Someone to Watch Over Me
Part I: A Friend in Need
Jack O'Neill glanced down at the speedometer of his silver Ford SUV for a split second, and eased off the gas. The SUV slowed slightly, and dipped in speed slightly bellow the limit.
Jack refocused on the highway in front of him and breathed deeply. He had been driving for what felt like days, but could only have been no more than six hours. They'd had a couple of rest stops along the way, but his passenger was in no fit state to take over the driving for him.
At that point, he glanced over at his travelling companion. In the front passenger seat to his right, Jessica Pearce sat huddled, slightly turned in his direction. She breathed deeply and regularly as she slept, mumbling from time to time, but unrecognisable as words to Jack.
Jessica had been asleep since their last pit stop, three hours back. Even when she'd been awake she'd not been very talkative. Jack had tried to get her to open up about what had happened, but she was keeping schtum. Jack had put it down to Jessica not really wanting to think about what had happened on PX2-302, and not his lack of communication skills. He had also tried to coax a smile out of her with some good-natured jibes. However, theses had fallen on deaf ears.
It was at this point that Jack had realised that it wasn't that she didn't want to think about the events on PX2-302, but rather she just didn't want to talk about them.
From the moment she'd got back from the planet, the events were all she could think about.
Jack had taken a hard look at her when he'd gotten back into the car after the last stop. He'd seen in her eyes the look that he had seen many times before.
Jack had been in the Air Force since the seventies, and it was in the course of his career that he had seen that look – stare. Combatants got that look when they had witnessed massacres, or been responsible for one. There was no doubt in Jack's mind which it was for Jessica.
Jessica wasn't suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she was grieving.
Jack didn't know for certain how Jessica's head was feeling, but all this thought about things that could not be changed or undone was giving him a headache.
Jack took the only course of action open to him at that moment in time, and gave the road his full attention, just in time to see the city limits sign for Los Angeles looming up ahead of him.
Jessica shielded her head with her arms and hands as she through herself to the ground, away from the blast. She stifled a cry as hot ash and burning rubble rained down on her. As she took in air, she could feel her lungs filling up with soot from the air that was only moments ago, according to Major Samantha Carter, was purer than in the Antarctic.
Jessica's ears were ringing from the sound of the blast that had originated just a few feet from where she had been standing. Through the haze of shock that was slowly receding, she couldn't feel any pain, but was unsure whether she was supposed to. She glanced down at the rest of her body, checking she still had everything intact. There didn't seem to be any bleeding, and all limbs where accounted for.
Jessica was about to start to get to her feet when she felt the tidal wave of more explosions ripple through the air in her direction. She covered her eyes and head again, once again feeling the sensation of debris landing on her. This time, it took a lot longer for the rumblings and cracking of explosives to subside.
Jessica woke up with a start. Her eyes opened quickly, and she gasped as she sat bolt upright in the passenger seat of Jack's SUV. She breathed rapidly for a moment as it took a few seconds for her to realise where she was and that what she had just experienced had been a bad dream.
Jessica's breathes slowed, and eventually went back to their normal rhythm. Her, heart however was another matter. It pounded nineteen to the dozen in her aching chest, so much that she thought that she was about to explode herself. She rubbed her stinging eyes with the palm of her hand and looked over at Jack sat next to her.
Jack glanced over at her, before turning his attention back to parking the SUV.
"We're here," he said, trying not to let on that he knew she'd woken with a start.
Jessica remained silent. She looked out the window to her right and up at the building they were parked in front of. She recognised it as Gunn and Fred's apartment building, and for a moment she wondered why she was there, and with Jack.
The dream, or rather nightmare, had disorientated Jessica enough to make her forget where she was and what she was doing. As the sleepiness disappeared, she began to remember everything. The phone call from Angel requesting her help and Jack refusing to let her go to L.A by herself.
Jessica got out of the SUV and arched her back. She winced slightly as she felt a sharp twinge in her side, and s sudden stabbing pain emanating from her ribs.
Jack walked round the front of his truck just in time to see the shock on her face as she felt the pain. Jessica had also forgotten about the injuries that she had suffered on PX2-302.
