A Face Full of Dust by Mirrored Illusions
Summary: Sheppard is attacked by vampires and Buffy tries to not answer his questions.
Categories: Crossovers > General Characters: John Sheppard
Genres: Action/Adventure, Challenge
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Queen Bee and the Officer
Chapters: 6 Completed: Yes Word count: 6636 Read: 3788 Published: 01 Sep 2017 Updated: 01 Sep 2017
Story Notes:
This fic was written for the 2017 August Fic-A-Day. It's a challenge for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossover website Twisting the Hellmouth.

1. Sharp Teeth Up Close by Mirrored Illusions

2. Dust In the Park by Mirrored Illusions

3. Little Supergirl by Mirrored Illusions

4. Unhelpful Sort-Of Explanations by Mirrored Illusions

5. The Queen Bee by Mirrored Illusions

6. Say Goodbye by Mirrored Illusions

Sharp Teeth Up Close by
Author's Notes:
Disclaimer: Property of Joss and MGM.

Written for Day 8.
John Sheppard was a realistic man, for the most part; he took most things in stride and tried to figure out the best way through it, over it, under it, or by sneaking around the corners. If that didn't work there was usually C-4.

Finding out that aliens were real and that some of them wanted to kill and/or enslave all humans in the galaxy? Okay, he'd seen those movies. Being told that he's a descendant of a highly advanced race who are mostly extinct/have ascended to a higher place of existence? That's kinda cool, especially since it gives him the ability to control and use their awesome technology. Traveling to another galaxy in a few seconds? Definitely cool. Finding space vampires who want to eat him and all other humans? *Not* cool, but there were bound to be some kind of bad guys in the Pegasus Galaxy.

Having Earth leave and suddenly coming face-to-face with a not-so-mythological real-life vampire, the kind that wants to drink his blood rather than suck him dry of his life-force? He struggled a little with that one. His subconscious informed him that that kind of vampires was not real, could not be real. Having a skinny little woman the size of Teyla fighting creatures bigger and stronger than herself and using a sharpened piece of wood to stab them in the heart kinda righted his worldview a little. Well, the first part was familiar enough, not the second. After all, he was used to Teyla being stronger and faster than any other humans. He was used to her being an excellent fighter as well. The little blonde fighting the vampires in front of him appeared to be even stronger and faster than his teammate. And he immediately began thinking of a creative solution for how to get her to join the Atlantis Expedition.

Then while he was busy watching the blonde execute some breathtaking moves one of the vampires suddenly appeared right in front of him, and before John knew what was going on he had an up-close view of the vampires ridged face and his very, very sharp teeth. Instinctively he attempted some evasive maneuvers, but unsurprisingly they didn't work. The real-life monster holding him was too strong for him.

Just as the vampire, and seriously his mind would not stop repeating that word, had bent his head to the side to gain better access to his neck John suddenly got a face full of dust and ashes. After several minutes of coughing and spitting a worried pair hazel eyes were in his direct line of sight.

"Are you alright, mister?"

She sounded so innocent, so not like she had just fought and killed at least five mythological creatures who was just not supposed to exist. In fact, she wasn't even breathing hard after the impromptu dust-up. John instantly rolled his eyes mentally at his own choice of words.

"Since when are vampires *real*?" So much for trying to ease into this conversation, but in his defense, he had nearly gotten killed by way of a set of sharp teeth belong to the living dead.

Those hazel eyes shifted from concerned to sympathetic, "Vampires are not real. Those guys were just thugs with masks on. Not sure why one of them pretended to bite you, but..." She shrugged her shoulders carelessly.

"Don't lie to me, I can tell the difference between a mask and the real thing. I saw one of them shift from a human face to... whatever those ridges were. And their eyes turned yellowish." He wanted answers and this girl was clearly disinclined to give him any, much to his annoyance.

"I don't know what you think you saw, but if you think one of their faces changed then maybe you should go see a doctor. Or a psychologist." The blonde frowned. "I didn't see you hit your head. Were you injured when you got to this alley?"

John ignored her attempts to distract him, "How do you explain the dust?" The alley they were standing in was actually pretty clean and free of trash and other debris so this should be interesting.

She raised a perfectly manicured eyebrow at him. "He threw it at you?"

John actually snorted at that and began coughing again. Great, looks like he didn't get rid of all of it the first time.

