Part Five


Willow clutched her head, willing the headache to fade, and the earth to swallow her up. Oh god, she couldn't believe it. She had never been so humiliated in her life.

Or scared.

But humiliation was winning at the moment.

When she first woke, she thought it had all been a dream. Not so much the alien part, but the part where she had to be carried NAKED by Dr Jackson into his bedroom. She had been hoping that her breakdown had been a dream.

Especially now since she didn't feel so… bad.

Oh, she was still scared. Terrified.

But the oppressing fear that overwhelmed her last night, wasn't there. Last night all the pain, fear, anger, and anguish she had been holding inside over the years came flooding out of her in one huge tsunami. Last night she hadn't been able to stop the memories and Dr Jackson had been there to witness it all.

The emotions she had been denying had been released and she felt slightly freer.

Even if she decided to go through with the training, she wouldn't be able to. Her entire career was over.

And that bothered her.

A lot.

The harsh light of day really sucked.

And not just the ruining of her career.

She hated what she had done to her friends – her family. There was no denying it any more, who she was, or where she was from. Look at what years of denial had done? What it accomplished? Nothing. All her hard work of building a safe world where she didn't have to deal with anything like demons was gone.

There was no such thing as a safe world.

Giles had said those very words to her during one of his attempts of trying to talk her out of joining the Academy. She had been wrong. She had hurt everyone for nothing.

But that didn't mean she wanted to go out into the demon world.

Willow didn't think she could ever go back to that. Even if she was discharged, Willow knew she couldn't go to LA to Giles, Cordy, Faith, and Angel. Visit, maybe, but never for good. That world scared her too much.

It wasn't her world any more.

The Air Force was.

It was all she knew now.

And she lost it.

Through no one's fault but her own.

There were other branches she could have gone into, other programs where she didn't have to deal with aliens, but that was lost to her now.

SHE was so lost.

And scared.

She wanted to run away again, but there was no where to go. There really was no escape… Oh god… breathe! Calm! Breathe! Willow willed away the panic that threatened to overwhelmed her.

She couldn't lose it in front of Dr Jackson again.

Or even not in front of him.

She had to accept it and move on. Oh god, could she really do that? Everything was happening so fast, she just needed some time to think and really try to deal with what she had learned.

"Willow?" Dr Jackson called through the door. "Are you all right?"

He probably thought she was losing it again. "I'm fine, Sir. I'll be out in a minute."

Willow dressed in a pair of sweats and a shirt that lay on the end of the bed. His bed. She was in the bedroom of the man who deciphered the Stargate and was a member of the premier team SG-1.

Oh god!

She didn't want to go outside, but she had to, or he would come in and get her. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and the smell of coffee assaulted her senses.

"Do you like cream and sugar with your coffee?"

"No, thank you, Sir."

Dr Jackson looked at her, "Willow, I think after last night you can call me Daniel."

It was easier on both of them if she didn't. "I don't think that would be appropriate," she admitted, "it will just make it more difficult when you report me to the SGC."

He held the cup out to her. "I'm not reporting you. Well, at least I don't think I am. Last night you were drunk and upset, I don't think you were really yourself last night."

What?

"It's all right to be freaked about everything Willow."

Huh? "With all due respect, Sir. I was way past freaked before you even brought me here. I'm not fit to hold a command, or even be a Lieutenant. You saw what happened last night, I –"

"I saw someone who had lived through hell try to cope with having me shatter her world. You reacted the way anyone would if they lived through what you did."

What she did… SHIT! NOW she remembered, vaguely. She had told him about Sunnydale, not about, but mentioned it during her thinking and talking thing. He had worked it out.

"I'm sorry about your parents."

She closed her eyes in pain. "Thank you." Willow still didn't understand why he wasn't reporting her, or at least he didn't think he was.

He put a cup of coffee on the table with some toast. "Sit down and we'll talk."

Talk? "Yes, Sir."

He let out a sigh of frustration. "Willow, please call me… never mind. Calling me Dr Jackson is fine."

She took a bite of the toast. Dr Jackson sat down across from her, he looked tired. Not a surprise since he stayed up with her all night. Why did he do that? Why didn't he call the SF's, or someone, to come and get her?

"Dr Jackson, I don't mean to be rude," she began, "but why didn't you take me back to the base?"

"They would have taken you out of the training," he replied. "I really meant it when I said it's ok to be freaked, Willow. Finding out aliens are real isn't something that can be easily digested. Especially when some of the aliens aren't friends with Earth."

The Goa'uld. They scared the hell out of Willow. They were technologically more advanced than they were, they had lived for THOUSANDS of years before humans had even evolved.

Did Angel know about the Goa'uld?

Or Giles even?

