Title: The Road Not Taken

Author: V. Mures

Rating: FR-15

Summary: After Buffy's death, Dr. Rupert Giles finds his life taking an entirely unexpected path.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Notes: Okay, most of my Stargate knowledge comes from fandom rather than first hand experience of the show. I have seen episodes (and the movie), but in sort of a hit and miss way. I watched it when I got a chance (and when I had a tv), but haven't seen the entirety of any one season. So please just think of this as AU, it will make it easier for us all. This takes place roughly in Season 10 of SG-1, and after S5 in Buffy. This story will be written in limited third person for p.o.v. focusing on Giles, and I seriously doubt that Giles calls himself that in his own head. So for most of the story he will be referred to as Rupert. Also please note that I am American, and while I will do my best to channel my inner-Brit (with the aid of the web in finding the proper lexicon) it is likely that I will make mistakes. Feel free to point them out so that I may correct them. Thanks.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken," lines 18-20

CHAPTER ONE

It was sometimes hard to believe that nearly a year had passed since Buffy had sacrificed herself for the world. It often still felt very surreal to Rupert Giles. His slayer, one of his children, had died. He sighed as he entered his Seattle flat. He set his mail on the table by the foyer, placed his umbrella in its stand by the door, and hung his jacket on its hook finding comfort in the routine.

Clicking on his stereo, he headed into the kitchen to put the kettle on. He puttered around his kitchen. Tea bags went into the pot, and a box of biscuits was found. Meanwhile his thoughts were more focused on what he was going to do with his life now. While he occasionally helped Anya run her occult shop, "Midsummer's Knight," he was beginning to feel a need to find something else to do with himself. He refused to ever work with the council again; they had cost him too much as it was. He also despised them for their callousness and their heavy handed tactics.

Shortly after Buffy's death the council had moved back into Sunnydale with new slayer in tow. They had hired an assassin to eliminate Faith in prison, and then made sure that they controlled the next slayer. It was also made abundantly clear that if Rupert and the remaining Scoobies tried to assist or interfere with the Slayers duties they would be dealt with accordingly.

So Rupert, with surprising assistance from Spike, had managed to convince his young friends that perhaps it would be better if they relocated. He managed to contact an old friend with legal resources to ensure that Dawn would be placed in Willow and Tara's custody permanently. When the time came he helped the group relocate to Seattle. A coven there had offered to assist Tara and Willow with their magical studies; they were also able to transfer their credits to the University of Washington. Xander had been hired by a local construction firm, while Anya, with Rupert's help, had found a suitable place to open a magic shop. They had managed to find a three bed-room house (Rupert slept on a pull out bed in the living room for a while) to settle into, and Dawn had been enrolled in a good school. Spike, who had somehow become a part of his strange family, had a comfortable basement bedroom complete with telly for when he was in town.

Currently Spike was off working with some of Rupert's old friends and contacts working on a way to deal with the council. They had overstepped their bounds long ago and it was long past time that something was done. Rupert had assisted with some of the planning, but his main priority right now was his children. Of course Rupert knew that Dawn (and, as much as he would never admit it, the rest of the Scooby Gang) was one of Spike's main priorities as well. It was just that Spike saw dealing with the council as a way of protecting his Niblet and the Niblet's family. So Rupert knew that Spike didn't have any problems with his current mission, especially as it often gave him a nice spot of violence.

Perhaps it was a little Ripperish, but Rupert had no problems sending Spike after the council, especially the bastards who had been responsible for Faith's murder. They didn't even have to worry about the chip preventing Spike from achieving his violent objectives, since the chip was deactivated by a technomage that Rupert had met through Jenny. In the aftermath of Buffy's death, Spike had managed to earn their trust and even become a part of their family. After much discussion, it was decided that they find a way to remove Spike's chip, and Spike would work to protect his new family. That didn't mean that Spike and Xander didn't still bicker like children, but there was no malice in it anymore.

Things had not necessarily been easy, but after awhile they settled into a nice routine. It was about eight months into their new lives that Rupert realized that his children were growing up and no longer really needed him. It really was time for him to find a new direction for his life.

Pouring his tea, he headed back into his living room. He noticed that his answering machine showed three messages. Hitting play he moved over to a table to start a crossword and relax a bit.

"Giles, I got an A on my Latin final! Not that it's a big surprise or anything. But still it is mega-cool and I so wanted to share the fact that I rock at ancient languages. Thanks to your superb help of course. Anyway, just wanted to spread the joy. Later, Giles!"

He chuckled as Dawn's voice faded from the machine. Her enthusiasm was certainly uplifting. He would have to call her later and congratulate her. The second message was a hang-up, but it was the voice on the third message that startled him. Why on earth would Wesley be calling him?

