Disclaimer: Stargate: SG-1 and all related concepts are the property of MGM, while the character of Spike belongs to Joss Whedon and James Marsters, among other people (Also, the original idea for this story came from Jedi Buttercup's 'An Unexpected Gift', so I don't own it either, although I have put my own spin on things, and have been given his full permission to use his idea)
Feedback: I'd appreciate it, of course
AN: Things are starting to diverge a BIT from the canonical version of events in this chapter; hope you like what I've come up with for this reality
The Ghost in the Team
As he sat in the limousine alongside Sam, Spike found himself considering and disregarding the prospect of resigning from this 'job' for the umpteenth time; no matter how uncomfortable he found the stupid suit he was forced to wear in this job, he wasn't going to let Sam go into any kind of situation if he wasn't there to ensure that they were both available to get back home.
After Landry had identified 'Major Carter' as the person responsible for their recent escape from destruction at the hands of the Ori, Sam and Spike had each insisted that Spike be given an official role as Sam's bodyguard in order to ensure that the two of them would remain in contact with each other even when Sam was attending public functions. Landry had initially offered the services of some of his secret service staff as Sam's protective detail- Sam had 'charitably' suggested that Landry was just concerned about relying on the skills of someone he didn't know to protect her after what she'd done, even if Spike had his own doubts-, but after Spike had single-handedly defeated three of them at once in a practise fight, he had acknowledged that the vampire was sufficient protection on his own (Even if he still didn't know what Spike really was).
Sam had even managed to figure out a way to provisionally allow him to walk in the sunlight; using a Goa'uld shield device she'd managed to acquire from Area 51, as well as using a stolen needle to provide Spike with small injections of her blood- each of them had agreed that they weren't interested in Spike actually feeding from Sam; apart from the emotional 'issues' involved, the resulting scar could attract unwanted attention no matter where Spike fed from-, Sam had been able to modify the shield to only protect Spike from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun, allowing him to otherwise walk around and interact with other objects and people without any side-effects. He had to wear gloves while out in public to ensure that nobody realised what he was doing, but in general it seemed to be working fairly well, so long as the shield was left on a low enough setting to ensure that no other security systems could detect it (Sam had worried about having to turn it to such a low setting that it lost the ability to deflect weapons fire, but Spike had assured her that he could handle being shot).
Neither of them were entirely comfortable with their sudden public status, but if it was the only way to keep Landry satisfied while they worked on figuring out a way back to their world, they were each resigned to dealing with the situation in front of them; Spike might have it easier since Landry hadn't even identified him by name in most of his recent announcements, but the fact that he was working so closely with Sam meant that he was still in the spotlight by proxy.
If they'd been in their own world, he might have actually rather enjoyed the thrill- it wasn't every vampire who got a chance to spend time at high-class parties like this, even if they'd enjoy it for a different reason than he would-, but as it was, they weren't, and he wasn't; the fact that they were doing this to support some guy whose talk about 'dangerous times ahead' in his bloody speeches didn't encourage the idea that he'd just let them walk did little to help Spike's mood...
Plus, he had to appreciate the company, given how well Sam carried off the black dress she was currently wearing even if she was obviously on-edge at going out in something like that; just because he was involved with Vala back home- and he was more than slightly sure that Sam felt something for their still-frustratingly-absent archaeologist-, that didn't mean he couldn't appreciate the fact that his job involved him spending time with a hot woman dressed like that.
Spike cursed the brief-but-significant spike of depression and rage that filled him at the thought of that name; after all those weeks of being with Vala while not being able to do anything because of his physical limitations, he finally got his body back, only to be incapable of actually 'sharing the experience' because of some fluke experiment.
Damnit, he missed Vala; the first chance he had to actually do anything with her since he met her, and they were separated by a bloody universe...
"Bill," Sam said, her voice drawing Spike's attention back to the present- he'd tuned out while the TV was playing another showing of their earlier press conference in their limo to take a few moments of shut-eye, even if the rest of his senses had been on the alert- as she spoke into her phone, "tell me you have good news!"
Spike didn't need to be able to hear the other end of her conversation to know that the news wasn't that great; her dejected sigh answered that question for him.
"All right," she said, a grim but resigned expression on her face, "I'll be back tomorrow. We can go over it then. Bye."
