Ugly Black Dress
"More than a year? Wow, I was only dead for five months. Do you remember any of it?"
Buffy gazed with interest across the table at her date. He was brilliant, good-looking, had died more times than she had, and best of all was legally permitted to discuss things with her as the Air Force's representative to the Watcher's Council. Someone upstairs had decided that the country's two best-kept "weird" secrets should be put into contact; whomever it was, Buffy vowed to track them down and send them chocolate.
"Not much," he replied. "I lost my memory when I returned; that year is still missing. Jack says I visited a few times; he could probably tell you more."
"I hope you didn't show up wearing what you died in." Buffy wrinkled her nose. "They buried me in this really ugly black dress..."
Daniel blinked, and then grinned at her, a brilliant teeth-baring smile that nearly stopped her heart. "No wonder you came back, then," he said.
"Wha, huh?" She wrinkled her brow, confused.
"Old superstition," he explained. "If a woman is buried in black, she will return to haunt the family."
She had to grin back. "Well, that explains it!"
Living the Adventure
Buffy leaned closer to Daniel, snuggling her cheek into the curve where shoulder met neck. He smelt slightly of male sweat, cologne, and some unique fragrance that was strictly Daniel; it sounded clichéd to say that even in her own head, but it was true. Some aftermath of his time with the glowy people? If Cordy ever showed up again, she'd ask her.
Whispered voices carried from the other side of her date: Daniel's friends Jack and 'Murray', arguing about the other movies in this series, spoilers they'd heard for this one, and a series of comparisons she barely followed between the fall of the Chosen One and the fate of some baddie they'd met called A-new-bass, or something like that. Teal'c was apparently as big a fan as Andrew, which Buffy found slightly bizarre; he lived a sci-fi adventure, so what was the big?
The previews finally ended, and a hush fell over the theater as the music came up and the familiar letters began scrolling up the screen. So maybe this wasn't the most romantic date she'd ever been on, but she was here with Daniel and they'd each survived their latest apocalypse; that was enough for her.
Slaying the Want Ads
"How about this one?" Buffy said, glancing up at Daniel as he expertly flipped an omelet from pan to plate. She shifted the Gazette a little to the left, making room for her freshly cooked breakfast, and traced a finger across one of the advertisements. "Position available for Receptionist in growing organization. Multi-line phone experience preferred..."
"Which means they don't understand the system and will need you to run it."
She rolled her eyes. "Here's one with flexible work hours..."
"Also known as frequent overtime." Daniel's tone was discouraging, but the corners of his eyes were crinkling.
Buffy's mouth twitched as she picked another ad at random. "Quick problem solver?"
"They're months behind schedule."
"Must be able to lift 50 pounds..."
"No health insurance or chiropractors available." He brought his own plate to the table and sat down, blue eyes twinkling behind his glasses.
She covered a laugh with a sip of her orange juice. "Management training position?"
"Salesperson with a huge territory."
She nudged the paper off the table, sending it fluttering to the floor, and leaned across the plates to steal a kiss. "Guess that leaves me with just one option then; I'll call your boss back tomorrow."
"Those three months I spent on P4T-3G6..." Daniel began.
"Don't count; you had amnesia." Buffy shook her head.
"The three weeks the team spent on P4X-347..." he tried again. Hadn't that been more vacation than mission? SG-1 had only stayed there for medical reasons.
"You mean the killer lightbulb planet?" She raised her eyebrows. "Besides, going through the gate is by definition part of our job."
Well, that eliminated Abydos. "There was that time Sam and I went to Chicago and then Egypt..." Daniel was grasping at straws.
"Chasing Osiris?" Buffy stared at him in disbelief.
Daniel winced, then sighed. "Okay, okay. So I haven't been on a real vacation since I started working here. Is that what you wanted me to say?"
She rolled her eyes, then reached for his lapels and tugged him closer. "No, what I wanted you to say was, 'You know, it has been awhile. How does Hawaii sound?'"
He blinked at her, then grinned and wrapped his arms around her small frame. "Another note for my Buffy translation journal: 'So when was the last time' is a hint, not a question." Then he repeated her words back to her.