"Giles, I'm sorry to bother you, but I had a rather interesting job offer today and while I was not interested I though perhaps you might be. I know that you are a bit at loose ends at the moment and well…anyway, an old acquaintance from Oxford called me earlier today, one Dr. Daniel Jackson. You might have heard of him. He is an astonishing linguist and an astute archaeologist, though his unusual theories were not appreciated by mainstream academia. At any rate he is apparently now working for the US Military on a rather hush-hush sort of project that for some reason is in desperate need of linguists, particularly those whose specialties lie in the more ancient or unusual languages. While I know that you have no love of the American military, and I don't blame you one bit for that, Dr. Jackson was, when I knew him a good man. I can not imagine him working with a program like the one you and the others dealt with back in Sunnydale. He also managed to insinuate that whatever it is they do, it is very important and not just for the Yanks. I told him that while I was not looking to leave the position I was currently in, I did know of someone else who fit the criteria he was looking for and who might be interested. I hope you don't mind that I gave him your contact information. I simply feel that you might benefit from hearing what he has to say. If you have any questions please feel free to call me."

Rupert blinked and took a sip of his cooling tea. He wasn't quite sure what to think of the message, or the fact that Wesley had apparently given his name to some gent who worked for the US military. Finally he decided he would simply wait to see how it played out.

CHAPTER TWO

It was nearly a month later that he received another, not quite anticipated, telephone call.

"Hello, may I speak with Dr. Giles please?"

"This is he."

"My name is Dr. Daniel Jackson. I was given your number by Wesley Windham-Pryce. I was hoping to speak to you about a possible job opening with my employers. I am currently in Seattle, and if you are willing I would like to schedule a meeting to discuss it."

"Wesley did inform me of the possibly of you contacting me. He also informed me that you currently work with the US military, which leaves me with some reservations. However," Giles continued despite Dr. Jackson's intake of breath signaling that he wished to respond, "his message left me intrigued enough to at least listen to your proposal. When and where would you like to meet? I would assume that my schedule is rather more open than yours at the moment."

Dr. Jackson chuckled. "That is probably true, Dr. Giles. I'm glad you agreed to meet with me regardless of your reservations. Perhaps this evening, if that works for you? I'm open to any suggestions on a meeting place, though. I'm not all that familiar with Seattle. I'm staying at the Red Lion Hotel downtown, if that helps."

"Hmm, I can think of several nice restaurants in that area, all of which allow for a decent amount of privacy without necessarily being to hard on the pocketbook. Do you have any preferences when it comes to cuisine?"

"I'm love Mediterranean food, but I'm always up for trying new things."

"Actually Mediterranean sounds rather good, and since one of those restaurants serves particularly delightful dishes of that type I would suggest meeting there. Of course I could also meet you at your hotel and we could walk over. I know how confusing new cities can be."

The meeting was quickly arranged. Ending the phone call, Rupert wondered what precisely one would wear to such an unusual meeting. That thought brought memories of Buffy to the fore. His fashion conscious slayer would likely have had quite a lot to say about the upcoming meeting, as would his other children of course. He hadn't yet told them about Wesley's unusual phone call, as he knew they would not understand his desire to at least hear what this was all about. He wasn't sure he understood it himself.

Sighing he decided it would be better to distract himself for a little while. Perhaps working on his translations of Thraegyn's Daemons and Prophecies would do the trick. Thraegyn was a particularly cryptic prophet and translating his work was often a challenge.

Several hours later Rupert found himself enjoying a lively conversation about cultures with Daniel while they enjoyed their respective dinners. They had found a mutual passion of ancient language and cultures. While they did not share the same backgrounds (Egyptology versus Myths and Folklore), there was enough overlap that they were easily distracted from the original reason for the meeting. Finally as desert was finished, the two sat back to enjoy their fine Turkish coffees. Rupert took a sip of coffee, and looked at Daniel.

"So what precisely does this job offer entail?"

"I work as a civilian consultant for the US Air Force. The project I'm currently working on requires a certain amount of professionals who can easily translate a wide variety of languages, including ancient ones, and who have experience working with artifacts and other cultures. After looking over your credentials and speaking with you, I think that you would be a huge asset to the program. I'm afraid that I can't explain the details of the job at this moment as it is highly classified, but I can assure you that the work we do is incredibly worthwhile and very important. However if you are interested in learning more I have the non-disclosure forms you would need to sign with me. We would have to go back to the hotel to discuss it further though. It's not really something to be discussed in public. You mentioned earlier you had some reservations about the military. Perhaps if you tell me what they are, I can help alleviate them?"

