"Women," muttered someone.
Jack glanced at the guy sitting next to him. When you saw a guy hunched over a beer and scowling at the counter, it probably meant woman trouble. Jack took a drink. Woman problems. He'd have guessed it even if he hadn't just heard the guy say it. He glanced over again. Blond, kind of punk-looking, and a leather duster. Definitely not one of the guys from the base off-duty and looking for trouble. Hammond would flip if anyone under his command wore black nail polish. *Especially* if it were one of the guys.
Jack set his bottle down and scowled at the countertop. "Yeah," he said. "I hear you, pal. Women."
"I mean," said the blond guy, turning to face him. "Who knows what they want? Who the bloody hell ever understands a single word outta their mouths?"
He was British. *Definitely* not military, not American at least, and probably not British either. Not with that kind of posture. It was something about Basic the world over--military posture. Jack shrugged. "You got me," he said. "Never understood 'em."
May as well commiserate with *someone*. He didn't want Daniel finding out about how he and Carter felt about each other. Dealing with that much sympathetic scrutiny on every single mission from here on out would mean SG-1 would wind up with a really annoyed CO and a dead archaeologist. Again. Plus there was only so much stoic wisdom a guy could take when he was in a lousy mood, so he wasn't gonna be talking to Teal'c.
"Take my girl," said the guy. "Eternal bliss! That's what I thought we had. Never had a problem with her 'til a couple years ago. Then she tells me I've gone soft." He scowled again. "Soft! Me! William the freaking Bloody gone soft?"
"Bill," said Jack, ignoring the punk nickname. "Nice to meet you." He stuck out his hand. "Jack O'Neill."
"Hey," he said, shaking his hand. "Name's not Bill. Call me Spike."
"Spike," said Jack slowly. "Okay, Spike. So you've gone...soft?" He made it into a question at the last minute. This guy looked like he had a temper, and he didn't feel like getting in a fight while he was leaning seriously toward the drunk side of things.
"Bloody hell I've gone soft!" exclaimed Spike. "Me? Not me. She's crazy, that's what she is. Deluded."
"So who's the girl?" asked Jack. This was gonna be a story for the guys on base later. Okay, the guys and maybe Carter, who used to be just one of the guys, but...he wasn't gonna go there right now.
"My Dru," he said, slamming his glass onto the counter. "Hey!" he yelled at the bartender. "Gimmie another drink!"
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Impatient, are we?"
"Service in this place sucks," said Spike. "So why're you here, mate?"
"Women," said Jack.
Spike nodded sagely. "Buffalo wings."
"Huh?" How the *hell* did little greasy pieces of chicken and woman interrelate? Maybe if you were on another planet...? Jack thought for a minute. Nope. He was still confused.
"Buffalo wings," said Spike. "It's not the cure for women problems, but they're good for a distraction. Y'wanna split a plate?"
What the hell? "Sure," said Jack, shrugging. "Why not?"
"They got any of those onion thingies here?" he asked.
"Onion rings?" asked Jack. "Sure."
"No, no, there was this bar I used to hang out at--had these onion blossom things with a really tasty sauce." He sighed. "'Course, then this idiot troll knocked the place down and they got rid of 'em after the owners rebuilt the place." Spike scowled. "Poncy bastards."
Troll? Must be some weird English swear word or something, because Jack was pretty damn sure he didn't mean the kind of troll that lived under bridges and ate goats. "Bummer," said Jack. "You don't find things like onion blossoms in Colorado Springs, you know. Not in this bar, at least. They're a little too fancy for a dive like this."
Spike frowned. "You don't find anything in Colorado."
"That's the point," said Jack. "It's quiet. It's not a big city. You can see the stars from your rooftop."
"Stars," said Spike. "My Dru used to watch the stars." He chuckled. "Sometimes there weren't even any stars and she'd watch them. She'd lay on her back and stare at the roof and say she was naming the stars."
"Sounds crazy to me," said Jack.
"Hey!" exclaimed Spike. "Who ever said my Dru was crazy?"
"You did," said Jack, finishing off his beer.
"I didn't mean *crazy*," said Spike. "Just--crazy."