"Really. I was a little busy fighting, so it's not like I saw what he did to you before I threw him off of you and he ran away."

"He didn't run away, he turned into dust after you stabbed him with your stake." He looked more closely at her, trying to see where she had put the piece of wood, and then added. "What's you name?"

As he'd been talking she was slowly edging away from him, and by the time he asked her name she was almost back out on the street.

Still evading his questions she simply said; "You really should go see a doctor. This train of thought can't be healthy. Goodbye, mister. Be careful and avoid dark alleyways in the future." And then she was gone.

John swore as he ran out onto the street, but there were a lot of people there and the blonde was too short to see in among all the other people walking up and down the street. It was times like this he really missed the much less crowded market places in Pegasus. He didn't even get her name, much less a chance to ask if she wanted a new job.
Dust In the Park by
Author's Notes:
Written for Day 12.
Five days after getting the second biggest shock of his life, only eclipsed by the revelation that aliens are real, John Sheppard was cutting through a park on his way back to the hotel the Air Force had put him up in when they scheduled a long string of meetings for his current trip Earthside. He'd completely forgotten about the little blonde's advice to avoid dark alleyways at night, though to be fair he was in an abandoned section of a park not on a small side street.

Which was when he got his second encounter with vampires in less than a week. John mentally rolled his eyes; go figure. He had no idea the living dead were real and all of a sudden they all want to take a bite out of him? He took a quick look around for his little savior from the last time, but no joy. There were no blondes anywhere, pint-sized or otherwise. Crap. The quick survey hadn't revealed any handy escape routes either. It was a park, so there was a lot of open space with trees placed about at appropriate intervals. Unfortunately for John, he had chosen a section with an abundance of trees rather than the more open areas.

There were only two of them, but if he remembered his myths correctly then they very incredibly strong, much like both the Wraith and the Goa'uld. Since he was on Earth, where he was supposedly perfectly safe, he didn't carry a gun or any other weapon. Which was stupid of him given his recent revelation. He should've followed Ronon's example and hidden a knife or two somewhere on his body, and stake or three wouldn't have gone amiss either at this point. Next time, if he got a next time, he would make certain that anytime he visited Earth he'd carry a piece of sharpened wood and damn any questions that might arise if it was discovered. He'd rather be alive.

John mentally backtracked a little; he'd make sure there were vampire movies shown during the movie nights, both the team movie nights and the public ones. Something that explained the myth and how to properly kill them, or a close enough estimate. Both Teyla and Ronon would remember the strengths and weaknesses of the movie's adversary, and if they ever encountered the real thing they would recall the movies and react accordingly. Rodney already knew about the cliches and would no doubt complain about the choice of genre, but given how much time he had spent in the field and in life and death situations he'd summon up the pertinent information if he needed it. Afterward, he'd interrogate John about his choice of movies and what he really knew. The man was sometimes a little too suspicious for his own good, even if he was usually correct.

John's mind crashed back into the present when one of the men moved faster than his eyes were capable of following and suddenly was standing right in front of him. What followed couldn't be described as anything other than a seriously unfair fight between the Air Force officer and two of the undead. By the end of it, John was black and blue, his back hurt, and his nose was bleeding from getting up close and personal with a nearby tree.

On the upside, he had managed to accidentally impale one of the vampires on a broken off branch when he swept the man's feet out from under him. Regrettably, the move had gotten him another face full of dust and another coughing fit. It was at that time when his little savior decided to show up and save the day. Or rather, she'd shown up to save the night.

Unknown to him the second vampire had been sneaking up on him while he'd been busy trying not to swallow or inhale the remains of the first vampire. She'd been walking silently up behind both of them and staked the offending creature in the back just as John turned around, causing yet another cloud of dust and ashes to find their way into his throat and airways.

"You really need to avoid places where the bad guys hang out, you know. You could end up without your life and/or your valuables." Then she smiled brightly before lifting him up and carrying him back to the street, while he protested. Loudly.

"Be a good boy and avoid dark alleys, parks, and other places where the bad guys hang out after dark. Okay?" Without waiting for an answer she melted back into the trees and disappeared.

Holding back some creative cursing, which would've come out in multiple languages, John walked quickly back to the hotel using only the well-lit street.

