Part Thirty-six

“I had no idea…” Sam didn’t know what to say.

“Not many people do,” the General stated, fixing her with a stern glare. “Lieutenant Rosenberg doesn’t want anyone to know she’s a survivor of the Sunnydale Massacre. The only people that do know are her team, Daniel, me, Hammond and now the two of you.”

Sam could understand why Rosenberg wouldn’t want other people to know.

“And we’re going to keep it that way,” he went on. “What I told you doesn’t leave this room.”

“As you wish, O’Neill,” Teal’c agreed.

Sam nodded. “I won’t mention it to anyone.” Though she had questions, a lot of them. “So, Sir, you think the that the attack at the hospital has something to do with the Sunnydale Massacre?”

He pulled a face. “I’m not sure.” He sighed and sat down on the lounge across from her. “It just seems too much of a coincidence. You saw her on the TV, she was there. It was the hospital her friend was at… The chances of it not being connected are pretty thin.”

After hearing about Rosenberg’s past, Sam agreed with the General. There were too many coincidences and…

Rosenberg had looked so scared on the news.

Not just scared, but terrified.

Considering what Rosenberg did with the SGC, what she faced, Sam would have thought an attack on a hospital was something Rosenberg could have handled – easily.

But it wasn’t.

Whatever Rosenberg had seen off camera terrified her so much that she had run away from an emergency situation. She had fled the scene of this latest ‘massacre.’ Sam didn’t like what it implied and she didn’t like that Daniel was there. “Sir, when do you want us to leave?”

“As soon as possible.”

“We have that meeting with Dad and some of the Tok’ra High Council tomorrow.” She looked at her watch. “I mean this afternoon, we can’t miss that meeting.” They were renegotiating their treaty with the Tok’ra. There was no way the President would allow them to miss that.

O’Neill nodded. “After that, then. I’ll book you two on a flight early in the evening.”

“Good.” She stood up. “Sir, with your permission, I’d like to return to the base.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Carter?”

“I want to do some research on the Sunnydale Massacre,” Sam told him. “I think we should know as much as we can about whatever’s going on.”

“Permission granted.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Kawalsky.” Daniel reached out and grabbed the Major’s arm before he could take a second step. “Leave her for a little while longer.” He nodded to Willow, who was still encircled by her friends.

This… This wasn’t something he felt they could interrupt.

“Daniel…” Kawalsky’s voice was a whisper. “I’d love to give her more time, but we have a situation here.”

His throbbing ankle refused to let him forget that fact. “I know, but they need more time.”

Willow needed more time.

God, seeing her like that… Daniel found it hard to breathe just thinking about it. The two times Willow had broken down with him had been nowhere near as painful as that had been. It had taken every ounce of Daniel’s strength not to run to her side.

He had seen the source of Willow’s pain and guilt – and it was far worse than he could have possibly imagined.

He thought her guilt was solely survivor’s guilt. Daniel had seen people with survivor’s guilt a few times since he had joined the SGC, but this went beyond that. What Daniel had overheard made things so clear now, especially when he added them to what he had learned since arriving in L.A.

Suddenly he understood Willow more than he ever thought he would.

“I’m sorry, Daniel but – ”

“Just give her a minute.” Daniel silently prayed Kawalsky would listen. The last thing Willow needed was to face her team. God, she would hate that they were witnessing this. He wasn’t even sure if she would be happy that Daniel had seen and heard as much as he did. “I know you’re worried about her, but the best thing for us to do right now is to let her go.”

But it wasn’t the best thing for SR-1; Daniel hadn’t seen them this worried before – which said a lot.

“The demon cult has no way of tracking us,” Daniel whispered. “Willow’s not linked to them and neither are Giles and Tara. We have time.”

Not a lot, but enough to allow them this moment.

They deserved it.

Daniel’s mind was still reeling from everything he had learned. Not just tonight, but all of it. He couldn’t even find the words to describe how he felt about it. There probably weren’t any.

“No, Daniel, we don’t,” Kawalsky said, interrupting his thoughts. “The demon cult isn’t my biggest concern at the moment. Jack is.”

