Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate, Twilight, Buffy, or any of the other fandoms mentioned in this fic.
Jack O'Neill—which is how he thinks of himself and will always think of himself, whatever his phony birth certificate might say—spends two months at Cheyenne Mountain High learning how to walk and talk like a modern day teenager. He uses part of his monthly stipend—some of which is paid to him by the Air Force, which can't acknowledge his existence and can't deny that he's an American hero, and some of which he siphons from the Original's bank account—to buy himself a decent used Honda and some clothes. (He can't get a driver's license because his birth certificate says that he's too young, but he's a skilled driver and always wears a baseball cap when he drives so his face is somewhat concealed.)
He studies his fellow students the same way he once studied the Goa'uld. He notes the popular kids, with their expensive clothes, their confident attitudes (no teenager is as confident as they appear, he thinks), their good looks. Ninety percent of being the alpha dog in any situation, Jack knows, is acting like you're the alpha dog. Then there's the jocks, the nerds, the band kids, the rebels. The teacher's pets, the class clowns, the bullies, the underdogs, the prom queens, the suicidal.
And there's Jack.
By the end of those two months no one at the school knows anything about him and he knows enough to pretend to be any one of them. So he packs up his meager belongings, drives by Carter's and Daniel's houses just to make sure they're still alive, then heads past the city limits and watches Cheyenne Mountain recede in his rearview mirror.
It takes him four months to find a place to call home. He meanders from one end of the United States to the other looking for the perfect spot. He spends a week in Smallville, Kansas, and befriends a boy named Clark. It takes him only three days, though, to realize that Clark's transparent lies (how he's avoided being caught, especially by the very intelligent Lex Luthor, Jack doesn't know) are going to ruin the lives of everyone who lets him into their hearts, and so he leaves. In Arcadia, Vermont, he briefly joins the circle of friends surrounding a strange girl named Joan. Then he meets her younger brother, who looks so much like Charlie that Jack can't bear it and has to go. In Roswell, strange things happen (no surprise there), and it's only Thor's timely intervention that keeps Jack's cover from being blown.
In Sunnydale, California, Buffy Summers saves Jack from a vampire, of all things, and for the first time Jack hears the word "destiny" and does not scoff. Here, he thinks, he could be of real use—but then he meets the rest of the so-called Scoobies and he knows, with grim certainty, that he does not have the heart to stay here and watch teenagers risk their lives against a vicious, mindless evil.
In Neptune, California, Jack saves the life of a girl named Veronica, who is much too smart for her own good, and he would stay and be her friend except that she reminds him too much of Carter. (She might get herself killed with her nosiness, but he doesn't think so—not as long as she's got that dog and that Taser looking out for her.)
He goes due north from Neptune and that's how he finds himself in Forks. Forks, Washington, is a tiny town with one gas station and perpetually gray skies. It's perfect.
Calling himself Mike Newton—a name from one of the fake I.D.s the Original has tucked away, so that if the SGC ever needs to find him (when they realize that he's a valuable resource they carelessly tossed away and decide they want him back) they can—he rents an apartment in a house belonging to a kind old lady who tuts and fusses over him when he explains that he's an emancipated minor. He chose the house because it's close to the woods, isolated. It's going to take a lot of work to train this young body to have the strength and reflexes he still instinctively thinks he has, and the forest is the best place for that.
Forks High is pretty much what he expected. He's chosen his persona carefully. Mike is gregarious but not a leader. Intelligent, but not an ambitious student. Girl crazy to the point that the girls he's interested in aren't interested in him. He finds a group of friends and fits himself neatly into the empty niche in their little circle, so smoothly that they almost forget that they barely know him.
It all goes so well that Jack can't help but congratulate himself on his success. And then, several days after Jack's arrival, the Cullens return from a "family camping trip."
It doesn't take much subterfuge to find out all that his friends know about the Cullens. The kids are all orphans, adopted by Dr. Cullen, who runs a local practice. Their family is immensely wealthy, with fancy cars and a huge house somewhere in the forest. They keep themselves to themselves, rarely interacting with their fellow students.
There's something about them that sets Jack's teeth on edge. Partly it's that they don't fit in with any of the high school cliques he's come to recognize, and he'd thought he'd learned them all. And partly it's that the youngest boy, Edward—who is still physically older than Jack, damn it—brushes past him in the halls one day and then wheels about to stare at Jack as if he's never seen anything like him before.
Still. The Cullens are a mystery, but they pose no obvious threat and so Jack is content to let the mystery lie for the moment. He has other things to focus on.