Buffy smiled. "It sounds great."
Into the Breach
Daniel awakened with a start, inexplicably certain that something was wrong. The light was too dim to be morning, and there was someone standing in his bedroom...
His heart rate spiked sharply, then calmed. Osiris had never come bearing coffee.
"Buffy," he mumbled, yawning. "What time is it?"
"Four thirty," the blonde intruder said cheerfully, holding a steaming mug within reach.
Daniel took in her fully-dressed appearance with puzzlement as he slowly sat up, then wrapped his hands around the warm cup. He clearly remembered going to bed with his girlfriend less than five hours ago; had she sneaked out for another patrol? "Why...?"
"Because the bookstore opens at six today?"
Even exhausted and decaffeinated, Daniel could recognize the overtones of 'duh' in her voice. He took a long swallow of coffee, trying to jolt his braincells, then groaned as he remembered her taste in reading material lately. She'd been re-reading the series-- this must be the day the sixth book was due. He vividly recalled trying to shop for a new wardrobe the day Order of the Phoenix had been released; the mall would be a madhouse if they didn't go early.
Only for Buffy. "Okay, okay, I'm up..."
He'd agreed to the film for her sake-- Kenneth Branagh in quantity plus gorgeous costumes and sets, never mind the antiquated English. She'd surprised him there, though; he'd known Buffy was smarter than she let on, like Jack, but he'd never suspected she'd developed an ear for language over the years. Maybe she couldn't reliably repeat anything, but she could understand it.
Regardless, Daniel paid more attention to her than the screen. Perhaps that's why he registered the dialogue only after she'd gone quiet:
"...The undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns."
Not so true in our case, he thought wryly, remembering the discussion the day they'd met. Black dresses and lost memories…
He placed a comforting hand on her knee, smiling at her in nostalgia and sympathy.
She stared at him in confusion, then laughed and explained. She'd been thinking, not of death, but of Star Trek courtesy of Andrew indoctrination!
He spent the rest of the movie just as distracted as before, but this time more from trying not to picture an aging Shatner in Hamlet's place than any concern about Buffy.
He'd never laughed so much in all his life as he had since meeting her.
Buffy kicked off her shoes and sat down on the side of the bed, gazing at her sleeping boyfriend. He'd been in meetings until late every day for weeks, what with Jack and Sam leaving the program and Atlantis lobbying for his (their!) presence; it seemed like they'd hardly had five minutes to themselves in several days.
Daniel cracked an eye open at the movement of the mattress, peering up at her blearily, and yawned. "D'you get that nest of Fyarls?" he asked, reaching for her hand.
"Yep," she said lightly, shivering a little as his thumb traced circles on her palm. "They're big and mean, but all that paralyzing snot doesn't do them any good if you happen to have silver crossbow bolts handy."
"Good," he said, yawning again. "I prefer my girlfriends fully articulated, not to mention alive."
Buffy snorted, then snatched her hand back and quickly removed the rest of her clothes. "I'll show you fully articulated," she challenged him, crawling in between the sheets to put herself in contact with as much warm Daniel-flesh as possible.
He grinned, tracing work-roughened hands up her bare sides, sending tingles up her spine. "I think I can handle that."
"Her Daniel?" Buffy glared down into the gate room with narrowed eyes. "Who does she think she is?"
She'd heard all about Daniel's adventure with the interstellar pirate from him afterward; they hadn't been able to double-book assignments at the time, and she'd fretted for weeks in advance about him being in Atlantis without her for who knew how long. She'd been equal parts shocked and pleased when he'd returned early-- until she'd hacked into the Prometheus security footage and realized just how much he'd left out of his story.
His excuse had been that he didn't want her getting all upset over 'nothing'. He'd slept on the couch for weeks after that faux pas.
She knew it wasn't completely his fault, of course. He was male, and Vala Mal Doran was Lust personified. Still. It had given her unpleasant flashbacks of her third year in Sunnydale, when Angel had let Faith fawn all over him in order to get more dirt on the Mayor.
Buffy turned on her heel and stalked off toward the briefing room. Whatever that woman was here for now, there was no way in Hell she was letting her talk to Daniel without Buffy present.
