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Chapter Data

Posted August 22, 2005

Fan Fiction: Uncle John

3: Debriefing

Lt. Colonel John Sheppard spent most of his trip back to Stargate Command deep in thought, grateful for once in his life that he wasn't the one piloting, or in this case driving.

The scheduled meeting with his niece, Buffy Summers, had gone... well, he wasn't sure he could say better than expected, because he wasn't sure what he'd been expecting, but there had definitely been surplus involved. Two nieces for the price of one, and each of them pretty, intelligent, and vibrant in their own separate ways. Who would have thought? Him, with family he actually wanted to claim.

He'd broken the ice with a joke about threatening Buffy's prospective admirers with a shovel; she'd brushed that off, dazzling him with a genuine smile, then shocked him by saying, "Save the shovel for Dawnie; I'd really rather she didn't date until she's thirty, but since I probably have a snowball's chance in Hell of actually stopping her..."

All in all, the meeting had gone pretty well for as short as it was. They'd talked for a couple of hours, giving sketchy background histories, reminiscing about Joyce, sharing likes and dislikes, and exchanging contact information. John had warned them he was stationed at a remote research outpost that only linked up to download email twice a week, but they'd taken that pretty well; apparently they moved around a lot themselves and were occasionally unreachable for one reason or another. They were as vague about what they currently did as he was, which had piqued his curiosity, but he hadn't fought it; they'd have months to get to know one another better via electronic letters before he could next visit, and he knew it was unrealistic to expect them to completely trust him immediately.

Both of the girls had been cheerful and friendly with him, and seemed genuinely happy to get to know him, but they'd also held back just a little, as if putting a safe distance between them. John had gotten the feeling that they'd maybe been burned one too many times in the past by people in positions of authority, even those who were supposed to care, and were quietly waiting to see if he would be the same.

They'd even name-dropped the NID at one point, as if to gauge his reaction, and had seemed relieved when he'd given his negative opinion of the group in short, colorful words. He doubted he'd ever forget the expression Buffy had worn while Dawn explained about some covert NID branch operating out of their local university; it had reminded him of Rodney's attitude when they'd run up against Kolya again on Dagan. If he hadn't quite believed he was an uncle by that point he'd certainly been aware of it then; he'd felt a sudden urge to pound whoever had threatened his girls into the ground.

It was all a little unsettling for a guy in his thirties who'd been living the bachelor lifestyle for more than a decade, pretty much unencumbered by family or usually even close friends. What friends he made had a tendency to die on him, and postings to places like Afghanistan and Antarctica hadn't been big with the opportunities for finding someone with whom to start a family of his own. Atlantis was even worse in that respect. He was the head of the military there; he couldn't date his subordinates, none of the civilian scientists interested him, Teyla was on his team, and getting involved with Elizabeth would not be a good idea. That pretty much meant Buffy and Dawn were as close to his own kids as he was likely to get in the near future. It was a sobering thought. He hardly knew them yet, but he was already worried about screwing things up.

John was still pondering what to say to the girls in his first emails later in the week, and how soon the Atlantis leadership might be allowed Earthside leave again, when the car arrived back at Cheyenne Mountain. From the look on General O'Neill's face when he'd first handed over Buffy's letter, and given the NID connection the girls had briefly touched on, he was half-expecting to be immediately debriefed on his little trip despite the fact that it had been personal and not work-related.

He wasn't wrong.

"So, uh, how'd it go?" the silver-haired general asked, ushering John into the base commander's office.

"The meeting with my niece, you mean?" John asked rhetorically, slouching back in one of the uncomfortable guest chairs. Not exactly the most respectful behavior toward a superior officer, but as Jack O'Neill had recruited him for the Atlantis project in the first place and was also well known for being a smart-ass, John wasn't too worried.

The general settled in the big chair behind the desk and narrowed his eyes thoughtfully for a minute, then sighed and scooted a file across the desktop. "Yeah, the meeting with your niece."

John wasn't surprised to see that it was a file on Buffy. He was, however, surprised at the large sections that had been blacked out of the report; there was far more information in there that he couldn't read than information he could. "I take it there's more than a little official interest in her?"

O'Neill nodded. "She's been labeled strictly hands-off for active recruiting, but the military has kept an eye on her for years; the big boys at the Pentagon would love to see her attached to a project like the SGC or Atlantis. Especially now that we know she's related to a gene carrier. If she tests positive for the Ancient gene, we'd have an automatic excuse to wheedle her into joining us. And trust me, she would definitely be an asset."

John flipped through a few pages of the file, absently noting what details were left unobscured-- expelled for burning down a gym, accused of murder, refugee of Sunnydale-- while he digested O'Neill's comment. The surge of protectiveness he'd felt earlier was bothering him again; Buffy and Dawn had led a pretty harsh life already from what he could see, and he wasn't sure he wanted even an outfit as benevolent as the SGC disturbing it any further.

John shook his head, temporizing. "Maybe after I get to know them a little better, maybe the next time I'm on leave I can talk to them, but definitely not now. They're both pretty skittish about the military."

"Both?" O'Neill raised his eyebrows inquisitively.

John smiled, feeling the conversation shifting toward less dangerous grounds. "Yeah, she has a younger sister named Dawn..."


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