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Story Data

Posted August 14, 2014

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Series: Starting Over

Title: Sallying Forth

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Rating: PG-13.

Summary: A:tS, SG-1. It had been one thing to know that his new job involved extra-terrestrial beings and space travel; another entirely to stand behind Major Carter and her demon-infested father and stare down at the curve of the Earth from above. 1300 words.

Spoilers: A:tS up to "Ground State" (4.02). In SG-1 continuity, this parallels 6.3 "Descent".

Notes: Advancing this universe forward, just a little. From Wes' POV, this time. Written for the 2014 TwistedShorts August Ficathon.

"WesleyPryce," Teal'c said quietly, eyeing him as they stood on the bridge of the small cargo ship. "Are you well?"

"Very well, Teal'c; thank you. Just taking in the view." Wesley gave his alien teammate a nod, then returned his gaze to the starry night outside the windows.

It had been one thing to know that his new job involved extra-terrestrial beings and space travel; another entirely to stand behind Major Carter and her demon-infested father-- however benevolent the Tok'ra might be, it still raised the hairs on the back of his neck, far more than Teal'c's juvenile Goa'uld passenger-- and stare down at the curve of the Earth from above.

He'd walked wide-eyed into this world, thinking to do an unpleasant duty; and in seeking coal, had turned up unexpected diamonds. Some days, the scope of his new life dizzied him; only three words had separated the existence of a second-tier demon hunter from that of a first-rank interstellar explorer, the merest turn of a heel on the stage of destiny. And yet; and yet. Tek ma tek: words more portentous than he could ever have known at the time. Friends, well met.

One friend, at least; two, if one counted Jonas Quinn, the bright, inquisitive alien who'd initially competed with him for a place on SG-1. Jonas was happily assigned to SG-2 now, and Wesley... had just stepped onto a space ship for his first official mission at Stargate Command.

It was astonishing, how quickly it had all happened. The ink had barely been dry on Wesley's contract before Colonel O'Neill had packed up his team and returned to Colorado. He hadn't insisted that Wesley travel with them, or demanded an immediate explanation for his ability to sneak past Earth-born soldiers, or presented any obvious ultimatum. O'Neill had simply told him to call a particular number when he arrived in Colorado Springs, to be there by a particular deadline if he was taking the offer, and to bring any relevant materials with him. And then he was gone.

That had been a test, of course; the first of many. It had reminded Wesley of several unpleasant memories he couldn't imagine O'Neill had intended to evoke: his father when he was younger, Lilah laying out barbed insinuations to incite him to unwise choices, the anticipatory dread that had haunted him while researching the prophecy about Connor. But there was one small, yet significant difference that had kept him from writing the situation off, contract or no: the fact that the challenges presented him were not set up for him to fail.

He had already packed; the last of his business in the city had been quickly dealt with. He'd caught a flight to Colorado the next morning and been admitted to his new place of employment by nightfall.

It had swiftly become apparent that while he might have exchanged the sewers of Los Angeles for a remote complex buried under a mountain, and 'private investigations' for 'deep space radar telemetry', the atmosphere was little different, and the people who willingly worked there a remarkably familiar assortment of warriors and researchers. Some of the newer personnel were as arrogant or focused in on their own disciplines as Wesley had been as a young and clueless Watcher on his way to Sunnydale, but the veterans all had that recognizable strength of personality, the impression of having been distilled by struggle and unholy circumstance that he'd encountered only in experienced hunters.

In fact, his initial meetings with various members of Stargate Command had told him much more about general conditions in the program than he thought they'd intended... but he also suspected they would be surprised by how little his deductions had discouraged him. They were not comfortable people, the soldiers and scientists who staffed the SGC; they had eagerly shaped themselves to their purpose, which was as far removed from normal human society as that inhabited by Slayers, Watchers, and other supernatural species. But those very rough edges had laid to rest the last of his fears that the SGC was an elaborately constructed cover for a Goa'uld invasion. And there was an element of selection among them, a unity of resolve, which surpassed anything Wesley had experienced before: a brightness that contrasted sharply with the shadows that had shrouded his former profession.

For the vast majority of the SGC's personnel, their involvement had not begun on a personal level; it was an occupation, not vengeance, familial heritage, or destiny. And for those who had joined for such reasons-- or who became personally motivated over time, as was perhaps inevitable when facing enemies like the Goa'uld-- they were given every possible opportunity for training, leave, healing, or transfer out of the program, when necessary. It was a process that had left the teams with mostly the best of their veterans, rather than simply retaining those who had not yet dropped in harness.

Buffy would probably strangle him if he used such phrases in her hearing; or Angel, or Faith, or any of the other so-called Champions he'd met. But that made his observations no less true: those 'destined' heroes initially unsuited to their calling seldom survived long enough to adjust, and those who were tended to flare like supernovas, burning brightly for all too brief a time.

Had the lack of true choice made their pursuit of their duties more admirable, or less, than Teal'c's dedication? Or Winifred Burkle's? Or Wesley's? Given his own experiences, he doubted he was capable of being objective about the matter. But with every training session, every exam, every text and mission report he'd explored as he'd investigated the duties he would be expected to perform in the position he'd been recruited for, he'd felt a little more of the weight of the last few years slip off his shoulders.

There was a certain amount of irony in that. After all, it was no less true at the SGC than it had been in Los Angeles, or Sunnydale, or even the Watcher's Academy, that those that had the ability to take action also had the responsibility to take action. A calling, an obligation, call it what one will. But... even in the shadow of the contrary, brilliant, stubborn intellectual colossus whose absence was still obviously felt by his teammates like an open wound, Wesley was, and would be, judged on his own merits.

Buffy, and Faith, and undoubtedly many a Slayer before them, had been outraged at the way the Council viewed them as interchangeable puzzle pieces, pressed into the mould their predecessors had filled; broken, if they would not bow. He'd understood that indignation, even when he'd thought the rigid discipline necessary. But he had never truly realized that new Watchers were conditioned in very similar ways, not until entering a world that had no preconceived idea of what that title meant.

It felt like taking a full, clean breath after a lifetime of inhaling smog. Whether he ultimately succeeded in his new endeavour or failed as he always had before... Wesley doubted he would ever regret taking the Colonel's offer, on that account alone.

"Looks like your analysis was right, Sam," Jacob Carter spoke up then, hands moving over the cargo ship's controls. "It's dead in space, but completely intact."

"Has Anubis ever done anything like this before?" Major Carter replied.

"This is a first," Jacob said, then grinned. "It must have been a little crazy around the SGC when it showed up, huh?"

"You have no idea!" his daughter answered.

An understatement... and yet there had been a strangely encouraging air of looks like another Friday underlying the bustle, to Wesley's eyes.

"Does it ever get old?" he murmured, quietly, to Teal'c.

Teal'c replied with a tight, approving smile. "No, it does not."


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