"Okay..." said Jack. "So she wasn't crazy, but she was?"
"Pretty much," said Spike. "So what'd you say you were doing here?"
"Women," said Jack. Like it wasn't obvious. Like he hadn't already said it. Besides, they were part of the brigade of men in love scowling at the countertop. It was sort of-- Hell, this guy was just weird.
"And what?" asked Jack. Jeez, you'd think the guy was trying to get his life's history out of him. "I've got women problems. More specifically, I *don't* have the woman I want."
"So what's the problem?" asked Spike. "You walk up to her, grab her, lean her over, and kiss her. Gets a woman every time."
Jack shook his head. "Not this woman," he said. Well, it *would*, maybe, he was pretty sure Carter'd appreciate a romantic gesture like that, but then again, she might clock him one for manhandling her like that.
"She a lesbian or something?" asked Spike. "Into chicks?"
"No!" exclaimed Jack, flustered. "No, no--well, I guess maybe--I don't, I mean... No."
"Then what's your problem?" asked Spike, who was earning Jack's 'Broken Record of the Month' award nomination. "You want her, go and get her." He shrugged. "Take what you want. That's my motto."
"So if you decide you want someone's jacket are you going to knock someone out and take it?" asked Jack.
"Well, yeah," said Spike. Matter-of-factly. Okay, this was one *weird* guy here.
Jack blinked. "It's not that easy for most of us," he said. "I'm her CO."
"Her commanding officer. In the military." Jack stared at the condensation on his bottle. "She's my second in command."
"You're military?" asked Spike, perking up. "Hey, you ever heard of a bunch of blokes called the Initiative?"
"Initiative?" Jack frowned. "Don't think so." He shook his head. He'd probably have heard about it. Being second in command of a top secret installation meant he usually heard about the other top secret groups. Well, if there was a chance they'd affect the SGC. Which they might not. "Doesn't sound familiar."
Spike shrugged. "Just wondering."
"Weird name," said Jack. "Doesn't ring a bell at all. Sorry, man."
"S'all right," said Spike. "Hey!" he shouted to the bartender. "Where's our buffalo wings?"
"They take forever to bring you your food here," said Jack.
"S'all right too," said Spike. "I can wait. But they bloody well better not take too long. I've got to find my Dru. And you've got to--hey, what's your girl's name again?"
"She's not *my* girl," said Jack. "She's her own woman, and Carter'd kick your ass if you called her my girl."
"Carter? What kind of a name is that for a woman?" Spike snorted. "You sure she's not a lesbian? Met a couple of cute lesbians in California. Witches. One of them had red hair."
"She's not a lesbian!" snapped Jack. "Her name's Samantha. I just call her Carter."
"One of those last name guys, eh?" said Spike. "Samantha Carter. Sounds pretty enough. Not like Drusilla, though. That name just rolls off the tongue, sweet as blood."
"Blood isn't sweet," said Jack. "It's salty. And metallic. And pretty gross, if you ask me." He paused, seeing as how Spike was looking at him pretty oddly. "Which you didn't, but I'm offering you my opinion anyway."
"Just how do you know the taste of blood, mate?" asked Spike. "Seeing as how I can't take you for a creature of the night or any of that."
Jack shrugged. "I'm military," he said. "I've had plenty of field time, thank you *very* much, and I happen to be extraordinarily unlucky in the field of injuries clocked. I think the nurses have a betting pool going as to what my next injury will be."
"Poor Spike." Sam looked over in the direction of the voice. A dark-haired woman was whispering to a book at the table next to her. "He's all alone and lost, and no one can find the way to his heart."
Sam frowned. "Um, excuse me?" she said. The woman wasn't paying any attention to her. "Excuse me? Could you keep it down over there? I'm trying to do some research."
The woman looked up. "But my Spike is lost, and the stars won't tell me where to find him."
"I'm sorry your cat is gone," said Sam. "But this is a library and there are people here who need to concentrate." She was kind of--nuts, maybe? She looked harmless enough.
"No," said the woman. "All the people have gone away, and just you and I sit and listen to the books as they tell us pretty tales."