One of these days, or nights, he was going to find out who that girl/woman was.
Little Supergirl by
Author's Notes:
Written for Day 14.
Buffy was standing with her arms crossed underneath her chest, a frown marring her pretty face. Some twenty yards in from of her was the same messy haired, hazel-eyed man she had already saved twice from getting eaten by vampires. For a third time in seven days, he had managed to get corned by vampires, but this time he was wielding a wooden stake in his right hand. So far he had been unable to actually use it effectively, but it wasn't for lack of trying. His hand-to-hand fighting technique could use some work, but the way he was fighting showed he was used to battling with someone who was bigger and/or a lot stronger than him.

It was promising, especially since she was pretty sure he was some kind of military. Or it was possibly a big problem, depending on what exactly he was involved in. According to her contacts, a man fitting his description had been asking a lot of questions about her but had avoided using the words 'vampire', 'demons', 'supernatural', and similar words and phrases. Buffy reluctantly gave ten points to him for that since it probably would have gotten him laughed out of whichever military branch he had sworn allegiance to if he had tried.

Of course, he didn't actually know her name, so that had hampered him a little, but it hadn't stopped him from trying. On the flip side, her contact wouldn't tell her *his* name either, and by the way they had been talking about him, his name was apparently highly classified and very hush-hush. Or rather whatever he did for a living was highly classified and very hush-hush and they didn't want her to start digging. Which stank of the Initiative, except without the literal demonic parts. Hopefully.

Suddenly Buffy put on a burst of speed and was quickly beside the troublesome man as he was about to get bitten *again*. Twenty seconds later and all four vamps were blowing in the early autumn wind and Buffy was glaring directly at Hazel-Eyes for not being able to follow simple instructions.

"Which part of 'avoid dark alleys and dark unpopulated parts of parks' is just outside of your ability to understand?"

"Supergirl!" He gave her a disarming smile while ignoring her question, which was partly ruined by the fading black eye but points for trying. "Could you teach me how to stake vampires without getting bitten or killed?"

Buffy stared at him for a whole five seconds before she literally face/palmed; clearly, she spent too much time around teenagers. After taking a deep, calming breath she removed her hand and re-established eye-contact with her current trouble magnet.

"Are you on drugs?" He wasn't, she would've smelled it on him, but flimsy excuse or not she needed something to distract him from the dangerous path he was trying to walk.

"No. And do we really need to repeat the whole denial thing again? Vampires are clearly real, you've dusted three groups of them just to save me, and who knows how many others." He was clearly getting slightly annoyed with her and her avoidance of his questions. Though luck.

"Look, mister whoever-you-are, -" He promptly interrupted her by introducing himself.

"Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, United States Air Force. And you are?" Damn, damn, and triple damn. She was so hoping he wouldn't get to the point where he'd get to tell her his name, it pretty much forced her to return the courtesy or be rude. Then she rewound what he'd just said. Wait, he was an officer? And a colonel, even?

"You're a colonel, you keep getting beat up by gang members, *and* needing saveage from a woman half your size?" She grinned; hello convenient distraction!

The look on his face said he didn't appreciate her side-stepping his question again, or the way she attempted to deflect attention from herself. Though luck about that, too, buddy!

"Look, kid, "she gave him a glare and he immediately rectified his choice of words, "Look, Little Supergirl, if you won't tell me about vampires can't you at least give me your name? Or, barring that, a nickname, something I can call you?"

With a glint in her eye, she sassily replied, "You may call me Supergirl, even if I can't fly."

"Fine. Little Supergirl it is. Now, about the vampires..." Geesh, he was persistent. Was that something they taught in Colonel School?

"Look, Lt. Colonel John Sheppard of the United States Air Force, there will be no lessons on vampires or any other myths about what goes bump in the night so carry on with your day, I mean night, and just forget about these little encounters. There's nothing to see, carry on."

While she'd been talking she'd carefully maneuvered him back onto the main street and conveniently away from the unlit side street he'd decided to wander down that night. She would never understand men and their need to go somewhere they shouldn't just to prove their 'masculinity'. Colonel Sheppard's first meeting with the undead had clearly been an accident, the second might have been but it also could've been deliberate, but the third. The third one was definitely deliberate, the crudely sharpened stake was more than enough evidence of that.

The better question was, did he do it to see if he could kill the undead or because he wanted to talk to her? Buffy wasn't a self-centered person, not since her days at Hemery High and its snobby atmosphere, but this man's behavior was suspicious. Before she could continue much further in her ruminations, or sneak away before he could come up with even more questions he managed to get out a question she hadn't expected.