Just as she turned off the phone, the limousine they were in came to a halt and the door opened, leaving Spike to force his out and glare intimidatingly at the various representatives of the paparazzi gathered on the red carpet leading up to the White House. Even as a couple of other secret service agents gathered around Sam, Spike took care to always stay close to her, his vampiric senses focusing on her unique scent even amid the crowd, glaring at people through his sunglasses as he resisted the instinctive urge to use his 'vamp face' to scare them off.
It was times like this that made him wonder why people bothered being famous; the cash was good, but depending on your line of work privacy would be difficult...
Once she was inside the party, Sam wondered if there was any way that she could have just avoided this whole awkward experience.
It wasn't like she'd never visited the White House back home, but then it was always quieter briefing opportunities to fill in the politicians on the implications of some of the recent events or discoveries that they'd made in order to persuade some of the more cynical senators who were in on the Stargate program's existence to continue to provide them with the necessary funding to continue some of their investigations or experiments into certain discoveries. This party was not only a lot more public than those meetings had been, but she also had simultaneously a more important and less important role than she had served in those meetings; she might be one of the reasons the party was being thrown in the first place, but she still wasn't actually needed there.
"Major, it's an honour," one of the other guests said to her (That was another problem; Sam had to constantly remind herself that she hadn't actually been promoted in this reality before she corrected anyone about her rank), Sam trying not to look too uncomfortable as Spike stood a few inches behind her, his eyes constantly scanning the room around her behind his glasses. "On behalf of the people of the great state of Idaho, thank you."
"Oh, well..." Sam said, cursing her discomfort as Spike stood silently beside her; what did it say about her that she was uncomfortable talking to politicians but was so relaxed about having an actual vampire constantly in her presence. "You're, uh, very kind, sir."
"Keep up the good work, dear," the senator's wife added.
"Thank you," Sam said, trying to smile gratefully at the other woman as the two walked away; she thought that the senator paused to look at her for a moment, but a slight shift in Spike's position prompted him to keep moving before she could be certain one way or the other.
"Enjoying the party?" Landry said, the President walking over to her as he spoke, prompting Spike to shift his position slightly.
"Uh…I'm not sure that's exactly the right word, sir," Sam said, trying to be as diplomatic as possible.
"Have some champagne," Landry said, his tone almost disturbingly casual. "Relax."
"I guess I'm just not used to all the attention," Sam clarified, looking at the large group around her.
"They do things differently where you come from?" Landry asked, raising his eyebrows as he looked at them in an almost jokingly quizzical manner.
"Considering that the Stargate program's still a sodding secret back home, we don't really get out much," Spike said in a low voice, glaring briefly at Landry in a disdainful manner before Sam stepped in front of him, shooting the vampire a brief warning glare before she looked back at Landry.
"Like Spike said, we tend to keep Stargate-related celebrations a bit more... low-key... back home," she said, smiling slightly awkwardly at the president; as much as she agreed with Spike's essential sentiment, they couldn't anger the people they needed in order to get home. "Plus, I can't quite stop feeling a bit like an impostor; I mean, everything thinks I'm Major Samantha Carter..."
"That won't be a problem any more," Landry said with a smile. "We're promoting you."
"Yeah..." Sam said, exchanging an uncomfortable glance with Spike before she looked back at Landry. "That's not the point, sir."
"People here have been through a lot lately," Landry said, apparently dismissing her discomfort as irrelevant. "They need something to believe in. Your timing is impeccable."
Looking over at Spike once again, Sam was only slightly relieved to see that he didn't like the implications of that last statement any more than she did; evidently they were both aware- even if they'd come by that awareness from different angles- that turning people into symbols made it difficult for them to get away from what they symbolised later on...
"No security without freedom!" a voice suddenly yelled from somewhere off to the side, prompting Sam and Spike to turn around and take in the sight of the speaker; a man wearing street clothing, clearly not one of the guests at this party, shouting angrily in their direction as he tried to shove his way through the various others guests.
"Sir," one of the aides said, hurrying over to stand beside Landry, "let's get you out of here."
Stuck for anything else that he could do in this situation, Spike simply adjusted his glasses and followed Sam and Landry as they were escorted towards the centre of the room, leaving the other guests to be pushed to the side as the protestor continued to rant something about the voices of tyranny that Sam couldn't hear fully and didn't entirely like the sound of; even with her limited knowledge of the larger political situation in this universe, she was still sure that there were some terms nobody wanted to hear in this kind of situation...