Sam glanced around. She was right. Everyone else was gone, and... She looked at her watch. It was nearly closing time. She'd have to come back tomorrow.
"I'm not looking for my cat, you know," the woman said. "I haven't had a kitty in years, though I had a puppy once." She sighed dejectedly at the book. "My Spike has gone and lost himself in another girl's heart."
"Oh," said Sam. "Boy troubles." She nodded. "I can understand that." She glanced over at the book. "Nice star maps," she said.
"I like to watch the stars singing in the sky," she said.
"That planet's called Abydos," said Sam, indicating one point on the map. "Scientists theorize it might have the conditions to support human life."
"I see a woman standing in the desert, alone and sad," said the woman, bending over so that her hair brushed against the pages of the book. She looked up at Sam, who shrugged. "A beautiful funeral lament plays through tha air." She sighed. "My poor Spike. Shall he stay much longer and then leave ashes in my heart?"
"I'm sorry," said Sam. "It sounds like a bad breakup." It sounded more like she really was crazy, but maybe she really did need to talk.
"I left him," she said. "Left him all alone and dreamed he'd find his way back to me."
"Well," said Sam. "If he'd fallen for another woman--which is what it sounds like--that seems like the most sensible thing to do. I mean, do you really want a guy who's pining over someone else?"
"I did," said the woman. "I loved him and wanted to keep him with me forever and ever," she said. "But I will not share his heart with another. Especially not *her*. She took my daddy."
"He fell in love with your stepmother?" asked Sam. "That's horrible!"
"Stepmummy," said Drusilla, laughing bitterly. "I haven't any stepmummy, just a horrid, wicked witch spoiling all my fun."
"Have you ever, um, thought about family counseling?" asked Sam. Because it sounded like she might need it. Or maybe some personal counseling.
"I don't believe in psychotherapy," she said. "Or science." The woman turned a page. "But the stars make such pretty pictures."
"It's because of science that we can take pictures of the stars," Sam pointed out. "If it weren't for things like the Hubble telescope, all we could get would be blurry, indistinct points of light."
The woman looked up, into Sam's eyes. "My name is Drusilla," she said. "And your head is filled with numbers and figures and things that narrow the world to one tiny little point that tells us what's really there, only it's mistaken, because there's ever so much more."
"Samantha--Sam Carter," said Sam. "And that's not the point of science," she said. "The point isn't to narrow down reality, the point is to expand it--to find out everything we can about it, and why it works the way it does. We've only reached the tip of the iceberg--there's so much more we don't understand."
"You want to understand everything," said Drusilla. "To know the universe without a doubt."
Sam shook her head. "That's never going to happen," she said. "Or if it does, it won't happen in my lifetime. That's not it either, though. Science is a journey of continual discovery. It's experimentation. You can't know everything for certain; you have to question it, expand upon it. Sometimes the pursuit of knowledge is an end in and of itself."
"You want to understand things," said Drusilla. "But you can't understand everything. Do you know that?"
"Yes," said Sam. "And that's okay." It was mostly okay, except for when the fate of the world was on the line. Then there was a lot of pressure. "Well--it's extremely frustrating, especially when you're... But never mind. The point is, I enjoy science. It's like the universe is a puzzle, and we're trying to put it together. Sometimes we get things wrong, and sometimes we get things right. But we're trying."
"Well," said Drusilla. "You treat science like a painting. But what do you do with the bits you can't see? I don't believe in molecules."
"What?" Sam ran a hand through her hair. "Molecules are one of the most basic building blocks of existence. How can you...?" She paused and shook her head. "Never mind. I don't want to know."
"Psst," said Drusilla, leaning forward and talking in a very loud whisper. "I'm not a real girl. I'm a wooden dolly all painted and polished and dressed up, but I'm not really alive."
"Now that's impossible," said Sam. "Of course you're alive. You're talking to me."
Drusilla giggled. "It's an illusion."
"Give me your hand," said Sam.
Drusilla cocked her head and looked at Sam questioningly. "Shall I wrap it in a bow and give it to you as a present?"
