one of the devices that turned on when we first found the lab that alerted the Vanir to our presence."
"Vanir?" she frowned, momentarily distracted. "I thought General Landry said they were Asgard?"
"Oh, they were; kind of a second tribe of them, which is why I- it's a reference from Norse mythology, where the Asgard- you know what, never mind." Daniel chuckled as her frown shifted to a deliberately disinterested expression. "Anyway, that's how they found us; through the subspace signal given off by the keystone to the Attero Device."
"Now aren't you glad General O'Neill never let you take the therapy," she said, shaking her head; her dark hair, bound back in two jaunty pigtails that day, whispered back and forth over green-clad shoulders. "You're at least as curious as I am; you'd have flipped the switch without thinking twice, even if it didn't come on automatically."
"But if it had been just me, at least I'd have had a way out of there," Daniel grimaced.
Vala winced; she knew exactly what he meant. "Not a very good one."
"Oh, so you'd rather I died instead?" he replied, a little tartly.
He knew she didn't like the idea of him trying to Ascend again; but he did remember how, since the Others had been a little too busy to wipe his memories the second time Oma had assisted him in leaving his broken body for a higher plane. He'd Descended all on his own while they'd been distracted. It had taken a toll on him in other ways- he sometimes thought he'd scraped all the softness out of his soul in the process- but he wasn't ready to be done with this life yet, and judged it worth the cost. Besides, that could just as easily be explained as the effects of knowing Jack O'Neill for over a decade; he hadn't started trying to take over the world in his spare time yet, so it wasn't worth worrying about.
He'd never really discussed the subject with his team, though he thought at least Jack and Teal'c suspected. Vala had found out sort of accidentally- after they'd finished off the Ori and she'd sent Tomin home, her attempts to keep up an unaffected façade had temporarily faltered under the weight of her lingering guilt over the entire situation, and Daniel never had been able to watch her suffer in silence. That was one reason he'd always been so furious when she'd turned moments of apparent vulnerability into transparent attempts at manipulation- but that hadn't happened this time, and Daniel had made an ill thought out assurance that she could count on at least one person to never leave her. She always was too perceptive for his peace of mind, and had taken it much more seriously than he'd expected, quickly prying the full truth out of him.
At least one good thing had come out of their overabundance of sharing, though. Without the friction born of always trying to shield themselves against each other, the spark of attraction that had kept them circling for so long had fizzled- and left something much more valuable behind. He hadn't realized until that moment how very badly he'd been missing having someone to fill the sibling position in his life; he'd been an only child most of his life, until his marriage to Sha'uri. But Ska'ara, followed by Jack and Sam, had spoiled him before death and diverging jobs had parted him from them one by one. Vala, now that they'd cleared the air between them, was proving surprisingly adept at the role, and they had a lot of fun keeping each other on their toes.
"Of course not," she said, scowling. "But I think the others would agree with me."
He sighed, and squeezed her hand apologetically. "That's an argument for another time."
Her lips thinned as her expression narrowed into a glare. "When? After you Ascend again? I understand that you don't want to give the IOA any more excuses to put you under a microscope until you have to, but it's not as though this is much more satisfactory." She gestured at the bed. "You were exposed to deadly energies from yet another unknown Ancient device and came back fried enough to require weeks of recuperation. I expected you to take better care of yourself!"
"I've already had this lecture from Carolyn, you know." Daniel gave her a rueful smile. "It's not like I plan these things! But I'm back now, and in one piece, and without any projects on my plate since I expected to spend a lot more time in Pegasus." He gestured toward the laptop, making pleading eyes at her. "Tell me something interesting came up while I was gone."
Vala arched dark eyebrows at his attempt to change the subject, but allowed it- though he was sure he'd hear about it again later. "Well, now that you mention it..." she said, adopting a teasing expression.
"Don't keep me in suspense," he replied. "I'm wounded, remember?"
"Don't turn those pouty eyes on me, Doctor Jackson," she said, tilting her nose briefly in the air- then laughed. "No, do; it's adorable, though I don't think that's quite the effect you were going for."
He let go her hand at last to reach for the empty plastic water bottle sitting on the little table at his bedside. Her smile didn't falter as it hurtled through the air toward her; she simply plucked it out of the air and turned to drop it in a nearby trash can. "You throw like a child," she chuckled. "How is that supposed to persuade me to give up my secrets?"
He rolled his eyes theatrically, then shifted on his pillows a little, as though contemplating whether to hurl one of them next. "Vala..."
"Oh, all right, all right, settle down," she chided him. "As if I'd let you suffer in here for any longer than necessary; I know Dr. Lam has a hand device stashed in one of the cabinets. But in the meantime, where was I? Ah, yes; the something interesting. Or should I say, someone?"
That was interesting; Vala wouldn't have played up the arrival of some random new soldier. "New personnel?" Daniel asked. "What team?"
"What department, rather," she replied, scrunching her nose. "You know that mind doctor you make a habit of avoiding whenever you can?"
Now it was Daniel's turn to make a face. "Colonel Mackenzie," he agreed. He did understand that the military psychiatrist had just been attempting to do his job when Daniel had exhibited several of the classic signs of schizophrenia eight years before, and Daniel had had little to complain about in his interactions with the man since. But Dr. Mackenzie's mindset and training had left him just a little too inflexible in his diagnoses for comfort, in Daniel's opinion, given the extreme and often unprecedented nature of the situations the program dealt with on a daily basis.
