Chapter Three: Old Man

A solid, rapid thumping echoes down the long, dark, oppressive corridors. Paintings, portraits, and landscapes, hang on the walls at perfectly spaced intervals. Red oak paneling gives the hallway, like the rest of the house, an even greater feeling of gloom. Despite the warmth in the air the halls convey a cold, empty feel.

A small, lean dark hair girl screeches to a skidding stop at the T section. One foot slips as she starts to run, her hand touches the floor, and her other foot catches traction and she bolts down the hall. She's half way down the hall when another, slightly older, slightly taller brunette races around the corner.

"I'm going get you, you little freak!" She shouts closing rapidly with the younger girl.

"You wish!" She yells back reaching her bedroom door. She quickly turns the handle, pushes the door open, storms inside, then slams it shut, almost smashing the thick wood into her half sister's face. She quickly twists the lock securing the door before Jessica can force it open.

Something heavy bangs into the door. A second later it thuds again. "I get my hands on you…"

"You ain't gonna do anything!" She shouts interrupting her. "Dad will take away your platinum cards bitch."

"We'll see what mom has to say about that," Jessica yells.

"She's your mother, not mine!" She shouts twirling around to face the door.

"Thank god, because it would take somebody with really screwed up genes to give birth to a freaky little dyke like you! Keep your beady eyes away from my friends," she warns.

"I've got as much right to go anywhere in this house as you," Gwendolyn screams back taking another step back a few tears sliding down her cheeks.

"We'll see about that," Jessica says through the door in a sinister whisper.

Gwendolyn whirls away from the door. Taking in the large opulent room around her for the first time without really seeing it. Even with the bright colors, the stuffed animals the room has all of the warmth of the hallway on the other side of her door. Its just one more sign of just how dysfunctional her family is.

Her mother, had been the maid her father got pregnant. Instead of sending her away as soon as possible she was kept in the house, treated like family. A distant cousin, but family. Only after she gave birth was she sent away, alone and with a good monthly check. Only instead of keeping everything from her its throw in her face every chance. A way to remind her that she wasn't really one of them.

All the time her father constantly buys her one toy after another. The biggest stuffed animals. The brightest colors. As if he doesn't know any other way to say I love you.

She stops on her second step. Lying on the floor, her right arm crossing from her chest to the opposite hip, as if she just collapsed right next to her bed, was quite possibly the most beautiful woman she has ever seen. Fiery red hair, lean cheeks, a small little button nose, soft, luscious looking lips. All she would need, to be just perfect, are emerald green eyes. Now if she was only ten years younger, even five then maybe…

Next to her, dropped as if its unimportant, is a wicked looking ax. Its hard wood handle ends in a sharp point. The blade is so polished it gleams brilliantly in her rooms bright lights.

Gwendolyn gives her head a shake coming back to herself, she quickly kneels down next to the strange red head's side. Her fingers easily finds a pulse on her neck, her skin feels like smooth satin. Its strong. Steady.

Like the woman was just sleeping.

Taking a deep breath, she gives her a shake. "Hey," she says softly. "Time to wake up beautiful," she whispers lovingly.

Her eyelids flutter open, a pair of dazzlingly green eyes stare up. A smile flits across her lips as she looks upon the beautiful face of her lover. Willow lifts her left hand, her fingertips gently caressing along Kennedy's face. "Ken," she says in a voice full of love. "I made it… Home," she finishes arm dropping to the floor as her eyes slip close.

- - - - - - -

Red light swirls in time with the blaring horn as it fades in and out. The air, tense just a few minutes ago, is charged. Ready to burst any moment.

Fingers tense, a light pressure being applied to the triggers of high powered automatic weapons, as the handful of soldiers glare scowl at the two -- completely naked -- strangers that had literally hurtled out of the star gate a moment ago.

The older man, a few locks of his curly, light brown hair falling in front of his eyes. He squints slightly, still being careful to keep his hands held up in the air. "You blokes think you can get somebody to turn the bleeding lights off. Bloody annoying," he finishes with a grimace.

"Don't move," a Sergeant orders stepping forward.

He squints his eyes slightly. "Wasn't planning on going for stroll mate." Glances down at himself. "I seem to be a tad bit underdressed at the moment."

