Disclaimer update: Assorted fandoms are mentioned by characters in this chapter. None of which are mine.
Author's Note: Last chapter of this story. But not the last story in the series with these characters. Joyce Summers, Samantha Carter, Romana, and Idris will meet up again for further adventures. Someday.
Word Count: 3,907 (Part 3 of 3).
This chapter was posted for the 6th International Day of Femslash on July 20th, 2013. (Coming full circle with chapter 1.)
"We're here," Romana said, flipping several switches to put her TARDIS in standby, something she'd begun doing after the third time Idris had left her stranded in the middle of a revolution on some backwater planet. Somewhen in their travels together, Idris had latched onto the idea that the purpose of a Time Lord was to rescue lower life forms from themselves. Romana suspected it was Samantha's influence during their earlier travels, though she would never tell her that.
"Joyce, you'll probably want to change back to your other form before you go," Romana said. "Humans tend to react strangely to beings who don't look the same."
"We are a xenophobic race, aren't we," Sam said, shaking her head. "You'll need some different clothes," she added.
Joyce looked down at her leather strap and buckle covered outfit. "Yes. I like it but I don't think it fits my image."
"MILF?" Sam said, dodging Joyce's hand with a laugh.
"Professional, but fashionable businesswoman," Joyce said haughtily, only holding her poker face for a minute before giggling.
"Ladies, we can't dawdle. Someone will notice Idris eventually," Romana said. She was going to miss these two women, she thought. She'd forgotten how much fun they were to have around. "Joyce?"
"Idris made you something," Romana said, pulling a small box out of a pocket.
"For me?" Joyce said, taking the box. "Thank you Idris," she said, looking towards the center of the console. "What is it?"
"Open it and see," Romana said.
Nodding, Joyce opened the box. Nestled inside was a familiar looking ring. "Oh my! Where did she get this? It looks just like the one I gave Buffy." She looked closer. "It even has the same writing on it."
"May I?" Sam asked, holding out a hand.
Joyce looked at Romana, who shrugged, and then Sam. "Yes." She carefully placed the ring in Sam's palm.
"Heavy, for its size," Sam said. "Feels like naqhadah. What's the writing say?" She squinted, trying to read it.
"I've never been able to read it," Joyce said. Taking the ring back, she ran a finger lightly over the writing. "I don't think it actually says anything," she said. "It's just a bunch of letters and numbers. Shouldn't Idris's translation circuit let us read it?"
"Yes," Romana said, frowning. They didn't need to know that Idris could be selective about what she translated for her passengers.
"Let's get you changed," Sam told Joyce, holding out her hand. "I'm sure Romana has places to be."
Nodding, Joyce put the ring on her left ring finger, and took Sam's hand in her other, allowing herself to be pulled out of the room.
Romana watched them go for a moment before turning to the console. "Something you need to tell me, Idris?" she asked.
A large ring covered in symbols appeared, projected holographically in front of her, next to a string of similar symbols.
"Co-ordinates? To Joyce's ancestral home?" Romana said, taking an educated guess. A brief feeling of approval flooded Romana's mind. "And you don't think they should know that yet?" Of course not, Romana thought grumpily. There were times when she suspected that the Time Lords of this dimension died out due to sheer annoyance at the antics of their TARDIS's, which, if Idris was a prime example, seemed to have their own agenda.
"Can you find something for me to wear while I change?" Joyce asked, closing the door to their future bedroom.
"As you wish," Sam said, with a straight face, though the twinkle in her eyes gave Joyce a warm feeling in her chest.
"You'll need to change also," Joyce said, starting to unbuckle her top.
"Oh?" Sam said, looking over from the large closet.
"If I'm going to change, so are you, my dear," Joyce said, pulling off her dress. Shaking it, the leather and buckles rattling, she folded it and placed it on the bed. Sitting down on the bed she started to unlace the soft leather boots she was wearing. "Something more appropriate."
"What's wrong with this?" Sam asked, patting her jeans for emphasis.
"Did you bring any jeans with you?" Joyce asked.
"No, it was a work trip," Sam said, clearly puzzled.
"And the people you came with on this trip?" Joyce asked, pulling off her boots and laying them on top of the dress. "Would they notice?"
"My team," Sam said. "Maybe?"
"They're men," Joyce said. "Anything that makes you look sexier than they're expecting, they'll notice. Like those jeans."