"Yes, that one," Vala agreed, blithely. "Well, he has a new assistant. Colleague, really; she'll be here full time, part of the medical staff, not just a consultant. Though her title's a bit different- psychologist, I think? And they don't call her 'doctor'. Just Miz Summers."
"Probably because she doesn't have a medical degree, so she can't prescribe anything, just talk," Daniel filled in. "She wouldn't be the first one on staff with the SGC, though- why does this woman interest you in particular?"
Vala leaned forward a little in her chair, bracing her hands against the seat and lowering her voice as though confiding a really scandalous secret. "Well, according to General Landry, Dr. MacKenzie was originally hired to research the long-term side-effects of gate travel on SGC personnel. But the only consistent conclusions he's found so far are that no one likes to talk about it, and a lot of people get headaches. So someone on the oversight committee finally got fed up with his reports, and decided it might help patients open up if they had someone younger and more empathetic to talk to."
"Less threatening, you mean," Daniel concluded.
"Well, sort of," Vala said, expression even shiftier than before. "That is, she is shorter than I am, and blonde, and has a rather juvenile vocabulary at times..."
"But...?" Daniel prompted her, sensing something else juicy in the offing.
Vala grinned, shark-like. "I think you'd rather enjoy watching her spar with Teal'c," she said. "And Mitchell says she has more experience in high-pressure, long-term team assignments than anyone else outside of the Stargate program."
"And she's not military?" Daniel asked, skeptically.
"Not in the slightest," Vala laughed. Then she paused, looking over her shoulder toward the front of the infirmary, and got to her feet. "But I'll let you discover that for yourself."
"See you later," she sing-songed, waggling the fingers of her dominant hand at him to remind him of her promise to return with the Goa'uld healing instrument, and darted for the door. On the way, she brushed past a woman at least as short as Janet Frasier had been, dressed in the basic civilian SGC uniform with blonde hair in a loose ponytail.
Ambushed again, Daniel thought, dredging up a tired smile to greet the woman. "Ms. Summers, I presume?" he said as she drew close to his bedside, scrutinizing him with lively green eyes.
She chuckled at that. "Please, call me Buffy; I still look for my mother every time someone says that."
"Buffy?" She already had two strikes against her in an environment like the SGC, just being blonde and audibly Californian, but with a name like that she really must be good at what she did for Jack and Landry to have hired her. "I'm guessing that's not short for anything?"
Something about that answer caught her off guard, because she blinked at him, then shook her head. "Wow, not the usual response I get to my name. But then, I hear there's not much usual about you, Dr. Jackson."
"Daniel," he chided her, playing along. "If you want me to call you Buffy, I'll have to ask you to return the favor."
"Daniel." She smiled at him again, warmly. "Your mother had much better taste than mine, I see."
"I won't argue with you about that," he replied, bemused by her approach to the conversation. Definitely nothing like MacKenzie.
"A man who knows when to pick his battles; I approve," she said, resting one hand on the back of the chair where Vala had been sitting. She didn't sit down, though, as though sensing that would be pressing things a little too much, too soon. "So what should I argue with you about, then?"
Ah; and here came the true purpose of her visit. "Excuse me?"
"Oh, you know what I mean. I saw Vala walking out of here; I know she warned you about me." Buffy shook a finger at him. "Don't worry; I'm not here to be all analysis-girl. Not today, anyway. I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself."
"Not to question me about my latest near-death experience?" Daniel asked, frowning at her.
"Nope." She popped the 'p' a little, widening her eyes in a 'young and innocent' expression that he didn't believe for one second. "You're already pretty used to dealing with that, or so I hear. I'm sure you have much more interesting things you'd rather talk about."
"Really," he replied flatly. "You're not interested in my feelings about adding to my frequent flyer miles across the Styx?"
"Nope," she replied again, blandly. "Just kind of glad there's someone else out there who's spent more time in Charon's boat than I have."
Wait... what? She'd actually got the reference, and implied...? "Excuse me?"
"You say that a lot, don't you," she chuckled, then finally sank into the chair, clasping her hands between her knees. "All right, story time."
She waited a moment, taking a breath before beginning- probably giving Daniel time to object. But his curiosity was up now; he merely raised his eyebrows and assumed an attentive expression.
"I didn't used to be a psychologist, you know," she said, lowering her voice to almost the same exact confiding tone Vala had used earlier. "That's my 'retired and finally got my degree' job. Before that, I was on a team kind of like yours, except we were all civilians and none of us got paid for it. So on one of my missions, I was down in these tunnels..."
Daniel was alternately fascinated and disturbed by her story, even as obviously abbreviated as it was to preserve classified details, and hardly noticed that she'd casually led him into talking about his first death on Abydos until she was nodding knowingly at the conclusion of the tale.
"Kind of a harsh bonding experience, but that's the way it goes in these jobs sometimes," she said, blithely. "And hey, there's something to be said for proving you've got each other's backs on Day One."
He blinked at her, taken aback yet again. "Who are you?" he couldn't help but ask. He'd never had anyone react to him the way Buffy did, not even Jack.
She tilted her head a little and grinned. "I know you didn't forget my name already. I think you meant to say, what am I- and that's a story for another time."
Daniel shook his head ruefully. "I may regret this, but I think I'm looking forward to hearing it."
"Good, then I'm doing my job right," Buffy laughed. "And hopefully making a friend?"
"We'll see," he replied, amused. Vala had been right; the psychologist was both more and less dangerous than she appeared.
"We'll see," she agreed, rising gracefully from the chair. "Nice meeting you, Daniel."
"Nice meeting you, Buffy," he replied, then settled back to wait for Vala's return.