"You okay?" he asked in his most concerned tone. Jessica took a deep breath and hoped it wouldn't cause any more pain. She looked up at jack, and then felt another twinge as she raised her head. This time the pain came for the crick in her neck from sleeping in such a damn awkward position.
"I'm fine," Jessica replied nodding her head slightly. She smiled weakly, a smile that barely moved her lips, as a sign of reassurance to her friend. Her slight smile was greeted by a warm and somewhat comforting on from Jack. When Jack smiled, he made you think that everything was okay, even if you knew the enemy was at the door, and you were going to die, you felt safe when he smiled like that.
"Demon hunting pays well," Jack deadpanned, looking up at the non-too-cheap apartment building in front of them.
Jessica, too, looked up at the building. "Demon hunting doesn't pay for this, working for Wolfram & Hart pays for this," she said as she made her way to the front doors.
Jessica knocked on the apartment door numbered 4C. She waited impatiently for someone to answer and she knocked again, this time loader, and to Jack's ears more demandingly. This time, there was the distinct sound of someone making their way to the door. The locks on the other side of the door where being pulled back and within a moment, the door opened.
The tall dark figure of Charles Gunn filled the doorway, and from Jack's point of view, he seemed to dwarf Jessica. Gunn looked at the two in front of him and a broad grin spread across his face in a second. Jessica returned the gesture, but not so vigorously.
Gunn stepped forward and took Jessica in his arms and squeezed her tightly.
"Hey, girl," Gunn said in a genuinely cheery voice, "How you been?" he asked.
Within his firm grasp, Jessica winced as Gunn unwittingly put pressure on her bracken and bruised bones. She pushed away slightly as she took in a sharp gasp of air as the pain became that little bit too much for her to take.
Gunn pulled back himself, and looked down at his old friend in concern.
"Are you alright?" he asked, with no attempt to disguise the worry in his voice.
Jessica stood away from him, taking a step back toward Jack. "I'm fine, just a little fragile at the moment, but no worse than I've been before," she told her friend in her most reassuring tone.
Jack noted that she'd never tried to cover up anything like that for him and his team. Even if her words were telling them she was fine, she never attempted to cover up her tone of voice. They always knew that she wasn't okay. It puzzled Jack slightly as to why she would try and cover up for her old fiends, but not for them. He was attempting to decipher the meaning of this when he was forced to take note of the conversation in front of him.
"Gunn, this is my friend Colonel Jack O'Neill," she said gesturing to Jack and turning to hi slightly. Looking at Jack this time, Jessica introduced Jack. "Jack, this is Charles Gunn," she said as she turned back to Gunn.
Gunn smiled again and reached past Jessica and extended his hand for Jack to take. Jack took the hand being offered and shook it firmly.
"Call me Gunn," he said taking his hand away from Jack's. "Nice to meet you,"
Jack returned the smile and gesture. "Like wise, call me Jack,"
Gunn nodded and stepped back form the door. "Come in, Angel and Lorne are already here,"
Gunn moved form the doorway enough for Jessica and Jack to enter the apartment. They stepped straight into the living room, and were both greeted by the sight of Lorne and Angel surrounded by plans and maps of the Wolfram & Hart building.
Jack took in the forms of the two individuals in front of him. The tall, dark and handsome one looked normal enough. Although Jack knew him to be a vampire, he wasn't sure what to expect.
"Wow," he said a little loader than he had wanted it to be. He looked Lorne up and down, slowly taking in its, no, his form, Jessica had told him that Lorne was male. Jack had met many aliens in his seven years on the Stargate project, but this was the first time he'd actually met a demon.
Jessica looked back at Jack and smiled for the first time properly. Despite being in a state of depression, she was still able to see the funny side of Jack's shock.
"Jack," she said gesturing to Lorne, "This is Lorne," she then turned her attentions to Lorne and smiled warmly at her green demon friend. "Lorne, this is Colonel Jack O'Neill," Lorne moved away from the table that was strewn with maps, plans and blueprints, and put out his hand for Jack to take.
