Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Stargate.
They were watching Star Wars. Again. Of course Jack was only protesting on principle. He was too glad to have them all here. The last mission had been hellish. Murphy had really worked his magic on PX6-575. The mission should have been a simple one. 575 had some old temple that Daniel had been drooling over for months. There hadn't been any sign of technology more advanced than the wheel, and there hadn't been any natives, or even large life forms. SG-7 had found the planet back in February and apart from the temple they had decided that there was nothing of interest on the planet. So after SG-1 had completed a string of dangerous and highly stressful missions, General Hammond had decided that they deserved an easy mission.
Of course it hadn't quite worked out like that. Daniel had stumbled across some very complicated machinery disguised in the ruins. And because Murphy was Murphy, that the machinery had had a self destruct trigger, that Daniel, being Daniel, had managed to activate. Fortunately by the time it had gone off Daniel had been far enough away, to avoid being burned up in the resulting explosion. He did however end up buried under a large amount of rock. It only got worse from there. By the time they had dug out Daniel, Jaffa had come through the gate, though nobody could quite understand what drew them to the planet, since by all signs, there had been no Gouuld presence on the planet for hundreds of years.
They had barely escaped with their lives, and now almost a week and a half later Daniel had finally been cleared to leave the infirmary, though it would be weeks before he was cleared for active duty. To celebrate Jack had wanted to go to O'Mailey's but Carter had nixed the idea. She had pointed out that Daniel was still on all sorts of painkillers, Jack had a cast on his left arm and numerous cracked ribs, and she herself was black and blue from a brief fist fight with a Jaffa. Even Teal'c had been feeling off, since Junior had spent the last week and a half repairing the damage done to the Big Guy's body by a staff blast.
So they had ended up at Jack's place, intending to relax, watch movies, and eat Pizza. Of course the move ended up being Teal'c's favorite, but Jack was too happy with the fact that they were all alive (if a little worse for wear) to worry about little things like watching a movie for the fiftieth time.
He heard the doorbell ring, and got up. "Don't bother." He told Carter who was in control of the remote and had been in the middle of reaching up to pause the movie. "I'll be right back. It's probably just the pizza." He then moved to the kitchen to grab the money he kept in the kitchen drawer. Mentally doing the math, he pulled out seventy five dollars, and headed for the door. It was unlikely that they would eat all four large pizzas tonight, but at least he could send some food home with Daniel and Carter, so that tomorrow at lunch all he had to do was call them up and tell them, to get away from the translation/calculation, heat up the pizza and eat. For some reason the really intelligent ones often got themselves nominated for the Darwin Awards for forgetting the simplest things, like eating and sleeping.
He pulled the door open and was about to hand the cash to the person standing on the other side when he realized that it wasn't the usual Pizza delivery boy. It was in fact a woman with a colorful scarf tied around her head, and wearing baggy clothes that were far too warm for warm for a nice
afternoon in May. Of course anything would have been baggy on this woman. She was skeletally thin. Seriously. Jack was fairly sure that she could earn a living working as a living skeleton in a Med School, or maybe at some Science museum. Even as he was stuffing the Pizza money into his sweatshirt pocket, Jack was berating the society that produced so many girls and women that were so unhappy with their body, that they were willing to starve themselves to this point. Days like this he was really glad that Cassie's mother was a very self assured doctor. Janet would never let her daughter sink to this.
"Can I help you?" he smiled at the woman, trying to be friendly. No matter what he thought about her idea of beauty, his mother had raised him to always be polite to women.
"Hello, Jack" the woman on the porch said quietly. Then seeing the obvious confusion in his eyes she smiled.
It was the smile that gave her away but Jack still had to stare into her eyes to make sure that he had the right woman. Her smile and her eyes had been the only thing that hadn't changed.
"Ceci?" he asked, disbelief coloring his voice. When the woman nodded, Jack blurted out "What the heck happened to you?" Then realizing how rude that sounded he hurried to correct himself "I mean you look great but you've really…"
"It's okay Jack." She interrupted him before he had a chance to dig his hole in any deeper. "I know what I look like. Don't worry about it." She took a deep breath. "But I need to talk to you. It's important."
"Of course" he nodded. He may not have seen Cecilia in over fifteen years, but he wasn't about to turn her away without at least listening to her. Especially not when she looked like she was about to cry. "Would you like to come in? Something to eat or drink?" he offered as he stood aside to let her enter.