"What the hell is going on!" Hammond demands storming into the gate room. His eyes roving the room like an angry hawk. They latch onto the blue eye man and the blonde hair, green eye teenager. "Who the hell are you?"

The man opens his mouth. An obvious quip coming to his lips that quickly dies there. A frown tugging the corners of his lips down as his eyes turn upwards.

"Well?" Hammond demands, his exasperation clearly evident in his voice.

He looks up, fear glittering in his eyes as he shakes his head. "I haven't got a bleeding clue."

General Hammond feels his blood surge in his veins. Today may well be one of the most rememorable days he has ever had. It was definitely never going to be one of his favorites. "Do you know where you're from? Where you are now? What about the boy?"

With a sudden abruptness the alarm cuts off. The man visibly relaxes without the blaring noise blasting out of the speakers. "London?" He murmurs questioningly, a slight frown on his lips. He gives his head a small shake. "Maybe." He shifts his head to look at the teenager and gives a shrug. "Junior, but…" He stops looking back at the blonde hair youth. "I've known him since he was just a tyke, but…" he looks back at Hammond and gives his head a shake.

Hammond's scowl darkens as he continues to glare at the pair of strangers. He knew the man could be telling the truth, but he also knew its just as likely he is lying. That his claim of amnesia is nothing more then a ruse.

The speaker clicks softly. A brief moment later a diffident feminine voice says. "General Hammond, when you have a moment sir. I have the results of the telemetry you wanted sir." Samantha finishes then switches off the intercom.

Hammond's withering glower continues to weigh at the two. He lets out a slight exhalation as he turns towards the lieutenant. "Place them in ISO five. Frazier will be there in a few minutes. Stay with them. And find them some clothes."

- - - - - - -

Dawn continues to glare up at Teal'C with a mixture of anger and curiosity. Anger that she has been left alone for over an hour, it felt like its been way more then an hour, with a gray skinned E.T. wanna be and a large black man with gold emblem embedded in his forehead. Neither of which had said two words to her in the entire time.

E.T. she could understand. He had this big old space ship to over see.

But the other one, the big one… Its just plain rude to stare at somebody, like he's examining a tool he isn't quite sure what it was made for, and not say anything to them.

"So," Dawn finally says. A note of challenge in her voice. "You're an alien?" Teal'C gives her a small nod. "You don't look like an alien," she informs him. She looks over her shoulder at Thor saying, "at least he looks like an alien. Has that whole E.T. look going on. You though," she gives her head a little shake, "you just look like a big, grumpy guy who hasn't gotten his daily dose of Metamucil." Teal'C quirks an expressive eyebrow at her. "Heck, I've seen demons way scarier then you…" His eye brow arches a little more at her. "Fine, Buffy's seen most of them. Mom gets really upset when Buffy slays in front of me. I told you Buffy's the Slayer right?"

"Indeed many times," Teal'C answers.

"Yeah," Dawn continues. "She's like the Earth's protector. Goes out every night saving people. Averts an apocalypse, two or three times a year, and still manages to get…" she gives a little shrugs as she adds, "almost average grades."

Looking him in the eye her face twist into a determined scowl. "Just so we're clear on the subject, when you say alien you don't mean you slipped over the boarder from Mexico. You mean your from," she makes a waving gesture towards the front window, "out there?"

Teal'C nods his head slightly saying, "that is correct."

"Like really, really far out there?"

Again Teal'C nods.

"Are Wookies real?"

His eye widen a bare fraction of an inch. "I don't believe so."

"Because that would be so cool to meet Chewbacca," Dawn says brightly, enthusiastically.

He smiles, a small quirking of his lips. Gives her a tiny nod and says, "indeed," in a very soft boom. Then quickly falls back to his normal expression.

She continues to smile as she asks him. "What did you do, you know before you started holding young girls against their will?" Her voice just drips with a lot of unnecessary sweetness.

He keeps his expression flat as he says, "I was First Prime to the false god Apophis. For many years I slew his enemies without mercy."

Dawn swallows hard as she continues to stare at him. "and did any of his enemies include. Children?" She asks managing to keep her voice steady.

He seems to lean forward without moving. An evil glint in his eyes as he says, "many."