"Hi, Colonel," he said, waiting for the Air Force officer to take his hand. Jack extended his own hand tentatively. Lorne took it and shook it firmly.
"I know, the green can throw people who aren't really used to seeing things quiet this out of the ordinary," Lorne said as he let Jack have his hand back.
Jack frowned at bit, not quit ready for it to speak with a human voice, let alone with an American accent.
"Sorry," Jack apologised, "Just wasn't quiet expecting it," he looked down at his team member. "Jessica didn't mention that you were a demon,"
Jessica looked back round at Jack, and pulled a half hearted 'oops' face.
"Other things on my mind," she defended. Jack looked at her for a moment. He knew what 'other things' were. What was he supposed to say to that?
"That's okay. Don't do it again," he ordered with mock sternness. Jessica tried a smile again, this time just managing a slight curl of her lips.
Lorne read the situation almost perfectly. Everything wasn't right in the Jessicaverse, he didn't know quiet what yet, but he would get there. All he knew at the moment was that this Air Force colonel was trying to make things better, whatever things needed making better that was.
"Where's my sugar?" he asked stepping back in front of Jessica. He outstretched his arms and Jessica went willingly to him. Lorne held her gently, trying to get a better sense of what was troubling this young woman. He closed his eyes and let his sixth, demon sense guide him. He couldn't really get a visual on what was wrong, but he did feel the tremendous amount of pain she was in.
Jessica could hear his two hearts beating inside his chest and willed him to see what was wrong, anything was better than having to explain out loud what was wrong. She knew Lorne already knew that there was a problem, and she didn't want to have to explain.
"I've missed you, pumpkin," he said as he pulled away slightly to look at her face.
Pumpkin? Jack thought, what kind of demon was this? And he couldn't imagine Jessica letting anyone call her pumpkin, or anything close. He got the distinct feeling that he was going to learn a lot more about his comrade in arms while they were in Los Angeles.
Jessica looked up at the green-faced demon with little red horns protruding from his forehead. "I missed you, too,"
Angel coughed slightly, disturbing the tender moment. Jessica turned to the vampire.
"Sorry," she said moving from Lorne to stand in front of Angel.
"Jack, this Angel," she said pointing a hand to the other demon in the room. "Angel, this is Jack,"
Jack made the first move this time, putting his hand out for Angel to take. Angel responded with a firm shake.
"Hi," Jack said.
"Hey," was Angel's only response.
Jack eyed the vampire, sizing him up, and Angel did the same. He had been Jessica's boss, and Jack wanted to get a better idea of who used to lead her. Angel, on the other hand was looking to see who had taken over the mantel of her leader. He wasn't quiet sure of what he saw.
Angel turned to Jessica, and stood awkwardly at first, expecting Jessica to make the first move.
"Don't I get a hug?" he asked opening his arms to her slightly. Jessica smiled and moved to him. Angel enveloped her in arms and she went to his chest readily. This time she heard no heartbeat, never mind two. To most people this would have been unnerving, but to Jessica, it was comforting. She was in a place where she new she was loved and protected, at that moment, it was what she needed most of all.
"Well, hate to break up this love-fest," Gunn said moving to join the group now standing round the table. "But we've got people to save,"
Angel started to release Jessica form his grip but he felt her tighten her own as he did so. He looked down at her for a moment.
"You okay?" he asked. Jessica pulled away sharply and regained her composure.
She looked him in the eye for the first time since she'd got there. "Yeah, course I am, just a little tired,"
"So, what have we got?" she asked turning her back on the vampire and to the desk.
"Some big old nasty, hold up in the Wolfram & Hart building," Gunn began. "And it's locked down tighter than Scott's man's wallet," he said.
"Even though we were given full control of the L.A branch of the company, the senior partners still insisted that some defensive measures were built in," Angel continued. "If the building comes under a full scale attack, it locks its self down,"
Angel shuffled a couple of the plans round, looking for something in particular.
"Basically, nothing gets in," Lorne paused for dramatic affect. "Nothing gets out,"
Jack looked at Jessica and then at each of the others in turn. He knew about impenetrable fortresses, but he never imagined a law company having their L.A branch fortified.