"Just let me see it," she said, reaching out and taking Drusilla's hand. "See, of course you're alive," she said, putting two fingers on Drusilla's wrist. Though you're very cold. You have a--wait a minute. You don't have a pulse?"
"I told you I wasn't a real little girl," said Drusilla, laughing again.
"Okay," said Sam. "Enough with fun, guys." She looked around. "Colonel? You can come out now." She frowned. "Daniel?" No answer. "Teal'c?" Nothing, and if it was the guys, she *knew* they'd be out here by now. Colonel wouldn't be able to resist laughing at her for that long. She glanced back at Drusilla, who was staring at her expectantly. "It isn't a joke," she said.
"No," said Drusilla. "No, it isn't. I'm quite dead, you see."
"This isn't funny." Warning bells were going off in her head, and she took a deep breath.
"It is if you're mad," said Drusilla. "And I'm quite mad as well."
"That doesn't explain the lack of a pulse." Sam realized she was still holding onto the woman's hand and let go of it. Quickly. "If you were dead, how could you be talking to me right now?"
"Don't you believe in ghosts?" asked Drusilla. "Or any such thing?"
"No," said Sam. "Not really." She supposed they could exist, but there would have to be a scientific explanation for it, and she couldn't really come up with one right now. "Are you a ghost?"
"No," said Drusilla. "I just wanted to see if you believed in them."
"Then why don't you have a pulse?"
"Finally," said Spike as the bartender put a plate of buffalo wings between the two men. "Service in this place is bloody awful. Just you wait, one of these days the bartender's gonna be too late with the wrong guy's order, then we'll see what happens."
"Nothing," said Jack. "Not many bar fights around here. The guys from the base like their dinners quiet; they usually break up any fights pretty fast." Unless, of course, they started the fights. Which almost never happened, unless you were high on experimental Tok'ra technology and--jeez, he was never gonna live that one down, not even in his own mind.
"Bloody boring, that's what this town is," said Spike. "Don't know why the hell Dru'd come all the way out here."
Jack shrugged. "You're the one who said she liked to look at the stars. It's a good place to sky-watch."
"Oh?" asked Spike, his eyes narrowing. "And how'd you know that?"
"Because astronomy is a hobby of mine," said Jack. "What'd you think, I can't get the girl I want so I plan on stealing yours?" He snorted. "Besides, Carter's a theoretical astrophysicist. I know *way* more than I ever wanted to about all the scientific crap that makes this place perfect for the scientist types."
"Science." Spike shuddered. "I hate science. Takes away a man's fun."
"Now I wouldn't say that," said Jack. "I mean, it'd be awfully hard to have--I don't know--" He gestured at the plate. "Buffalo wings without science. I mean, I guess you *could*'ve had them before the 20th century, but no one bothered to think them up."
Spike nodded. "You've got a point there," he said, picking up another wing and taking a bite. "Old-time food was all fancy and boring."
"You're a burger and french fries kind of guy, huh?" Spike had a smear of sauce on his chin he hadn't noticed yet.
"None of that poofy stuff for me," he said. "Never understood the need for it."
Jack shrugged. "Seems to make the women happy," he said. "My ex-wife was big on Sunday dinner."
"You hated it, didn't you?"
"What can I say?" asked Jack. "I'm a beer and pizza kind of guy."
"Now see, you've got the right idea," said Spike, taking a gulp out of his glass. "*That* is the way to go. Doesn't have to be fancy to be good."
"Amen," said Jack, raising his bottle to Spike and taking a drink. "So what're you gonna do when you catch up with this Drusilla chick, anyway?"
"Dunno," said Spike.
"Not good, man," said Jack. "You just gonna walk up there and say hi and hope she throws herself at your feet?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
"Bad strategy. Even I know that, and most of the time I've spent with Carter has been in standard-issue USAF gear doing boring military stuff." Yeah, boring. If you called firefights boring. Or Goa'uld prison. Or blowing up spaceships. Or risking your life on a weekly basis.
Y'know, how the hell *had* he and Carter managed to fall for each other in between trying to stay alive? Because he was too damn busy to *think* most of the time, much less moon over Carter. But he did anyway.
