Part Two


Well, that answered her question.

Yes. The day could get worse.

Though, spitting on one of the civilian consultants connected with the Stargate Program was probably the least of her worries.

Right now she was just trying to keep from breaking down where she sat. The scotch was doing nothing to dim the pain or dull the memories. All she could think of was what she had learned today.

The last six years had been for nothing. There was no such thing as being safe. The one thing she had put her entire faith in had been the very thing she had been trying to run away from.

Giles had warned her. God, they all had. But she hadn't wanted to listen. She shut them out of her heart and life in a stupid attempt to get away from that world. She ignored her growing powers; she pretended that her life before the Academy didn't exist and embraced her new world.

The Air Force had become her life. She loved it. It was her everything. It was all she wanted.

Now it was gone.

Aliens and demons? What was the difference? The only thing Willow could see different was that one was from outer space and the other was from the underworld. It was exactly the same. Fighting with technology or preternatural abilities – real different, huh? Metaphorically speaking. Weapons were weapons.

Willow had turned her back on one fight and walked right into another.

No.

She couldn't do this.

Willow had done her time and she had lost. It was selfish. She admitted that. Sometimes, when she let herself think about things, she saw that what she was doing was wrong, but she couldn't change it.

She was too scared.

The thought of going back and fighting was too terrifying to contemplate.

Willow couldn't go back to the world of demons and she couldn't go to into the world of aliens. She just wanted a normal and safe life, away from demons, vampires, and all the other things that plagued her nightmares.

She didn't want anyone else she loved to die.

That was the whole point behind every decision she had made. Willow had pushed Cordy, Giles, Angel, and Faith away because she didn't want their deaths to hurt her like the others had. She had shut out all their attempts to talk to her, to be in her life. The last time she had seen any of them had been just after her graduation trip to Hawaii.

She had become what the Air Force wanted her to be. Willow had done EVERYTHING that was asked of her, and then some. Now it was all gone.

All of it had been for nothing.

"I'm sorry, Dr Jackson," Willow said finally, reaching for a nearby napkin.

Dr Jackson wiped his face but didn't take his eyes off her. "I'm sorry I startled you."

Was it too much to think he didn't know why she was sitting here? Probably. He had a concerned look in his eyes and it was directed at her. Yep, the gods were really looking out for her today.

Why couldn't everyone just leave her alone?

Willow didn't need a witness to her downward spiral, especially a witness who was pretty close with the Second in Command of the Stargate program. Dr Jackson had called Colonel O'Neill ‘Jack’ several times during his lecture which made Willow guess they were pretty close.

`Jack' would hear all about this tomorrow.

Yesterday, the thought of a superior officer seeing her in this state would have sent her into a fit of panic, but yesterday she had been blissfully ignorant of the truth. To think she had been excited about today. God, she had been almost unable to contain her anticipation.

None of that mattered now.

She wanted out.

There was no way in HELL she was going to finish her training. None. Willow was going to see whoever she needed to talk to tomorrow, once her hangover was gone, and she was going to request a transfer.

Willow couldn't leave the force, not for another five years.

So she'd do anything they gave her.

Cleaning toilets held more attraction than this fight.

Maybe they had vacancies in Antarctica?

Or she could join the Special Forces. They had been trying to woo her for the last few months but her instructors had advised her to wait until after she finished her training before making any decisions.

The Special Forces were an elite branch of the Air Force. All she had to do was call the number, of the officer that had tried to recruit her, and she'd be gone. Either that, or she could fly. Anything but this.

So what did it matter if Dr Jackson witnessed her breakdown? She wasn't staying.

"Can I buy you a drink, Sir?" It was the least she could do after she spat hers on him. She'd buy him a drink, then she would catch a cab home. Home to her apartment that she'd have to move out of when she got her new assignment.

"Ah, yes, thank you. What you're having looks good."

Uh-huh. "Two double scotches on the rocks, thanks." She ordered, noticing the slight frown on his face. He didn't approve but, since Willow was leaving the program, she didn't really give a rats ass.

Or maybe that was the scotches talking.

She wasn't drunk, unfortunately. She had enjoyed many drunken binges with her fellow officers over the last two years and she quickly learned to drink like the rest of them. Her liver wasn't too happy about it, and neither was she.

Willow would give anything to be able to stop thinking.

"So…"

She'd give anything not to talk as well.

He really wasn't going to try to make small talk was he?