Rupert adjusted his glasses and organized his thoughts. Thankfully he had already thought of an answer to this question. "I have in the past few years…mentored, I guess one would say, a group of talented and intelligent young people. A few years ago one of the young women in said group dated a young man who we later found out worked for the military, Army I believe. Some time after the two had started dating the young man became ill, and it was revealed that the base commander was slipping her soldiers experimental drugs through their daily vitamins and possibly their food supply. There were a great many people involved, and the base commander's superiors apparently knew of what was happening on the base. It eventually came to a head; the whole incident was taken care of and then promptly covered up. The young man recovered, but the whole incident left us all with a distrust of the military."

"That's perfectly understandable. I've met several groups within the military that have given me the same reaction. Usually when they are trying to take over our operation. Thankfully that has never happened. I know that at the moment I can't prove to you that we are the good guys, but I hope that you will at least consider signing the non-disclosure agreement and listening to the rest of my sales pitch."

Gazing at the remains of his coffee as if they held the answers he sought, Rupert reflected on the evening's events and his impressions of Daniel. He had to admit that he couldn't imagine Daniel working with a project even remotely like the Initiative. The compassionate heart that he had shown through during their earlier discussions just wouldn't allow him to be involved in something that insidious. If the non-disclosure agreements were the standard "Don't breathe a word of anything you've spoken of to anyone outside this room" agreements, it wouldn't be a problem to sign them. After all he had yet to speak to his children about this. So they wouldn't be pestering him for information he couldn't give. Coming to a decision, he looked back across the table at Daniel, who had apparently taken his moment of contemplation to pay the bill.

"I do believe that I would like to hear the rest of this offer. Should we arrange for another time to meet or continue back to your hotel?"

"If you're not too tired I would like to continue this tonight."

"Very well. Since you have already attended to the bill, without letting me pay for my meal I will point out, shall we be on our way?"

Daniel simply grinned and led the way out of the restaurant.

Several hours later Rupert sat with a tumbler of scotch on his couch. A rather large pile of papers sat not quite forgotten next to him. The mythical portal of worlds was not such a myth, nor did it lead to hell dimensions like so many Watchers had speculated over the years. Rather it leads to other planets, sometimes other galaxies, and the U.S. military had been using it to explore said planets for some years now. The Gahld snake demons of Egyptian legend were in fact parasitic aliens with god-complexes and their proper name was the Goa'uld. Though he wasn't certain how that was different from most of the demons they had faced. He shouldn't be so surprised. He had dealt with things that most people would call impossible all of his life. This was just one more thing to add to the list.

Rupert chuckled as he raised his glass in a silent toast. To the impossible and all of us crazy fools who deal with it.

After explaining the Stargate program and what Rupert's place would be in it, Daniel had suggest he think about it for a while. Daniel made sure Rupert had his contact information, and had then called a taxi to take the older man back to his flat.

The project was particularly alluring to the retired watcher. He would be able to use all of his skills (quite likely even his fighting skills considering some of the stories Daniel had told) and the fact that he was in his mid-forties wasn't a problem. Apparently most of the civilian staff of the program were in the thirties and forties. There was a chance he would get to explore worlds and cultures that had been forgotten on Earth. He wondered if any of these cultures had Slayer myths.

Gods, how was he going to explain this to his children?

CHAPTER THREE

"Hey Giles, what's up, man? It's been ages since we had a Scooby meeting at the house of tea and scones. Hope it's nothing apocalypsy. It's not the end of the world again, is it?" Xander quickly looked around at the girls, seemingly trying to see if they knew any more than he did.

Rupert almost chuckled at the worried look that suddenly crossed Xander's face, and then the girls' faces as well. "No it's not the end of the world. In fact it's not even demon related. I'm sorry if I startled you all by requesting your presence this evening. I know we don't get together at my place very often, but I did have something very important to discuss with all of you."

"That's alright, Giles. We don't mind taking time out of our sex life to visit with you, at least not if it is something important, or if you are feeding us free food. Xander has a healthy appetite after all and that can get expensive."

Rupert did chuckle at that remark. He would miss Anya's unique way of expressing herself. There were simply very few people in today's world that were as refreshingly, and often embarrassingly, blunt as Anya was. He sincerely hoped that hers and Xander's marriage would continue to thrive over the years. He had been very proud to be part of that ceremony.

"I have of course already telephoned the pizza place, and there is soda and juice in the fridge. I would not even consider holding a Scooby meeting without food." He attempted to look affronted at this remark, if only to get his children to laugh. His effort succeeded nicely.

"Well why don't we all get settled, and then Mr. Giles can tell us whatever he has on his mind. Willow, will you help me get the drinks? The kitchen isn't really big enough for all of us to be trying to get drinks. Mr. Giles, what would you like?" It was lovely hearing Tara's soft voice. She had gotten more certain of herself and her place in the group since the move to Seattle. They had all grown up so much. But really he mustn't get misty eyed now. It would make the children suspicious.

