New Fic: Father of Mine #2: A Reasonable Explanation, Please? (SG-1/Buffy)
- A REASONABLE EXPLANATION, PLEASE?
DANIELLE FRANCES DUCREST
Part Two of 'Father of Mine', nearly immediate sequel to 'The Oddness of Saturday'.
Summary: Xander offers proof.
I plopped down on the couch. Opposite me was Xander Harris, who'd settled himself down in a chair. I said, "Okay. Let's go over this again. You're my what, now?"
You know the strangest thing about all this was? It wasn't the fact that this guy was claiming to be my father. It wasn't that he'd decided to tell me this on the oddest day of my life. The strangest thing about this was that I'd just finished watching The Empire Strikes Back with Daniel, Carter and Teal'c. The one where Darth Vader tells Luke he's his father. And, right after the movie ended, this guy comes to my door and tells me he's my father. It seemed a little weird. Just as little.
Daniel sat next to me on the couch. Carter sat in the recliner, and standing close to the door was Teal'c. They looked from me to the kid and back, questions in their eyes. I shrugged and gestured to Harris, indicating that it was his move.
Harris glanced around the room. "Could we maybe talk privately?"
"Uh no." I wanted SG-1 to hear this to make sure I wasn't going crazy. Maybe the events of the day and the movie had gotten to me, and this was all just a hallucination.
"Okay. Like I said, I think I'm your father."
"What?" Carter and Daniel both exclaimed. They exchanged a bewildered glance before directing the look at me.
I threw up my hands as if to say, 'Don't look at me!'
In reply, they turned the look on Harris.
"How old are you, Xander Harris?" Teal'c asked. Even he sounded skeptical. I couldn't blame him. Even after everything we've been through, this was a little much.
Harris sighed. "I'm twenty-four."
Well, there you go. We'd just thrown his whole story out of proportion. "Im older," I said smugly.
The look in his eye turned sad now. "Yeah, I know."
I blinked, taken aback. The look was a familiar one. It spoke of pain, the kind people felt when they've lost someone close to them. I saw it in the mirror every time I thought of Charlie. The kid had obviously lost someone, even if it wasn't me.
"How can you be Jack's father, then?" Daniel asked, asking the question on everyone's mind.
"Time travel." He shrugged as if to say, 'How else?'
"Time travel," Carter repeated, giving me a skeptical look. I returned it.
Daniel, meanwhile, looked like he was seriously considering it. I gave him a disbelieving look that he didn't see 'cause he was staring out into space. "Daniel?" I asked.
He blinked back to reality and looked at me, shrugging. "It could be true, Jack."
Oh, for crying out loud! "Oh, come on, Danny. Some twenty-four year-old kid comes here and claims to by my father, and you fall for it?" Daniel wasn't supposed to be this gullible anymore. Nearly ten years traveling through the Stargate had toughened him up, or so I'd thought.
"What proof have you brought to demonstrate this relationship, Xander Harris?" Teal'c asked, sizing up Harris as if he were a bug. Go, Teal'c! Good to see someone else was thinking rationally.
Harris reached into his jacket and pulled out a folder. "This is part of it."
He held the folder out to me and I took it. I flipped it open and stared.
Daniel peered over my arm. "Who is that?"
I swallowed in a dry throat. "My mother." A picture of my mother at age twenty-two, to be exact, and not long before she became pregnant with me, if her flat stomach was any clue. She smiled up at me. Standing behind her with his arms wrapped around her waist was none other than Xander Harris, in all his black eye patch glory.
My mother had been dead for forty years. There was no way Harris could have known her. Which meant the pictures were forged. I turned furious eyes on Harris, but before I could bite off a word, he said, "There's more."
His eye pleaded with me for several long moments. Finally, I scowled. "Fine." I turned back to the fake photos. No, that wasn't the only one. There were a few others. Every single one was a color photo and was developed recently, judging by the dates printed on the backs. Every single color photo depicted my mother and Harris talking, laughing, hugging or holding each other, obviously very happy.
It was my mother. I knew that without reservation. I could remember that dimpled smile well enough, and I'd seen enough pictures of her at this age to know what she looked like. But I knew this couldn't be my mother. These pictures were not only in color, but they were taken in modern times. One picture showed an Outback Steakhouse in the background, and another featured a sign with movie titles that were in theatres this week. They also depicted the imposter posing as my mother in modern clothes.