"You're just a regular Romeo then, aren't you?" Spike stared flatly at him. "So what makes you think I should take your word for anything?"
"Yeah, well, Carter's an unusual kind of gal," said Jack. "And don't ask me how the hell this thing between us happened, because *I* don't even know."
"So you're giving me romantic advice when you used to be married, aren't now, and can't even go after the girl you're hot for?" asked Spike. "Why should I listen to you?"
"Because you don't seem to be doing so well yourself," said Jack. "Now shut up and have another damn beer, will you?"
"I think I will," said Spike. "This stuff's pretty tasty."
Jack glanced at his watch. "It's late," he said. "Promised Doc Fraiser I'd check on Carter before I went home."
Spike snorted. "And you were looking for an excuse," he said. "Probably offered."
"The Doc is shepherding a bunch of screaming little girls at a slumber party," said Jack. "She doesn't have the time."
"I'll bet she bloody well doesn't," said Spike. "The thought of that many little girls could make a man think of committing murder."
"You don't like kids?" asked Jack.
"Love 'em," said Spike. "For breakfast. But alive and around me and wanting attention? No."
"Your call," said Jack. Weirdo. "But I'm outta here," he said, tossing some cash down for the bartender. "Good luck with your girlfriend."
"I'm dead," said Drusilla. "But I'm not a ghost. I like to play little games."
"I think I should be going now," said Sam, standing up slowly. Damn. Facing the door did you no good if something was in between you and the door.
"What makes you think I'm going to hurt you?" asked Drusilla. "I want to talk to someone. No one wants to understand me."
"I think I know why," said Sam. The door wasn't too far away. Her gun might not help to kill something that was already dead. Maybe it would slow it--her--down? "You're crazy." Way to go, Sam, get her mad at you. Her dad would kill her, not to mention Colonel O'Neill. If she wasn't dead by then, that was.
Dead already. Vampire. That's what the woman had to be. She'd seen a slide show--some behavioral psychologist from the terrestrial branch of Research & Development had come on base to present it. It had been aimed for idiots. She'd gone with Janet, who had snorted at the opening of the presentation and sighed in exasperation through the endless slides.
"You look like Darla. Your hair's all short and your voice isn't sharp like hers, but I thought that you would listen to me." She frowned. "Your heart's not full. Not like my Spike's. *You* have room in your heart."
"My heart's not full?" asked Sam, backing up. "Trust me, you don't want to hear about the state of my heart." Besides, Drusilla didn't look like the type to listen to anyone.
"Tell me," said Drusilla. She stood and came around the table. "I want to know."
"I don't even know you," said Sam, taking a step back. She didn't want to get to know her.
"Tell me something ordinary," said Drusilla. "Something plain and ordinary, a story of love without the whole world hanging on your every word."
"Just the base rumor mill," muttered Sam.
Drusilla laughed. "I won't talk about you," she said. "But if you have tea with me, I'll make you a princess and we can laugh and play forever."
"That's okay," said Sam. "I don't want to be a princess." She could make a dash for the door. She might even make it. Okay, never mind. Thank God the science books were all on the first floor. There were windows all over. "I was too busy playing with my chem set when I was a kid."
That was *it*, the first thing tomorrow morning she was just going to go and buy 'The Art of Electronics.' No more library trips for basic books she should have bought years ago. If she made it to tomorrow morning.
"We shall have tea and crumpets together," said Drusilla, taking a step forward.
"I don't think so," said Sam, taking another step back and then sprinting for the window. Thank God it was on the first floor. Thank God no one put bars on first floor windows in Colorado Springs.
She wrenched the window open--and Drusilla was standing next to her. Not out of breath. Not panting. Not actually even breathing, now that Sam took a closer look. "You're not being very nice," she said accusingly.
"Neither are you," said Sam, not looking Drusilla in the eyes. She got the feeling that there were depths in there she *didn't* want to deal with.
Drusilla smiled at her. It wasn't a wide smile, just a small one, like she had a secret she wasn't going to share with anyone. "I'm a very naughty girl," said Drusilla. "You're being mean to me."