The sight of the guy being struck by a long black object that could only be a Goa'uld pain stick only added to Sam's concerns about the world that she and Spike were currently trapped in.
"Let's get him out of here!" one of the agents said, Spike reaching out to instinctively grab Sam's arm moments before she and Landry was enveloped by a burst of white light...
When the light faded, the three of them were standing in a corridor that rang no bells in Spike's mind, although Sam clearly recognised it even if she expressed obvious surprise at the sight.
"Prometheus," Sam said, looking at her surroundings in obvious surprise. Spike wondered what was so surprising about their location, but Landry simply nodded and walked into a nearby room, leaving Sam and Spike with no other choice but to follow him.
"Welcome to Air Force One, Mr. President," a voice said over a radio as they walked into a large room with a presidential seal on the wall, along with an elaborate wooden desk and comfortable leather chairs that just didn't fit Spike's vision of what should be found on a spaceship. "We'll expecting a message from our agent soon, but is there anything you need?"
"No, not for the moment, Colonel, thank you," Landry said, walking casually into the room and heading for a desk as the door closed behind them; glancing back, Spike noted two guards moving into position to stand in front of the door. "Sorry about that. Want a drink?"
"Not while I'm on duty," Spike said, resisting the urge to make a 'never drink' joke; the line hadn't been that bad when he'd seen it in the original movie- not that he'd admit that to anyone-, but it was so hard finding the right opportunity to use it when he would actually rather enjoy a drink most of the time.
"No…thank you," Sam said, shaking her head as she looked at Landry on confusion. "Sir, what the hell just happened?"
"My security detail can get a little overprotective," Landry said nonchalantly as he poured himself a drink from a table of decanters. "Probably just could've gone out the back way."
"I think we were talking about the guy who just came charging in yelling about freedom and security," Spike said, glaring pointedly at Landry as he removed his glasses; the black shades looked good, but sometimes you just wanted to make a point.
"Not everyone is happy about some of the compromises we've had to make," Landry said, sighing as he spoke, even if the lack of eye contact made it clear that he knew he was on shaky ground with that statement.
"Compromises like martial law?" Sam asked in a pointed manner.
"Believe me, Colonel, I have no desire to go down in history as the man who destroyed civil liberties in America," Landry said, turning to face the two of them. "But I think you'll agree that compared to other Presidents, I've faced some pretty unique challenges."
As he took a drink, Spike only needed to briefly glance at Sam to know that she was thinking the same thing as him; Landry might say that he'd only done what he did because of the unique challenges facing him, but that didn't change the fact that he'd done enough to have protestors literally up in arms against him.
Spike wasn't even going to pretend that he understood politics, but he knew enough to know that he didn't like what he was finding out about this mess they were in at the moment...
"Mr President?" a voice suddenly said from an upper corner of the room. "We're receiving a message from our agent."
"Put it through," Landry said.
"Agent?" Sam asked, looking at Landry curiously.
"Even with our focus on Earth, we've maintained a couple of unofficial offworld agents," Landry said, taking another sip from his drink before he put his glass down and walked over to a wall that displayed a large screen. "Normally knowledge of them is a need-to-know basis, but considering that you're in a similar position, there's no reason for you to leave."
As he activated the viewing screen, Spike and Sam's eyes widened in surprise at the sight on the screen before them; while both of them recognised Vala, now wearing a tight black outfit, the other figure was only familiar to Spike, as a light-haired woman in dark red stood alongside Vala with a slight smile on her face.
"Hello," this world's version of Anya said- Spike instinctively moved off to the side out of direct view of the screen; he still didn't know what had happened to his counterpart in this world and this wasn't the time to find out about something that complicated when Landry still didn't know what he really was-, looking at Landry with a brief nod. "We've picked up another mothership; where do you want it?"
"Just leave it in the Antarctic shipyards; we'll work on stripping it later," Landry said, his response a curt one that suggested that he was used to this kind of discussion.
"Stripping it?" Vala said, looking at Landry in surprise. "This thing used to belong to Ares, I'll have you know; it was one of the most efficient ships out there-"
"And we've got enough Goa'uld ships out there with the Lucian Alliance carving up their territory; we need to establish our own fleet rather than using other races' ships," Landry said firmly. "Get the ship to the shipyards and we'll get to work on stripping it for material; we'll discuss payment when I get back."
"Gotcha," Anya replied, before the connection was terminated, leaving Sam and Spike staring incredulously at the President.