"You think these jeans make me look sexy?" Sam asked, grinning. Walking over to the bed she put a long skirt and peasant blouse down next to Joyce, before leaning down to softly kiss her.
"On you they are," Joyce said, several minutes later when they came up for air. "I'll need a different bra," she added, reaching up to unhook the one she was wearing. "This won't fit in a minute."
"Really?" Sam asked, stepping in front of her. "Need help?" she asked, holding out a hand. "Or music?"
"Changing? No," Joyce said, laughing before draping her bra across Sam's wrist. "Music? Maybe next time, if you're good. You aren't going to turn around, are you," she said.
"If you really want me to, I will," Sam said. Stepping back, she pulled over one of the chairs, straddling it backwards, facing her. "Though, we've already seen each other dressed in less. Much less."
"Yes, we've definitely gone beyond modesty, at this point," Joyce said, forcing herself to keep her arms from covering her chest, playing with the ring. "I don't usually do this with an audience."
"I'm sure we can find something for some stress relief."
"You do, do you?" Joyce said, raising an eyebrow. "Do we have time for your stress relief method?"
Sam grimaced. "Not if we do it right."
Joyce shook her head. "Some other time then," she said, standing up to remove her panties, leaving herself completely nude, except for the ring. "Like what you see?" she asked, twirling around. Sam's expression was answer enough.
"How often do you change form?" Sam asked after taking several deep breaths, propping her chin on her hands.
"Almost never," Joyce said, looking down at herself, wondering what Sam was really seeing, herself or her physical features. Next to Sam she felt so plain. "There was no reason to. Hank had no idea."
"Ex-husband," Joyce said. "I didn't mention him?"
"Not by name," Sam said.
"He occasionally drops in to see the girls," Joyce told her. "It wasn't a bad divorce, as such things go," she added. "It wasn't 'War of the Roses' bad anyway."
"Ah." Sam nodded. "When was the last time you changed?"
"November," Joyce said. "Buffy accidentally changed on Halloween, I'm not sure how. I changed to show her it wasn't a big deal. She was babbling something about elves and magic. And fanboys."
"You do look faintly elvish," Sam said. "Too dainty to be a Vulcan."
"Really?" Joyce frowned. "I wasn't much for fantasy growing up. And Kirk was annoying."
"He always seemed to get the girl," Sam said. "I bet Spock was his wingman when they went bar hopping in all of those alien ports. Spock did the stoic thing to draw them in, and Kirk closed the deal."
"You could pull that off," Joyce said, winking. "You've got some of that cockiness Kirk had. I bet you drown in groupies when you travel."
"No, not really," Sam said, frowning. "They usually fall for Daniel. He's got that innocent look down to a science."
"I'd be your wingman," Joyce said, smirking, "though I'd rather keep you to myself. I wonder if Spock was ever jealous?"
"Of Kirk's women? Or of Kirk?" Sam asked.
"Does it matter?" Joyce said. "He'd probably break Kirk."
"You've obviously thought about that a lot," Sam said, laughing.
"No," Joyce said, giggling. "Just a conversation I overheard once."
"How do you start?" Sam asked, after shaking her head in amusement, trying to get them back on track. "In the cell you seemed to meditate for a few minutes and then it just happened."
"The ring, or those metal cuffs, does make it much easier," Joyce said. "Without that metal, it can take a while if I'm out of practice. Almost half an hour or so, depending on how relaxed I am."
"You mean the naqhadah," Sam said. At Joyce's blank look, she said, "That's what the metal is called."
"Right," Joyce murmured. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on how she wanted to look. She could feel that tingling along her skin and through her bones that signaled the change was in progress.
"Wow!" Sam breathed. "That's amazing."
Opening her eyes, Joyce looked around the room and sighed. It seemed quite a bit duller than it had before she'd closed her eyes.
"Have you ever watched this happening?" Sam asked. "It was almost like magic."
"Yes?" Joyce said, trying to visualize it from Sam's perspective. It had been relatively pain free this time. Her bones didn't ache like they usually did after the change. But other than that, it was the same as always, if a little quicker.
"It wasn't a sudden change," Sam said. "And not loud and gory, like werewolves when they change in horror movies. It was more like you expanded to fill your larger shape. I wonder were it all goes when you change in the other direction?"
