The Curse of Steak.

The night the primary elections were happening, Jack decided to go out for dinner.  He took John, their guards, and a few other buddies.  They didn't go to the same steakhouse in case it made the last time's event replay.  Still steaks and beers but across the city in a smaller, residential steakhouse instead.  They could ignore the next presidential election there.

John heard the cheer and looked toward the tv's.  They were against the back wall for security reasons.   "No," he moaned.

"Maybe it's steak that's the cursing thing," Jack sighed, putting down his knife and fork to drink his beer and most of a second glass.

John looked at him. "What?"

"Last time we were at a steakhouse in the back room.  I changed restaurants this time to make sure it wasn't that place that was cursed."

"Then maybe it's the steak," John agreed.  He slumped in his seat.  "We can turn it down."

"How much this time?" Jack asked the guard watching the coverage.

"So far, only half the states are in and you're ahead on both sides by about ten percent, sir."

Jack shook his head, stuffing his mouth with a bite of steak before he started to rant and scream at people for not letting him go.  Jack's phone beeped with a text message, making him swear at it instead.  "McKay said congratulations and he wanted good chocolates to take this nightmare image out of his head."

"I'll buy him some if he buys me some for the same reason," John complained, answering him back.  "Jesus, can't we retire, General?"

"No.  Who's behind us?"

"The right wing nut," the guard watching said.  "Behind him is the left wing nut."  They switched to a republican primary count.  "You're on the other side again too.  Less among the republicans but still very high, sir."

Jack poured himself some new beer.  "I have tequila in my desk," John said quietly.

"We're going to Camp David this weekend," Jack decided.  "So we can get drunk in private."  He took a drink and went back to his dinner.  He might never eat steak again if this was going to keep happening.  "Maybe sushi on election night, John?"

"Definitely not steak," he agreed.  "Maybe vegan stuff?"


John shrugged.  "I can learn to love it, sir, if it means I can retire sometime."  He ate a bite and smiled.  "Hey, Evan's old enough now, sir."

Jack looked at him.  "Half of them probably voted to keep your pretty ass in office, Sheppard."  He groaned and shook his head, chasing that thought down with a gulp of beer.  "We'll get out of public after dinner, guys."  They ate faster and headed back to their houses to rant and complain at their friends, who all agreed they had voted for them because the others were idiots.


"It's amazing, you didn't even run and you're winning the election," the Chief of Staff said the next morning.  Jack gave him a dirty look.  "We haven't run a single ad, not put up a single billboard, made a single election pitstop to speak, nothing."

"Then why do they want me?"

"Most of the ads I've seen have been along the lines of 'I feel safer with the general in office.  He understands what we need even if he's not diplomatic'."  Jack moaned, shaking his head.  "The same campaign staff are coming back, sir?"

"Must I?"

"Do you want that cult to come back when the next group screws up any hope of peaceful relations?"

"No," he admitted.

"Then probably yes, you must."

Jack shook his head.  "We're going to Camp David this weekend to get drunk."

"Yes, sir, I'll update your schedule.  You might want to be sober Saturday morning.  You have a meeting there with the Russian ambassador."

"He worked on their version of my old project.  He'll bring vodka," he said bluntly.   His chief of staff laughed all the way back to his office.  Jack put his head down.  "Kill me now," he muttered into the paperwork.  He heard someone appear and managed to get out of the way but they still tried to hit him.  Jack fought back and managed to get the guy down.  "Guards?" he called.  They came rushing in and captured him for them.  "I don't know how he got in here."  They dragged him off to find that out.  Jack sat down, looking up.  "I didn't mean that literally."  Another one appeared but then someone appeared with a gun and blew its head off.  "Harris, thank you."

"Welcome.  Stupid ass demons."  He put the gun back in his waistband and covered it.  "They think John's gay so therefor evil."  He hauled the body up, handing it over to a guard.  "Rare teleporting species.  They think Jack is letting John be gay and it's bad for the country.  They're all in LA.  Dawn called in a warning an hour ago when she heard they were going to be stupid."  He looked up.  "Thanks, Dawn."  She got him back to his desk.

"Find them, arrest them, put them in a prison where they'll be molested," Jack ordered.  "Let me order John to date."  He walked off to find him in his office.  "Date someone," he ordered.  "Demons just appeared to kill both of us because you're gay and it's bad for the US."  He stomped off to the gym.  He deserved some sulking time.

John gave his assistant an odd look.  "Did I hear that right?"  She nodded.  "Okay, I'll date a few pretty girls but no one shallow or political."

"I have a very nice cousin, sir.  She's not fully pretty enough for you but she's very sweet."

He smiled.  "I could like that.  Thank you."  She smiled and nodded, moving to call her.  John rubbed his eyes.  This was insane.  Why didn't he just quit?  He was the VP, he could quit.  Jack could get Evan Lorne to do it.  He had relatives in politics.  He'd know what to do better than he did.  His phone rang with a message from Rodney saying that Evan was hiding from his evil thoughts, they had heard the reports out of LA of demons doing a protest in front of the federal building about him being gay and bad for the US.  John answered back in the meanest way possible and went to the gym to workout.  On second thought, he went to Atlantis and made Ronon and Teyla work with him.  Because this sucked large.


After his workout, John walked into the press room.  There were always a couple of reporters in there.  They might say things about him being sweaty but oh well.  "People, I'm not gay.  I've never been gay.  I do like women but I'm not finding many around here that want me for being John, not the Vice President.  I've never had any problems getting any sort of date I wanted.  Jack's the same way.  He's more recently divorced than I am so he's not really looking.  So please put all rumors to rest.  I'm not gay, not dating a guy, none of it."  He walked off shaking his head.

The reporters sent that film to their news people so they could put it out there.  He had looked good sweaty.

All the entertainment magazines that night and for the next week had pictures of him from jogging days or that sweaty picture from the press rant.  John hid in his office because Jack would pick on him about that for sure.  Rodney certainly was.


Jack faced the press corps.  He really hated this part of the job.  "I'm told you guys had nosy questions?"

"Is Colonel Sheppard all right?  No one's seen him in a week, sir."

"I think you guys embarrassed him."  He pointed at one.

"Have you thought about dating again, General?"

"I've been on a few over the years but nothing really panned out."  He pointed at another one.  "Something not on my dating life?"

"Sir, do you know what sort of woman the Colonel likes?"

"Pretty, smart, leggy, other than that, ask him."  He pointed at another one.  "Nothing related to dating?"

"Sir, there's been rumors that you've gotten a letter by a group that wants to repeal 'don't ask don't tell'.  Is that true and what are your thoughts on that?"

"I haven't gotten that letter yet."  He considered it.  "Personally, I don't care where you stick it as long as it's not a dog, cat, kid, or something that can't consent."  His phone rang with a text message.  "The smartass reminded me that there's a large goth subculture so if they want to screw vampires and things like that, that's their tastes, not mine."  He looked up again.  "As a military leader, I've never cared who stuck what where as long as it was willing.  I've never taken at DADT complaint, I never plan on taking one.  As for removing it, I need to talk to the Pentagon about that.  I know some soldiers are panicky about it."

John walked in.  "Most of them are panicking that they'd be hit on.  All the gay soldiers I know of have a very good sense of who's not going to be nice about it.  A few may tease straight guys now and then if they're friends but they won't have to worry about being hit on.  I think it'd be good for them to be able to talk about their relationships like the other guys can.  Yes, I'm in favor of repealing it for anti-discrimination laws.  General?"

"For me personally, yes.  I still need to see how bad the backlash might be first before I do so.  I'll be talking to them tonight."

"I'll have Chuck arrange it."

"Thanks, Sheppard.  Any other more pertinent questions?"

"Sir, you've been seen a few times with Miss Summers.  Do you perhaps like her?" one asked with a smile.

"She's a sweet girl, but too young for me.  I'm twice her age," Jack complained.  "Get your mind out of the gutter."


"She's not my type.  Sorry.  I like women who use their minds to impress me.  She likes to hide hers sometimes."  He shrugged and walked off.  He came back.  "You might want to talk to them about the proposed base closings the Senate is talking about too, General."  He walked off again.

