Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Stargate.
Note: This story is AU for BTVS (Buffy goes to the Air Force Academy instead of Sunnydale U). It is not related to my other BTVS/SG-1 crossover, though there are some similarities. Reviews are appreciated!
Sam Carter woke with a start, going from lying down to crouching with her P-90 at the ready in an instant. Her body ached with the familiar pain of having been shot with a zat gun. Disoriented as she was, it took her a moment to get her bearings. She seemed to be in a dark cave, the opening of which was covered with a veil of leaves and vines.
She tried to think of how she'd gotten here. The last thing she remembered, they'd been in the process of infiltrating a grounded Goa'uld mothership to steal a vital piece of intelligence when they were ambushed by Jaffa. The Colonel and Teal'c had gone down first, she'd managed to dive away from the initial assault, Summers had screamed something at her, and then she'd known no more.
So why wasn't she in a Goa'uld prison cell like she usually was when she woke up after such an attack?
The vines rustled and she held up her weapon again as a short, slim figure slipped inside. Squinting, she made out a flash of hair nearly the same shade as her own. Lowering her gun, she whispered, "Lieutenant Summers?"
Summers held her finger over her lips, her head cocked to one side as if listening intently. Carter couldn't hear anything. At last Summers nodded to herself, apparently satisfied that she hadn't been followed, and made her way across the cave.
"You're awake," she said with some relief, pulling a Powerbar from her vest and taking a hungry bite. "I can never tell how long those guns are going to knock you out."
"What happened?" Carter demanded.
Summers glowered in self-disgust. "I didn't hear the Jaffa until it was too late to warn the three of you about the ambush. There was a chance I could take them all alone, but I knew there was a pretty good likelihood they'd stun me too, so instead I carried you out of there and found us a safe place to hole up. I've been out covering our tracks, but the Jaffa don't see to have any idea where we are, and we're a good four clicks from the mothership."
Carter blinked. "You carried me four kilometers?" She knew the Lieutenant was strong, of course—Summers was, after all the girl who'd kicked Teal'c's ass on more than one occasion and whom Bra'tac had wanted to kidnap, adopt, train, and present to the galaxy as the new leader of the Jaffa rebellion—but she never ceased to be astonished by Summers' casual displays of her superhuman abilities. Summers didn't respond to her inane question and Carter shook herself. "What about O'Neill and Teal'c?"
"You were the only one I could reach," Summers said apologetically, finishing off the Powerbar and cracking open her canteen. Carter wondered whether the girl could have carried the whole team, if necessary. Carter under one arm, O'Neill under the other, and Teal'c balanced precariously on her back. "Good old Sobek probably has them locked up pretty tight. The security in that ship was much higher than we were led to expect."
"Blast," Carter muttered, running her hand through her short hair. "Have you been in touch with the SGC? We could really use some back-up."
"The gate's too well-guarded. Looks like it's up to you and me to rescue the menfolk. Again." Summers spoke with dry sarcasm that probably wasn't fitting of a junior officer addressing someone who outranked her, but that was just one of the girl's charms. She and O'Neill got on like a house on fire, probably because they both had a tendency for inappropriate, insubordinate humor. Separately, they drove General Hammond to drink. Together, they'd been enough to send him on a three week long vacation to Florida.
It would be nice if they could get through five missions in a row without getting captured. Carter was pretty sure that would be an SG-1 record, even if their average had gone down from being captured once every three missions to once every four since Summers had joined the team four months ago.
"What kind of ordnance do we have?" Carter knew what she had on her, but she really had no idea what Summers carried other than the requisite gear.
Most people when thinking deeply got a glazed look in their eyes. Not Summers, though. When she was deep in thought was when she was most intent. Her hazel eyes sharpened as she stared at the mouth of the cave as if she could see through the vines—maybe she could—and after a moment she said, "We've got a fair supply of C-4, two P-90s, two zats, eight knives, a crossbow, two throwing stars, a short sword, a garroting wire, and Mr. Pointy. My favorite stake."
Carter chewed her lip. "Sobek's mothership probably has forty Jaffa, patrolling in teams of five."
"Plus the killer crocodiles," Summers reminded her.
Carter coughed. "What?"