"Then you shouldn't care," said Sam.
"Do I frighten you?" she said. She looked down, then up again and met Sam's eyes. "You can look at me, you know. I don't want to hurt you." She smiled again. "Not more than a little bit, and then you'll feel all better."
"I'm leaving," said Sam, climbing out the windowsill. "You can try and hurt me if you want to. You're a vampire. I can't stop you."
Drusilla's eyes widened. "You figured it out," she said. "Clever girl."
"I don't want to be here," continued Sam. " I am going to go." She took a deep breath. "I can't believe I'm climbing out of a window in a library to avoid a homicidal maniac." A supernatural homicidal maniac. She didn't even believe in the supernatural. Of course, a couple of years ago aliens had only been a theoretical possibility, so vampires weren't that much of a stretch.
"But I want to go with you," said Drusilla, climbing out behind her. "I want to see the stars, and they shine brightly in your head."
"Has anyone ever told you you're crazy?" asked Sam, exasperated. "Or do you just not listen to them?" She was in town. There were people out. She had to get to her house. It wasn't that far away. She remembered something about vampires needing invitations to get in.
Thank God she lived in a well-populated neighborhood. Not even a vampire would be stupid enough to attack her in front of all these witnesses. She hoped. All she had to do was make it down the street and into her house without dying.
"Colonel!" What would Colonel Jack O'Neill be doing leaning against her door, especially tonight? Fidgeting up a storm, from the looks of it. Janet had probably sent him to check up on her, which normally would be fine, but lately--things had been kind of awkward ever since the za'tarc incident. On the other hand, she had a vampire following her. It was probably a good thing he was here. "What are you doing here?"
"Ooooh," said Drusilla. "I see him floating about you."
"No you don't," said Sam. "He's standing right over there."
"New friend, Carter?" he asked, pushing himself away from the wall and walking over to her. "Hi," he said to Drusilla. "Nice to meet you."
"No, sir," said Sam. "Not a friend. So what're you doing here?"
"Doc Frasier sent me to check up on you," said the Colonel. "Something about you turning down a can't-miss night of slumber party gossip with Cassandra and her classmates." He shrugged. "Can't imagine *why* you wouldn't wanna go. So, you okay?"
"No," said Sam. "Want to come in?" she asked. God. Who would ever have thought she'd be asking her commanding officer in so that *vampires* wouldn't get her. May as well ask him to leave a night light on when he left. Oh, God. He probably shouldn't leave. Not 'til morning.
General Hammond would foam at the mouth when--if--he heard about this one.
"Oooh," said Colonel O'Neill. "Inviting me in. Is this a date?"
"I'd like an invitation," said Drusilla wistfully. "No one ever lets me come to their parties."
"Uh, Carter?" he asked. "She crazy or what?"
"No, she's not," said a blond man, walking around the corner of her building. "How the hell, Army Boy, did your girl hook up with mine?"
Moving was looking to be a good idea. She was seriously considering getting a new place.
"What are you doing here?" asked Jack. "And it's Air Force, not Army. There's a difference." He paused. "Big difference, as a matter of fact."
"Sir," began Sam.
"Spike..." breathed Drusilla. "Have you found yourself again?" she asked, gliding over to him and draping her arms around his waist.
Sam rolled her eyes. "I can't believe this is happening," she muttered. "Colonel, we might want to get out of the way."
"What?" he asked.
"Just trust me, sir," said Sam. "I'll explain later."
"She calls you 'sir,' eh?" said Spike, smirking. "Bet that makes for a lot of fun when you're shagging."
"Hey!" exclaimed Sam. "Colonel, what's he talking about?"
"I was commiserating," he said. "He was bitching about his lost girlfriend--whom you apparently found."
"She found me, sir," said Sam. "And I can't believe you were telling details of our personal lives to a stranger!"
"It's not a big deal," said Spike. "So, pet," he said to Dru. "D'you want to play with these two?"
"I want a new friend," said Drusilla. "I wanted her to be my new friend."
"I'm getting a bad feeling about this, aren't I, Carter?"
"Oh, definitely, sir," said Sam.