He spends his afternoons building an obstacle course in the forest. He designs it to be as grueling as possible—impossibly difficult for a normal teenager—and then spends hours every day drilling himself. He practices his marksmanship as well, though that's suffered less than the rest of his skills. He can still hit a bulls eye on a distant target every time. It would be better if he had someone to spar with (he often thinks of Teal'c and wonders if he'll ever see his warrior brother again), but he makes do with what he has.
He gets better and better at the obstacle course as the months pass, and whenever it starts to feel too easy he adds a new trap to make it more difficult. He starts training in the mornings before class as well, knowing that he's risking injury from pushing himself too hard but unable to stop. One morning, on a day when the clouds are somewhat thinner than usual, he tries to jump from the top of a climbing wall to catch a hanging rope and his grip slips. He hits the ground hard on his back, his breath escaping him with a whoosh, and it isn't until he painfully pushes himself to his feet that he realizes he's sliced open his hand, probably catching it on a sharp branch as he fell.
It's not quite bad enough to need stitches, so he goes back to the apartment, cleans it, wraps his hand, and wishes for a beer. It's his right hand, which would be a real problem if he weren't ambidextrous (a skill he never told even his team about, since it wasn't relevant to the work they did).
He has pre-calculus with Edward Cullen, who sits on the other side of the classroom, four desks from Jack. Jack never pays attention in class—whatever Carter might think, Jack can do pre-calculus and any other high school work in his sleep—and he can't help but be aware of the Cullen boy's eyes on him.
Eventually Cullen asks permission to use the hall pass and the teacher grants it. As he passes Jack, his nostrils flare, ever so slightly, and Jack knows that something is very, very wrong. Cullen hurries out the door and before it finishes closing behind him Jack has pulled the bandage off his hand and flexed his palm, deliberately reopening the wound.
He hurries to the teacher's desk and says, "Mrs. Simpson, I need to go to the nurse," waving his bleeding hand in her face.
She gasps—it's a pretty ugly cut, and in hindsight he probably should have gotten it stitched up—and shoos him toward the door. He doesn't waste time but jogs out, looking for Cullen. He catches sight of the other boy leaving the building and quickens his pace until he's running. He bursts out the doors and finds Cullen standing with his back to the door, his body frighteningly still except for a faint tremor that wracks him every few seconds.
Is he a drug addict, Jack wonders. He's seen behavior like this before, but he would have thought he'd have seen other signs in the boy before this.
"Hey, are you okay?" Jack asks, taking a cautious step forward.
Cullen whirls around, his lip curled, and stares at Jack with wild eyes, his nostrils flaring again—this time quite obviously. He calms himself with visible effort and says, "I'm…sorry. I didn't hear you coming."
Jack had made a loud racket with the doors, so he's not sure how Cullen could have missed him. "You look like you need help. Do you want me to call someone?"
Cullen shakes his head. Jack realizes that the boy's eyes are firmly latched onto Jack's sluggishly bleeding hand. So. It is what he thought.
"No," Cullen says, swallowing. "No, I'm fine." He takes a step backward—a step that Jack knows, later, he would never have taken if he wasn't dazed by the smell of blood—and steps into a ray of sunlight.
And glitters. It takes him less than a moment to realize that he's just exposed himself, and his eyes widen in horror.
Jack gapes. Blinks. In the fraction of a second it takes for his eyes to close and open again, Edward Cullen disappears.
Later that day, Jack puts in a call to Sunnydale. First he reaches Buffy, who's both surprised and pleased to hear from him and completely perplexed by his description of Cullen. She hands him off to the librarian, Mr. Giles, who tries to convince Jack to keep his nose out of supernatural business, then, when that fails, reluctantly admits that the description sounds a great deal like an unusual breed of vampire known to inhabit cooler climates.
Vampire. The word sends chills down Jack's spine. It was bad enough in Sunnydale, where the monsters roam the night, but to know that in Forks they actually go to school, surrounded by their prey…
Well. There's a reason he took a few extra goodies with him when he left the SGC.
He starts carrying a zat with him everywhere he goes, including in his backpack. Bringing a gun of any kind into a school makes him feel like the lowest of the low, but at least one shot of a zat won't kill. He's never met a creature that can survive two shots from a zat, though, and he's betting it'll take down even a sparkling vampire. Anyway, if two shots don't do the trick, the third shot will vaporize its target—and nothing can survive that.
He spends a few weeks trying unsuccessfully to get Cullen alone. The Cullen clan seems to have closed ranks, traveling in a pack that makes the other students shrink away in instinctive, primal fear. Ultimately it turns out that he needn't have bothered trying. Cullen comes to him.