"Fred, Wesley and Cordelia are in there," Gunn informed the two newcomers.
"And a whole load of other people who have been doing some good for the past year or so," Lorne added.
Jessica looked at her friends. She couldn't believe it had happened again. The last time, they had managed to get in, what was stopping them this time?
"Why don't you do what you did last time, and go in through the sewers?" she asked looking at Angel.
Gunn drew in a sharp breath and Lorne rubbed one of his horns. Angel found the blueprint he was looking for and looked over at the demon hunter.
"After the building was attacked, they remodelled it completely. That old emergency exist doesn't exists anymore," he told her.
Jessica looked at him hard. "But there must be some way back in surely,"
Angel, Gunn and Lorne looked at each other, trying to decide who should be the one to tell her.
"There is one way in," Lorne said sheepishly.
Jessica looked at him wide-eyed. "Well why aren't you using it then?" she asked almost in exasperation.
Angel looked down at the table, not really at the plans. "There's a problem," he said quietly.
Jessica looked at him hard this time. She was having trouble understanding what on earth could be stopping Angel and the others going in there and rescuing their friends.
"What's the problem?" Jack inquired in his most military voice.
The others looked up at him, not really expecting him to participate in this conversation.
Jack had his arms folded across his chest, and the expression on his face was unmistakeably one that meant business.
Lorne and Angel remained silent for a moment, both trying to decide how the answer be best worded.
"We're too big," Gunn piped up, not being able to stand the silence any longer.
Jack blinked a couple of times as e took in the reply. "What?" he asked, turning his head to one side and hale squinting.
"We're all too big to fit through the gap," Angel clarified.
Jessica looked a little perplexed, even with Angel's semi-clarification. "What gap? I've had a long day, you're going to have to be a little less cryptic if you want me to understand,"
"There is a small emergency entrance, accessed through the sewers," Lorne explained. "But it's too small for any of us to fit through. Once in, there's a control that will open up the exit, and allow us to get through,"
Angel nodded. "That's why we called you," he said pointing at the plans in front of him. "You're the only one who can get through and let us in,"
Jessica knew she had no choice. She was going to have to do this in order to saver her fiend's lives. There was no hesitation and no discussion to be had, so she cut right to the chase.
"So what's the big bad in there?"
This is where Angel cam into his own, he could explain things like this all day. "It's a Damken demon named Broc," he told her. "Strong, not too fast but fiercely intelligent,"
Gunn butted in. "A big bugger as well. Would give the beast a run for it's money,"
Jessica put her hands palm down on the table and lent on them. Her strategic mind was already in full motion. She was remembering the new layout of the building, and what would be their best form of attack.
"What does he want?" Jack asked. Angel looked at him, again, not expecting him to come out with a question like that.
When he didn't get a response, Jack probed further. "Money, power, world domination?"
Gunn smirked slightly, he was beginning to like this guy. That surprised him slightly. Normally he hated everything and everyone to do with the establishment.
"To bring about the end of days," Angel told them.
"What?" Jessica said in a disbelieving tone. "Again?"
This also made Gunn smile. He too had had that reaction when Angel had told him what Broc wanted.
"This happen a lot?" Jack inquired, raising an eyebrow.
"More than you know," Jessica said shaking her head.
"Oh, for crying out load," she said taking in a deep breath. Jack smiled slightly at this. Working so closely as team over the past couple of years, things had rubbed off on each other. Jessica seemed to have picked up this phrase form him, just as he had picked up 'you have got to be kidding me'.
Jessica sighed. "Okay, how do we kill it?"
From under the table, Angel, Lorne and Gunn simultaneously produced weapons of all descriptions.
Jack's eyes widened at the large array of metallic objects, not having a clue what most of them were called.
"You're standard slice and dice," Gunn said setting his favourite axe on the table.
"Cool," Jessica said picking up a small-ish sword. "I can handle that,"
Jack looked at the four other people in the room with him. This was moving a little fast.