Summers' brow furrowed before she smiled brightly. "Oh, right. You were unconscious at the time. Our pal Sobek's got a gang of crocs that just kind of wander around the ship eating anything that gets in their way. One of them tried to stop me, but I made boots out of him."
Involuntarily, Carter's eyes darted to Summers' feet, which were indeed boot-clad, but with standard issue Air Force boots. She forced herself to focus.
"Look, Summers, far be it from me to keep myself out of an op, but I know how good you are. Would it be easier for you to infiltrate the ship alone with me covering your exit?"
Summers' shoulders moved in a dainty shrug. "I could get in alone pretty easy, but you know me. If I ran into a door that wasn't already open I'd be stuck. If we're going to rescue anyone, you're definitely going to have to come along for the ride."
Summers' assessment of her own abilities was accurate, from what Carter had seen of her performance in the field. The girl was a tactical and strategic genius, a master at seemingly every form of combat, and surprisingly good at Sudoku, but when it came to technology of any kind she was a menace. She'd crashed two cars before O'Neill had reluctantly given up on his attempts to teach her to drive, had broken Carter's computer attempting to check her e-mail, and nearly took out an entire settlement when Teal'c and Bra'tac had foolishly encouraged her to try flying a glider. Carter suspected that if Summers tried to open a door in the mothership she'd end up arming the self-destruct instead. Which would normally be a good thing, but not when their people were still trapped inside.
"All right, Lieutenant, here's the plan," Carter said. "We should wait for nightfall and try to conserve our strength in the meantime. I'll cover our six while we break in, we'll rescue the Colonel and Teal'c, steal the intel we came for, and blow the ship with our C-4 on the way out."
"That's the plan?" Summers asked, her lips twitching.
Carter sat wearily and leaned against the wall of the cave. She raised an eyebrow. "What, you don't like it?"
"No, no, I like it a lot. It's short and sweet. Actually, it's kind of like the Cliff Notes of a plan, really, and those were really useful in high school, let me tell you." Summers paused, frowned briefly, and then plastered a smile on her face. "Let's pretend I didn't say that last bit, shall we?"
Carter laughed softly, mindful that there was a slight chance there were enemy Jaffa in the vicinity, and shook her head. "Summers, how on Earth did you make it through the Academy with an attitude like that?"
Summers' eyes gleamed. "The gym teacher loved me. And I saved General Kerrigan from a vampire one night when I was out after curfew, and he cut me a lot of slack after that. Well, after chewing me out and accusing me of being a Goa'uld."
"You should get some rest," Carter said. "There must be a few hours before we need to move out."
Summers shook her head, pacing back and forth in the cramped space. "I'm too keyed up. Waiting's really not my thing."
"Not mine, either."
Summers made a soft, surprised sound.
Carter frowned. "What?"
Summers got that look on her face that said she knew she shouldn't say what she was about to say. "I always figure you egghead types have an endless supply of patience. I mean, don't you spend like hours figuring out equations? Unlocking the mysteries of the universe?"
"I may be an egghead in the lab, but I'm a soldier in the field," Carter pointed out.
Summers gave up on her frenetic movement and dropped gracelessly to the floor. She pulled a stake—Mr. Pointy—out of nowhere and began turning it over in her hands, running her thumb along the smooth wood. "I never thought of it that way."
"Look at it like this," Carter said. "When you're in the field, our patrolling, you're the Slayer, right? But when you're safely home at night, or when you were in classes, you're Buffy, a smart, fashion-obsessed pain in the ass."
Okay, now Summers was staring at her like she was speaking a foreign language.
"Major, there's never a time when I'm not the Slayer," Summers said slowly. "Not since I was Called when I was 15. There's never a time when my senses aren't searching for danger, when I'm not ready to fight, to die, when I don't think the world is gonna end. That's why I had it so bad in high school—I was still getting used to my powers and it was physically painful for me to sit still in classes and try to focus. Well, that and the weekly demon and yearly apocalypse I had to deal with."
There was so much disturbing about what her younger teammate was saying, but Carter had never heard Summers open up like this to anyone, so she stayed silent, letting the girl ramble at will. It sounded like she'd been wanting to say this for a long, long time.