Jack is halfway through his obstacle course when he gets the sense that he's not alone. He somersaults down from the monkey bars to land on his feet, his knees bent, and gazes through hooded eyes at Edward Cullen. Cullen stares back, his own eyes a peculiar shade of gold. Looking Cullen in the eyes for the first time, Jack feels a jolt of familiarity.
He knows the bitterness in those eyes. It's the bitterness of an old spirit trapped in a young body.
"What are you?" Cullen demands.
There's no way of knowing how long he's been watching Jack. "You took the words right out of my mouth," Jack replies.
Cullen blurs forward a few steps, making Jack twitch. "You already know."
Jack's hand inches behind his back, brushing against the zat tucked into his waistband. "Vampire," he spits out.
"I don't hurt people," Cullen says, though he can't help but flinch at Jack's expression. "None of my family does."
"Oh, you're good vampires, are you?" Jack's hand closes on the grip of the zat.
"Check the newspaper," Cullen insists. "No strange disappearances in the area. No violence in Forks."
He sounds earnest, but Jack knows the vampire might easily be over a hundred years old. He's plenty old enough to know how to lie, and lie well. "With your speed you could go to Montana to feed and still make it back in time for school," Jack points out.
Cullen nods slowly. "How's this, then? If I were as bad as you think, you'd already be dead."
Jack's lip curls.
"I'm not the only one who isn't what he appears to be," Cullen points out. "I can't hear your thoughts. Not a whisper."
Read thoughts? Giles hadn't mentioned anything about that! Jack doesn't know if Cullen can't hear his thoughts because he is a botched clone or because he, Jack O'Neill, has some sort of natural resistance. Hell, any one of his off-world experiences could account for it, not that he'd say as much to Cullen.
"If you could hear what I was thinking," Jack says, knowing that he's playing with fire, "you'd know that I don't trust you, not a bit. And especially not in a school full of children."
He anticipates what Cullen will do next, which is the only reason he's able to pull out the zat and get it in front of his body before Cullen is right in front of him, his hand around Jack's throat. The vampire is surprisingly controlled—though his grip is threatening, it's not tight enough to be painful, not yet.
"I could kill you now," Cullen says. "If I wanted to."
Jack smiles and grinds the zat into the vampire's stomach, wondering if the monster can feel it through that impermeable skin of his. "You'd die too."
"I don't think so."
"Oh, trust me," Jack says airily. "You've never seen a gun like this before. And I can squeeze off a shot before you kill me, however fast you might be."
There's a flicker of doubt in Cullen's eyes. After a long moment of hesitation he lets go and steps back. "I'm done killing people," he says. "My family and I, we just want to be left in peace."
This time, Jack believes him.
"Truce, then," Jack says, still not lowering the zat. "I don't hunt you, you and your family don't hunt me or anyone else."
Cullen nods. "I still want to know what you are," he says, letting his eyes wander over Jack's homemade obstacle course. "You're not a normal teenager."
Jack shrugs. "I'm exactly as normal a teenager as you are, Edward."
And though the vampire is obviously dissatisfied with his answer, Jack will say no more.
After they part ways a short while later Jack decides that it's time to leave Forks. The little town is almost but not quite perfect for his needs, and if not for its vampire infestation he thinks he could have waited out the years until this body turned eighteen here and it wouldn't have been too much of a hardship, after which he would have presented himself at the SGC, full-grown and ready to lead an SG team. He can still do the last part, at least. He'll go to school tomorrow to say goodbye to his friends and then he'll be on his way. He hears that Stars Hollow, Connecticut—a town he visited briefly in his childhood—is nice this time of year.
He drives to school the next day with the trunk of his car filled with all the stuff he's accumulated over the past year—clothes, weapons, a computer, some other gadgets—ready to leave as soon as the school day is over.
Then he meets Bella Swan.
Bella is new in town, he's told. She's pale, with an air of fragility. Smart, too. He wouldn't take much notice of her, except that he notices Edward Cullen taking notice.
He decides to stay an extra day, to make sure that Cullen isn't planning to break their truce already.
That extra day turns into an extra week turns into an extra month. By then it's clear to Jack that the vampire is smitten with Bella—as are many of the boys in their class, and as Jack pretends to be because that's what's expected of him—and he thinks that he should leave. Trust Cullen not to hurt her, put his foot to the pedal, and go.
He unpacks his trunk, instead.
Bella isn't like Buffy Summers or Veronica Mars. She's not the heroic type, she isn't strong, and it's obvious she needs protecting from herself as much as from Cullen. Jack can do that.
He's got time to spare, after all.