"I can do that," Jack agreed.  He looked at them.  "Other questions?"

"Sir, we've had hints that you worked with people who are now on NORAD's base.  What did you do with them?"

"Classified."  He pointed at another.

"Who is the blonde woman in uniform you talk with, General?"

"Colonel Carter.  She's an astrophysicist."  He pointed.  "Next?"

"Sir, what are you going to do if something happens to the Colonel from jumping into bad situations?  It appeared after that battle he was more injured than you were."

"Originally I had it between him and one young man, who just got promoted earlier this week to Lieutenant Colonel.  He has a better background for all this and I'd probably nominate him instead of someone like the pro-tem head of the Senate.  I like the guy professionally but I'd want someone I can count on not to embarrass me and to help me when I'm stuck.  He's too political for me."

"What's his name, sir?"

"Evan Lorne."  That got a nod and he sat down.  "Any other questions?

"Why did you pick the Colonel instead of him?"

"He was younger by a year.  Under the age limits," Jack said.  That got a few nods.  "Anything else?  Because if I know the Lieutenant Colonel, he's going to be hiding as soon as he heard I said that."

"Where is he stationed?" one said with a smile.


"Sir, how does a test pilot get into special forces?" one asked.

Jack stared at them.  "They needed me and my skills, both on the ground and off."  He looked around.  "Anything else?"

"Sir, are you retiring fully after you get done here?" one asked.

"Not sure yet.  I'm going fishing by myself for a few days and then I'll figure that out."  They all nodded so he left.  That had been almost painless.  He still hated the press though.  They printed the stupidest things about him.  Including an interview with his ex-wife that had gotten him sympathy cards for his son's death for a month.  He ran into John in the hallway.  "They asked so I told them you liked pretty, leggy, smart things."

"Yes I do.  They ask you if you're dating Buffy?"

"Yup."  He shook his head.  "She's much too young for me."  He went to his office then came out.  "Guys, why is there a body on my carpet?"  They went to check on the guard that was passed out.  Hopefully it was for a good reason.


Jack blinked himself awake.  He had no idea where he was.  This definitely wasn't his room at the White House.  The bed was thin and lumpy.  He was also warm against one side so he knew he had someone in it with him.  He looked.  Blonde hair he recognized even in the tangled state.  "Buffy?" he asked, checking on her.  She moaned, pushing at him.  "No, wake up.  C'mon."

"Head hurts," she mumbled, drifting off again.

He checked her pulse.  Not bad.  Her skin didn't feel too warm.   He lifted her eyelid, not dodging the weak swat.  "Drugged, not concussed."

"Faster healing," she muttered.  She brushed his hand off.  "Let me rest.  See where we are and if there's any angels involved."

Jack got up to look around their cell.  It was a pretty simple room.  The door was locked.  It felt glued or sealed shut. They had a rudimentary bathroom. A sink with a hose hooked on for a shower, a toilet with a roll of paper.  He found the medicine cabinet behind the mirror had 2 other rolls and a single razor.  He came back out to look at the door.  Kicking it made his knee ache but didn't do any good.

Buffy got up, still holding her head, and kicked it on the hinge side.  It came off.  On the other side was a sheet of metal.  That was clearly welded into place.  "Dawn?" she called.  It echoed a bit.  "Crap, shielded."  She went to the bathroom, grimacing.  "I'm flashing back to a highway rest stop," she complained, closing the door.  She came out ten minutes later, grimacing.  "They gave me a shot of something to stop my period at least."

Jack nodded.  "That's handy to know."  She smirked at him.  "Any idea?"

"No.  I'm hoping this isn't the same sort of thing that got Dawn married off."

"That would be a bit strange," he agreed.  "Well, we have no idea what's going on right now.  I'm guessing there's some agents freaking out on John."

She nodded.  "I was in England so Giles is probably freaking out.  I was in front of him the last I knew."  She sat on the foot of the bed.  "Might as well sit.  Pacing will only wear us out.  Any hint of food?"

"Not yet," he admitted.  They sat down.  "So, why England?"

"Checking in with my watcher.  It's been a while since I saw him."

"That's cool.  The last I remember, I was doing paperwork that was going to drive me nuts."

"I guess that's the downside of that job."

"Most of the time.  The rest it's kinda boring or meeting with diplomats."

"No parties?"

"Not many unless I want to go be bothered by people who want things."

"I can understand that I guess."  She leaned against the wall.  Across from them, a panel opened and showed a shelf full of things.  "Huh."  They walked over to look.  "MRE?"

"Disgusting but it's food."  He got himself one, she got one, but he changed it to something better tasting.  "That's gross."  He got another set too in case it wouldn't open again fora  while.  They sat down.  The door stayed open so he got the rest out and put into a corner.  The panel closed and he sat down to show her how to warm them up.

"You're right, they're disgusting," she admitted.

"You eat these in the field," he said.  He shrugged a bit.  "You get used to them."

"I guess.  I think I'd rather get used to veggie burgers.  They're just as gross."  He laughed, nodding some.  She ate it anyway.  She had to keep her strength up.  There was no telling how long they'd be in there.


John stomped into the slayer house.  He was in a truly foul mood at the moment.  The Secret Service was blaming each other, Jon O'Neill had yelled at him, and everyone was panicking.  "Xander!" he shouted.  The boy came out of the kitchen.  "Someone teleported Jack out of the oval office.  The note mentions Miss Summers as well?"  He held up a photocopy.

Xander took it to look over.  "Faith!" he shouted.  "Get Dawn here!"  He looked at him.  "Let's see what we can do."  Faith came down the stairs rubbing her face.  "Faith, Buffy and the president got stolen."  That woke her up.  "Go rattle some people until they beg to hand them back."  She nodded, going to do that.  "Dawn Summers-Winchester!" he shouted.

She appeared.  "Damn it, I was busy," she complained.

"Your sister has your luck and she's with the president."  He handed over the note.

She read it over, shaking her head.  "They're not from this realm."

"Can you do a searching?"

"Yeah, easily."  She went to the office, pulling out Buffy's vial from the safe.   She put it on the map in there.  It had a built-in searching on it.  Nothing.  No glow.  She considered it.  "They're not in the US."  She went to the bigger map.  Nothing on that one.  She moved it to each continent.  "Hmm."

Xander took it and went to another map.  "I'll be fucking damned."  Dawn flinched.  "Colonel, you know where she is."  He pointed at the glow.  "It's a magically null area.  A protected valley."  He texted that to Faith.  Dawn groaned and left.  "She'll have Connor beat some people in LA."  He looked at him.  "Any idea why?"

"Maybe.  Depends on why steal Buffy with him?"

"How many questions were asked if they were dating since they jog together for meetings?"

"Good point."  He walked off, getting beamed back to the white house.  "The Council found their girl but it's in a problematic area.  It's shielded."  He called Sam Carter.  "Come to me please, Colonel."  He hung up.  She, Willow, and Rodney appeared.  "We have a cloaked valley in Turkey that has a place where the president and Miss Summers are presently being held hostage."

Willow gave him a look and went to look at the map.  She came back with the book and Daniel since he had insisted.  "Here, this is on the valley."  She handed it over.  "I can't interrupt that."

"Would something like heat vision find it?" Sam asked.  "I noticed some of the hidden areas you've shown us that did work.  Or night vision."

She shrugged.  "I've never tried that.  Are they friendly?"

"Presently," John admitted.  "Someone get me the Middle East commander," he called.   "This is incredibly stupid of someone."

"It's more than stupid, it's suicidal," Willow told him.  "Buffy hates it when she turns into Dawn."

Rodney gave her a dirty look.  "What?"

"Dawn gets kidnaped all the time.  Buffy hates it when she gets into Dawn sort of problems."

Rodney shook his head quickly.  "Stop before you make my brain explode."

"I didn't think I was that cute today," she quipped.

"Enough," John ordered.  "He's right, you're warping again, Willow.  We're used to more cranky people."  The commander of the Middle East bases stomped in.  John handed over the book.  "The president and senior slayer are being held there."

He read it over, grimacing.  "Is that on a map?"

Willow pulled up one on the computer in there, then pointed.  "It's there."  He looked and sighed.  "It's shielded."