"Well," said Jack. "Isn't that interesting. And what exactly *am* I getting a bad feeling about?" he asked.
"Just this," said Spike. And then his face--changed. It was wrinkled, and he had yellow eyes, but they weren't glowing.
"That's not a--" started Jack.
"No, sir, not that," said Sam. She remembered the 'vampire face' slide pretty clearly. She'd had to elbow Janet in the side to stop her from giggling too loudly. "Vampire, though."
"Vampire?" said Jack. "We have vampires?"
"Didn't you read the memo?" she asked.
"We had a *memo* about *vampires*?" said Jack. He pulled a 'zat gun. At Sam's questioning look he said, "George and I have a deal. He lets me keep a toy, I promise not to use it unless I need to."
"Yes, sir," said Sam, grinning wryly.
"So would two hits do it, you think?" he asked.
"Probably not," said Sam. "I think the full three."
"Three what?" asked Spike. "Shots with a squirt gun?" He frowned at Jack. "Look, mate, my Dru here wants a new playmate, and I aim to spoil her rotten for the next few decades, now that I have her back. I'm tired of not having a decent guy around, and if you're both dead, you're not her commanding officer any more."
"Oh," said Sam. "Oh, no, I am *not* letting anyone turn me into a vampire."
"Three shots," said Jack. "No way in hell am I looking like *that* for the rest of eternity."
"It only hurts for a little while," said Spike, starting for Jack. "Just think of it like I'm doing you a favor."
"Not so fast there, pal," said Jack. "I'd rather not shoot you in the middle of the street," he said. "Considering the number of potential witnesses and all. Just go away. Now."
"You don't like me?" asked Spike.
"No, I like you," Jack said. "You're a fun guy, really, except for this whole bloodsucking creature of the night piece of crap you're trying to pull."
Drusilla pouted. "Spike, they're being quite horrid," she said.
"What do you want, pet?"
"Let's go away from here," she said. "Back to Europe, where we'll dance the night away and feast to our heart's content."
"Fine," he said. "And don't you think I'm going to forget this, Army Boy."
"Air Force!" exclaimed Jack. "Jeez, get outta here, will ya?"
"Spike," said Drusilla, pouting. "I don't want to be here any more."
"All right, pet," he said. "All right. America's gotten boring anyway. Let's go."
"Can we go back to Prague?" asked Drusilla, taking his arm and steering him across the street, away from Sam. The look she sent Sam made her shiver, which made Jack look over at her, concerned.
"I hate Prague, pet," said Spike, leading her away. "Nasty little city, and no one ever has any fun there."
"You okay, Carter?" he asked.
"Fine, sir," she said. "Just a little unnerved."
"Come on," he said. "Let's go inside. You can tell me all about this memo."
"There was a slide show too."
"A slide show?" Jack groaned. "How'd I miss that?"
Sam unlocked her door. "Colonel Jack O'Neill play hooky from an administrative nightmare?" she asked, looking back at him over her shoulder and grinning at him. "I'm sure you had a good excuse, sir."
"I'm a Colonel," he said, holding the door while she pulled out her key. "Of course it was a good excuse. In fact, it probably involved some mysterious foreign illness that acted just like a cold that Janet couldn't cure."
"I'll bet," said Sam, dryly. She peered out the window. "Do you think they're gone, sir?" she asked.
"I hope so," said Jack. "I don't really want to be stuck here."
"Oh?" she asked. Time to see if he got the idea of just how badly he'd stuck his foot in his mouth from her tone.
"Oh," said Jack. Yep, he knew. "What I meant, Carter, was that it would probably not be good for me to stay here. You know, I'd be putting you out and all."
"Oh," said Sam. This was getting more awkward than usual. "It's no trouble, sir." She went over to her small collection of movies. "I just picked up the newest Disney movie, sir. My niece and nephew are coming to visit next weekend. We could watch that, and then you could head out."
"The Emperor's New Groove?" he asked disbelievingly, staring at the cover.
"I've been told there are talking llamas," said Sam, smiling. "You can check it out for Cassandra."
"Isn't she too old for Disney?" asked Jack.