The Goa'uld could take out the Earth from space, without even having to enter the atmosphere. Earth had no defense against that. Well, they had some specially designed fighting crafts that…. "The X302T's. They're not from human technology are they?"

Dr Jackson shook his head. "They're designed from Goa'uld Deathgliders for pilot training. You'll fly the real thing when you go off world for the last phase of your training."

She LOVED flying the X302T's. They had been a dream to handle and… when she finished her training? No. She was leaving the training. "Dr Jackson, I'm not going to finish the training program. I'm going to see my instructor today, and request a transfer."

If Dr Jackson didn't report her.

"Why?"

Why? Um… she hadn't been expecting that question. She couldn't exactly say she was too scared because she had lost her friend fighting the mayor who had turned into a demon. Or that she was scared of making friends and losing them.

She was just scared period.

"Is it because of what happened in Sunnydale? Last night, you said you didn't want to lose anyone else. Are you afraid of losing friends fighting the Goa'uld?"

"Yes, Sir."

He nodded in understanding. "Do you think they'll live because you're not fighting beside them?"

"What?"

"Are you scared of losing people you care about or are you afraid of dying?" he wanted to know.

"Losing people." It was why she ran away. She didn't want to lose anyone else… it was the center of her fear.

"Not joining the SGC isn't going stop any friends you make from dying. It won't stop me from dying. Do you think it's going to hurt any less if someone you care about dies if you're not there?"

Would it hurt if Giles died fighting a demon and she wasn't there? Yes. It would kill her. Oh god! She was such an idiot. "No, Sir."

He reached over and took her hand. "I know you're afraid. I don't know what happened in Sunnydale, but I imagine it would have been horrible. You lost your parents and friends. But what would you do if they were still alive, if you were still in the Air Force, would you join the SGC?"

Would she? She wouldn't have even joined the Air Force. She would have stayed with Buffy and Xander and fought… "Yes, I would have joined the SGC." Same fight, different face.

Oh god.

She had really messed up.

Giles and the others must really hate her. These words weren't new to her. Giles and Angel had both tried to talk sense into her, but she hadn't wanted to listen. Why did it take an almost stranger to finally break through to her?

God, she needed time to think, to digest. "I see your point, Sir."

He smiled. "I'm not trying to force you into this. If you don't think you can deal with it, now that you know the truth, get a transfer, but you did make it this far. Even with your past. You wouldn't be here if you weren't the strong enough or capable enough. Both physically and emotionally."

Was she strong enough? Could she handle it? Could she turn her back on this fight too? Was she going to run again? And if she did, what would she do if the Goa'uld did invade the planet… if Giles, Cordy, Angel, and Faith were killed?

She'd do more than lose it.

It's an important fight, Willow. If you're willing to make the sacrifices."

Sacrifices. She knew all about them, but her friends had sacrificed far more than she had. "Yes, Sir."

"Just don't make a decision when you're upset. There's a reason you have two days down time before the final phase of training. Use them to think. You're probably not the only person who has lost it like that, we're just never around to see it, that's all."

Willow nodded, only half paying attention.

"Willow, are you all right?"

"Yes, Sir. I was just thinking."

"Is there someone you want me to call to come and get you? You're welcome to spend the day if you would like to talk some more, but I thought that if you wanted to go home, to think, maybe spend the day with some friends…"

Willow shook her head. "My friends live in LA, I haven't spoken to them since graduation." Why had she blurted that out?

"You haven't spoken to your friends since graduation? They're friends from Sunnydale?"

That came out wrong. "Not that graduation. Graduation from the Academy," she hastily explained, "but yeah, they're from Sunnydale."

And she missed them.

"Why not give them a call? Talking to them might help, but not about the program."

Oh no. They could never know about it. They had enough to worry about. "Sir, I assure you, I would never betray the…"

He was smiling at her, amused. "I know."

Willow drank the remainder of her coffee. "Would I be able to call a cab?"

She wanted to go home.

And think.

He stood up. "I'll take you home."

No. "You've been awake all night, Sir. I'll take a cab. I need some time to think, to be alone."

"Are you sure?" Dr Jackson seemed hesitant.

After the way she lost it – who could blame him? "I'll be fine, Sir."

Would she really? God, she hoped so.

She was so confused.

So lost.

Willow didn't know what to do. Was it really smart to be alone? Well, she didn't have a choice now. She had called the cab and it was on it's way and Dr Jackson was standing at the elevator with her, waiting.

She was still wearing his clothes.

Hers weren't much good.

"Here," Dr Jackson handed her a card. "These are my numbers both here and the base. Call me if you need to talk about the project."

The man was a Saint.

The elevator opened and she stepped inside, she spun around to face Dr Jackson. "Thank you, Daniel."

His smile lit up the hallway. "You're welcome. I hope to see you in the gate room in two days."

"Maybe."

That was all she was promising.


Part Six

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