- - - - - - -

Carter glances up at General Hammond as he enters her office some five minutes or more after switching off her intercom. She had spent the better part of the day trying to calculate where their unauthorized visitors originated from. So far her results have been inconclusive to say the least.

While one was at least feasible -- if a little far reaching -- the other was just flat out impossible. There just wasn't anyway they could have come from where her figures say.

"What have you got for me Major?" Hammond asks standing just inside the door frame.

Samantha nods emphatically saying, "the analysis from this mornings gate readings." She stops taking a deep breath.

"And?" The authorities note of command resonates in his voice.

With a deep breath she launches into her discovery. "The first gate originated from Earth…"

"I thought that was impossible?"

She nods ignoring the interruption. "It should be," pausing for a moment to correct herself, to chose her words a little more carefully. "It is, except under very specific conditions."

"Such as?"

"From everything we've discovered." She takes another breath watching Hammond intently. "Time travel sir."

"Time travel?" The skepticism is easily evident in his voice. He steps closer. The confusion is plainly written on his face. He knew it was possible but hearing his suspicions confirmed. It was similar to getting a bucket full of ice water thrown in his face.

"When we were stuck in nineteen sixty-nine we used the star gate in conjunction with an incredibly powerful sunspot to get back to our proper time."

Hammond nods thoughtfully at her explanation. "They're from the past."

A brief shake of her head as she gestures to the computer. "I don't think so. The readings aren't consistent with what we have on record, plus if you listen to the blonde woman as she tries to effect an escape…" She pauses again. "Some of the things she said leads me to believe they're from the future."

He looks at the image on the screen, The girl Buffy pounding on the door screaming, raging to be let out. Straining his ears slightly he can just make out what she was saying. "Is that even possible? What would they have used for a power source?"

Samantha's face blanches a little at the question. "I think that the girl Dawn, was the source. The way the gate reacts to her."

George feels himself sag a little. "What about the other transmission?"

Carter exhales sharply. "I don't have a clue sir." She admits. "I've just started running the calculations, gone over them a dozen times already. There was no point of origin." She shakes her head in pure frustration. "I don't know what to say. They came out of nothing literally."

- - - - - - -

Spike doesn't even register the cold, stone lid of the sarcophagus he's lying upon. A little grin flickers across his lips, there and gone in a flash.

Being a vampire did have its advantages. Never having to worry about aching joints on a cold morning, not feeling heat or cold at all. It could be the bitterest winter night, a freezing cold that would cause trees to burst as their sap froze, or blistering heat under the noonday sun in Death Valley and he wouldn't sweet a drop.

So long as the sun didn't touch him. If it did, then he'd feel heat. The heat of flames that would try and devour him whole.

He lets out a long breath feeling a fresh wave of boredom wash over himself. Out of a morbid kind of curiosity he wonders if the slayer has managed to get her hands on Harmony and her crew yet. He feels a little slap of guilt over what he did to the blonde that used to share his bed.

It didn't last very long. Harmony wanted to swim in the big lake now, where there are a lot of nasty fellows just waiting to take a few bites out of some fresh meat.

It wasn't like he knew she was going to use his plan and nab the slayer's sister. That was just plain stupid, right up there with some of ways Angelus had tried to get to the slayer. Almost as brilliant as killing the watcher's woman way back when. Or sucking the world into hell. That had really been a winner of a plan his grandsire had come up with at the time. Then again Drusilla's had been a key participant in the planning process.

He sits up, swinging his legs over the side. "Bloody Hell," he grumbles hopping down to the floor.

His crypt door burst open. A blonde flurry bounds in, slamming the door behind her. Spinning back around, Harmony stares with wild eyes at Spike. "You gotta help me, Buffy's after me. She's gone insane, going on and on about me… Abducting her sister. Like I would ever hurt Dawn. She was always the only one that was ever nice to me."

Spike gives his head a rough shake. "You've got the slayer wanting your pretty little empty head and you couldn't think of anyplace else to go."

"You're the only that can hide me from her, that I can trust not to rat me out." She pleads with wide, sad, trusting eyes.

Spike rolls his head back. "Fine," he says looking back at her. "You can stay, but you make sure you keep out of sight. I don't want anyone catching the tiniest little glimpse of you. Fact I don't want to see you poking your head through that hatch or I'll deliver you to the slayer myself."