"That's why I joined the Air Force, you know," Summers went on, tracing spirals in the dirt with the blunt end of the stake. "Everyone thought I was running away from Sunnydale, but it wasn't that. I just couldn't take the compartmentalizing any more, you know? I couldn't be cheerful Buffy for them one minute and go off to fight the evilest creatures on Earth the next. I needed…structure. I needed a place where I could be around other people who were saving the day all the time."
Carter remembered the first time she'd heard of Buffy Summers. There had been murmurs up the grapevine about a cadet who was picked out as SGC material from her first month at the Academy. They'd said that she was strong, smart, but most importantly that she flung herself into her studies and duties with a reckless disregard for her own well-being—a quality that could be found in every single member of the SGC.
At the time, Carter thought the tales of a girl who broke all of the Academy's physical records had been exaggerated. Carter knew General Kerrigan fairly well and knew that he wasn't above telling a few tall tales as a way of raising the bar for the other cadets.
And then there had been the day that O'Neill still referred to as The-Day-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. In a rather unusual move that Carter suggested had been entirely intended to expose Summers to the SGC far earlier than usual, Kerrigan had authorized a field trip for interested cadets to visit NORAD—the official face of the Cheyenne Mountain complex where the Stargate was housed. And, because it was the SGC, that was the day when everything went to hell.
For once it wasn't SG-1's fault. In fact, all of SG-1—which at the time included Daniel Jackson, who was still four years from ascending to a higher plane of existence—was unconscious in the infirmary at the time, under Dr. Frasier's tyrannical rule. SG-9 were captured off-world and interrogated using some sort of Ancient technology that was impossible to resist. Just after the cadets had finished signing in and were being shown around the top level of the facility, thirty large, scaly, well-armed aliens had used SG-9's iris codes to gate in and take over the SGC, stunning the humans as they went.
Sgt. Harriman had managed to sound the alarm before being stunned himself, the entire facility including NORAD had been sealed off from the surface, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer—as Carter would later come to know her—had realized that something was wrong.
Accounts of what happened after that were mixed, but Carter thought Summers' own report was probably the most accurate. Apparently she'd taken over the small group of cadets as well as a number of SFs, led them to the armory, killing every alien she saw on the way, and then split them into teams which systematically took out all of the aliens in the corridors until all that were left were the twelve who had taken over the control room and were holding General Hammond hostage.
The control room was locked off. One of the SFs told Summers that there were air shafts that could access the room, but they were far too small for anyone but Summers to fit and she would not be able to carry a weapon larger than a handgun. Someone sane might have considered other options. Summers didn't. She hauled herself into the air shaft, crawled along it until she was directly above the leader of the aliens, dropped down, and proceeded to take all twelve apart using her bare hands (she didn't bother with the handgun). When she was finally done, dripping gore, a few bruises blooming on her body where they'd gotten in lucky strikes, all Hammond had been able to say was, "Welcome to Stargate Command. And you are?"
By the time SG-1 had woken from their medically induced comas—having finished living out a linked dream in which Teal'c was an Aretha Franklin impersonator in Las Vegas, Daniel was a cop investigating a murder at Teal'c's club, O'Neill was the club owner, and Carter was Teal'c's make-up artist—the mess had been cleaned up and Summers and her fellow cadets, all with shiny new security clearances, had been returned to the Academy.
Four years later, Daniel Jackson was dead and Buffy Summers was a brand new graduate, just promoted to lieutenant, and officially the SGC's shortest, youngest member. With her unique talents, she'd seemed like an obvious choice for SG-1. Carter was pretty sure once Summers made it to captain she'd be given her own team. The girl was the best natural leader Carter had ever seen, and really she was wasted taking orders in the field.
Summers was, uncharacteristically, still talking.
"I admire you a lot," she said. "No matter how open-minded the Air Force tries to be, us gals aren't treated the same as the men. I have the advantage of being the Slayer, so everyone treats me different, but you. You had to prove yourself every day, to put up with the jeers and the low expectations. And you excelled. You showed them that you're smarter than them, and you're better than them, and if the SGC didn't have you the whole world would probably be kaput by now."
It was at about that moment that Carter realized that Summers was seriously injured, which explained a lot about her behavior. She squinted in the late afternoon gloom, making out the dark stain on the younger woman's BDUs which seemed to cover a good deal of her side, just below her ribs.