"Who're you?" the general asked.

"Willow Rosenburg, senior witch at the Council."

"Oh," he said flatly.

"She's working in O'Neill's old project," John told her.  "What can you tell me about that valley?"

"Never seen it on a map, sir.  As far as I could tell, it was all mountains in that area.  Why is it shielded or whatever?"

"Originally some fairly strong witches way back when shielded it to protec themselves from the Ottoman Turks invading and taking them for their own uses," Willow said, leaning against the back of a chair.  "Then, after they died out, a few peaceful, earth demon groups moved in there to farm and stay out of harm's way.  As far as we know, they're still there.  There's only about ten left though."  The general grimaced but nodded.  "This isn't them though.  They can't teleport."  Dawn teleported in.  "Any idea?"

"Yeah, Connor heard something last night that confused him so he didn't mention it.  They called her his stepmother and said that they wanted her to be happy."  Willow snorted.  "Angel would be so pissed off if he heard them call her that.  Anyway, the valley is there, it's still protected.  It's going to take a fairly strong disruption to get into it.  See, it's linked to a key basically," she said at the confused looks.  "The key holds the shield over it.  If the shield warps it's okay.  If it breaks, it can snap the shield to take the area out of time and space.  Which I don't know how to break."

Willow looked at her.  "Can you access it?"

"No.  I can't figure out how to do that.  Glory might've had something that would tell me but she didn't exactly share.  I tried the blood thing but it didn't work."

"When?" John asked.

"Just now."  John gaped.  She smiled.  "No one saw me.  They're definitely there.  The house is shielded even beyond things.  It's the old clan house."  She drew out a map.   "They're in this room.  That's all I could tell.  As for the shield over the valley itself, I can help you guys get through it.  I can't create a permanent opening."  That got a nod from the general.  "But if you send normals they might freak."

"You can have people from our project," John assured her.  "We're used to weird.  We barely blink at Willow."

"You used the 'see me' thing in reverse?"  Dawn nodded.  "Then I can safely do that and I'm trained to be on a team," Willow told them.


"Agreed.  She is trained enough."

"Take yours and Evan's."  She nodded, going back with Willow to tell them that.  He looked at the general.  "Listen for them to need help."

"I will.  How soon?"

"Probably within a few hours.  I'm not sure.  I'll have Carter call."  He nodded and left to send down emergency orders that way.  They had a base nearby.  John called.  "Landry, Sheppard, I'm authorizing SG-1 and SGA-2 to go retrieve General O'Neill and Miss Summers with Miss Rosenburg's help.  They have it for you."  He hung up and went to calm down the people.  They had released the note to the press instead of the Secret Service.  The press corps were gathered and waiting.  "We know where he is, we know he's in good condition.  We have people looking at the rescue effort but do not tell anyone that since I know we're not live right now."

"Why would they do this, Colonel?"

"I have no clue but when we find them I'll ask."  He looked around.  "We know they're being treated humanely.  They have food, water, all that.  They're somewhere hard to get to but not impossible and we have people going."

"Sir, will this change anything right now?" one reporter asked.

"Nope.  That's why he chose me, because I'd keep things going the right way."  He walked out.  He needed to be near the phone so he could get news as it happened.


They were standing on the right cliff.  Willow had found the tree.  She was accessing the shield.  Everyone gasped as the valley opened up.  "How many of these are there?" Cam asked quietly.

"About twenty around the world.  One of the prettiest is in the Southwest."  She got them in, walking in last.  She pointed.  "The demons here are peaceful and can't teleport.  I don't know why they picked here."

"We'll see if we can figure out who it was when we get in there," Evan said.  He pointed.  She nodded. They walked around the edge of the cliff valley, going to the houses in the cliff face.  She found the right one and pointed.  They entered and found the metal shield.  "Sir?" he called quietly.

"Thank god, save us from MRE's," Buffy called back.   "Jack, people."  She kicked the plate.  "It's too thick."

Carter stepped up to open the panel with a laser, but it didn't cut through.  "Crap."

Willow looked then grimaced.  She looked up, raised her hands, then concentrated.  Her hair started to bleach and the wall melted.  "Hi," she said.

"Don't make us knock you out," Sam hissed.

"I'm not.  I'm fine."  They got them out of there.  Jack had to dress in the bathroom.  Apparently he had been showering.  They walked out.  The demons were waiting.  "Who did that?" Willow demanded.

"One of the old ones," one of the demons said, looking down.  "They said that the Great Slayer and the Future of Humanity should be together."  He bowed.  "We did not plan it or want it here, Great Slayer."

Buffy grimaced.  "What sort of old one?  Demon?"  They shook their heads.

"Ascended or Ancients?" Jack asked.  That one nodded.  "We'll deal with them later.  Do you know which one?"  He shook his head.  "Then let's go."

"The shield is stuck for another three hours due to the moon."

"We can wait for three hours," Evan agreed.

"Will it create a time difference?" Willow asked.

The demon nodded.  "It will be about a week in the rest of the world."

"We can handle that," Evan agreed.  "We've seen worse."   Willow looked at him.  "Sheppard had one that was six months for him and ten hours for us."

"That's worse," Willow agreed.  They went to sit near the tree for now.  That way they didn't interfere or cause problems.

"Why do they stay here?" Sam asked her.

"Because they don't want to do more than nurture the lands," Willow said with a small smile.  "Anything outside that, it overloads them.  Doing this is like monks going to a monastery and taking a vow of silence.  To them, the Earth Goddess is more important."

"How would they get us there?" Buffy asked Jack.

Who grimaced.  "The same way we get to the Mountain."

"Oh.  Okay.  Willow, has anyone talked to Giles?"

"I haven't heard from Giles," she admitted.  "Cellphones won't work here but I'll check when we get free."  Buffy smiled and nodded.  Willow gave her a shoulder nudge.  "At least the underground is moving on from putting you with Angel again," she said quietly.  "Only one called you Connor's stepmother."

"I'm not sure I could've handled the kid suddenly appearing that way."

"Angel?" Sam asked.

"Back when I was a horribly old sixteen," she sighed.  "There was a guy who showed up, being all cryptic, giving me hints about my duty, wore a leather jacket he gave me once."

"Ah, a teenage girl fantasy guy," Sam said wisely.

"Xander hated him from the start," Willow said.  "Called him Deadboy and things."

"Deadboy?" Evan asked.

"He was a vampire.  The Champion for the Powers That Be.  They're the higher powers over the slayers and hunters.  Anyway," she sighed.  "We dated, we slept together, he lost his soul, killed a bunch of people, I had to send him to hell, he came back and I hid it from people and then he eventually left because we couldn't be around each other without wanting to go back and making him slip his soul again.  We finally grew up."  She looked at Willow.  "Xander's hated most of the guys I've dated.  He does that to all of us."

"He did like Sam immediately," Willow pointed out.

"Huh.  So maybe it's just that I had bad taste?  I mean, Angel, Parker, Riley, Spike.  The Immortal in Rome."

"Yeah, that's bad taste and Spike was more about wanting someone to be there for you," Willow said.

"So, Angel was a vampire," Jack said.

Buffy nodded.  "I grew out of it eventually.  Spike died to finish the threat of the First Evil, which was what sucked Sunnydale in.  He thought he loved me so much he went to have a soul stuck in him."  She slumped some, leaning on her knees.  "I think Willow's right about that one.  I was needing someone there.  I had just been pulled out of heaven, I was confused and hurting.  Mom was dead, things didn't seem right to me.  Then the bringers came and things got really bad so I needed some balance."

"How did you die?" Jack asked quietly.

"That time, I was fighting Glory to save Dawn.  Glory wanted to open portals to bring her hell realm onto earth.  The only way to stop it was with the blood.  They made Dawn of me to protect her so I jumped."

Willow sighed.  "I'm the one that brought her back because things were going bad.  I lied to get Xander to help me.  I did the spell and all that but it was the wrong thing to do and I realize that now."

Buffy smiled at her.  "Think about all I would've missed out on if you hadn't."

"Think about all that happened because I did," Willow countered.