"Oh Spike!" Harmony shouts leaping into Spike's arms. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," she says rapidly between quick kisses all over his face.

Spike makes a quick job of fending her off, creating a few inches of Space as he murmurs, "whatever."

- - - - - - -

Buffy pinches the bridge of her nose in frustration as she pushes open the front door and steps inside. Her search for Dawn hadn't turned up anything, and even worse then that Harmony had managed to escape. That's a piece of information she wasn't going to be happy with when it comes out. She just knew her entire reputation is going to fly straight out the window once word gets around.

Stepping inside she pushes the door close behind her. The house was quiet, despite all the people in the house. Most other people wouldn't have been able to hear anything, with how quietly everyone is talking, but because of her slayer hearing she heard everything as if it is being whispered in her ear.

Joyce looks up, instinctively sensing Buffy standing there. A hopefully pensive expression creasing her face. "Anything?" She asks desperately.

Buffy shakes her head. "Did you guys find anything?" She inquires already knowing the answer.

Willow frowns, Tara gives her hand a firm squeeze. "We're not sure," she says slowly.

"What do you mean?"

Giles takes a step forward clearing his throat. "Willow and Tara did a number of locating spells. At first they were getting some rather peculiar…"

"Giles did you find her or not?" Buffy demands.

"Cheyenne Mountain," Xander answer.

Buffy scrunches her eyes slightly. "Where is it, how am I going to get there, and what the hell is she doing there?"

Giles shifts his glare off Xander to focus back in on Buffy. "Where not sure if that is where she is."

"Would somebody just tell me what is going on here?" Buffy demands.

"We w-were getting two separate locations," Tara answers with small stutter.

Willow nods as she adds, "the one in Washington is closer, but its also weaker."

"And the other one?"

Willow looks towards Giles, her eyes wide and pleading. He lets out a small breath. "Somewhere above the planet. Presumably space."

"Did she go up with the space shuttle and not bother to tell anyone?"

"It is the stronger of the two singles," Giles adds after Buffy's anger filled question.

"Its always possible somebody wants us to find that one, like a decoy, so we'll concentrate on it, instead of the other one," Xander comments sounding like he's made the same argument before.

Giles shakes his head saying, "that only makes sense if whoever took her had been masking her location."

"What if they are?" Anya asks. "Only their spell isn't working like it should. So instead hiding her it only makes her hazy?"

"I'm going to Washington," Buffy tells them.

"Are you sure?" Giles questions with a slight frown.

"Unless you have some way of getting me into deep space," Buffy responds with a tiny head shake. "it's the only place I have to start looking. Besides, it can't be any harder then breaking into the Initiative." She stops taking a look at her friends, "can it?"

- - - - - - -

The cell was a small, a rectangular six by ten foot room. A set of bunk beds pressed up against the right wall. A small table and single chair against the left. Like every place else the two have seen on this base the concrete walls have been painted two distinct colors. A dark, drab green below the waist and an off gray above.

The rooms one saving feature was its environment. Dry and cool without being cold. For some reason he couldn't explain after being told they are going to be kept in a holding cell, he imagined a damp, dank, dark dungeon filled with muck, dirty water, and rats. A place were human waste covers the floor in a thick layer of slime. Where moans from the dying and those that wish they were dead filled the air. He's extremely glad that wasn't the case.

Fresh air was being pumped in through a small air duct high up on the wall, only a few inches below the ceiling. He thought it odd that they could have fresh air being so far underground. Just as he found it slightly disconcerting that he knew that they are underground without being told. It was as if he had simply plucked the information out of the air, off a gentle breeze without knowing the reason why. Or how.

He wishes he knew the how of it. That way, at least, he would be able to find out who he was. With the way things stand he has as much of an idea of who he was as he does of finding out who the young man sharing the room with him happened to be. He knew they had spent a good deal of time together. That they are as close as father and son, but he didn't know him from Adam.

The door swings open, moving silently on well oiled hinges. He doesn't bother to look up. He knew who it was before their large, bald head proceeded his thick body through the door. Had known who was coming before he had entered the corridor. A handful of guards fill the hall, two of them fallow General Hammond into the room.

From the top bunk the boy rolls off, his bare feet slapping against the floor. Green eyes shoot a challenge at everyone that just entered the room.