"I work for a top secret program, it's civilian-led but with a heavy military presence, one where your fighting skills would come in very useful. So would you like a new job?"

Buffy blinked at the non-sequitur, "Come again?"

"It's a scientific expedition but I can't go into details since I'm pretty sure you don't have a clearance, but we need more people, civilians, with combat skills and who isn't spooked by the unusual. And since you clearly are familiar with the more exotic wildlife I'm gambling on you being able to handle what we do. So what do you say?" He gave her another version of the disarming smile, it was actually pretty nice when she stopped to take a better look at it, but still. The man was military and that was a no-no. Been there, done that, got the broken heart.

"I'm, um, honored Colonel Sheppard, but I already have a job, one I really like. And since you're military, the answer is always going to be 'no'.

His face fell, and she took the chance to leave with a parting comment.

"Stay away from the dark alleys and parks!"

As she quickly walked away she heard him yell after her, "At least think about it!"
Unhelpful Sort-Of Explanations by
Author's Notes:
Written for Day 18.
"So, Lt. Colonel John Sheppard of the United States Air Force, I'm happy to see you're not in a dark alley or a dark and secluded part of a park this time."

John started and looked up at his little savior, which was both correct since she'd saved his life three times, and so very wrong given how short she was. "Little Supergirl! You can walk in the daylight I see." He smirked, a little more relieved than he was willing to admit to, because for all he knew she could've been a good vampire out to save humanity from her own species. It certainly would've explained her strength and speed.

She actually rolled her eyes in a very high school-esque way but refrained from the additional teenage signs of rebellion and irritation, such as crossing her arms, huffing, and/or stomping her foot. Now that she was conveniently standing in the sunlight he could see that she had a very nice and healthy tan, he also saw that she was older than he'd thought. Not by much, just five years or so, but if he could get her to agree to come to Atlantis then it would be easier if she were in her mid- to late twenties than if she were in her late teens or early twenties.

"You really should get that head injury looked at, preferably by a qualified medical doctor." Before he got a chance to think of a witty reply she continued, "Take a walk with me, we need to have a little talk."

He tried to swallow discreetly; one of these days he was going to have a conversation starting with that phrase and have it end well for him, but given the look on her face that day wasn't going to be today and it wasn't going to be this conversation. Regardless, he was an officer and he faced lethal situations on a nearly weekly basis, he could handle a talk with a short woman - even if she was a real life super girl who he was pretty certain could kick both Teyla and Ronon's asses, even if they teamed up against her.

They walked across the plaza, only detouring to get a cup of coffee each before she led them over to a more secluded area. Interestingly she made sure they could still see the crowds, but they were far enough away that they couldn't be overheard. Was this a decision she'd made to make him feel safer or to make herself feel safe? After thinking about it she was probably trying to assure him that she wasn't up to something she shouldn't be since she'd repeatedly proven that she could easily defend herself. Maybe she was expecting problems, and if so, did she have someone nearby to back her up if something *did* happen?

He kept quiet though, as by unspoken agreement they'd chosen not to speak until they got somewhere more private. The 'somewhere else' turned out to be a small area to the side, it was less crowded but like the plaza they had just left it was airy and open. She led them over to a low wall directly beside one of the buildings and sat that down.

"So, Lt. Colonel John Sheppard of the United States Air Force," She repeated herself from earlier, "I've had several long and highly interesting talks with some of my contacts, and boy did they have some fascinating stories to tell when I told them your name." He couldn't quite read her expression, but someone in the know had obviously been talking when they shouldn't have. Damnit!

As if she was reading his mind, she continued, "Relax, I have clearance. It's pretty high, or at least higher than yours so I'm guessing really, really high since I now know what your top secret program has been up to for the last few decades. Apparently I got the 20 cent tour and will get something better later on, but for now, I have the highlights. Including the golden bodysnatchers who think they're gods, the creepily ascended ones who somehow turned into glowy things instead of giants snakes, and your personal enemies the space vampires."

John couldn't help but blink several times. That was an... *interesting* desciption of the SGC's biggest enemies.

Just as he was bout to correct her name for the Goa'uld her phone rang and she had quick but increasingly annoying conversation, if her voice and body language was anything to go by.