"That's very sweet of you, Tara. I'll have a ginger beer." He wasn't about to drink anything stronger until after this meeting, he needed all of his wits about him for the coming discussion. Hopefully the ginger and carbonation would settle his stomach a bit.

"We have our drinks and are all comfy. We're all ears Giles." Dawn twisted one end of her golden brown hair and fidgeted with the label on her cola.

Giles smiled at her, hoping to ease her nerves, but knowing that what he was about to say would have them all even more worried.

"I have been thinking quite a bit lately on what I would like to do with my life now that I am no longer an active watcher." Giles held up a hand to forestall any interruptions. "Do let me finish before you start shouting, please. As I was saying, I have been thinking about my future. Now I know that you think I do plenty here, but really you have all proven yourself more than capable to handle the world without me."

He had to hold up his hand again. "Please let me finish. I know we are a family, by bond if not by blood, and I consider each and every one of you my children. And as frustrating as you lot can be from time to time, I could not possibly wish for a better family. But as with all families, children grow up and parents must move on. That doesn't mean that I will no longer be a part of your lives. It would take a great deal more than distance to remove me from your lives."

At this point apparently Willow could no longer contain her words. She sounded rather despondent when she practically yelled, "You're going back to England?"

"No, no, my dear. I'm not going back to England. I received a job offer that would move me to Colorado, and I have decided to take it. Before I go into the specifics however I must ask you all to promise me something, okay?"

They all looked nervous at this, but he made sure he held each of their gazes until they nodded slowly.

"You all recognize the fact that I am an adult capable of making my own decisions, weighing all the options, and would not accept a job without knowing fully what I was getting into." He received a bunch of confused nods at this.

"I have accepted a job as a civilian consultant for the international program being run by the United States Air Force." He waited for the furor to die down. His calm gaze swept the room, hopefully reminding his children of what he had just said.

Once their objections puttered out, he reminded them vocally, "You did just agree that I would not take a job without knowing fully what I was getting into, right? So please do not insult me now by acting as if I would do anything that would endanger any of you. To continue, this job would be based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and would involve my linguistic training. That is unfortunately all I can tell you, as the job is highly classified." He noted the calculating look that entered Willow's eyes and put into action the plan he had made earlier.

"Now what I want you all to promise me is that you will not peer into things that are not your business." Xander and Anya looked hesitant, Dawn and Willow looked like they would agree but were already planning something, and Tara simply looked thoughtful.

"I assure you all that this project is on the up and up, so to speak. It is nothing at all like the Initiative, and you should know that I would never accept a position with such an organization. I lost enough of my soul working for the council thank you very much. You all have your own responsibilities now, and if this were related I would have figured out a way to tell you. However this project is not related to the supernatural, and while it has its dangers is not something that we would need to handle as a group. Now, I want you to swear on the love, loss, and magic that bind us together as a family that you will not in any way-not by magic, computers, social engineering, or any other means-try to find out what goes on at this base. If it makes you feel better we can make connection amulets that will allow us to contact each other no matter the distance or barrier between us, but that is the only concession I will allow. Now will you trust this old man, and make the promise he has asked of you?"

Slowly he managed to get each of his children to use his exact wording in making their promise. While he trusted them with his life, his soul, and many other things, he was quite familiar with their curiosity and stubborn tendency to want to protect their family. So he had designed a magical binding that would help them keep their promise. When he explained the precise wording, he got quite a few grins and sheepish looks and knew that he had been right.

Finally, looking solemnly at the young man and women who had taken up so much room in his heart, he made them his own promise. "I swear on the love, loss, and magic that bind us together as a family that I will never reveal any information that would put any of you, Angel's crew, or those who become involved with either group later in any danger from any entity, person, or organization that I come into contact with."

When he was finished he noticed that there were a great deal of watery eyes, his own included. After several group and individual hugs, someone commented that they had snot of their shirt, while another made "eww" noises.

Finally it was Xander that said, "Alright, enough of the mushy stuff. So, G-man, when do you want to have a packing party?"

CHAPTER FOUR

Rupert looked rather wearily around at the piles of boxes and furniture scattered somewhat haphazardly around the living area of the house he had recently financed. He wondered momentarily if his stuff had multiplied while he wasn't looking, or if perhaps the moving company had delivered someone else's belongings though that was unlikely considering he had just signed all the paperwork from said company stating that this was in fact his stuff. Surely this was more than the contents of his, admittedly cluttered, one-bedroom apartment. It was going to take him weeks to get everything unpacked and situated.