"No idea," Joyce said, picking up the blouse. "I've never lost anything doing this. It's something genetic."
"Maybe it doesn't go anywhere," Sam murmured. "We didn't check to see if you lost any mass. You do look younger."
"Younger?" Joyce stepped around Sam to get to the dresser. Digging through one of the drawers, she found a bra that looked like it would fit well enough for now. Digging in another drawer, she managed to find plain panties, buried at the bottom of assorted styles of things she hadn't worn in years. Shaking her head at her future self, she quickly slipped them on. Turn back around, she pulled on the blouse. It was obviously meant for someone several sizes larger, like Sam.
"Younger? Joyce repeated, after zipping up the skirt. "Early thirties, instead of late thirties, more or less," Sam said. "Not a huge change."
"Not really seeing it," Joyce murmured, looking in the mirror on the dressing table. "Shoes?" she said, hoping for something to protect her feet. The wonderful boots she'd been wearing wouldn't fit.
"Sandals?" Sam asked, holding up a well worn pair.
"Needs must," Joyce said, sighing and taking them from her. "Do you see any kind of bag?"
"I'd like to take these with me," she said, patting the clothes she'd been wearing earlier.
"Maybe," Joyce said, shrugging. She wasn't sure why she wanted to take clothes that only fit when she was changed. It could be years before she did it again.
"A kiss before we go?" Sam said, wrapping her arms around Joyce. "One for the road?"
"We will meet again," Joyce told her. "We haven't done the cliche drunken Vegas marriage yet."
"Plenty of time for that," Sam said, smirking. "I'm sure I can find a reason to be out that way."
"I'd rather not meet at Area 51 any time soon," Joyce said. "I'd want that upper seminar on escaping first."
"No, not that," Sam said. "We'd end up like Thelma and Louise."
"Which one would you be?" Joyce asked, laughing.
"I've always wanted to be Thelma," Sam said. "And you look a bit like Louise. Susan Sarandon could be your older sister. Of the two actresses, Geena Davis gets all the fun roles - pirate, sleeper agent."
"Didn't she sleep with an alien in some movie?" Joyce said, leaning into Sam's hug.
"Yes, in 'Earth Girls are Easy'," Sam said, mock leering down at her. "Though you don't have blue fur."
"And no plans to grow any," Joyce said. "Besides, I'm from Ohio, not outer space."
"You seem more California than Mid-West without the ears," Sam said. "We aren't quite ready to go on another adventure."
"Went to college in LA," Joyce said. "I've lived in the area ever since." Sighing, she pulled Sam down and kissed her. She had no plans to lose track of her companion, Area 51 or not.
"Ah, good, you're ready," Romana said, watching Samantha and Joyce reenter the control room. She said nothing about how long it had taken them. From the happy humming of Idris in the back of her mind she suspected it was one of those human things they didn't talk about.
"You should get going," she said.
"We'll meet again?" Joyce asked.
"Of course, though it's possible it will be backwards," Romana said.
"Backwards?" Sam said.
"It's possible that the next time we meet, will be the first time, for me," Romana said. "My past, your future."
"That will be strange," Joyce said. "Won't that mess up our personal timeline things?"
"It's…" Romana started to say.
"Complicated," Sam finished for her. "I'm assuming that's why you haven't asked us to travel with you, like we seem to have already done. To avoid some kind of time loop?"
"In a manner of speaking," Romana said, frowning at the inadequacy of human speech. "Right now our timelines are crossing at an odd angle. Our third meeting should fix the complications."
"Third time for all of us?" Sam asked.
"Correct," Romana said. "You have a good grasp of the temporal mechanics, for a human."
"Thanks?" Sam said.
"How'd you know where to drop us off?" Joyce asked, poking her head out the door. "And how'd Idris fit in my room?"
"Really?" Sam said, joining her. "You parked in a room smaller than the outside of your TARDIS! How'd you do that?"
"Idris can be exceedingly clever at times," Romana said smugly. "Go along. I'm sure you both have things you must do today."
"Yes! My flight," Joyce said, swing the small knapsack over a shoulder.
"And I should probably get back to my room before someone discovers the mess," Sam said.
"Thanks for the rescue," Joyce said, stopping in the door and giving Romana a quick smile, before poking Sam.