Actually… small talk was better than talking about the big stuff, maybe if she kept him talking about crap, she'd avoid it. "I'm really sorry about your jacket, Sir," he wore tweed which reminded her of Giles, "I'll pay for any dry cleaning."

"No, that's all right," Dr Jackson smiled at her. "And, please, call me Daniel."

Willow had spent the last six years referring to her superiors by rank and even though she was quitting her training, calling him Daniel didn't seem right. He was her superior, even if he was a civilian.

"Ah… Willow." Well, this was a new kind of awkward. Why was he sitting with her?

Willow glanced in the mirror behind the bar. She had been avoiding it all night. Just as she suspected she looked like crap. Dr Jackson would know what she was upset about and was no doubt going to offer his guidance. When she got upset, really upset, it was hard for her to keep her face neutral.

And she was really upset.

Not about the aliens, because after seeing and knowing about demons, it wasn't really that much of a surprise. She was upset about the classified program and that she somehow managed to get herself caught up in. The thought of joining the SGC and fighting their main enemy, the Goa'uld, terrified her.

It was just like demons.

Same thing, different name.

And Willow couldn't go back to that life.

"Are you all right?" he asked finally, after several failed attempts to start conversation.

Conversing with a stranger was rather difficult, unless you were trying to pick them up which Dr Jackson definitely wasn't. Willow had to give him credit for asking the question outright like that.

She had no intention of answering it, though. Answering the question would lead to talking and talking was bad. Drinking was good. Willow grabbed her glass and downed her scotch.

Then she stood up.

Willow stumbled slightly when her feet hit the ground. Dr Jackson reached out and steadied her. Maybe the scotch was affecting her more than she thought. Or maybe it was everything?

She was trembling all over and she was having a little trouble breathing.

This was all too much.

Why did this have to happen?

This couldn't be happening.

It couldn't.

It had to be some horrible nightmare.

Oh god! She couldn't breathe.

Dr Jackson got to his feet as well, not letting go of her arm. "Did you drive?"

Breathe! Breathe! Oh god! The bar suddenly seemed too small, too crowded. She needed to get out of here and into the night…

The night where demons reigned.

And if you looked up, you could see the stars – where aliens reigned.

What was the point of fighting? You lost, even when you won.

Willow didn't want to lose any more.

There was no air in here!

Willow swayed a little as she tried to take a step towards the door.

Dr Jackson eased an arm around her waist. There wasn't any romance about the gesture, just practicality. Willow realized that if he moved it, she'd slide to the floor so she leaned into him. He thought she was drunk, she wasn't.

It had finally hit her.

And she couldn't handle it.

Breathing was still a little hard, her breath was coming in pants by the time Dr Jackson had maneuvered her outside. Her heart was screaming in her chest and she was trembling worse than ever.

"Did you drive here, Lieutenant?"

The use of her rank snapped her out of her daze. Dr Jackson looked REALLY worried. Had he been trying to get her attention before now? She shook her head.

She left her bike at home because she knew she'd be drinking.

She wasn't stupid.

Cab. She needed to call a cab.

"No, don't call a cab. I'll take you home."

Had she said that out loud?

Did it matter?

No. It didn't even matter that Dr Jackson was taking her home, she wasn't going to be apart of this command. She wasn't. Not at all. She was finished, over and –

Dr Jackson was staring at her with an unreadable expression.

She was doing that talking out loud thing, wasn't she?

Damn. She didn't even realize she was doing it. Panic and fear were the only things she could feel or think about. It was like she was drunk on the two emotions. It had happened once before, at her high school graduation though back then it had been a lot worse and she had Faith.

She missed them.

Willow had hurt them all so much.

All for nothing.

"Can you stand on your own?" he asked when they reached his car.

Willow seriously doubted it. Her legs were having trouble holding her.

"Put your arms around my neck," he instructed and she complied. Falling into the gravel really didn't appeal to her. Once the door was opened he eased her into the car. Literally. Her body wasn't listening to her mind. It had taken him two attempts to get her in the car.

Yep, her life had hit an all time high.

The highlight was when Dr Jackson had to fasten her seatbelt.

"Daniel."

And she was talking when she thought she was thinking.

Brilliant.

How many doubles had she had? Five or six?

"Where did you live?" Daniel asked when he got into the drivers seat.

That was easy.

"In Hell."


Part Three

Lost Warrior Home