"So you're good at Photoshop," I said, barely holding in my anger. "No takers."
"Jack," Daniel said, drawing my attention back to the folder. He pointed at a piece of paper poking out from underneath the photos.
I pulled it out and unfolded it. It was a letter, written in my mother's handwriting. Unlike the photos, the letter was weathered and yellowed, showing its age.
"She wrote you that, after she went back," said Harris. "She left it in a safe for me to get before I came here to talk to you. She knew you'd have trouble accepting."
My grip tightened on the piece of paper. A corner of my mind wondered why I was even thinking of reading it. Hadn't I only ten minutes ago been on the verge of throwing this man out of my house? Still, the seeds of doubt had planted themselves. I knew just as well as Daniel that time travel was possible, but it didn't seem possible that something like this had actually happened.
There was only one way to find out, now. My only option was to read the letter.
Daniel lifted the photos from my lap and passed them on to Carter and Teal'c, asking them for their opinions. I cleared my throat and began to read quietly.
Hello, son. If you're reading this, it means something has happened to me, and I'm not there to help Alex tell you your true heritage. I call him Alex even though everyone else calls him Xander, because I think Alex suits him no matter what he believes. I know it'll be hard to accept, Jack, especially considering your age differences, but what he tells you is the truth. He really is your biological father. Mitchell O'Neill may have raised you, but Alex is your true father.
Remember when Grandpa O'Neill got cancer when you were six, and you had a nightmare about him dying before he could take you fishing? I found you in your room, crying. You told me that you didn't want him to die, and that you hoped neither Mitchell nor you got cancer because you thought it was awful and made all your hair fall out. Well, it may be a small consolation, but you don't have to worry about getting cancer anymore. Neither my family nor Xander's have had to worry about that. Kidney problems and liver disease, meanwhile, are a whole different story //
I swallowed. As tightlipped as I was about my private life, no one alive knew about the night I'd told my mother about my fears concerning Grandpa O'Neill's death. The letter went on for several pages, recalling anecdotes from the past that no one could possibly know about but Kathleen O'Neill or me.
I finally looked up from the letter after what must have been half an hour. Daniel, Carter, Teal'c, and Harris were all in deep discussion over the photos and what the other proof could be that Harris had brought with him.
"How?" I asked. All conversation halted, and everyone turned to me. I met Harris' eye. No, I still didn't believe this man was my father, but I did believe that my mother wrote this letter. She could have been coerced into writing it. I wanted to find out.
Harris began to smile but quickly stopped. "Time travel, like I said." He paused and licked his lips as his eye slid from one face to another before settling back on mine. "Bottom line: magic is real. So are vampires, demons, witches, werewolves, you name it, I'll tell you if it's real or not."
"Leprechauns?" I inquired, deadpan.
His lips curled up a little. "Depends on who you ask. Personally, I think there's gotta be a few around somewhere or there wouldn't be so many stories about them, you know?"
I shook my head. This guy was nuts. Somehow, however, he'd gotten a hold of a letter from my mother. "So, magic is real," I said, my tone conveying just the right amount of disbelief and sarcasm. "What does that have to do with this?" I waved at the photos and the letter.
Harris took a deep breath. "I'm getting to that. There are people who fight demons and vampires. Some of them are ordinary humans. Others are souled vampires with intense crushes on hair gel. But, the primary defense against the demons is the Slayer, one girl chosen and gifted with super strength and speed healing and a bunch of other stuff to fight the demons, the vampires and the forces of darkness. One girl dies, the next is called. For thousands of years, there has been the Slayer. Before two years ago, there was only one at a time, and occasionally two. Nowadays, however, there are over a hundred Slayers worldwide, but that's a whole other story that I can tell you about some other time if you're interested."
"In 1952, the Slayer of the year was Heidi Pratt of Minnesota. Your grandfather, Steven Dresden, was her Watcher. Watchers train Slayers and provide them with the information they need to fight the bad guys. Steven and Kathleen often went with Heidi on stakeouts or patrols."
"'Stakeouts or patrols'?" I questioned, raising an eyebrow in classic Teal'c-style. Glancing at the big guy, I saw that he, too, had an eyebrow raised.