Of course, he realized rather ruefully that he wouldn't have the help he had had in packing since he had convinced the children that they did not have to travel with him to his new home in Colorado. The end of summer was the height of construction and tourist seasons in Seattle and both of the Harrises were busy with their respective jobs. Tara, Willow, and Dawn were all busy getting prepared for the start of school. So he would simply have to make do on his own.

He was trying to figure out where to start when the doorbell rang. Perhaps the moving company forgot something. He opened the door and blinked into the late afternoon sunlight. Standing on his front porch were Daniel and four guests whom he assumed were the rest of Daniel's team and judging by the smell and bags they all appeared to be carrying food.

"Good afternoon, Daniel, Daniel's friends." He nodded genially to each, "I must admit that this a bit of a surprise. What can I do for you?"

"Well I know you're new in town and how lonely and frustrating it can be to try to unpack and settle in all by yourself. So I figured I'd bring food, company and a heavy lifting crew." Daniel grinned at him.

Rupert grinned back at him and stepped back from the door indicating that they should enter.

"Well that is certainly appreciated."

As the five entered and started looking about for places to set things, Daniel introduced everyone.

"Dr. Rupert Giles, I would like you to meet my team: Lt. Col. Dr. Samantha Carter (otherwise known as Sam), Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell (Cam or Mitchell work just fine), Vala Mal Doran, and Teal'c."

Sam and Cam both smiled and nodded in his direction when they were introduced. Vala bounced a bit on her feet and gave a energetic little wave when the introduction came around to her. Teal'c simply nodded.

"Hey man, where's the kitchen? I want to put the beer in the fridge before it gets warm." Cam held up a paper bag that must contain said beer.

Rupert pointed him in the right direction and refrained from pointing out that proper beer should be enjoyed at room temperature. He had realized at some point during his time in America that it was futile to get into that argument.

"I hope you like Chinese food. We brought all sorts of different dishes, so there should at least be one you like. Of course if you don't like either egg or spring rolls I'd be happy to eat if for you." Vala grinned at him while waving the bag in her hand slightly. Rupert wondered briefly if perhaps something hellmouthy was going on and he was looking at the grown offspring of Anya and Xander. Then he reminded himself that extreme bluntness and love of food couldn't be that rare and it was probably just a strange coincidence.

"We should also eat now, before the food gets cold. Then we can at least help you move things to their proper rooms if nothing else," Samantha stated with a warm smile, while the slightly imposing figure of Teal'c nodded.

"We brought paper dishes as well to make cleaning up easier, RupertGiles."

"Thank you, Teal'c. If we move some of the boxes from around the table we should be able to eat there."

While they were enjoying their meal, Samantha asked, "So what are your thoughts so far about the SGC and your new home? From what little Daniel has told us, I imagine it must be very different from what you are used too."

Chuckling, Giles answered, "Well I haven't seen much other than the few offices I visited to sign yet more paperwork and the infirmary where I had to go for my physical. I must say that it is certainly a large base and that one General, I believe it was mentioned that he was in charge of Homeworld Security, has an interesting turn of phrase. I believe his exact words to me at our brief meeting were 'So you're the new geek that Danny found, huh? He's really happy about that you know.'"

Samantha and Daniel both looked rather pained at that, Sam muttered something along the lines of "Of course Jack would be visiting for audits at this moment and he really needed to learn some tact", Cam just smirked, and Teal'c looked vaguely amused though it was hard to tell. Vala was enjoying her garlic chicken and looking interested. Rupert hastened to offer reassurances.

"Oh, don't worry. I'm not at all offended. It would take a good deal more than that to fluster me. In fact I found it rather comforting," confused looks met this statement, "as it reminded me of my children. Not only do they frequently make sarcastic remarks, those statements are usually made in Southern California teen speak with the attitude to go along with it. Besides he seemed pleased that you had hired me, though it was hard to tell since we essentially only met in passing as he was on his way to another meeting."

Rupert shrugged and redirected the conversation. "Alright, I know that Daniel handles translations, diplomacy, and currently heads the Anthropology department. What do the rest of you do?"

The rest of dinner was spent discussing the varying jobs of SG-1's members, and laughing over some of their stories. Once dinner was finished the group moved into the living room.

"So, Rup, where do you want to start?" Cam gestured at the stacks of boxes.

"Hmm, they should all be appropriately labeled by contents and room they belong in, except for the books. Any box marked books is to go into the office for now."

Of course Samantha would be reading some of the boxes labels as he spoke. She sent him a rather confused look as she read some of them. "Demonology texts E-O, magic books, small antiquities (office)?"