"I would like some water. But I think I'd rather sit out here. We need to have this conversation in private." She gestured towards the inside of his house where he could hear the movie playing and his teammates talking.
"Of course. Sit down" he led her over to the patio chair that he had bought a while ago. Once she was seated, he pulled another chair to stand right across from her and then continued "I'll be right back. I'll just get you some water."
Inside he took a few deep breaths to compose himself. He knew of course that people changed but this was ridiculous. The Cecilia Johnson he remembered was a curvy sexy brunette, with a wicked sense of humor and the most unusually colored eyes he had ever seen. That at least hadn't changed. Her eyes were still a beautiful, almost unreal shade of green, with specks of yellow in them.
After a few deep breaths, he felt ready to face Ceci again. He quickly filled a glass with water and then entered the living room.
"That wasn't the Pizza" he explained to the three curious sets of eyes that were directed at him. Well, two pairs. Teal'c looked as stoic as ever. "It's an old friend of mine. We'll be outside catching up, so you guys can just watch the movie without me."
They fortunately got the unspoken message, that he needed some privacy, and obediently turned back to the TV, though Daniel did manage to shoot him a look that said 'you're going to tell me everything later.'
Taking the water Jack headed back outside to his unexpected visitor as he tried to figure out what she could be here to talk about. He nearly walked into the door as he realized why she would be here. The realization caused him to sit down on the chair he kept in his foyer. It couldn't be.
But it couldn't be anything else either. They hadn't had much in common except the couple of nights they had spent together, what sixteen, no almost seventeen years ago. They had been young, stupid, and AIDS and other STI just hadn't occurred to them. He couldn't remember how careful they had been about protection, but he supposed that something like AIDS would certainly explain why Cecilia had looked so wasted away. Real panic gripped him for a few seconds as he wondered if he could be sick too. And worse could he have passed it on to Sara? But then he remembered the numerous blood test that the Doc ran on an almost weekly basis. If he had even a slightly abnormal reaction to any test that Janet ran, she would have locked him up in the infirmary until she figured out the cause. It wasn't like he was one of those people who could incubate a disease for years before anyone caught on, because he only saw his doctor once a year, at his annual physical.
He breathed a sight of relief, and then prepared himself mentally. Cecilia was probably here to tell him that there was a chance that he had been infected, and it wouldn't be an easy thing for her to say. Remembering his own fear just minutes ago, he figured she would need all the support she could get. The very least he could do for her was offer a willing ear, assure her that he hadn't been affected and maybe even visit her at the hospital. It had been a long time since they last saw each other, but he knew that times like these people needed all the friends they could get.
Finally, he got out of the house and sat down in the chair across from Ceci. He handed her the glass of water, and silently thanked her for not asking what had taken him so long.
She took a couple of deep gulps, before she finally started talking. "I am not really sure where to start. But I suppose in this case it would be better to start at the end." She took a deep breath and seemed to be steeling herself for something. Jack wondered if he should assure her and tell her he knew why she was here, but he suspected she needed to get thorough this on her own. "I am dying, Jack." He nodded having expected that. "The doctors tell me that at this point there is really nothing else that they can do but make me comfortable. After years of putting up a fight it seems I'm finally going to lose to the cancer."
"Cancer?" he repeated. Maybe he didn't really know why she was here after all.
"Yes. At this point they can't operate on the tumor and chemo isn't having the desired effect. They think I only have a couple more weeks to live." She took another deep breath, and looked up at him mournfully. "I am sorry to have to do this but I need you to do something for me after I am gone. Finish my unfinished business I suppose." She gave a hollow laugh.
Jack reached out to squeeze her hand. "What do you need?" he asked her gently. He wasn't sure why she turned to him to fulfill a deathbed wish, but he wasn't about to turn her down, without at least knowing what she wanted from him.
"I am sorry to burden you with this, but I couldn't think of anybody else who would do this. My family, my friends, they all think I'm crazy. They think I can't hear them when they whisper 'the poor girl', 'lost herself in her grief, and 'can't tell what's real anymore.'"She shook her head. Well that explained why she didn't ask someone close to her. After taking another sip of water she continued "I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid that with me gone, no one will care any more. No one will look. Everyone else promises me that they won't give up but I know that they have already given up."
"Look for what, Ceci?" he asked after she stopped talking. Instead of answering him she pulled her oversized bag towards her, and started looking for something. A minute later she finally found what she was looking for and handed him a small Polaroid.