"Summers," Carter gaped. "What happened to you?"
Summers followed the line of her gaze and smiled wryly. "I told you about the man-eating crocodiles, right?" she said, trying to sound perky but coming across as strained instead.
Carter kicked herself for not having noticed the girl's injury before. Some ranking officer she was proving to be.
"I need to examine your wound," Carter said, pushing herself to her feet. "You should have said something earlier, Lieutenant."
Summers shied away from Carter's outstretched hands, standing as well. "I'm fine. Seriously. It's not fatal, just painful, and there's nothing you can do for it now. And I didn't tell you because I knew you'd freak out, and the fact is that to rescue O'Neill and Teal'c we're both going to be needed."
Carter bit back on her instinctive reaction, which would have been to snap something sarcastic and insist that she could pull off the rescue alone. But it really wasn't true, and the last thing Summers needed right now was to expend energy placating Carter, so instead she took some deep breaths and forced herself to speak calmly. "I understand. I do want you to get some sleep, though, Summers. I know you've mentioned that you heal faster when you sleep, and we need you at your best." Summers opened her mouth to protest but Carter glared and said, "I'll make it an order if I have to, Lieutenant."
The girl's mouth snapped shut. She pouted. Carter, who had used a strategically-timed pout to get her way more than once when she was a teenager, was unmoved. Summers sulked. Carter crossed her arms over her chest and didn't lessen her resolve. Summers fell asleep.
Carter did her best to relax as well in the hours before the sun set. She couldn't seem to calm her raging thoughts, however, couldn't tear her gaze away from a 22-year-old girl who had saved the world more times than all of SG-1 combined, who had died twice—though the details of both deaths were still unknown to her—who was a hero every hour of every day since she was 15 and didn't know how to be anything else. She thought of Daniel Jackson, who had never hesitated to risk his own life for a good cause, and thought that he would approve of this brave young woman who, rather than try to take his place on the team, had made a separate place for herself. She wondered whether O'Neill or Teal'c had ever had the opportunity to see this deeply under Summers' cheerful façade, whether they ever felt so fiercely protective of this girl who needed so little protecting.
Summers woke. She sat up straighter, wincing slightly as she jostled her injured side. "It's time," she said.
"You're right," Carter said, checking her watch. "How did you know?"
Summers' eyes spoke of endless nights in graveyards, of death and despair and hope and heroes. "I always know when the sun goes down."
They gathered themselves and their gear and they weren't two women but two deadly weapons as they stalked into the night. Summers led the way, more stealthy and smooth than Carter could ever hope to be. They ran into two teams of Jaffa on the way and dispatched of both in silence, perfectly in sync with each other, perfectly ruthless.
They came upon the enormous pyramid of the mothership more quickly than Carter had expected and Summers gestured for Carter to fiddle with the controls to open the door. The door slid open and Carter couldn't contain her gasp as a crocodile lunged at her, its teeth snapping shut just shy of her ankles. For a moment she couldn't understand what had happened, until she realized that Summers had grabbed the animal by the scruff of its neck with one hand—did crocodiles have scruffs of the necks?—and was holding it back. Summers reached down with her other hand, grabbed the crocodile, and hurled into a distant cluster of trees.
"Can we go get that on our way out?" Summers said. "I really would like some nice croc-skin boots."
Carter shot her a look.
They moved through the ship the same way they'd moved through the forest, taking out Jaffa as they went. They found the prisoner cells easily—fortunately, all Goa'uld ships had basically the same design—and Summers watched their six while Carter smiled in at O'Neill and Teal'c. O'Neill beamed and bounced to his feet at the sight of her.
"Carter!" he said. "So nice of you to come and get us. Took your time, didn't ya?"
Carter smirked. "Summers and I gave you some time to rescue yourself, sir, but eventually we realized you needed us to save your bacon. Getting to be a bit of a habit, isn't it?"
Some muffled thumps came from around the corner where Summers was supposed to be guarding them. "How's that door coming, Major?" Summers called, sounding strained.
"Almost…there…" Carter gritted her teeth as she worked faster.