"Wait a minuet," Jack protested. He turned to Jessica, and raised an eyebrow slightly when he saw her for the first time holding the sword.
"Jen, you're in no fit state to anything like this," he told her.
Jessica looked up at her colonel. She thought about her counter argument, but she couldn't think of a thing that Jack himself wouldn't be able to counter. After all, Jack was the king of insane arguments.
"Why isn't she in a fit state to do this?" Angel asked, for the first time realising that things may not be quiet right with Jessica.
Jessica turned slightly to Angel. "I'm fine, just a few bruises, that's all," she said.
Angel half nodded, not one hundred per cent sure of whether to believe her.
"A few bruises," Jack exclaimed in almost outrage. "You have three broken ribs, a penetrating wound to your abdomen and you haven't slept properly in a week," The sternness in Jack's voice took the others by surprise. They hadn't expected him to talk to Jessica like that. In fact, they were surprised that she'd brought him along anyway.
"Jack, I heal fast," she defended. "Besides, Dr Fraiser said I was well enough to leave the bass," Jessica looked up at him and dared him to carry on the argument.
Jack took up the unspoken dare. "She didn't say you were well enough to go out and fight some demon," Jack was near total expiration. She was supposed to be the sensible one of the two. It was normally her talking him out of bonehead things to do.
"If she knew what you were planning on doing, she would strap you on a gurney and have you back in the infirmary faster than Daniel gets excited about a new language to decipher," Jack barked back.
Angel wasn't taking kindly to the way Jack was talking to Jessica, he could feel the hairs on the back of his neck begin to bristle and the distinct sensation he got before the vamped out. Gunn knew that Jessica could stand up for herself, and had no doubt she was bale to give as good as she got.
Lorne, on the other hand, read the situation for what it was. He could see Jack wasn't trying belittle her in anyway, or bawl her out. He was trying to protect her.
Jessica stood her ground. "Jack, I have no choice. My friends are trapped in there, and I'm the only one that can help them," she paused and lowered her voice. "You'd do the same thing," she paused. "Jack, you've done the same thing,"
Jack couldn't argue with that. He knew she had seen him disobey direct orders in a bid to save his friend's and comrades' lives. How could he possibly say anything that would stop her from doing the same?
Jack stood down and sighed deeply. He turned to the table. "Okay," he said looking at the mass of weapons on the in front of him. "But I come with,"
"Jack, you…" Jessica started.
Jack didn't let her finish. "There's no negotiating," he said as he glanced over his shoulder to look at her. "If you're going, then so am I," he picked up a mean looking axe and smiled.
"Besides, Doc Fraiser would have my hide if anything happened to you," he looked back at Jessica and smiled. Yet again, he was treated to a half smile, reminding him that things were still not right in her other life.
"Look, I'm not sure it's a good idea that you come along," Angel voiced his concerns.
Jack stood up straight, ready to fight his own battle, but Jessica beat him to it.
"Jack can take care of himself," she said. "He's been up against things similar to this, he's good at it," Jessica slipped a gnarly looking knife she had just picked up off the table into her pocket.
"Besides, if this thing is as big and bad as you say it is, we could do with an extra pair of hands," From her tone, Angel knew that was the end of the matter, there was no budging. And he got the feeling that Jack would still come along even if Jessica hadn't wanted him there.
Gunn put on his game face. He held the axe in his hand firmly and headed towards the front door.
"I'll go and get the wheels," he said opening the door and heading out, letting it swing and slam shut behind him.
"I need a drink," Lorne said as he hurried off towards what Jack presumed was the kitchen.
Angel watched as Lorne left the room, in rather a flustered state. He may have been a demon but he wasn't big with the fighting. In fact, his speciality tended to be hiding 'til the danger went away. Angel wished sometimes he could do that.
Jessica smiled slightly as she also watched Lorne scamper for the kitchen, no doubt for some sort of cocktail to steady his nerves.
Thinking of nerves, Jessica thought as she shifted on the spot.
"I'll be back in a minuet," she said as she headed in the opposite direction to the big green demon, and toward the bathroom.
Both Angel and Jack watched their friend leave the room and stood in silence.