"While the SGC hired me for my linguistic abilities, my specialty is in Myths and Folklore, Samantha, particularly focused on the supernatural as it appears in said myths. In fact my doctoral thesis was on how societies dealt with the fear of things different from themselves by creating stories of demonic entities, which is unfortunately a trend that continues even now. So a good deal of my collection deals with the supernatural. The antiquities are varying things that I have collected over the years." Rupert offered the usual cover story for such an odd collection of books. It wasn't as if it weren't true, it just wasn't the whole truth. One of the more mundane problems with being a watcher was that it often meant having to write dual publications, one for use by the Council, and one for public consumption. After all as shadowy as the council can be, having a public persona has been one of the ways they've kept the realities of their organization safe.

"Oh." She shot what he hoped was an intrigued look at the boxes, "That's certainly different from a majority of the linguists and anthropologists we hire."

"Okay, we know where the kitchen, living room, and dining room are, but you might want to show us what the other rooms are before we get started. Wouldn't want to lug the boxes around more than once. Books are way too heavy for that." Cam shot a glare in Daniel's direction.

"Of course." Rupert showed them upstairs and pointed out his bedroom, office, and the guest bedroom. "The other guest bedroom is in the basement, which was where the previous owners apparently put one of their teenagers. I figured it might be a good spot for any guests that require a bit more privacy." And any that have an extreme reaction to sunlight. Rupert added mentally while thinking about Spike.

Grinning at his new co-workers he added, "Trust me when I say that there are some things that you don't want to hear. Young newlyweds top that list."

There were chuckles all around as the all set about moving boxes to their destined locations. When the chuckling died down, Vala asked, "So what is the market like for the antiquities you collect?"

There were several scolding calls of "Vala!" that reminded him of Xander and Anya in the earlier days of their relationship. Rupert chuckled and answered, "I would have to say that the market for these particular antiquities is a small one that is often unpredictable and occasionally brutal."

When he got a few strange looks at the last part, he added, "You would be surprised at the things academics will say and do for their research. Quite a cutthroat bunch."

Still smiling as he listened to their chuckles, Rupert realized that it might be nice to have friends closer to his own age for once.

Chapter Five

Rupert's first official day at the SGC began at 0700 in one of the conference rooms. Here he met with the other new recruits both civilian and military. Of the 15 new recruits there was one medical doctor, a nurse, two physicists with differing specialties, one botanist, six marines, three pilots (two USAF, one Navy), and him.

A few of the civilians looked either excited or nervous. The marines and pilots looked fairly stoic and somewhat stiff. Rupert himself was curious as to how "Orientation to the SGC" would progress, and energized at the prospect of getting started.

General Landry came in along with his aide and the heads of various departments. Rupert smiled and nodded at Daniel and Samantha when they entered.

"Good morning, folks, and welcome to the SGC. To our new civilian staff members I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation for your acceptance of this position. I can guarantee that working here will challenge you beyond your wildest dreams and provide outlets for your knowledge and skills that you have not imagined. You will also find numerous chances to build upon those skills, and many things to expand your knowledge base, and you will do all this while protecting not just your country, but your planet. It has been referred to by some as "the hardest job you will ever love."* Our new military recruits will find that phrase also applies to them. You will find that this is probably the most challenging and dangerous post you have ever been assigned to, but you will also find that it is most fulfilling. You will be able to use your hard won skills to explore the galaxy, whether it be the Milky Way or Pegasus, and you will be protecting not just the lives of your teammates, but the lives of everyone on this planet.

Now because of the unique challenges and dangers that are found here at the SGC you will find that orientation here lasts a bit longer than it would elsewhere. Our orientation program is a month long and will cover not just the rules and regulations of the SGC, but also the things you will need to succeed here. For the civilians this will include workshops on your department's role, workshops on firearms and self-defense, workshops on working with military personnel and the chain of command, and training trips at the Alpha site. The new military personnel will have workshops on gate team survival tactics and strategy, workshops on working with civilian personnel, and training trips to the Alpha site. If at any time, and this goes for military as well as civilian, you have any doubts about your ability or desire to work with the SGC, please discuss your concerns with your department head or superior officer. This may be the opportunity of a lifetime, but it is not meant for everyone. I would rather have you realize that now, than out in the field where your realization could get someone hurt or killed.

Now all of you should have received two handbooks for the SGC—the official SGC handbook which contains all of the rules and regulations of the base, and the less official SGC Survival Guide."

At this point there were several murmurs from the new recruits, most along the lines of "you mean that wasn't a joke?"

General Landry cleared his throat to get everyone's attention and shot a quick glare at the department heads who were unsuccessfully trying to hide smiles. Rupert was trying not to smile himself, since he had figured out early on that it wasn't a joke and had already read a large portion of it. While some of the sections were highly entertaining (it was written in a tongue in cheek sort of manner with chapter headings along the lines of "What to Do When the SGC is invaded by Aliens (Again)") it did have a lot of useful information.