The first thought that crossed his mind looking at the small picture was: 'why does Ceci have a picture of Mom as a child?' Then he was forced to remember that all of the photos that he had ever seen of his mother at that age were black and white. And the girl, who couldn't have been more than five or six, was wearing Power Ranger Pajamas. He was fairly sure they didn't have those in his mother's time. And Martha O'Neill had brown eyes and not the green and yellow orbs that he could see quite clearly in the picture.
He wasn't sure how long he sat there. It wasn't everyday you found out that you had a daughter. A daughter. After Charlie he had never really thought about having other children. And now suddenly he had a little girl. Except, she wouldn't be little anymore. She would be fifteen or sixteen. A teenager. Cassie's age. He had missed so much.
"Why?" his voice was scratchy. "Why didn't you tell me? I missed everything." Didn't Cecilia know that he would have supported his daughter no matter what. Didn't she understand that he had as much a right to get to know his child as she did?
"I know I can't adequately apologize for not even letting you know about her. At first it was just stupid youth." Cecilia gave him a bitter smile. This was a smile he had never before seen on her face. "When you met me I was going through a stage. The 'I am an Independent Woman and I don't need a Man, though they can be good in bed' Stage. When I found out I was pregnant… Well I'm not proud of it, but it seemed almost like an experiment. A validation of my theories. I could now prove that I, Cecilia Johnson, did not need a man to look after me. I could have a little girl, and I could raise her to be an independent woman, just like me. Stupid and selfish, huh?" This was followed by another bitter laugh
that chilled him to the bone. "But having a kid makes you grow up. So a couple months after she was born, I tried to track you down. But you had been stationed somewhere else."
And he didn't exactly leave a forwarding address. He wasn't sure why he had never considered what the obvious result of their time together could be. He took another look at the little girl in the picture. His daughter. Charlie's sister. And he didn't even know anything about her.
"What did you call her?" he asked Ceci, hating how week and fragile his voice sounded.
"Elizabeth Alexandra." Cecilia answered. "Elizabeth Alexandra Johnson" Then she smiled, almost as if she were letting him in on a joke.
Jack could understand why Ceci would have found it funny. The little girl in the picture was too young, too small to carry such a big and serious sounding name. The child didn't look like an Elizabeth Alexandra. She looked like a Lizzy, maybe.
"Tell me about her?" he asked. Surely that was why she was here. To finally tell him about his daughter. Ceci probably even wanted them to meet. His heart leapt into his throat, as he wondered what it would be like having a kid again.
"She was born April 17th, Sixteen years ago." And even through the 'I Have a daughter' Haze that Jack currently found himself in, he could tell that something was wrong. Cecilia looked like she was close to tears. A heavy weight settled into his heart as he realized that he probably didn't want to hear what she had to say. He didn't want to know Ceci hadn't just said 'she turned sixteen last month.'
"This is the most recent picture I have of her." Cecilia confirmed his fears.
A very small part of his mind wondered if he was cursed. First Charlie and now this little girl. The rest of him was too busy dying a slow painful death. At one point he thought he had started hyperventilating, but he wasn't sure because the pain in his chest was too great. How had he ever thought that any Gou'uld torture device could inflict pain? Even the worst that the snakes had to offer, felt like a pleasant tickle compared to this. The knowledge that your child was dead. That you had failed him. Nothing compared to that pain.
"How?" He had to know. He had to know how he had failed this little girl. "How did she die?"
"I don't know."
That was enough of a shock to snap Jack out of his trance. The answer occupied him long enough for his training to take over. The same Special Ops training that had allowed him to function on Abydos after Charlie had died. He could still feel the grief, the horror, the pain, but now it was locked up in the back, and the solider, the strategical thinker part of him had taken over completely. And this part of him was already working out a thousand scenarios that could explain why a mother who obviously cared for her child didn't know how the child had died.
"What do you mean?" he asked for clarification.