"That's a good reason to stay far away from that level now," Cam reminded her more gently than normal.  He hated magic and he hated that she could do almost anything without any oversight, teaching, or anything that normal people would consider healthy.  He tugged on a piece of white hair.   "You can do scary things, Willow.  Things that would freak out a lot of people.  You seem to want to do them daily."

"I know, that's a problem I'm struggling with.  What I should be using it for."

"Nothing except emergencies," Evan told her.  "Not changing clothes, decorating, doing your hair, nothing less than an emergency."

She nodded.  "I try but it's so easy sometimes."

"Yeah but sometimes easy isn't good.  Taking the harder road makes you a stronger woman," Sam said.  "Otherwise I'd have math degrees."

Willow nodded.  "I'm trying."

"We think you've done fantastic," Buffy assured her with a smile.  "You're doing good.  Whatever Xander said to you helped?"

"He paddled me so long I had to release all the magic I had hold of," she said quietly.  "I had bruises, Buffy."  Buffy glared at the tree.  "I needed it.  I deserved it for the way I was trying to help the girls and knocked you guys down a lot.  He told me he wouldn't let me get back to that junkie spot, that he'd take me out if I ever got that bad again.  It's kinda...nice to hear.  That someone will stop me if I get to the point where I want to destroy the world again."

"You did?" Evan asked, giving her a horrified look.

"My Tara had just been killed next to me.  I was full blown, trying to do the first rehab from a black magic addiction.  I lost it," she said honestly.  "I was going to pull up that temple and have her destroy the world so everyone felt the same grief I felt.  Xander stopped me.  Giles got me to Devon."

Sam rubbed her arm.  "You're better now and if you get near to that point of pain, you'll talk to someone."

She nodded.  "I can do that now.  Back then I was worse than this last scary point.  Then I was doing memory spells and things."

Buffy nodded.  "Broke Dawn's arm."

"Yup.  Shoved you both in a grave."  She smiled.  "Thankfully I'm better and we all grew up."

"We did, but we have got to get Xander calmed down again."

"I'm guessing Xander saw more combat than you think," Jack said.  "I'm also guessing he hardly ever sleeps anymore, maybe has a few daytime flashbacks?"  Buffy nodded.  "Was that before one of his girls was killed or after?"

"Before.  Within a year of him getting there," Buffy admitted.  "I don't know what happened.  I know he got really upset we didn't ask him to come back for the invasion in LA."

"You don't think he's still upset about that, do you?" Willow asked.

"He said something once that he and his girls handled a small militia troupe that day," Jack said quietly.

Buffy looked at him.  "Like humans or demons?"

"Humans I'm betting if he was in Africa," Evan said.  His team all nodded.

"But that's not the slayer way," Buffy said.

"If they're attacking you can't really avoid it," Jack told her.  She blanched.  He nodded.  "He called to see if there was any help around where he was because a large, 900 member, militia was coming for the girls.  He ended up solving it with explosives."

She shuddered.  "I can't even imagine."

"Combat changes you some," Jack told her.  He patted her on the shoulder.  "You learn what's important and how to hold it closer to you.  I can talk to the kid, offer him the name of a good person who's dealt with combat trauma before.  Some of your other girls could probably use it too."

She nodded.  "I've had days I've been so burned out," she admitted.  She put her chin back on her knees. "I don't know.  Maybe that is it.  If so, I'll gladly support him retiring or whatever."

"He doesn't have to retire," Cam assured her.  "Just work some things out.  Though he could probably use a vacation."  The shield lit up and they hurried through.  Jack and Buffy went first to make sure they could come out.  The others followed.  They hiked down the hill, Jack helping Buffy since she was wearing less than practical, cute shoes.  Willow at least had hiking boots on.  Then again, Buffy probably hadn't expected to be kidnaped by an Ancient either.  John was going to flip out about that.  They made it to the flatter portions and found a helicopter coming in.  "That's US issue," Evan noted.

"Hey, Guys," Jack said as they landed.  "We were gone how long?"

"A little over a week, sir.  We've been watching to see when you were going to reappear."  They got them inside.  "We're going to the nearest base, sir.  Do you need medical, or your friend?"

"No, we're good," Jack said calmly.  "They locked us in a room with MRE's and a minimal bathroom."  The soldiers nodded, making sure the rest got in.  They had to squeeze a bit but that was fine.  "Did John go on tv and vow to kill everyone involved?"

"No, sir, he was fairly calm and said we knew where you were and we'd get you back as soon as humanly possible, and that he was going to have a long talk with whoever had done this.  He was wearing a very evil look too.  Made us all shudder in horror, sir," the pilot called back over the headsets.

"That's John for ya," Jack said.  "Threaten with intent and make them believe you'll be the vilest SOB they'll ever wish they had never crossed."

"I've seen him be meaner once," the soldier with them said.  He smiled at Evan.  "Nice to see you again, Major."

"Lieutenant Colonel now," he said with a grin back.  "But good job getting back in the air, Sergeant."

"It's good to be doing something again that doesn't require geeks," he joked.

"The geeks will inherit the earth," Jack agreed.

"Damn right we will," Sam joked with a smirk for him.

Willow patted her on the knee.  "It'll be a better world when we do."

"It will be."  She grinned.  "Then we can get all the muscle only men into things that they want to do so we have time to think great and high thoughts."

Cam snorted.  "You'll still need us in the military," he reminded her.  She smirked at him.  He smirked back.  "For that, you're missing PT this week, Colonel.  Better fix that soon before Landry hears."


"Uh-huh."  The pilot called the base that they were coming in.  "Nearly there?" he called.

"Yes, sir.  Ready and waiting on you."

"Thank you," Jack called.  He looked at Buffy.  "You can call home too."  She smiled back.  "We'll probably have people jumping on us to debrief too."  She blushed, ducking her head.  He laughed.  "Not that way."

"Full physicals are protocol," Sam assured her.  "You can keep Willow for that."  Buffy nodded.  They finally made it to the base and landed.  MP's came rushing out to gather them and take them to the infirmary.  Buffy grabbed Willow so Willow waved at them as she walked with Buffy.  The MP glared.  "She goes with her," Sam ordered.  "Because you're men."

"That's fine, ma'am."

"That's Colonel," she said bluntly.  They nodded, accepting that higher rank.  Jack was snickering.  "Let me call John."  She followed.  The MP tried to get in her way but she glared.  "Move it."  Cam came to move them for her.  "I could've knocked him out myself, Mitchell."

"Might ruin your manicure, Carter," he joked.   "She served on the same mission team with the President," he hissed.  "She will kill you."  He walked in.  "Sir."

"Cam, relax.  Calm Carter down too.  Doctor Lam is here."

"Hi, Carolyn," Sam said with a smile.  "I let Willow go with Miss Summers."

"I'll be seeing them in a second."  She looked at the general.  "I'm nicer than Frasier but not much, sir."

"I know, she passed on her scary needles to you," Jack quipped.  He took off his shirt.  Buffy was led in and squeaked, turning around.  He ducked his head, shaking it.  "Sorry, Buffy."

"It's okay.  It's not the first chest I've seen but I didn't expect to."  She looked back.  "Shouldn't you have a curtain and some privacy?"

"I'm getting there," Cam said, pulling one around for her and then his boss.  Jack smirked at him too.  "So she's not embarrassed, sir."

"That's fine."  He let Doctor Lam look him over.  "Anything you can see?"

"No, sir.  No modifications, nothing like that.  Any idea who the dead people are?"

"Literally," Cam muttered.

Sam nodded.  "Ancients," she mouthed.

Lam gave her an odd look.  "That's going to be an interesting trial then."  She got done and walked over to check Buffy.  "Miss Summers, I'm Doctor Lam.  I work in the Mountain."

"Carolyn's really cool, Buffy, even though she does have huge needles," Willow assured her.

"Okay.  It's been a while since I had a full physical.  They gave me something to stop my cycle."

"That's fine.  The blood test should find that."  She drew a few vials of blood and moved on to the rest of the tests.  She looked at her.  "Do have you any idea if I should do a female exam, Miss Summers?"

"We didn't have sex," she admitted.  "I woke up clothed.  I bathed since then.  We were in there for like two weeks."