She sighed and picked her coffee back up again, "I'm sorry to cut this really short, but I have to go. Something important has come up and I'm needed. World saveage and all that, you know." She gave him an apologetic shrug and a slightly unhappy smile. "I'll find you some other day, before you ship back to Atlantis."

John's mouth dropped a little, she'd found out about Atlantis? He really needed to pin her down and get some good answers. "Can I have your name now, since you seem to have gotten a lot of information about me?"

She grinned, and as her parting shot she replied, "I'm known by several titles, including Supergirl, but another one is the Queen Bee." Then she winked at him and walked away, phone already in her hand.
The Queen Bee by
Author's Notes:
Written for Day 20.
"Hi! Let's try this little chat one more time!" His little blonde savior smiled brightly up at him while holding out a cup of coffee for him. As far as a peace offering for running out on him went, it was okay. Especially since that's why he was out here in the first place.

He gave her a slightly amused smirk in return, before he replied, "If it isn't the Queen Bee, my own Little Supergirl! And still walking around in the sunshine, I see. How nice of you to make time for an officer in your no doubt busy schedule. Are you planning on dropping another verbal bomb on me before running off for some, and I quote, 'world saveage and all that' today as well?"

"The world's been saved, for now, but there are no promises of having to leave abruptly again. I *am* in great demand, you know." She returned his smirk with a smile which reached all the way up to her eyes. "Then again, I'm sure you're familiar with the whole world saveage thing. Maybe even in several kinds of plural."

She took a quick look around while he digested that, "But maybe we should take this somewhere less crowded?" Yeah, privacy would definitely be good, if the wrong people overheard this he would probably be in a whole lot of trouble.

John indicated with his right hand, the one holding the free coffee, towards the right and said, "After you, my Queen." Then he gave a slight bow of his head.

"Why thank you, kind sir."

The two of them walked in silence for a few minutes until they reached the park he'd been aiming for. It was a lot smaller than the last one she'd found him in, and much easier to get a complete overview of the entire area from nearly anywhere within it. Maybe it was paranoia on his part, or maybe he'd just spent to much time around the Wraith and hostile natives. Or maybe it was the overly long update on the Goa'uld who may or may not still be on Earth after the Ba'al debacle SG-1 had to deal with a while back, but he'd rather be on the safe side so no one could sneak up on him. He pointedly didn't think about how being in the open made him, and Supergirl, a very visible target.

Once again Supergirl led him to a small stone wall where she decided to perch and he simply followed suit. "So, you know about the Goa'uld, the Ascended Ancients, and the Wraith. You also somehow know about Atlantis, but do you know where it's located?"

That part had been bugging him for three days now, ever since she'd used it as a last minute shock before she left for her mystery emergency. It hadn't helped in the least that no one had been willing to tell him anything about her either. He'd only managed to find a few people who he was pretty sure knew both who the woman was and what she did for a living, or maybe it was in addition to a living. That part was still unclear. He needed a name and preferably some good qualifications if he was going to pitch this to General O'Neill. Given that she changed her mind regarding the job offer, of course.

"It's somewhere in the Pegasus Galaxy. The address is some random numbers and letters I can't remember, but you need to use the Astria Porta to get there or you need a spaceship capable of traveling between galaxies. And I'm woefully short on both of those, unfortunately."

Yeah, her first introduction to the Stargate Program had clearly been a lot more informative than the one he'd gotten before he'd accepted his new posting. Then again, she was a civilian, but still. Someone had to have been bending backward to give her access that quickly; which meant that she was someone or that she knew someone high up in the ranks who had the power to give anyone they wanted restricted information. And that someone had to want her to join either the SGC or Atlantis or maybe one of their other off-world bases.

"Did your contacts try to recruit you?"

Supergirl gave him a thin smile, "They did, but I've worked for the military before and, well, let's just say I'm not impressed. Not with the people and not with what they were doing, or trying to do. Or how they kept trying to kill me and basically just making things worse."

Wait, what? He wasn't sure what he expected her to reply to be, but that certainly wasn't it. Why would any branch of the American military try to kill an American civilian? Logic said it would be much more beneficial to either hire her or get her to join up. If what she said was true then she'd at the very least been hired on a contractual basis, and getting her on a permanent basis from there shouldn't have been that difficult. Especially if they knew about her skillset; unless she had problems taking orders. He could see that being an issue; it was one he was pretty familiar with after all.