Finally her determination won out over the Goa'uld technology and the door slid open. O'Neill and Teal'c hurried out and Carter joined them in going to Summers' rescue. Not that the girl needed it—she was taking out the fourth Jaffa of the patrol unit with a jump kick as they rounded the corner.
"Are you well, Lieutenant Summers?" Teal'c asked, showing his usual quiet intuition as he took in the girl's heavy breathing and the way she favored her side when she turned to face them.
She flashed him a smile. "I'll be well when we get what we came for and blow this popsicle stand." She tossed her P-90 to O'Neill and her zat to Teal'c, then reached over her shoulder to pull a short sword from a sheathe that apparently hung down her back. "Which way, Major?"
Carter thought back to their intel and finally pointed down a corridor that should lead to the storage room where the intelligence they'd come to collect should be kept. Summers led the way, not waiting for O'Neill to give the order. Maybe she, too, had noticed the slightly glazed look in the Colonel's eyes that was indicative of torture via the Goa'uld hand device. O'Neill was good at hiding his pain, but Carter had had years of close observation to learn the man's tells.
Carter laid down C-4 at strategic points as they went. Teal'c joined Summers in the lead, and though the two could not have been more disparate in appearance, there was a great sense of sameness between them. They were warriors, both of them. Though Carter supposed that after all they had experienced, the same could be said of she herself and O'Neill.
They reached the storage room without incident and Carter got the door jimmied open in no time. A brief investigation revealed the disk with the information they were looking for. O'Neill pocketed it and they retraced their steps, heading for the exit.
It looked like they might actually make it out unmolested, and then of course everything went to hell. They were just stepping out of the pyramid when three of those damned crocodiles appeared out of nowhere, and, as if sensing the greatest threat, they all went after Summers. Her sword took care of one and Teal'c reacted quickly enough to slam another into the wall, but the third latched on to her leg just below her knee, its jaws clamping on with vicious strength.
Summers let out a strangled cry as Carter swiftly shot the croc with her P-90. In its death throes, the animal bit down even harder for a moment before relaxing, and O'Neill hastened to pry its mouth off of her leg as Summers clenched her fists and held in any further noises of pain.
It was clear that the leg was badly broken, as well as bleeding profusely.
"We need to bandage and splint this before we go anywhere, sir," Carter told O'Neill, though she knew that he was as knowledgeable about field medicine as she was.
He pursed his lips. "The Jaffa are going to swarm on us any minute," he pointed out.
"I'm fine," Summers said, struggling to stand. "I can make it back to the gate."
Silently, Teal'c moved to assist her, letting her clutch his arm with one superhuman hand. "I will assist Lieutenant Summers," he said. "I believe that it is imperative that we put some distance between ourselves and the ship before we activate the C-4, and we must do so soon if we are to have any chance of killing Sobek as well."
"See?" Summers said. "Teal'c agrees with me—ah!" She didn't maintain her smug look long after Teal'c swung her up into his arms, carrying her easily. She struck his bicep with one small fist. "Put me down, Teal'c! I can walk!"
Teal'c didn't smile—Teal'c never smiled—but Carter made out a glint of amusement in his eyes. "Master Bra'tac has charged me with ensuring that you do not kill yourself through overconfidence or misplaced bravery, Lieutenant Summers," he told her. "I will carry you to the gate."
O'Neill coughed, fighting a grin, though his eyes were still shadowed with worry for his injured teammate. No one took the safety of his team as importantly as Jack O'Neill. It was one of the reasons Carter lov—liked him so much.
They moved quickly toward the gate, Teal'c not slowed in the slightest by the burden of the young woman in his arms. When they were far enough away Carter activated the C-4 and they all listened in grim contentment as the ship exploded, taking yet another Goa'uld with it.
SG-1 was winning the SGC's Dead Goa'uld Tally by a mile. They were ten Goa'ulds ahead of the second place team, SG-3, and SG-3 had gotten really lucky a while ago and happened upon a collection of unconscious Goa'ulds on a routine mission to a technologically backwards planet.
They made it to the clearing where the Stargate was being guarded by a good ten Jaffa.
"You gotta be kidding me," O'Neill groaned. "We can't catch a break, can we?"