"Let me do a cursory one just in case that's why your cycle stopped then."  She nodded but huffed.  Carolyn smiled at her for it.  "I don't have to do the scraping, just look, feel a bit.  Make sure they didn't stick anything up there."  She handed her a paper sheet.   The exam was done quickly enough but she did take a swab.  "That's not natural fluid," she explained.  She capped the swab and helped her sit up.  "Go ahead and get dressed.  We can let you call home."  She left to run the tests on the bloodwork and swabs herself.

Buffy came out tucking in her shirt, smiling at the people watching her.  "What?"

"You okay?" Sam asked.

"She thinks they spread something gel like up there."  She shrugged.  "I don't know."

"Okay."  They led her to the base commander's office.  "Sir, we have a video conference set up."  She pointed at the phone for Buffy.  "Dial 9 to get an outside line."

"Thank you," Buffy said, calling Giles' phone.  No answer.  She called the house in Cleveland, no answer.  "Are they having an issue or are they out for sundaes?" she sighed.

Willow texted someone.  "Small attack on the house.  Giles is in Vienna."  She dialed that number, then had to redail to include the first 9.   "There you go."  She smiled.  "Faith said it's good you're okay."

"I'm glad I'm okay too.  Hi, Giles."  She listened to him complain she had been taken.  "I know, but it's not my fault and it's not like I'm turning into Dawn.  No, I'm okay.  Turkey.  I'm good, I promise.  I'll see you in a few hours or tomorrow.  No, he's fine too, Giles.  I promise.  They fed us gross MRE's and things so have me a cheeseburger?" she asked hopefully, making him sigh but promise.  "Cool.  I'll see you tomorrow."  She hung up, looking at Willow.  "Attacked?"

"Minor thing.  Xander came out with his battle axe and they fled for their lives according to Faith.  She was giggling insanely over his bedhair."

"Good."  She looked at Jack, who was growling at someone.  She came over.  "Dude, you're pissing off the president of the United States.  Stop it.  That Colonel looks mean if you piss him off."  She looked at Sam, who grinned and nodded.  "Figures.  Cute ones do have a temper usually.  I did when I was cute oh so many years ago."  She let them walk her off.

Jack looked at John, smirking some.  "That assistant was whose?"

"Yours actually.  The new intern."  He smirked.  "Are you all right, sir?"

"I'm fine."  The picture got widened so they could see the press corps.  He'd have to get John for that later.  "I'm fine.  They treated us well.  We didn't actually see any of our kidnapers and they left us MRE's.  I'm healthy and on my way back tonight."

"Your plane is waiting at the local airport," the base commander said.

Jack smiled at him.  "Thank you for thinking of that detail, I might've forgotten."  The man smiled back.  He looked at John again.  "I'll be back as soon as I can.  Anything I need briefed on?"

"It'll be on the plane for you."

"Good."  He smiled.  "Thank you for getting us so fast, John."

"Not a problem, sir, I'd have wanted sooner."

"I know.  Tell everyone I'm fine and I'll be back soon so they quit worrying."  He hung up, looking at Mitchell.  "He took it in the press room."

"It's one way to make people quit worrying so much," he said with a small shrug.  "Ready to go to the plane?  I think Carter was walking Summers that way."

"Sure."  He shook the base commander's hand.  "Thank your people for their good job, Commander."

"Thank you, sir.  I'm glad you're all right."

Jack smiled.  "As kidnapings go, it wasn't as bad as many I've had."  He walked out with his self-appointed guards.  "Buffy, are you flying back with us?"

"Yup, since I don't have my passport or anything."  She grinned.  "If you don't mind?  I'll try not to snore if I sleep on the plane."

"You only snored that one time," he joked, getting poked on the arm for it.  They got loaded into jeeps and taken to the airport.  There were some press people there but both teams were good at diverting them.   One of them recognized Buffy, who smiled and waved.  Jack waved as he escaped.  The rest of the team joined them right after he was on board.  He sighed as he sat down.  "Better.  No more reporters."  Both teams got sorted out.  "We all here, people?"  They nodded.  The air hostess, who was Air Force, closed the doors so they could go.  Buffy and Willow were on the couch across from his.  Evan's team was chatting with Cam's team back in the reporter/staff section.  He put the foot rest up and got comfortable.  "Yell at me if I snore."

"Of course," Buffy agreed with a smile.  "We need one of these for slayer trips."

Willow nodded.  "We do."  The air hostess came by to cover Jack up and nodded at them before going into the kitchen area.  "Let's hope it's not a bumpy ride."

"Yeah, I hate turbulence too," Buffy said.  The air hostess gave her a fashion magazine, getting a smile back.  "Thank you."  She looked through it.  "Eww, I'll look bad this winter."  She pouted but she and Willow quietly talked about fashion stuff.  Willow clearly needed help again.  They looked over when Jack snorted, smiling at him.  Buffy got up to tuck him in better then sat back down to go back to the next season's fashions.

Willow had a sneaky suspicion.  "So, what do you think about Harrison Ford?" she teased with a smirk.

"Adorably competent with a whip," she sighed.  "Experienced.  Really nice guy in the movies.  Hell, I'll never find a guy like that.  No one not in the life wants to date someone like me.  I could die one night on patrol, could come back vamped.  I could die in an apocalypse battle.  The other hunters we've met think I'm tragically cute but discount my skills.  It's like I'm doomed."

"You're not doomed," Willow said.  "Just because you like guys with experience, that understand all you've been through, doesn't mean you're doomed."

"I am so doomed.  None of the hunters like me."

"That's them.  What about hunters in other countries and agents?"

"They think I'm flaky.  Especially the US agents."

Jack was listening even though he didn't want to.  He understood what Buffy was complaining about.  It was the same reason he couldn't get a date.  Why John couldn't either.  Maybe he'd try to set her and John up.

"I don't know why you want a guy that's forty or so," Willow said.

"Because they've done enough to understand.  Younger ones are nice and do things like pounce, but how many of them are going to understand my duty?  Most of them think I'm flaky, the older ones can see through that.  They treat me like I'm more precious than just another girlfriend and there's plenty of them out there.  Plus they treat me better, ask my opinion on things, all that.  I don't want a sugar daddy, I need a real man and those apparently quit being made twenty-nine years ago."

Jack snickered.  "Yes, they were.  We've noticed that in the military too."  He sat up with a groan.  He noticed the blush.  "Hell, even I can find Harrison Ford attractive, girls.  Many men want to be him."  The blush got brighter.  Jack smiled.  "I think you're a great girl."  She squeaked.

Willow hopped up.  "Let me go pick my nose in the bathroom."  She got free of that awkward talk.  Yes, it had worked!

Jack looked at her.  "Some day I'll get to retire from all this stressful stuff."

"I keep saying that too," she sighed.  "That's why I went to Rome.  Then we heard about the invasion and it was all hands.  I guess I never left again after that."

Jack stared at her.  "Go for a jog tomorrow morning?"

"I'm not usually a morning person but okay," she said slowly.  He grinned.  She smiled back.  She realized he was hitting on her and blushed again.  "The usual route?"

"That'll work."  She smiled again.  "Rest.  It's a most of the day flight to DC."  She nodded, getting comfortable.  "The footrest goes up."  She put it up and stretched out.  He smiled, getting back to his own nap.  Now he got to sleep, even though he was dreaming about ugly knit dresses attacking him.  He would look so bad in them.

That's when he realized he had it bad.


John was waiting at the airfield when the plane landed.  "Welcome back," he said when Cam walked off the plane.  "What took so long?"

"The shield was stuck for a few hours.  Evan said you ran into a time displacement bubble?"

"Yup.  Hated the hell out of that thing."  He shook his hand.  "He good?" he asked quietly.

"Fine.  I think he realized he has a crush on someone," he said sotto voice next to John's ear.

"Really?"  He grinned.  The rest of them came down.  "Evan," he said, shaking his hand.  "Thanks.  Knew I could count on you."

"Not a problem, just don't think of me if we're going to do more political things.  I'm still ducking my family over that."  The women came down and Jack behind them.  He looked at his former CO.  "They're so gushy," he muttered.