"Right. Thanks for the rescue. A lot less stressful than normal," Sam said, before following Joyce.
Romana stared at the closing doors for several long moments before sighing. "Shall we?" she said to Idris. With a hum of agreement, the TARDIS took off.
"Carter," Colonel O'Neill said laconically, standing in the doorway of Sam's hotel room. "You had a party, and we weren't invited."
"Party, Sir?" Sam asked. She'd just managed to find and put all of Joyce's clothes in her carry-on, glad for once that she packed lightly. She'd mail them to her as soon as she got home, she decided, feeling Joyce's business card in a pocket, with her home address scribbled on the back.
He waved at the mess.
"Ah. I appear to have had visitors while I was at breakfast," she said.
"Hmph," he said. "Must have been some breakfast. Your friend from the bar last night?"
"Joyce? Yes. And no, Daniel, I didn't ask her to sell you that painting. You'll have to do that yourself." Sam shook her head.
"Looks like you got lucky last night," Daniel said, sticking his head in to examine the mess.
"In more ways than one," Jack added, smirking.
Shaking her head, Sam continued gathering together her things. "Unlike some, I don't discuss personal matters in public."
"Jaffa," Teal'c said, seemingly randomly.
"Jaffa what?" Jack said.
"The damage to Samantha Carter's accommodations," he said, "was caused by Jaffa."
"Some secret Jaffa detection method you neglected to tell us about?" Jack asked.
"No," he said laconically, pointing at a mark on the door. "Their Lord's symbol."
"I don't recognize that glyph," Daniel said.
"Arani," Sam said, shaking her head. How she'd thought she'd be able hide the kidnapping from Teal'c she wasn't sure. Probably the adrenaline of successfully escaping? Fortunately, she'd warned Joyce that she might receive a visit from someone bearing official non-disclosure forms, if someone found out about their encounter with a Goa'uld.
"Arani? Hindu?" Daniel asked.
"Yes. Apparently one of Kali's minions attempting to branch out," Sam said, going back to packing.
"Do we know a Kali?" Jack asked, frowning.
"The name is familiar," Daniel said. "A minor System Lord."
"Indeed," Teal'c said.
"So, this Arani and her Jaffa show up, and you were at breakfast with your new friend?" Jack said.
"There might have been a kidnapping and rescue in between the two events," Sam admitted reluctantly, zipping up her carry-on as they watched.
"That's very efficient, even for you, Carter," Jack said. "Usually, your rescues require lots of big science and explosions."
"No explosions this time, sorry sir," Sam said.
"And your lady friend?" Jack said. "Do we need to have chat with her about government secrets and non-discloser forms."
"She might be expecting a visit from Major Davis," Sam said.
"Thinking ahead. Excellent. And your report?"
"Yes, sir," Sam said. "As soon as we get back to the Mountain."
"Good. Good. Do we need a cleanup crew?" Jack said, looking around the room. "The hotel isn't going to be happy. Might bill you extra."
"Just needs a little straightening up," Sam said, nodding. "Sir."
"Good. Wouldn't want to miss our flight because of paperwork," he said.
"We drove," Daniel said, shaking his head. "You wanted to get in some fishing on the way back."
"Right," Jack said. "Hurry up! Chop, Chop! Don't want to miss the boat."
"Yes, Jack," Daniel said, stepping into the room to help.
Pulling into the driveway, Joyce sighed with relief. Her day had started out in a fairly normal fashion. Unpacking shipments from her last trip. Updating the gallery catalog. Paying bills. Nothing overly exciting. But, less than ten minutes after her secretary had left for the day, she'd had a visitor.
Not completely unexpected. Sam had warned her. But she'd still briefly panicked at the possible reasons someone in an Air Force uniform would be in her gallery. Fortunately, it had been the expected visit.
"Ms. Summers?" he'd said, black briefcase in one hand, hat in the other.
"Yes?" she'd said.
"You recently spent some time in the company of a Samantha Carter?" he said.
"There are several things we need to go over," he said.
"We should do this in my office," she'd said. "Major ?"
"Davis, Paul Davis."
It had taken her an hour to go through and sign all of the forms he'd handed her, not wanting to miss a single detail and asking for explanations of some of the more obscure clauses. She wondered if he was the person they sent every time they needed to shock a civilian into submission with bureaucracy, his calm demeanor never changing.