"That would be too easy," Buffy quipped, looking thoroughly irritated as Teal'c gently set her down to free his hands. "We can take 'em," she added.
They stared at her.
She blinked. "What? There's ten of them, four of us. I can take three or four of them with a P-90 before they can even blink, leg or no leg."
"Ah, Summers," O'Neill said dramatically, "you bring me such joy. Truly a woman after my own heart."
They carefully arranged themselves to be in the best positions for their shots, divvying up the Jaffa. They waited for O'Neill's signal, and when he nodded, they opened fire at once.
The ten Jaffa were dead or disabled before they knew what hit them.
Teal'c scooped Summers into his arms again and O'Neill and Carter sprinted forwards.
"Dial the 'gate!" O'Neill said.
Carter dialed swiftly, then typed in her IDC. "We're good to go!" she shouted as another squad of Jaffa burst out of the trees, firing at them.
O'Neill waited until Teal'c ran through the Stargate with Buffy, then followed. Firing over her shoulder as she went, Carter dove through last, hit the ramp hard, and yelled, "Close the iris!"
The iris snapped shut. Bodies thumped against it, and then the 'gate shut down.
Sudden, overwhelming silence.
Carter's heart was pounding in her ears as she stood slowly, shocked as always by the dramatic shift from action to safety.
"SG-1, it's good to see you," General Hammond said, entering the 'gate room. "You're an hour overdue."
"We'll tell you the whole story, General," O'Neill said, "but first we need to get Summers to the infirmary."
Everyone looked a bit shocked at that—Summers was almost never hurt on missions, and usually when she was she could be heard throughout the base protesting loudly that she didn't need to be examined. Teal'c didn't wait for Hammond to gave the order but swept out of the gate room towards Dr. Frasier's domain.
Carter wanted to follow, but she knew that look in the General's eyes. It was time for their debriefing. She and O'Neill could keep vigil at their teammate's bedside when that was over.
It was late, or maybe early. 'Gate lag was a bitch, so it was hard to tell. Carter sat in the infirmary, drifting. Teal'c had gone to get her some coffee. O'Neill was asleep in a chair nearby, and he'd complain about the pain in his neck and back tomorrow, but undomesticated equines couldn't tear him away from Summers' bedside.
It was a clean break, Janet had said. Normally she'd be worried about bacteria from the crocodile's mouth, but she had a theory that Summers was naturally resistant to such things. Which didn't mean that she wasn't worried, but she was less worried than she'd be with anyone else. The deep cut to Summers' side might have been fatal to anyone else, but it was already well on its way to healing by the time Janet got a look at it. Such was the wonder of Buffy Summers.
Carter gazed at the girl and thought that she'd never seen her looking vulnerable before. It was difficult to remember how young she was, when she was going around saving the day as if she were an experienced veteran and not a kid. Though Carter supposed Summers was living proof that one could be veteran and kid at the same time.
"Lieutenant Summers is meant for great things." Teal'c's soft, rumbling voice washed over her, startling her to wakefulness. He handed her the cup of coffee with a raised eyebrow. She saw in his eyes the same softness she felt.
"I think I understand her a little better now," Carter replied, sipping at the hot beverage.
"On Chulak, we have a name for people like Lieutenant Summers. In your language, it means 'One Who Shines Brightly.'"
"That's nice." Carter tried to smile, couldn't quite manage it, because Summers could have died today, should have died, and if any of them should have gotten hurt on this mission, it shouldn't have been her.
"I just hope she doesn't burn herself out." That was O'Neill, more serious and focused than he usually allowed himself to act outside of missions. He hadn't moved from his sleeping slouch, but his brown eyes were fixed on Summers, thoughtful. "I've known people with attitudes like hers before. They're not suicidal, but they don't care enough if they die, either. We could have lost her today."
"That's why she's got us to keep her grounded, sir," Carter said, feeling as certain about this as she'd ever felt about anything, even though Buffy Summers, despite her pretense at being a dumb blonde, is more complex than any physics problem Carter has ever solved. "We're her team."
O'Neill grinned lazily. "Damn straight."
"Indeed," Teal'c intoned.
Summers' eyes fluttered open. Slightly dazed, she looked at them as if wondering what they were doing at her bedside.
"Hey guys," she said. "What's going on?"