John nodded.  "Sir, welcome back.  Miss Summers, your local Slayer is ordering a pizza as soon as she hears you're local."  She blushed but nodded.  He winked.  "Going for a run tomorrow?"

"Yes," Jack sighed.  "Quit being smug, Sheppard, or I'm going to make you clean all the White House heads with your toothbrush."

"Fine.  It's nice seeing you happy, sir."  He smiled.  "The guards are throwing absolute fits that we wouldn't let them come get you.  I pointed out that you had a whole military unit's worth of soldiers and Rosenburg.  They decided that wasn't enough."

"Yeah, well, the Ancient that had this idea....  I'd like to talk to."

"Cordelia?" Buffy called.  She appeared, giving her an odd look.  "Which crackhead higher up was it?"

"Um... one of their sort, not mine."  She waved and disappeared.  "Don't forget your celebration curse."

Buffy looked around then at Jack.  "Oh, yeah, I'm usually attacked at any celebration."

He snickered.  "I've had a number of those myself actually."  She smiled because he understood.  "Go eat pizza.  I'll see you tomorrow at eight?"

"I can do that."  She walked off.  She wasn't trying to catch attention but maybe they were staring because she was wrinkled and had been wearing this outfit for over a day now.

John nudged Jack, smiling.  "We'll make sure she gets to your jog on time."  He walked him off.  "So, an interfering Ancient.  Got any ideas?"

"No, not yet."

"Huh.  Well, Harris routinely swears at Janus, as in the God of Chaos.  Apparently some chaos people screwed with him in the past."

"That doesn't surprise me about Sunnydale in the least."  They got into the car.  The military guys got beamed back to the base for a night off.  "Anything else I need to hear?"

"The Russians are being fussy.  Our ambassador from them apologized for them being idiots in charge sometimes.  Wanted to know if they should restart their gate."  Jack shook his head quickly.  "We didn't think so either.  He wanted to talk to Landry too.  I arranged it."  He shifted, looking at him.  "The British ambassador was worried but sent over a 'good job' note earlier today.  Xander said he's switching Kamria out, even though she's going to college locally, because apparently she's had a stalker that she didn't want to talk about.  When he found out it apparently got fixed."

"Buffy and I think that he's got a post-combat problem," Jack said quietly.

"You're right but he's also got 'I'm fine' syndrome.  He's working through it.  I asked when he nearly had a fit on her earlier.  There's too many threats."

"He could use a vacation."

"He could use a girlfriend," John countered.  "But he dates things worse than I heard Adria was."

"Pity.  That might help him."

"Maybe."  They pulled into the White House.  "Here we are, sir, and we'll get Rodney to find some way to block out ascended.  If only so I don't have to hear how disappointed Miss Chase is that they left Xander in charge of something."

"See if you can find a way to banish her."

"I'll ask Dawn's husband."  They walked inside together.  "See, he's fine," he called.  The guards hurried out to join them.   "Someone get me McKay on the phone," he asked.  "We need him to block out the things that did that."  The head of the guards nodded, moving to call him.  Rodney showed up in a flash of light.  "Ancients."

"What happened to non-interference?" he demanded.

"No clue but apparently that was their version of a set up," Jack said.  "Not that they're wrong.  She's a pretty girl."

Rodney gaped, then smirked.  "Congratulations, O'Neill."

"Thanks, we'll see if it's premature though.  We haven't even dated yet."  He sat down with a sigh.  "So, any ideas?"

"We've been working on a shield to keep Rosenburg out of an area," he admitted.  "I can see if it'll work for this as well."  He drew out his idea.  John added a few things.  Rodney nodded, getting it compact enough to carry around if necessary.   He left to start building the prototype.

Jack relaxed, looking at his too-clean desk.  "You did all the paperwork?"

"Yeah.  It wasn't that much.  Half the stuff on the desk was notes, General."  He pointed at the rack on the sideboard.  "That's all your notes.  Oh, we're being asked about presidential libraries?"


"All your papers, tapes, memos, all that stuff," the guard said.

Jack shook his head.  "It's all at the Pentagon for the most part and classified."

"You can donate it to a university instead, help them build a new wing on their library," the guard said.  "Since you're not going to have tapes like Nixon, emails and memos from everything and it's brother happening."

"I might do that.  Air Force Academy?" he suggested to John.

"Probably a more open university, sir.  Though we can see."

"Yeah, let's check into that," Jack agreed.  He stood up.  "Even with sleeping half the flight, I'm exhausted, guys."

"It's hard work being saved," John agreed.  "Have a good rest, sir."  Jack nodded, letting the guards follow him up to sit outside his room so he couldn't run away.  John smiled on his way back to his own residence.  It had been a long week.  He owed Rodney five bucks too because he had bet against it being something impossible that only O'Neill or Harris could get into.  This was going to be fun to watch.  Plus the chief of staff could get a new event to plan for.  Apparently the guy loved doing them.

And hey, now Jack would have a hostess for events.  No more joking John was the wife.


The new election night was here.  Jack was hiding with Buffy, eating nothing that contained any beef products.  It probably wasn't going to work but Buffy liked pasta anyway.  About ten o'clock, John walked in looking smug.  "I'm free?" Jack asked.

"Hell no but they can't do it to you again, sir.  This is your last term.  Welcome to being a lame duck."



"How much?"

"Slightly less than last time.  Mostly from the Republicans.  You won by 62 percent."

"Wow," Buffy said, smiling at him.  "Well, here's to four more years of dating?"  She held up her glass.

Jack looked at her.  "We can move forward."  She relaxed.

"The Chief of Staff *loves* events," John told her.  "He'll have a whole list of people to go see about an inauguration dress.  Plus the rest of the day's clothes."  He walked off happier.

"Some day we'll have to fix him up too," Jack told her.

"Maybe he and that Rodney guy should try?"

"I think they're just friends but he swears he likes women."


"Do you think she could deal with all this stuffy stuff?"

"No, it'd drive her nuts.  It might drive me nuts."

"It does me too," Jack admitted.  He clinked glasses with her.  "You'll get to do some high fashion shopping," he teased.

"I have to check on the slayer clothing budget.  How many outfits do I need?"

"You can ask him tomorrow, Buffy."

"Okay."  She took his hand to hold, smiling at him.  He grinned back and they went back to eating.  "Does this mean you can eat steak again?"

"Yup.  They can't do it ever again."  He ate a bite.  "John should probably give up steak for a few years though."  She giggled.  "There are rumors."

"Will he be old enough?"


"So who'll he bring in as his VP?"

"Maybe Evan Lorne.  I don't know.  It depends on what's going on then."  He ate another bite, feeding her seconds.  She needed more food.  She smiled and dug in.  It was a good date night hiding from the reporters.


Dawn watched the tv, sighing.  "Buffy's going to be the wife of a president."

Sam moaned, shaking his head.  "Just don't ask us to go to the swearing in."

"Want to go to one of the balls?"

"Not really."

"Want to go get low and dirty in a club?" she offered.

"That I'd like more than a ball."  He smirked.  "Unless you want the fancy dress treatment?"

She moved closer.  "I think you'd look stunning in a tux, Sam, but poufy dresses aren't my thing."  She kissed him.

"Not this again," Connor complained as he walked in.  "I can't find a woman to do those things with, guys.  Quit showing off."  He pouted as he walked off.  Dean would agree with him.  "Dean, they're going at it on the couch again talking about poufy dresses."

Dean leaned out of the office.  "Why do you need a wedding dress, Sammy?"

"Jack got reelected.  Dawn was wondering about the balls."

"Eww.  Dawn!"

"Sorry!  This means my sister's going to marry a president.  There's going to be a *huge* wedding."

"You can go stag so we're out of the light of reporters," Sam assured her, giving her a kiss.  "Make sure Buffy knows you can help her shop."

"She'll have to clarify the dress budget with Giles."  She called him.  "Giles, it's Dawn.  O'Neill won reelection.  That means Buffy's got to have high fashion clothes for the swearing in."  She smiled.  "Exactly.  Yup, all that.  Gown and regular outfits.  Plus if there's going to be a wedding it's going to make news."  She laughed.  "I know it's expensive.  So talk to the woman.  Yes, this is fair warning we're going to shop.  I wonder if we can get Xander into it too."  She hung up on his shudder.  "He's having pains in his pocketbook again."