"Slayers have to patrol the graveyards regularly in case there are any newly-risen vamps in need of a good staking."
I nodded. "Of course." I waved a hand, grandly. "Please, continue."
Harris sighed. He looked a little irritated. Good. I'd hate to think he wasn't getting the hint that we weren't buying it. Still, he plowed on. Gotta give him points for consistency.
"One night, they got in a really intense fight with this warlock-"
"Warlock?" Daniel repeated, eyes wide in disbelief.
"Yep," replied Harris. "Anyway, the warlock was after the Slayer 'cause he was an evil warlock and that's what evil warlocks do. So they were fighting him, and the warlock threw this spell at Heidi, only she was able to duck just in time. The spell hit the wall and ricocheted onto Kathleen. Only 'cause it wasn't meant for her, since it had been meant for someone with the mark of a Slayer, it didn't work exactly right. The spell was meant to displace Heidi a hundred years into the future on some deserted island in the Pacific. Instead, it sent Kathleen a little under fifty-four years into the future and deposited her in Cleveland, where the modern-day Slayer HQ can be found."
"Oh, come on!" Carter burst. All eyes turned to her. "Magic doesnt exist. Neither do vampires or demons or Slayers! The idea is ludicrous!"
"I must concur," said Teal'c. "In all the places I have been, I have never seen the creatures that Xander Harris speaks of. However, it is possible that there is something posing as these vampires and demons."
I nodded. Teal'c's explanation made a whole lot more sense. Someone or something could be posing as a vampire or demon or whatever. After all, the Goa'uld posed as gods, and billions of people spread throughout the universe believed them.
"Believe me, there is no posing involved," Harris said, bitterly. "Vampires and demons are real. A real, factual vampire turned my best friend into a vampire. I staked him. I watched him crumble to dust right in front of my eyes. You can't tell me that none of that was real."
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Look, I'm not explaining this very well. We had a system worked out for this - telling people about the assorted nasties - and it looks like I've forgotten to use it. It hasn't been a good week. It's been six days since I had to say goodbye to Kathleen and we sent her back to her time, and five days ago I found out I had a son who was over twice my age. I hopped the first plane here as soon as we found out where I could find him. I've only been in town for a few hours."
He met my eyes. "Look. I know you don't believe me, but I'm telling the truth. I've got some friends coming into Colorado Springs on Monday that can help corroborate my story. Could you please meet with them?"
"I'll think about it," I said. "Got a number I can call?"
He pulled a card out of his wallet and handed it to me. On one side were an address and phone number for a place in Cleveland. Hand written on the back was another number, this one for a cell phone.
Harris stood up. "I'll submit to any test you want to run," he promised. "Just, don't dismiss this, okay?"
I only raised my eyebrows.
"Right," he said. "I'll just go now."
Teal'c escorted him to the door. Once the Jaffa returned to the living room, I leaned back in my seat and looked at my team. "So, what do you guys think?"
"Well, he seems to believe what he's saying," Daniel offered.
"Yeah." I frowned down at the letter I still held. "This letter was written by my mother."
"Are you sure, sir?" Carter asked.
I nodded. "Yeah. I'm sure. Which leaves one question: how could it? Which Harris so did not answer."
"Alien technology?" Daniel shrugged. "What else could it be, anyway? We know magic doesnt exist, and the only means of time travel we've come across have been through alien artifacts."
"But what about vampires and demons?" Carter asked him. "Why tell us such a ridiculous story?"
"Because it's a ridiculous claim?" I offered. I had no idea what Harris could be after. Why had he bothered telling us all that? Was it a distraction? A distraction from what?
None of it made any sense. Not the pictures, not the letter, not the explanation. I collected the photos and the letter and placed them back into the folder. I handed it to Carter along with the business card. "I want to know everything you can find on Harris, this address, the photos, everything. We don't know what Harris wants; I want to find out."
"Yes, sir," Carter said, standing and heading for the door.
"I will assist you, Colonel Carter," Teal'c volunteered before following her outside.
"So," Daniel said after they'd left. "What are we going to do? What are you going to do?"
I got to my feet. What was I going to do? "I'm going to look in the attic."
"The attic?" repeated Daniel, puzzled. "Why the attic?"
"I'm going to check a few things of my mom's. Just in case."
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