He'd then interrogated her, that was the only way to describe it, about the entire experience with Sam for over an hour, though a few things seemed to have been left out of the list of questions he used. He didn't seem to know that their rescuer had met them before, or that she and Sam had become more than casual acquaintances before being kidnapped.
Something she would have to ask Sam about the next time they talked, she decided. Shaking her head, she slowly got out of her car and tiredly walked up to the front door.
"Mom!" Dawn yelled, intercepting her as she walked in. "Can I have this?" she asked, holding up the dress Joyce had thought she'd carefully buried in the back of her closet.
"I don't think it will fit you, honey," she said, taking the dress and gently guiding her into the living room, where her other daughter, and Willow, were watching television. Dropping her purse onto the coffee table, she plopped down with a tired sigh next to Willow.
"It looks like something Agatha would wear," Dawn said, standing in front of her.
"Agatha?" Joyce looked at Buffy for an explanation.
"It's my fault, Ms. Summers," Willow said, putting a hand on Buffy's mouth to stop her from saying anything. "She saw me reading 'Girl Genius' when you were on your trip."
"Willow had no defense against her," Buffy said, sadly shaking her head, after removing Willow's hand so she could speak.
"And Agatha?" Joyce asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Agatha Heterodyne. She's the main character. Sort of a mad scientist," Willow said.
"Ah," Joyce murmured, wondering who she could ask about this. She didn't want to discourage Dawn from new interests but she really didn't know much about popular science. Maybe Sam? "Not violent?"
Buffy snorted. "Not any more than all those Japanese comics she likes," she said.
"Manga," Willow corrected her before adding, "Unless you're reading Disney or Archie comics, all the good stuff has some violence, or sex, Ms. Summers."
"Okay," Joyce said. "Dawn?"
"Yes, Mom?" Dawn said.
"What's the rule?"
"Before I can read anything new, you have to approve it?" Dawn said. "But Mom!"
"Who's in charge?"
"You are!" both Dawn and Buffy shouted, before bursting into giggles.
Joyce sighed. "Anything else happen today that I should know about?"
"The school didn't burn down," Buffy said.
"Good to know," Joyce said. "Dawn?"
"Got an 'A' on my spelling test," Dawn said smugly. "Buffy got a 'C' on that paper."
"And you opened that package from Colorado," Buffy said.
"Package?" Joyce asked, making a mental note to discuss Buffy's schoolwork with her later in private.
"Why did someone send you clothes?" Dawn asked. "And who's Sam?"
"Someone I met on my trip," Joyce said. "Was there anything else in the package?"
"You mean this?" Buffy said, holding up a large envelope. "This Sam has girly handwriting."
"Samantha," Joyce corrected, snatching it out of her hand.
"New auction buddy?" Buffy asked curiously.
"Auction buddy?" Willow asked, wide eyed.
"You can get better deals if you're part of a team," Buffy said. "At least that's what Mom always says."
"Which is true, to a point," Joyce said, "but no, not an auction buddy."
"You gonna open it?" Buffy asked.
"Later," Joyce said. "It's personal."
"Oh… that kind of 'buddy'," Willow murmured, squeaking at the firm look Joyce gave her.
"What?" Buffy said, looking at the two of them for an explanation.
"Nothing," Willow said. "Grownup stuff. None of our business."
"What are you watching," Joyce asked, hoping to change the subject. She wasn't about to discuss, or confirm, Willow's guess. "That's not English."
"Nope," Buffy said. "That's what the subtitles are for."
"It's for a class," Willow said.
"Ah." Joyce shook her head. "Are you staying for dinner?" she asked Willow.
"Yes," Buffy said for her. "We're meeting up with Xander later."
"It's a school night," Joyce reminded them, before standing up.
"We won't be out late," Buffy said.
"Be back before nine," Joyce said. "Pizza?"
"Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!" Dawn said, jumping up and shouting at the top of her voice. "With fishes! Fishy fishes!"
"Indoor voice, Dawn," Joyce said firmly. "Is that a yes?" she asked when Buffy rolled her eyes at her sister.
"Yes," Buffy said, poking Willow.
"Yes, please, Ms. Summers," Willow quickly added.
Nodding, Joyce left them to their foreign movie and headed upstairs to put on something more comfortable. She had a letter to read and pizza to order.
The End. For Now.