Angel studied Jack hard as Jessica left the room. Jack turned back in time to see the expression on his face.
"You know, she's a lot tougher than she looks," Angel said as he picked up his favourite weapons form the table.
Jack watched him carefully as he did so. Angel and the others seemed to hold Jessica in high regard, but Jack couldn't help but think that they thought she were capable of more than she was.
While she had proved herself a skilled fighter time and time again, Jack still felt she was too young to be taking on all this responsibility. To his mind, she had had no real childhood. While normal teenagers were out at parties and getting boyfriends, Jessica was fighting demons and defending her world from the forces of darkness.
Jessica had been forced to grow up far too quickly. While she had been trained physically, emotionally she had had no coaching or training. Jessica had to teach herself how to cope with the things she had seen and done.
Her old friends seemed to be missing something. Jack's team had picked up on it almost instantly. While physically she was at the top of her game, emotionally she was on the verge of falling apart. Too many years of doing what was expected of her, with none of the support she needed and undoubtedly craved. In the two years Jessica had been with SG-1, Jack and his team had built her back up. Given her the support she needed, and thanks to he and Daniel, had brought her back from the two most traumatic experiences of her life, the deaths of Doyle and Buffy.
"Ever thought that maybe she's not as strong as everyone thinks?" Jack retorted. He stood his ground, staring the vampire directly in the eye. Both were six foot two and both imposing figures, neither were willing to back down.
Angel half scoffed at the suggestion. Jessica was the second strongest woman he knew, only marginally weaker than Buffy. It was almost preposterous to even contemplate. Jessica had been doing her job for eight years, she could take care of herself.
"Maybe you don't know her that well," Angel suggested, or rather antagonised.
Jack's features hardened, and he pursed his lips together in an attempt to stop himself from saying something he might latter regret.
"Maybe you don't know her as well as you think you do," Jack retorted.
Angel stopped himself from biting at this blatant goading.
"I know her pretty well," Jack said in a more even tone, getting his temper under control.
"She won't admit to it, but sometimes she does need a lilt looking after,"
Angel was taken aback slightly by the last statement. He hadn't expected the colonel to say anything like that. And it made him wonder what kind of relationship Jack had with Jessica if he was being this protective, or was the word possessive?
Angel had no response to this. What could he say? A complete stranger claimed to know his best friend better than he did, and at the moment, the claim seemed to be true.
Jessica stepped out of the bathroom, and looked up at the two men stood in the centre of the living room. She eyed them suspiciously.
"You two playing nice?" she asked as she stood between them, a pre-emptive move, to stop any impending fight.
Angel finally took his eyes of Jack long enough to read the expression on Jessica's face. There was no doubt in his mind that it meant no messing.
Angel turned the axe in his hands and silently left Gunn's apartment/
Jessica watched him leave her sight before turning back to Jack.
"Sorry, Angel can be a little over protective," she reasoned as she looked up at the colonel.
Jack looked back down at her and thought about her words for a minuet. At that moment, she couldn't be further from the truth. He smiled sweetly at her and made his way to the front door.
"I'm gonna get my side arm from the truck," he said as he walked through the door which had been left open by Angel. "I'll meet you downstairs,"
Jessica watched him leave, a little perplexed as to his change of attitude. She looked around the room for a moment, trying to work out whether she was the only one left in the apartment.
"We're off," she called out, not sure if she were talking to herself. Thankfully she wasn't.
"As much as I'd like to go with," came Lorne's voice from the kitchen. "I don't really fancy facing almost certain death," he said standing in the doorway.
Jessica shook her head. "No, you don't' get out of it that easily," she said moving to where her was stood. She took him by the arm and led him towards the door.
"You know," Lorne began as he reluctantly made his way out of Gunn and Fred's home. "It wasn't Angel who was being protective,"
Jessica glanced up at the demon for a second. She hadn't expected that.
Disclaimer: While the story is completely original, the characters, apart from Jessica
Pearce, belong to Twentieth Century Fox and MGM. I do not own them,
although I wish I did, and I am just borrowing them, and I am not making
any money from this.