"I would too because you two can shop more than most girls."

"You should've seen Cordelia.  She was the queen sheepdog of the school.  Head cheerleader and all that."

Sam kissed her.  "If we're lucky enough to have kids, ours won't be cheerleaders.  Band maybe, maybe acting, but not cheerleading.  Or football."  She snuggled into his side.   "Do you want kids some year?"

"As long as it can be done safely," she said quietly.  "Though I'd rather have sons than risk having a slayer of our own."  She looked up at him.  He nodded he agreed.  She relaxed again.  "Do you want kids?"

"Some year maybe."  He gave her a cuddle.  It was nice that they liked a lot of the same things.  They could even be research nerds together.   That's what he was doing right now while she waited to see how horrible the local elections were.


Buffy walked into a shop with Dawn.  "I need dressing help," she told the worker.

"You look familiar."

"Buffy Summers."  She smiled.

"Oh, you're dating the president.  Yes, dear, you do need to dress a bit more upscale now and then.  Some of your skirts have been a bit...tiny."  She walked her into the back.  "What event are we shopping for or just general wardrobe needs?"

"The swearing in ceremony."  She'd ignore the slight to the rest of her clothes.  "I know people talk about those outfits.  I want to look classy but a bit more demure.  I know it's going to be cold that day so I'm wearing thick heels in case of ice or snow.  Are pants reasonable?"

"No," the cashier said, leading her to a nice collection.  "Whoever sent you here had excellent ideas."

Buffy looked.  "Those are really long."

"They'll be warmer," Dawn pointed out.  "Look at that blue one, Buffy."

She looked at it.  "That, some tights you think?  Nice neutral, match my shoes tights?"

"Where are you from originally, dear?"

"LA," she said with a smile.

"Oh, I see.  Hmm.  Well, I'm not sure that would really work for the fashionable side."  She held up a longer skirt.  "That would be both warm and demure."

Buffy felt it.  "Itchy.  I'll have to sit in it for hours."

"The swearing in usually takes about two or three hours but there's also the waiting beforehand.  So you'll want something warm for about four or five hours."

Willow strolled in and looked then at Buffy.  "You're dressing like me?"

"The Chief of Staff guy said demure and it'll be chilly."

Willow pulled out pictures.  "These are what other first ladies wore the last ten times."

Buffy looked the pictures over.  "They were mostly knee-length.  I like this one," she said, holding it up.

"I'm sure she got remarked on for that bold of a color," the clerk said.

Buffy sighed.  "Huh.  Dawn?"

"I like that look and it'll look good on you."  She looked around and found a dress.  "You'll have that tea afterwards.  Use this for that?"

Buffy nodded.  "That's cute.  Kind of old glam classy.  With Mom's necklace you think?"

"I think that'd be pretty," Willow agreed.  "Some cute shoes, hair done up?"

Buffy nodded.  "Okay, let's do that.  Thank you for helping me decide on some things," she told the clerk.  They bought that dress and went somewhere more her-ish.  That was old lady clothes.  She needed the mistress's clothing shop for cuter things that were more her age.   Then again, maybe she should hire someone who knew more about fashion.  She was still confused.  "I need a gown too.  It has to be spectacular so Jack gasps, but not trashy ho."

"You hear a few names being talked about," Dawn quipped.  "We can visit one of them."  She pulled out a fashion mag.  It was wondering what Buffy was going to wear too.  Buffy moaned, shaking her head.  "It has some ideas."  She let her see the article.

"I like some of their shirts," she agreed, heading for that shop.  It was definitely more her style of clothes.  She walked in and the girl smiled at her.  "Swearing in outfit?"

"I have *just* the outfit, Miss Summers."  She led her to a few choices.  "Any of these, you can dress up with a good jacket, blazer or cute jackety sort of jacket."  Buffy relaxed and smiled.  "If you need to add more layers for warmth, add this sort of jacket to either of the blue skirts.  Add this one," she said, pointing at another one, "for the other one."  Buffy tried them on, letting them decide on the baby blue one with the black jacket if necessary.  A slightly darker silk shirt would be warm.  They talked shoes and tights, agreeing with her choice of flats or low heels and warm, neutral tights.  Buffy left happier and had a good recommendation for who would do her form proud for the ballgown she'd need.

Buffy got back to the White House a few hours later, after a lunch date with her sister.  The guards all smiled at her carrying bags.  She walked into the Chief of Staff's office, handing over pictures. "Good?"

He looked through them, smiling at her.  "Very good.  Tights?"  She nodded.  "Did you get a jacket with that one outfit?"

"Yup, just in case."  She showed it to him.

"That'll go very well.  A simple jacket overtop of it and you'll be fine.  Gloves?"  She held them up.  He smiled.  "Good job.  So that leaves the ballgown, right?"

"The lady at the second place gave me who I should see.  The first place was dowdy, old woman clothes."

"True, sorry."  He smiled.  "Jack's in a meeting."

"That's cool.  I got him two new dress shirts.  That way he's not stuck and he can wear whatever suit he wants."  She held them up.

"Good job.  Go drop them on Chuck."

"Okay."  She walked off, letting Dawn wave.  "You're not Chuck," she told the person in Chuck's chair.

"Who're you?" he sneered.

"I'm dating him," she said sarcastically.  She looked at the guard.

"He's in with General Landry, Buffy.  This one's from the secretarial pool for the day."

"That's cool."  She handed over the shirts.  "He said he needed a new dress shirt.  Tell him I've got everything but the ballgown.  We know who we're talking to about that, and I'll be stunningly pretty yet slightly demure so no one else tells me my skirts are too short."  He stifled a snicker.  "Seriously.  Anyway, this is my sister."  She pointed.  "Dawn."

"Hi," she said with a smile and a wave.  "My husband refuses to show up for anything because he doesn't want attention."

"Good to know, ma'am.  Are you showing up for the swearing in?"

"Nope.  If there's a huge wedding you'll only get me."

Buffy looked at her.  "No!  No huge wedding!  Celebration curse!"

"Good point.  Okay, well, small, out of the way wedding you might get both of us as long as there's no reporters."

Jack opened the office door.  "Hell no, no big wedding, Dawn."  He looked at the temp.  "Who're you?"

"Secretarial pool, sir.  Chuck's off for a doctor's appointment today."

"Oh, okay."  He took the shirts and a kiss on the cheek with a smile.  "Thank you.  All done?"

"The really important dress tomorrow."

"Good.  Wedding?"

"She mentioned it, not me.  Yell at Dawn."

Jack looked at her.  "Quiet, out of the way, no press, so you can talk Sam into coming."  Dawn beamed.  Buffy gasped, staring at him.  He smirked.  "Some year soon."  She nodded, smiling at that.  Dawn was snickering.  "Okay.  Go do girl things, ladies."  They rushed off together.  Jack looked at the temp.  "Yes, if she wants to talk to me and I'm not doing something important, she gets me."  He walked back inside.  "She saved me shopping."

"I'm happy for you," Hank Landry said dryly.  "Is she picking out your suit too?  You can't really wear the same one."

"Don't remind me.  Still, it's easier than a ballgown."

"True, and you'd look very strange in one."  The guard shut the door again, shaking his head to clear that image out.  Jack and Hank both snickered at that.  It was fun to watch the headaches.

Hank finally got up.  "I'll let you do the important things, like shop."  He left, going back to his base.   Things were going good right now.  He wanted to keep it that way.

Jack grimaced but found his suit shop's address and then their phone number.  "It's Jack O'Neill," he said in greeting.  He had been passed onto a manager.  They knew him there.  "Yes, I need something new for the swearing in," he sighed.  "When's a good time to show up?"  He took that down.  "That'll work.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "Blinky, we're going to the suit shop at four," he called.

"The Japanese ambassador is going to be here then," he called back.

"He can come help me find a suit.  He has better taste in suits since he wears them all the time."

"Good point, sir."  He got John's assistant to warn the ambassador of that change of meeting place.  That way he was prepared to offer fashion advice.  Though it was cute how Miss Summers and the general jogged together every two days.  It kept him in very good shape, and her too.