"No folks, that was not a joke. The SGC Survival Guide did start out as a joke, but considering that it has saved numerous lives since it was first published by an unknown source, we have adopted it as a training tool for new recruits. It is updated regularly and I suggest you familiarize yourself with it as it could by your life it saves next. Now I am going to turn your over to your department heads who will go over your schedule for the next month. They will also show you to your office, answer any questions you may have, and discuss your duties and responsibilities. I wish you all the best of luck and look forward to working with you."

Landry nodded to the department heads, "They're all yours," before turning and walking out of the room.

Since Rupert was Daniel's only new recruit, they departed the conference room slightly ahead of the others. Daniel lead Rupert through the still slightly confusing tangle of hallways to the section of the base that housed the archeology/linguistics department and both Daniel's and Rupert's offices. Daniel ushered Rupert into his new office, which was only slightly larger than a janitor's supply closet/office. It held a desk, computer (Rupert supposed he really should be thankful for Willow's lessons, but he still hated the infernal machines. Really what is wrong with books, pen and paper?), two visitor chairs, and book shelves. It wasn't the most cramped office Rupert had ever had, but it came close.

"Well it's not much, but it's what we could find for now. It was either this or sharing with a few others in the department. I thought you might like your own space, cramped or not." Daniel smiled, gestured for Rupert to take the seat behind the desk, and continued, "So I have your schedule here if you would like to go over it, along with your expected duties and responsibilities."

The rest of the morning passed in a lively discussion of the merits of the workshops, the role of the linguist as diplomat and researcher (since Rupert would occasionally be part of a gate team with the possibility of joining a team full time in the future), and caffeine sources at the SGC. Eventually Samantha came round with her new recruits and prodded them toward the cafeteria for lunch.

In the afternoon Rupert joined the other civilians for their afternoon workshops. The first session was "Military Ranks, The Chain of Command, and How They Affect You." This workshop was lead by Samantha and Cam.

Everyone was given handouts that detailed all the different ranks in the armed services with notes about who outranked whom (civilian supervisors versus military command included) in what situations. They were also assured that they would be given plenty of time to absorb this information during each of this workshop's four sessions, and in their other workshops and practical training.

The second workshop of the afternoon was officially known as "Introduction to Self Defense for Civilians in the SGC" and unofficially known as "Geek Survival 101." This workshop was run by Colonel Bacosky who lead a Marine combat team, SG-18, Cam, and Teal'c. Rupert remember Daniel's teammates bemoaning the fact that they were required to help with orientation this time around. Apparently they had managed to get out of training the last few times, and so General Landry had ordered them to assist with this go round.

The first session of this workshop was focused on trying to get the civilians to understand why they needed to be able to defend themselves as well as explaining the different ways they would be trained to defend themselves. Rupert had a hard time containing his disdain for one of his new colleagues' attitudes. The man seemed to think that just because he was a theoretical physicist who would be focused more in the labs than in the field that he had no need to learn such things. Apparently this gentleman (and Rupert was hard pressed to call this man a gentleman) seemed to think that the sole purpose of the soldiers on the base was to protect him. At this point, Rupert barely managed to prevent from rolling his eyes and looked at the man as if he had said something particularly daft (which he had), asking "And what will do if there are no soldiers to help you? If everyone has been incapacitated? Stand around and panic saying that this wasn't in your job description? I do not know about you, sir, but my job offer made it quite clear that this place could be dangerous to work at, which to me means that learning self-defense is beyond necessary for the job. I sincerely doubt that any amount of whining will get you out of this. So do be quiet and let these gentlemen finish this session."

Col. Bacosky and Col. Mitchell were grinning. Col. Bacosky said, "Well said Dr. Giles. You are right that no amount of whining or complaining will get you out of this. This training just may save your life or someone else's. If you truly don't want to go through with it, then perhaps you should reconsider your employment here. Now if there are no other complaints, we will move on. Col. Mitchell will go over the different forms of self-defense that you will be required to learn."

Col. Bacosky nodded to Cam, who took over. "Alrighty boys and girls, you will learn two main things in this workshop: basic hand to hand self-defense, and how to use firearms." Cam held up his hand to forestall any interruptions.

"I know some of you may be uncomfortable with guns, but it really is necessary for you to be comfortable with them. This is more than a research facility, it is an active military base that has and will face hostile invasions. As Dr. Giles pointed out this should have been made clear in your job offers, and if you truly have a problem with this, you should reconsider the offer. General Landry was not lying when he said you could back out. People who work here need to be comfortable with all aspects of their job here, and one of those aspects, no matter your field, is the protection of your teammates, the base, and the planet itself. I know this a lot to think about, so this is where we'll end the session for today. Tomorrow morning we will start with the hand to hand training, beginning with an evaluation for those who have some previous experience in self-defense. Tomorrow afternoon we will start with firearms training, again evaluating anyone who has some previous experience. Any questions?"