"I was picking her up from school. She was in the first grade. I was in the car. I could see her, but she hadn't spotted me then. I was at the very back of the line of parents waiting to pick up their kids. It was two o'clock, in broad daylight." Her eyes were closed, and Jack suspected that she was reliving that day. "A black van stopped on the street in front of the school. Six men dressed in black, with ski masks and guns got out. They ran into the crowd of kids waiting for their parents, and snatched Lizzy. Then they ran back across the lawn, got into the van and drove off. It was so unreal. I am fairly sure the van was already driving away before the screaming started. I think everyone, including myself, was too shocked at the idea that something like this could happen and in broad daylight. Nobody could even act at first. By the time a search was started for the van it was gone"
The solider who had taken over Jack's mind considered the angles. It sounded a lot like a strike and extract team. If a target was surrounded by a group of civilians, and relatively unprotected then sometimes it was easier, to simply walk into a crowd of people, grab the target and haul him off into a waiting van in the middle of the day. Civilians could usually be relied upon to freeze at the sight of something so unexpected, and not react until it was already too late. The reason this rarely worked was because Targets were usually protected by something scarier than a group of civilians. But who would go after a little girl like that? To get back at her mother?
"Ceci did you ever…" He trailed off not quite sure how to politely phrase the question.
"Did I ever piss off anybody important enough, that they would go after my daughter?" Ceci asked bitterly. Jack nodded. "No. And I had ten years to go over this, again and again in my head. I was a nurse at a family in practice in Suburbia U.S.A. Not exactly the type of place where you make enemies that go after your daughter with guns in the middle of a crowded school." She drained her glass of water and continued on "They never found a body you know. Or even any conclusive evidence, that she was dead. I know after all this time, there is no chance that she is still alive, but I need to know. I need to know what happened to my daughter." She looked straight in the eye, and Jack felt a kindred soul. Yes he too needed to know. Needed to understand, before he could even begin mourning her.
Remembering how she told him that she needed him to keep looking, he asked her for confirmation: "you want me to find her, don't you?" It was mostly a rhetorical question, but Ceci nodded anyway.
He stood up. There was too much bottled up inside him. He needed to move or he would explode. The training was slipping. The 'parent' side of him was coming through. And he knew that he would never rest until he found the girl. His daughter.
"I swear to you, I will never give up looking for her." He told Cecilia looking straight into her eyes.
She smiled. It was the same smile that he remembered from years ago. The smile that had made Cecilia, Cecilia. He got the feeling that she didn't use the smile much anymore. "Thank you." Was all she said. But she looked relaxed now, calm. Her biggest fear, that her daughter would be forgotten when she died, would not come to pass now.
Jack let the training take control. Right now his emotions would just distract him, and he needed to get started. First, he would need the initial police report, scene analysis, eyewitness statements; hopefully he would find something the police missed. After all he had intimate knowledge of how an extraction team worked.
While he was organizing his thoughts, Ceci had once again opened her oversized bag. She was pulling out files, and notebooks, and putting them on the table in front of Jack.
"What is this?" he asked.
"It's all labeled on the inside of each file, but this is everything that I have been able to gather on Lizzy's disappearance. There are copies of police reports, reports from the private detectives I have hired, my own notes, and research. And you will definitely need this." She held up a red notebook. "This has either up-to-date or at least fairly recent contact information on the eyewitness, as well as the police officers, and private detectives who worked on the case. This way you can talk to them in person. I think everything anyone knows is in these files, and it's mostly self explanatory. But if you have any questions, I will be checking myself into a hospital not too far away from here, so as long as you don't take too long, I'll try to answer any questions you have. "
"You really thought of everything. Didn't you?" He shook his head looking over the files. There really was ten years worth of work in here.
"I do however want to tell you one thing in person. I suspect I know a little bit about why Lizzy was taken. I don't pretend to understand, and the police have never been able to gain anything useful from this, but I'm hoping with your contacts, you might be able to find something out." That definitely got Jack's attention, and he stopped skimming the files. "A month, before she disappeared, a man showed up on my doorstep. Middle aged, not in very good physical condition, very expensive suit. There is a complete description of him in the files. Anyway, he started out talking about how my daughter had a destiny to fight evil, and how she was Chosen and needed to be properly trained, and how I should let him take my daughter because the fate of the world could depend on it, and other such nonsense. I told him to get lost, and instead of leaving he started offering me absurd sums of money in exchange for my daughter. When I finally got him to leave, I called the police filed a report. The first couple of days I wouldn't let Lizzy out of my sight, but when I didn't see the man anywhere for days, I started to relax, and I had almost forgotten about him, when Lizzy was kidnapped. The only thing I know about him, is that he told me he worked for something called the Watcher's Council."
A.N. This is my first Buffy crossover, so please review and tell me what you think. Should I keep writing?