Hammonds glare takes in the teenager for several moments without lessening one once. The boy smirks, not evilly, just knowingly.

The General watches, partly fascinated, but also a little fearful, as the man looks at the youngster. A slight, disapproving scowl that the boy couldn't see unless he has eyes in the back of his head. His shoulders slump slightly, a little frown dips the corner of his lips. With an ease and grace that he finds astounding, the boy jumps back up to the top bunk, where he somehow manages to land flat on his back.

For a moment Hammond wonders if they can communicate telepathically. Some type of inherited genetic trait. If they could it would certainly explain a lot. He makes a mental note to ask Janet about the possibility.

"We have a serious problem here," he starts off without any sort of preamble.

"Tell me about it," he says lifting his eyes. "Way too much starch in these here fatigues. I think I'm beginning to chafe." It was a small grin that slips over his lips, but his blue eyes are laughing volumes.

"Damn it man," Hammond snaps. His anger bubbling over for a rare, brief moment. "This is no joking matter."

"You're right," he says unable to keep the smile from elongating fractionally.

Hammonds glare intensifies, but rolls off the stranger without making any noticeable impression. "Why don't we start with something simple? Who are you?"

"I…" He starts, eyes glazing over for a second. Images run wild through his mind. One tumbling after another and another.

A large, steel spike the size of a man's leg lifted high in air. A man, Victorian style clothes, thick, bushy mustache and side burns, lying on the ground. On railroad ties. Screaming, begging. A distant voice that seems to come from all around him. "Don't you just love irony?"

Blood. So much blood. More then he could imagine seeing in a thousand lifetimes. It is everywhere. Covering everything. It fills the air itself.

Finer then the best wines. Sweeter then nectar. It was an ambrosia like no other.

Screams, horrified, terrified screams that fill his mind. Begging pleading for mercy. A quick end that was never to come.

With the suddenness of a thunder clap everything slams back into place with the force of falling a thousand stories to land back in his body. He doesn't know why he still standing on his feet or why everybody is still waiting calmly like a hundred years haven't just past in the span of a heartbeat. Then he realizes. For them it hasn't. For them it is only the next moment while they wait for his answer.

He gives his head a shake. "… don't know," he finishes in a slight haze.

"What do you mean, you don't know?" Hammond demands. The last few hours have left his nerves well and truly frayed.

"Just what I bloody said," he hisses back. "I don't have a clue as to who I…"

More images explode inside his head.

Battles, blood. Enough to fill every single ocean on the planet ten times over. Death, carnage, excitement, the rush of killing with his bare hands.

Horses and carriages traveling the length and breath of a continent.

Continents.

Cathedrals and ballrooms, promenades filled with people and laughter and every moment a feast, a banquet, a raging war.

All of them covered in the dark of night.

Except one. Him, only different. Hair, a strange blonde color. Clothes black. Black jeans, black shirt, black leather duster.

The sun shining brightly down on him the first time in more then a century.

Angry.

Always angry.

So much pain.

There's the one responsible. The slayer. Angelic face framed by a halo of gold. Her beauty, it shines through everything. After everything that she's been through she's still so strong. No quit in her.

No matter the odds she always comes through in the end.

She could be loved for that alone.

No.

She's the one that took Dru from you. She's the one that turned your life into a mockery.

She's talking to some guy. His words hurt her.

Good. She deserves to hurt just like you.

The fight.

God it was great to fight with her. The fire in her eyes. The passion that spurs her on. Can't help but wonder what it would be like…

No. She has to die. That's the only way to prove to Dru that she only. That nobody else means to him what she does.

Have to hurt her. How to hurt her the most?

Words. Ugly words. Hurtful words. Painful words. Hateful words.

They just spill out.

Stop them. Bring them back. Can't. Too late.

"…use to be," he adds placing his right hand to the side of his head. His left hand going to the wall to steady himself.

Old Man - Neil Young

Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,
Twenty four and there's so much more
Live alone in a paradise
That makes me think of two.

Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things that don't get lost.
Like a coin that won't get tossed
Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that's true.

Lullabies, look in your eyes,
Run around the same old town.
Doesn't mean that much to me
To mean that much to you.

I've been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.
But I'm all alone at last.
Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that's true.

Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.