Buffy leaned forward in the uncomfortable infirmary chair, clasping one of Daniel's hands and contemplating murder. Only the fact that killing Vala would doom Daniel, too, kept her from strangling the unconscious space-ho where she lay.
She should never have taken her eyes off him; she knew he had an insane knack for getting into trouble with alien women. Buffy had thought he would be safe with her in the same room-- but she'd been distracted momentarily by the stacks of boxes in his office, wondering if she'd forgotten to pack anything important, and when she'd looked up Vala had already slapped that tacky Goa'uld bracelet on his wrist.
Dr. Lee hadn't been able to remove it, all Teal'c could tell them was that it was some kind of slave bond thingy, and there were less than three hours left until the Daedalus departed. General Landry was inclined to just let it leave without them, let Daniel find the supposed treasure--
--but there was no way in Hell Buffy was letting Vala's greed ruin Daniel's dream. She'd just have to come with, much as Buffy hated the idea.
"Get her things-- and tell the Daedalus they'll have another passenger."
Daniel opened his eyes slowly, uncomfortably aware of the sounds and sensations of an infirmary around him. What nightmare had he awoken to this time?
He knew that tone; Buffy was on the warpath about something, but squelching it down so as not to worry him. "Buffy?" he replied, turning toward the sound of her voice.
She smiled at him in relief. "Welcome back," she said, warmly, clasping one of his hands in hers. "How are you feeling?"
He smiled softly in return. "Uh, fine, I think. So, what happened? Last thing I remember..."
"It was the bracelets," a crisp voice interrupted. "They're called kor'mak; they make the wearers ill if separated."
Daniel glanced behind Buffy, and blinked at the unexpected presence of Elizabeth Weir. And behind her, the wall-- this wasn't an infirmary after all; he was aboard a ship, probably the Daedalus. "Then how..."
"We hijacked her," Buffy answered, her smile turning feral. "If she wants to stay in this galaxy, she'll unlink you pronto."
"That isn't fair!" a peevish female voice exclaimed. "This wasn't supposed to happen!"
Daniel's smile widened. Not his nightmare, then. They were still en route to Atlantis; everything else was just details.
Since the moment the Daedalus had dropped Vala on a Gate-bearing planet along their route six hours after departure, Daniel had been making up for lost time. He'd brought Atlantis' mission reports along for in-flight reading, and several of his new colleagues were aboard, giving him an opportunity to get to know them before they had to work together. He was stepping into the position as head of social sciences, which was still drastically understaffed, and in addition he was displacing Dr. McKay as Atlantis' 2IC.
Rodney was an abrasive soul, but Daniel, with a similarly sky-scraping IQ and his own array of defense mechanisms, could make allowances for that; he thought once Rodney got over the insult to his ego, he'd actually be pretty relieved. The physicist would still be in the decision loop as head of hard sciences, after all; all he'd be losing was the extra paperwork load.
Buffy was less sanguine-- they'd had several spectacular clashes already-- but considering they were both going to be on the same offworld team, that would probably change soon enough. Daniel dreaded the day when her sense of humor and McKay's fell into synch; the city would probably never recover.
From This Day Forward
Buffy stood next to Daniel in the Engineering section of the Daedalus, watching with Weir and Hermiod as the little dots representing the active F-302s on the monitor engaged in some pretty fancy maneuvering. Rodney got on her nerves as badly as Anya had, and she didn't know Sheppard very well yet-- like Jack, he had a tendency to hold people at arm's length-- but they were her teammates now, and it made her antsy that they were out there risking their lives without her.
She tensed as the two ships' signatures disappeared into the star's chromosphere, then made an effort to consciously relax when Daniel slipped a hand into hers and squeezed. She threw him a grateful glance, then watched with bated breath until a single dot finally reappeared on the screen and Sheppard's voice came over the radio.
She didn't know what exactly she'd been expecting, coming out here; her focus had been on fulfilling Daniel's dream. So far, though, it looked as though it wouldn't be much different from her time on SG-2. Adventure, occasional life-threatening danger, a team of capable people at her back, and Daniel to come home to. What more could she ask for?