"Is there a problem?" Landry asked, looking at them with a slight smile.
"You mean, aside from the fact that I was informed that Vala Mal Doran was in prison?" Sam said, glaring slightly at Landry.
"And what the hell is Anya doing with her?" Spike added incredulously. "I know that girl- or I knew the version of her from back home, anyway-; there's no way she had the skill for that kind of thing!"
"We needed an easily deniable pair of agents to keep an eye on offworld activities after things became... difficult," Landry explained, looking grimly at the two cross-universal visitors. "We were able to quell the worst of the riots when we helped the Asgard defeat the Replicators-"
"How did you do that?" Sam asked, prior questions forgotten in the face of this new information.
"We..." Landry began, before he looked at them in a grim manner that made it clear he didn't like what he was about to say even as he was resolved to say it. "President Hayes gave the Asgard unrestricted access to the corpse of Colonel O'Neill."
Judging by the horrified expression on Sam's face at that news, she hadn't been expecting that.
"Uh... how would his corpse make any difference to anything?" Spike asked, looking apologetically at Sam before he spoke; he might not know O'Neill that much personally, but he'd heard enough to know what kind of impact the guy had made on his original team, and recognised that this wasn't going to be easy for Sam to hear even if it wasn't about the one she knew.
"He died because his brain was suffering from neural collapse after exposure to an Ancient repository of knowledge," Landry explained, turning from Spike to look grimly at Sam. "Your counterpart and Doctor Jackson were able to get him into an Ancient stasis pod in the Antarctic outpost shortly after his death, but when the Asgard arrived Thor didn't have the resources available to repair the extent of the damage that his mind had sustained, given how much time had elapsed between him receiving the download and him going into stasis; all he could do was take a short-lived imprint of Colonel O'Neill's mind from what brain tissue hadn't been destroyed and use that to help them search through the knowledge to find the technology needed to create the anti-Replicator weapon."
"Oh," Spike said, trying not to think about the obvious devastation on Sam's face at that particular news (He wished that he could express his sympathy, but it wasn't like he even knew the guy that well back home; the general version of Jack O'Neill had spent more time with the original SG-1 than anyone else).
"Anyway," Landry said, "with the Replicators destroyed and immediate threats resolved- without the Replicators to distract them, the Asgard were able to divert more resources into opposing the Goa'uld-, we were able to calm most of the riots, but the need to provide the public with advanced technology to compensate for the harm we'd caused by keeping the Goa'uld secret.."
He shrugged. "Well, Miss Mal Doran's skills were obvious after she tried to steal the Prometheus, and when we discovered the anomalies in Miss Jenkins' background, she was a convenient asset to assign to work with Miss Mal Doran; excellent skills at getting people to tell her what she wants to hear, while also possessing plausible deniability in case anyone else out there decides to use them as an excuse to declare war against us while we're worrying about the Ori."
Spike had no idea how he should feel about all this crap, but he was increasingly sure that he didn't like what he was finding out about this world.
These bastards were using Anya... because her past didn't quite 'add up' and they gave her a choice between doing stuff for them that they could deny they'd asked her to do if she got caught, or...?
OK, Spike didn't know what the 'or' would have been, but the more he saw of the mess this world had made of itself the less he liked it.
God, he just wanted to go home...
In a dark room thousands of miles away, a figure sat and watched the news about the recently-disrupted party at the White House, eyes narrowing as a gleaming hand tightened over a glass, the glass shattering and the liquid trickling over fingers unimpeded by shards of glass as their owner stared at the image on the screen.
"Spike," the figure said simply, contempt in every aspect of the short word.
Why was it that the people you always really wanted to stay dead wouldn't?
She didn't know how he was suddenly alive again, but she'd make sure that he regretted ever bothering to come back; after everything she'd lost, there was no goddamn way that bastard got to come back instead of anyone else...
AN 2: Any guesses who the figure at the end was?
If you can't, don't worry; she'll be appearing in the next chapter, in a more significant divergence from canon events...
On that topic, hope you like what I did with Vala and Anya here, and that my idea about Jack's fate in this reality seems plausible; it just seemed to me that, if SG-1 were late enough in getting back to Earth that Anubis was able to launch a full-scale attack, Jack's condition when he was put into stasis probably wouldn't lend itself to him being able to recover from the damage, even if I couldn't just kill him directly without leaving the Asgard deprived of a solution for the Replicator problem in this reality.