Rupert noticed that he and Dr. Santini, one of the new medical recruits, were the only two who didn't look shell-shocked or hesitant. Of course the one physicist still looked irate and was splitting his time between glaring at Rupert and glaring at the instructors. Rupert was certain of one thing: it was going to be an interesting month.

*This is actually a saying that is often used to refer to U.S. Peace Corps service, but I felt that it would apply just as equally to the SGC.

Chapter Six

The evening was spent reading excerpts of both the official and unofficial manuals. The official manual was dry enough to put even a tried and trained scholar to sleep, which is why Rupert alternated between the two. When he felt himself nodding off, he would read (or reread) chapters of the unofficial manual. His favorite chapter was currently "What to do when you've encountered an alien drug/aphrodisiac/hallucinogen/etc?" Not only was it humorous, it could easily be adapted for hunter's handbook that was being planned for the new supernatural defense group that Spike was helping to organize.

Rupert was still astounded by his friendship with the vampire. If anyone had told him that he would be good friends and compatriots with a vampire who had tried to kill him on numerous times (and who had not been resouled by some spell), he would have wondered what drugs they had been imbibing. The world truly was a strange place.

It would be at that moment that "London Calling" started playing from the phone that Willow and Tara had set up for him, though he suspected Dawn had a hand in choosing ring tones. Getting up and riffling through his coat pockets he finally managed to silence the thing.

"Where the hell have you been, Spike? I've been trying to reach you for four bleeding weeks now."

"So I've been told, watcher. What's this about you joining the soddin' military? Would a thought you had more sense than that. The kids are sayin' you ain't been brainwashed, and good old Captain Cardboard swears it's above-board…but what the hell, mate, you could a called and warned me you'd gone starkers. I'd a been home right straight away."

"Spike, did you not hear what I said? I tried to call you for a month, one whole month. I even left messages for you with various people. I was actually starting to worry about your pale arse. If Sam hadn't told me that you were taking care of a nest of C'lar'mesh demons with some of the others, and reminded me that C'lar'mesh warp all electronics, I would have had Willow and Tara track you down and 'port you home. Now you have obviously talked with the children, not to mention Riley. So you should know that I checked this place out thoroughly. I'm not mad, well no more than I have ever been, after all I am friends with a man known as William the Bloody. This just happens to be the best place for me right now. These people need me even more than the children did, Spike."

"I hear ya, Ripper, but it isn't just the children that need you, you know? This new group I've been recruiting, at your request I might add, could use your knowledge and skills. Thought you'd be joining up with us, not running off to join those wankin' military sods."

Giles sighed and reached up to rub at his eyes behind his glasses. He really hadn't expected that note of disappointment in Spike's voice.

"I didn't intend to run off to join the military, which in this case is made up of its fair shares of both worthy gentleman and assholes. If I thought they were all assholes I wouldn't have even considered taking the job. It's just…" Rupert paused, staring moodily out the window into the shadows of his backyard while trying to sort his thoughts. "After everything…loosing Buffy, then Faith…struggling to keep my family together, healthy and sane…trying to find a way to right the many wrongs of the council and make the world a better place…I just…I needed a break. I needed to do something different, something on my own."

Leaning his head against the window, his voice a whisper against the cool glass, "I don't think I could watch another of my children die, Spike, and I know I can't handle being the one who lead them, ordered them to their death. I just don't have it in me. This job is just as important in its own way. It is likely the only job that could ever have tempted me away from my previous calling. This is where I am meant to be right now, just as Sunnydale was were I was meant to be at one time. You needn't worry about me abandoning you completely. I'm still planning on assisting, if from a distance, in the creation of the new group. In fact I had some wonderful ideas about our training manual earlier."

"Do you ever stop thinking about books old man?"

Rupert snorted at Spike's way of saying that he understood, in his own taunting sort of way.

"Just so you know though, mate, I didn't make no promises, and I ain't bound by no geas. I'll be coming down to check on you for time to time. Make sure those military bastards are treating you right and all. Can't let the bit's da go and get hisself killed now can I?"

"No I suppose you can't, and Spike, thank you."

Their conversation after that was mostly getting caught up on other news. Spike had finished his travels for now, and was headed back to the States, to Seattle in fact. He would look after the kids in Giles stead, and continue to build and organize the new group from there.

After several hours on the phone, Rupert finally headed to bed. Tomorrow would be another busy day.