Chapter 19: Unlikely Threats
"As she said, you don't have to worry about that, not now," growls Buffy, gesturing toward Lya and apparently not liking Jack's attitude toward her friends in the least... not that I blame her.
"Yes, well, if it's all the same to you I'd rather make up my own mind about that," he retorts. "Now, what would it take for that danger to become something real?"
"None of your damned business," says Faith taking a step forward to stand shoulder to shoulder with Buffy and all of a sudden I get the funny feeling that Jack is treading on some very thin ice here. Subtle he ain't and I think he may be underestimating what he is up against.
"If it's a threat to this world it is my business," he insists.
"Really? And what do you think you could do about it?" mocks Faith.
"I don't know but..."
"Enough, people," yells General Hammond before turning his attention to Lya and asking in an almost apologetic tone, "are you sure there is no danger?"
"There is always danger," replies Lya, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world and I can see that Jack is fighting the urge to throttle her. He really likes the Nox --at least deep down, very deep down-- but their attitude has a tendency to clash with his military mindset.
"That's not what we meant," he growls.
"There are almost no magic users powerful enough to pull off something like that to begin with and they would have to be truly desperate to even attempt it," explains Dr. Giles.
"Because they would not survive the world's destruction."
"That sure is a relief... not!"
"Could you stop something like that?" I ask, realizing that we are not really getting anywhere here and that magic users are their area of expertise.
"We already have," admits Dr. Giles.
"So much for there being almost no magic users capable of pulling off something like that. How did you take him down?" growls Jack.
"Who says we did?"
"Well, we are here, aren't we?"
"So I'm guessing the world didn't end."
"Yes, but there's quite a spectrum between 'the world didn't end' and 'having taken someone down'," Dr. Giles points out.
"A young woman was shot, and her lover couldn't handle the grief," he explains.
"Oh," says Jack, apparently at a loss for words, and I can't help but think back to the way things were when I first met him, shortly after Charlie's death, when he just wanted the pain to end, when taking on a suicide mission to the other end of the galaxy seemed to be the best way to go out with a bang. Still, there's something about this whole conversation that's bothering me, something that doesn't quite add up, and then it hits me.
"Wait, you said that you've already prevented a magic user from destroying the world and you also said that there are almost no magic users capable of doing something like that but Lya said that we have nothing to fear from you."
"It was one of you, wasn't it?" I ask and even though they don't utter a single word the looks they exchange speak volumes.
"What happened?" asks Jack, sounding far less confrontational than he did just a few moments ago.
"I was shot," admits Tara, without volunteering any additional information but that is more than enough for us to fill in the blanks and we immediately turn our attention to Willow, who is desperately trying to avoid meeting our eyes. The problem is that finding out some of what happened hasn't helped us feel any better, nor has it gotten us any closer to figuring out what we could possibly hope to do if we were ever to find ourselves in a similar situation.
"It's ancient history," says Dr. Giles, glaring at us and placing a reassuring hand on Willow's shoulder.
"Says you," growls Jack and I can't help but wonder what he thinks he is going to accomplish by forcing a confrontation here and now.
"Jack, you may not trust them but Lya said that we have nothing to fear from them, remember?" I say.
"For the time being," he reminds me. "I'm sorry, Daniel, but that doesn't exactly make me feel safe."
"So what would you like to do about it?" I ask, repeating Faith's original question... sort of.
"I don't know, something!" he exclaims and I can't help but shake my head at that. Doing nothing is something that goes against Jack's nature and I know it. I don't think anyone would ever mistake him for someone who is comfortable --or even familiar-- with the concept of accepting the things he cannot change. In that regard I guess I shouldn't be surprised to discover that this particular situation is not an exception.
I know I shouldn't be complaining about that. I know Jack's dogged determination when confronting truly dismal odds is one of the main reasons why we are still alive and our world is in one piece --and Goa'uld free-- but at the same time I can't help but wonder what the fallout will be this time around. What can I say? His attitude may be great when it comes to fighting off enemies far stronger than we are but it's not always the best approach when dealing with powerful potential allies.
Realizing that for the time being the most I can hope to do is to get everyone's attention back to the subject at hand I say:
"Okay, but I think right now we have more important things to talk about, remember?"
"More important than how to keep our world in one piece?" asks Jack, raising an eyebrow in a fair imitation of Teal'c.
"Fine, not more important but certainly more pressing, like what are we going to do about the Asgard. That's why we asked Lya to come in the first place, remember?"
"Have it your way, Daniel, but this conversation is far from over, got it?" he says, glaring at me as if I were personally responsible for this whole mess and I can barely keep myself from rolling my eyes at him. Of course I hadn't been expecting him to let this one go --even though there is nothing he can do about any of this and there's also no real danger-- he wouldn't be our Jack if he did.