Damn. Daniel had forgotten about that. Jack had seen Willow on the news, at least that was what Angel had told Faith when they spoke on the phone. Daniel had kind of hoped that she had misunderstood Angel.

“He’s asking questions,” the Major needlessly reminded him. “And I don’t know how long he’s going to wait before he calls again.”

Knowing Jack, probably not that long.

“He’s right, Dr Jackson,” Grogan broke in. “The General’s already suspicious, if we –”

“The General’s suspicious?”

Damn it! “Willow…” There were a million things he wanted to say to her, to comfort her. He wanted to pull her into his arms and hold her until her pain stopped, but all he ended up doing was stare at her.

Willow looked so vulnerable, as though she was going to break any minute.

She got to her feet. “Grogan? Major? What’s going on?”

Willow’s moment with her friends, Daniel realized with sadness, was over.

“It’s nothing, Red,” Faith answered, shooting Kawalsky a look. Faith and the others stood as well. “Your boss just called –”

“I got that,” she said slowly. “But he’s suspicious? A-about me?”

It really didn’t take much to put two and two together.

“Not in the way you think.” At least he hoped Jack wasn’t. “He’s worried about you.” He instinctively took a step towards Willow and hissed in pain immediately. How could he forget about his –

“Oh God, you’re hurt!” Whatever blood was remaining in Willow’s face fled.

“I’m okay,” he hastily assured her, not that it did any good. She was at his side instantly, putting his arm around her shoulder and leading him to the lounge with Kawalsky’s help.

She knelt on the floor in front of him, panicked. “Daniel, what happened?”

“I broke my ankle.” It was no use lying to her.

Her eyes immediately went to his swollen foot. “How?”

Daniel didn’t want to tell her this. She had just gone through so much pain with her friends. He didn’t want to reopen any wounds or guilt.

“It was at the hospital, wasn’t it?” Willow asked when he didn’t reply. “When the demons attacked?”

He could already see the guilt returning to her eyes. “Willow’s it’s okay…” But was it? Daniel’s injuries were minor compared to everything else that happened. Oh God, how was Willow going to react to Annabelle’s death?

“Daniel…” Willow’s eyes filled with tears. “I’m sorry, I-I didn’t know. I didn’t…”

“He’s okay, Rosenberg.” Kawalsky’s voice caused Willow to jump. “It’s just a broken ankle, he’s had worse.”

Daniel bristled at the tone Kawalsky was using. It was harsh, harsher than necessary and Willow reacted to it accordingly. She stiffened and hastily wiped the tears from her eyes. “Yes, Sir.”

He fought the urge to glare at Kawalsky. What the hell was he doing? Now wasn’t the time to assert his authority over Willow. Couldn’t he see that she was vulnerable, that she was going through something important?

God, all Daniel wanted to do was protect Willow.

He hated seeing her so shattered and in so much pain. He wanted to stop it, all of it. He wanted to do everything in his power to protect her from any more of it. Daniel wanted to make sure that the joy he had seen in her eyes, because of the forgiveness she had received, never faded.

But it already had.

While she wasn’t quite ‘the Lieutenant’ yet, she would be soon.

“I’m okay, Willow,” he repeated, reaching out and taking her hand.

She squeezed it gently. “Are you hurt anywhere else?”

“Just some bruising.” His ribs weren’t broken, but he was a walking bruise under his shirt.

Her expression darkened. “From the demon attack.”

NO! Daniel wanted to cry out to Willow, to stop the coldness that was beginning to creep into her eyes.

“Was anyone else hurt?” Her voice shook as she asked the question.

No one replied.

None of them wanted to talk to about Annabelle. Like Daniel, they knew it would destroy Willow.

“Who’s hurt?” Willow demanded. She looked around at all of them. “Gunn, Annabelle, Tara, Rondell? Did they make it?”

Giles took a step forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Willow –”

“Lieutenant,” Kawalsky cut Giles off before he could say anything. “I’d like to speak to you for a moment.”

Daniel wasn’t sure he liked the thought of that. “Kawalsky…”

The Major ignored him. “Mrs Summers, is there some place I can have a word with my Lieutenant in private?”

Oh, he REALLY didn’t like it.

Neither did Cordelia. “Hey, if you want to talk to Will, you can talk to her in front of us.”