"Excuse me? Why did they try to kill you?" How she got out of that didn't really need an explanation; he'd already seen her fight and he doubted the living would stand any better chance against her than the undead no matter how well-trained they were.

She simply waved a hand vaguely in his direction, "It's highly classified and very hush, hush. I'm sure you know how the military is about their secrets ops, especially when the secret op in question was a complete disaster. But never mind, we were talking about your super secret program, not about my misspent youth."

"At least answer this; is that were you got your security clearance?"

She gave him an annoyed look, but he ignored it and simply gave her an encouraging smile. Depending on what kind of program she had run afoul of he might be able to use that to his advantage. It also depended on if she had anything to do with the disaster part of it. Hopefully, that hadn't been her fault or even involved her, but somehow he didn't think he had that kind of luck.

He looked at her while she had an inner debate with herself, silently hoping she'd give him an answer he could use. When her silence stretched out while she debated with herself he gave her a quick once-over; she'd switched out the leather pants and old-rose top for a pair of dark blue jeans and a light blue, partially see-through, loose top with a white tank top underneath it. She'd put her long, blonde hair in two loose braids. It made her look young and innocent, especially when she smiled.

"Yes. Well, it's where I originally got a security clearance, it's been upped quite a lot since then." She studied his face for a good twenty seconds and he managed not to fidget under her scrutiny. "My line of work requires me to know a lot of things the higher ups have declared to be classified, so to protect themselves and make everything all legal they gave me and some of my friends the proper clearance to know... stuff."

"Right. Back to what you said last time; when you were listing what you'd learned you mentioned that the Ancients had ascended into 'glowy things' instead of becoming 'giant snakes'. Care to explain?" He doubted it, but he wouldn't get any answers if he didn't ask.

"Also classified."

"You said the 'Astria Porta' earlier, do you know what that is and what the English translation is. If you do, why don't you use it?"

"'Astria Porta' is latin for 'stargate' or 'gateway to heaven', and other translations, but I think the first one is the correct one since that's what Dr. Jackson kept calling it when he gave me the 20 cent explanation." She took a breath after another debate with herself. "I call it the 'Astria Porta' because that's what it was called in the books I read years ago. The books said, and Dr. Jackson confirmed it, that it takes you to other planets. It also said that false gods, those golden bodysnatchers, took humans and used them as slaves and if they were attractive enough they were used as hosts."

She had just taken a breath to continue when *John's* cellphone began playing the theme to Star Wars. He really needed to keep Rodney away from his electronics when he didn't actually the man to fix them for him. He removed the offending device from his pocket after he'd gotten his hand half-way up to his ear only to remember he was on Earth and not Atlantis.


What followed was a rapid-fire accusation and questioning from McKay about why he wasn't back yet with his coffee, and John trying to defend himself without revealing anything about Supergirl. Or the fact that he was delayed by what was clearly an attractive woman, even if his reason for talking to her wasn't sexual. Rodney would not see it that way. He ended the conversation as quickly as possible with a promise to be back soon, with the coffee.

"My apologies, my Queen Supergirl, but there's an irate scientist back at the clubhouse who insists I serve him coffee before he takes the head off of someone for lack of caffein. Can we meet up later to continue this, or maybe meet somewhere tomorrow?" He gave her a hopeful look. It was worth a try.

There was mirth in her eyes now and a smile on her lips, but more importantly she gave him an affirmative reply. "We'll meet here tomorrow at 7 p.m." She got up from her perch, but before she had taken more than a few steps away she turned back. "Don't forget to avoid dark alleys and other dark people-free areas at night.

"Will do. See you tomorrow."

That was something, at least. With any luck, he could get some more information about her then.
Say Goodbye by
Author's Notes:
Written for Day 24.
When John arrived in the designated park where he was supposed to meet his new friend? Acquaintance? He was already 30 minutes late, and he had seriously considered running, at least for a short distance so he wouldn't be quite so late, but decided he would only draw unwanted attention to himself and settled for a fast walk.

In between his last meeting starting late and Rodney babbling on about... something, he'd had no chance of being early like he'd planned. So much for the military being on time.