Jack saw Buffy before the swearing in.  She looked adorably old fashioned.  He grinned.  "Pretty."

"Thank you."  She adjusted his tie for him then kissed him on the cheek.  "Don't trip.  Don't shoot anyone."

"Fine, take my fun," he sighed.

She nodded.  One of the guards led her to her seat.  The ones around her gave her an odd look.  She smiled back.  "You must be John's brother.  You look like him.  Buffy Summers."

"Miss Summers," he said, smiling and shaking her hand.  "Nice to meet you.  I am John's brother actually."  He grinned.  "Very nicely done."

"Thank you.  I plotted for weeks over this outfit."  He chuckled.  "You guys have it so much easier."  The shindig was starting and she had to pay attention.  It wasn't every day her boyfriend got sworn in as the President.  She saw one of the guards stiffen and mentally started to chant 'please no demons today' over and over.  No, it turned out to be two women who threw themselves at John.  His brother cracked up at that.  She grinned at him too.  He shrugged and made a pithy quip, letting things get done again.  Finally they got out of the cold and headed in to go to the tea.  Buffy changed in the office bathroom.  Jack got out of his jacket.  John did the same.  Buffy grinned.  "Surrounded by prettiness."

Jack looked at her dress.  "You bought that at the frumpy shop, didn't you?"

"Yes, but they were trying to be helpful."  She turned.  "Tie me in?"  He tightened the straps for her, making it look much better.  Definitely less than frumpy with the corset vest over it.  He nodded that looked prettier and they walked out with him on her arm.  They weathered the pictures being taken.  Buffy turned her head when someone shouted a question.  "What?"

"Are you going to redecorate anything in the White House, Miss Summers?"

"That was more my mother's thing than mine.  Even if I end up living there I'll probably only change the towels and which closet is his."  She smiled and they walked on.  "Why would I redecorate?"

"A lot of first ladies have," Jack said with a small shrug.

"I think we can wait on me decorating anything."

"Maybe," Jack agreed.  "But I could use some help anyway."

She smiled, patting him on the wrist.  "I can help if you ask."  He smiled back.  "Though that was still more my mother's thing than mine."


"Doesn't live in one place any longer so she's living out of two suitcases.  I couldn't do it most of the time; I need a home base.  Traveling some is fine but I have to make it home to a real tub now and then."

"That's the best way to do it," Jack agreed.  "Usually I live in a nice cabin, by a lake."

She grinned.  "Sounds quiet."

"Usually."  They sat down and were served tea and little sandwiches.  He leaned closer.  "After this, a real dinner before the ball?" he hissed.

She giggled.  "You're on.  Steak so we can taunt John?"

"Hey," John complained from his seat.  "I can eat steak."

"That'll mean you're getting it next," Buffy teased.

"Good point.  No steak for me then."  He went back to his little sandwiches.  After this, he was definitely eating real food.   Manly food that didn't get cut into tiny shapes.  Ones with meat before he farted out the cucumbers.  His brother was there so at least he had someone to talk to since Jack was cooingly cute at Buffy.  It was fun to watch but also a bit...gagging.  Rodney would *so* snark at this.


Xander watched the inauguration stuff with the other girls, who were all cooing over how good Buffy looked.  It was cute.  The entertainment shows had a lot to say about her outfits.  Especially the ballgown that was flimsy yet structural enough to enhance, and the perfect shade of pink.  He hoped Jack liked pink because he was going to be seeing a lot of it soon.  "We should make cards for when they finally get married," he told them.  They grinned and did that, and a few wrote her emails about how cute she looked.

"I'm so glad I don't have to do something like that," one joked.

"Sheppard's still single," Xander quipped.  They all sighed at that information, getting teenage girl looks.

Faith leaned in.  "Wow, B has boobs in that dress," she said dryly.  "Clearly the wonder in wonderbra."  She walked off shaking her head.

"We might have to prepare for a wedding."

"I'll make the emergency plans for when we're attacked," Faith quipped.  "You start stockpiling the weapons."

"I should check them, yeah," Xander agreed, going to do that.  He was happy for Buffy.  This one, finally, he wouldn't have to threaten.  Now if only Willow got off her ass and asked Sam Carter out.


Two weeks later, Jack knocked on Buffy's door.  "Pack.  We're going to my cabin for the weekend."



"Should I bring a dress?"

He paused.  "If you have one you like a whole lot," he offered.

She looked at him.  "ET has been ragging on you."

"I heard.  Yeah, bring a dress."  She smirked and pulled one out, putting the other clothes in the same dress bag.  "Shoes?"

"Already in there.  Wearing sneakers now.  Should I change?"

He looked her over, shaking his head.  "You look good in those jeans.  They're nice on you."  She grinned, following him down to the car once she had the door locked.  The driver put the bag in the trunk and they were away, away from DC for a whole weekend of quiet!


Xander, Dawn, and Willow helped Buffy get ready.  For some reason Xander was doing her hair for her.  Surprisingly, he was doing a decent job today.  "We taught you well," Willow teased.

"When are you going to get off your butt and ask Sam out?" he countered with an evil smirk.

"She doesn't like girls," she said quietly.

"Aww," Dawn said, sniffling a bit as she hugged her.  "It'll be okay."

"I know.  I'll find someone nice very soon."  They got Buffy ready and then looked at themselves.  Willow got them clothes to change into and they walked out.  Buffy got walked down by Giles.  There weren't any attendants, only a few team members and very close friends.  Faith was waiting on her side. A few of the slayers she liked a lot.  Overhead a helicopter was trying but Willow started to growl.  "I know," she said when Cam gave her a dirty look.  "I'm not."  They relaxed again.

"I'm thinking anti-aircraft missile personally," Jack quipped.  Xander pulled out his phone, going through his phonebook.  "Harris, I can borrow from the base."

"I didn't think they'd have anything that mundane," he quipped with a grin, putting his phone back.  Behind them, John Sheppard got beamed in and sat down.

Jack looked at the general who was licensed to marry people.  "Can you?"

"Of course."  He opened the book he held to get to the pamphlet, starting off the short, to the point ceremony.  Then there was real food but not steak.


Jack came back and was ambushed by reporters on the lawn.  "What?" he demanded.  "I just got back from vacation, people.  Chill."

"Did anything else happen?" one called.  "We heard rumors of John Sheppard leaving DC as well."

"No comment," Jack called.  "Really."  They hurried inside, him shaking his head.  One of the new guys tried to stop her but Jack glared and he backed down.  "Thank you."  He walked into his Chief of Staff's office.  "How long before they have to know?"

"Six hours ago.  One of the soldiers in Landry's unit spilled that he was off-base for a wedding.  They knew it was yours or Sheppard's by the way you both left.  Congratulations by the way."  Buffy grinned.  "Yes, you can change the towels, the sheets, or the curtains in your apartment.  Any other room has to be more historical.  There's a committee for that."

"There's a committee to buy toilet paper," John said from behind them.  "Really, there is.  They were arguing Charming vs Quilted Northern the other day."  He went to his office.  "Okay, what happened?  Suddenly I have a zen garden."  His assistant came running to explain that one of his friends had redecorated.  "I guess that's fine.  Teyla was trying to be helpful."  Jack walked past snickering.  "Should I leak a wedding picture?"

"Please don't," Buffy complained.

"Fine."  He smirked at her back.  "Don't worry, your rooms are soundproofed if you're as wild as Dawn and Sam."  He fled before Jack could glare.

"I'm too old for that," Jack complained.

"I did not take the same lessons from Anya Dawnie did," she said.  "I never learned how to ruin backs.  I learned more that guys don't expect me to do a lot."

He smirked.  "We'll see."  He checked his desk then pulled her up to their new rooms.

"Yup, I'm definitely changing the sheets.  No flowers or anything but the color doesn't go with the walls."

"I don't care.  Make them soft."  He kissed her.

"Soft is good," she agreed, taking another one.

The guards outside the room sighed in displeasure about a half hour later but it's not like they'd wake anyone up.  They did have to not laugh at the 'wow, my last boyfriends were pathetic next to you; I knew a real man was better at it' that she let out finally.

The End.

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