Daniel watched as Faith, Angel, and Giles gathered behind Cordelia, silently echoing her sentiment. They had just gotten Willow back; they weren’t going to let anything upset her.

“It’s okay,” Willow tried to placate them.

“No, Red, it’s not,” Faith stated firmly.

Kawalsky ignored all of them. “Mrs Summers? Is there a spare room we can use?”

Mrs Summers looked worriedly to Willow and then Giles. “There’s a, um, room down the hall, the second door on the left.”

“Thank you.” He turned to remaining members of SR-1. “Hayes, Grogan, I’d like you to set both to stand guard outside and take a look around the place, make sure nothing followed any of us here.”

“We weren’t followed,” Angel told him coldly.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry,” Kawalsky said. “Mrs Summers…”

“Yes?”

“I’d like you to pack a bag; you’ll be coming back to Caritas with us.”

“Excuse me?” Cordelia was outraged.

Daniel inwardly winced. His order to Mrs Summers really wasn’t going down well with Willow’s friends.

“Who died and made you king Tut?”

The C.O. of SR-1 wasn’t bothered in the slightest by Cordelia’s anger – or the angry looks of her friends. “Mrs Summers could have been seen at the hospital by one of the demons,” he explained. “And we don’t know if by coming here we’ve put her in danger. She comes with us.”

“He’s right,” Willow agreed. “It’s not safe here.”

Daniel agreed as well. With that at least, not with Kawalsky talking to Willow alone. He honestly didn’t know if Willow was ready for whatever Kawalsky was going to tell her. Daniel had no doubt that he would tell her about Annabelle and Jack, but Daniel had no idea how Kawalsky was feeling about it.

Any of it.

“Okay.” Mrs Summers hesitated for a moment before she turned and left the room.

Kawalsky once again focused on his team. “Hayes, Grogan, you know what to do. Rosenberg, you’re with me.”

“Kawalsky…” Daniel started to get up.

“Daniel.” Kawalsky’s tone and look made Daniel stop where he was. “Now isn’t the time.”

Without waiting for anymore comments, SR-1 went their separate ways.

“I don’t like this,” Faith stated.

Neither did Daniel, but he couldn’t deny the fact that Kawalsky and the rest of Willow’s team cared deeply about her. Kawalsky wouldn’t do anything that would seriously harm Willow.

“I agree,” Giles said. “I think one of us should be there with her.”

“No.” Daniel was as surprised as everyone else that he had spoken. “We should leave them alone. We’ll only make it worse.”

“Okay, that’s it, I’m going in there.” Cordelia started in the direction Willow and Kawalsky went but stopped when Daniel called out her name.

“I don’t think he’s taken her in there so he can rip into her.” At least he hoped he wasn’t. It was hard to know what Kawalsky was thinking and Daniel wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“Then what’s he doing?” Angel wanted to know.

“His job,” Daniel replied. “He’s her Commanding Officer; it’s his job to break bad news to her. He’s telling her about Jack seeing her on the news, about Annabelle… And he’s making sure that she’s all right, that she’s going to be able to go on.” Jack had done the same thing with him countless times.

Being a C.O. wasn’t a part time job. At least it wasn’t for Jack, and he was pretty sure it wasn’t for Kawalsky either.

“Jack’s waiting for his call,” Daniel continued. “And since Kawalsky and Jack are best friends, Kawalsky won’t be…”

“Won’t what?”

Daniel hesitated. “Kawalsky won’t be able to lie to him. If Willow’s not all right, he’ll have to tell Jack.” Seeing Willow like he had was going to have consequences. Willow hadn’t just cried, she had broken down completely. Kawalsky and SR-1 had to have seen that.

The problem was, Kawalsky and SR-1 didn’t have the knowledge Daniel had about Willow. They didn’t know that she could bounce back from this – both physically and emotionally. That she had twice before.

They didn’t know how strong she really was.

All SR-1 knew was that Willow had broken down emotionally after the demon attack. They probably knew more than that. Daniel was pretty sure they knew Willow had almost killed Giles and Tara with her magic accidentally.

Kawalsky wasn’t just in there making sure Willow was okay, he was making sure he didn’t have to send her back to the SGC.

Next