He'd grabbed a coffee and a sandwich on the way over, quickly eating the latter while sipping the first before throwing away his trash. The day's meetings had been long and jaw-droppingly boring, sometimes it really sucked being in charge of a military base. He bought a couple more coffee's right before entering the park and walking towards the place where they'd had their last conversation. Serving the nectar of the gods as an apology worked on Rodney, so hopefully, it would work on Supergirl as well. Especially since she'd used it last time.

After a quick survey of the area, he saw Supergirl sitting at the same low stone wall as the last time. This time she was wearing black pants and some kind of fashionable t-shirt with text on it. It was unreadable from this distance and he doubted she'd appreciate it if he continued to stare at that particular part of her body. So he focused on her face and made his way over to her as quickly as he could without looking like he was in too much of a hurry.

"Good evening, my lady Supergirl. My most sincere apologies for being," he lifted his eyes to a nearby building with a convenient digital watch, "38 minutes late. My never-ending meetings took forever and then some before they would finally allow us to leave for the day." He handed her one of the coffees and she repaid him with a thankful ghost of a smile.

There was a seriousness to her today he hadn't noticed when he saw her from a distance, but which was uncomfortably obvious up close. Her eyes were slightly red from what could only have been crying, and there was a repressed anger emanating from her that he could nearly touch. What had happened in the last 10-12 hours to change her mood so much?

"Hi. Um... What am I supposed to call you? Colonel Sheppard? We never really got around to that part."

Dodging the clearly bad situation it was. Several years of Teyla's disapproving looks had taught him something. "Sheppard works if you want to go the more formal route, but you may call me John if you want to be more informal." Being in the military meant few people used his given name, and since arriving in Atlantis Elizabeth was the only one who had used it consistently. Out of his team the only one who called him anything but Sheppard was Teyla, and even then it was only occasionally when they were off the clock. It would be nice to hear his name from someone, even if it was only for this Earth leave.

"Are we on a first name basis already?" A slight sign of amusement showed on her face. Go, team!

"You've saved my life three times for no other reason than that you could, so yes, I think we can be on a first name basis. Or at least you can use mine. I'll return the favor when you finally declassify your name."

That actually got a real bit of laughter out of her, and he smiled back. Go, go, team!

"Okay, *John*. I'll use your first name, but, for now, mine is still classified." Then she changed tack again and became more serious. "I'm only here to say goodbye, John. Something bad happened to some people I know and I need to get back to my friends as soon as possible so there won't be another Q&A today."

Crap. He held his tongue, just barely, and refrained from asking if it had been vampires or something else that had killed or severely wounded her friends. Agitating her at this point would only ensure he'd never get another chance, and he really, really wanted another chance at convincing her that working on Atlantis with him was a great idea.

"I'm sorry for your loss." There wasn't really anything else to say, and even if there was he didn't have the words.

"Thank you." So her friend or friends had actually died. He was horrible at comforting people and, for the most part, the people around him had gotten that on their own and accepted it. Death and injuries happened too often on Atlantis, but it didn't make it hurt any less nor did it make it any easier to deal with. This young woman didn't appear to want him to do or say anything, so he simply drank his coffee and waited for her to speak again.

It took a few minutes and over half of her coffee, but she began talking.

"I know you want to hire me, my contacts and Dr. Jackson made that perfectly clear, as have you, but when I said I already I have a job I love I meant it. I can't leave it and especially not to go to another galaxy and fight your space vampires or go through the Astria Porta with a military team and fight the bodysnatchers or whatever other aliens might pop up. My life and destiny are here, on Earth. Someone else will have to deal with the alien monsters. Unless the first defense fails and they arrive on our little blue marble. Then my friends and I will do everything in our considerable power to kill them."

"I understand." He paused briefly, "Actually I don't really understand, but I get it. I think." He stopped to collect his thoughts. "I'm shipping back out again soon, but the next time I'm on Earth will you contact me? I'd give you a phone number, but I don't actually have a personal phone anymore. Too much time in another galaxy and not enough time on Earth to make it worthwhile."

She gave him a wan smile but conceded. "I'll tell my contacts to keep an ear out for when you return."

Her phone beeped and John saw the writing on the wall. His time with Supergirl was over, at least for now.

"That was a friend of mine, we're leaving now." She collected her things and got up. "Take care of yourself John, and stay away from dark, peopless places."

"Will do. Take care of yourself, Supergirl. And don't be a stranger!"

She gave him a last not-quite smile and left, coffee cup in hand.
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