A/N: Now that this story is complete, I've been slowly looking through the old chapters and fixing them, time permitting. POV problems, spelling, grammar, and general tweaking, things like that. If you're reading this now, and from one chapter to the next the quality of the writing abruptly diminishes, this is the reason. I ask any newcomers to bear with me as I try and overhaul this work.
Sandy McKinnon's head turned at the sound of the door chime ringing, not out of curiosity, but reflex. A by-product of years and years working as a waitress in the run-down roadside Diner simply called 'The Falcon', named for its location within the equally unremarkable Ville, soon to be absorbed into the growing city that was Colorado Springs. With a weary 'Welcome' that held a hint of warmth despite the fatigue she was feeling, she greeted the seventh customer of the day. It was almost eleven, so that number spoke volumes about where this place was going.
The individual that trudged inside didn't look out of the ordinary. His clothes were perhaps a bit outdated, not to mention out of season. It was late Fall after all, and all he was wearing was a short-sleeve button-down shirt and jeans.
Sandy continued wiping down tables and clearing plates, mindful of where her newest patron chose to sit. With practiced efficiency, she snatched a dog-eared menu and approached the…man? He looked young. Definitely under 20. A slight frame too. Mentally she adjusted her view of him.
The kid looked tired. And Sandy wasn't talking about a bad night's sleep. No, that look was all too familiar to her. She saw it almost every day, in the eyes of hardened men, and a few women, who called the roads their home. Truckers who spent far too much time away from home and their families.
Thinking he won't be one for much small talk, she placed the laminated sheet in front of him and smiled softly. His eyes were an unusual shade of green, she thought. With difficulty she broke eye contact, chastising herself for ogling at the young man. After all, she was closer to thirty than twenty.
The oddly handsome stranger nodded with a faint smile of his own. Sandy wondered what his story was. Maybe a rough night? It was a Saturday after all. Maybe he'd just broken up with his girlfriend, and she kicked him out. It would explain why he was underdressed.
The door chimed again, admitting two more men. 'Hmm, it was going to be a busy lunch if this kept up.' She concluded.
"…I'm telling you Teal'c, the fish in that pond was huge. Like it was the alpha fish. The First Prime of fish in that pond. Trust me, big guy, it'll be fun."
The excited chatter from the middle-aged one was like a breath of fresh air to the otherwise subdued atmosphere that hung like a shroud above the eatery. His dark and very large friend remained silent, though a single eyebrow rose in both question, and somehow, mockery.
The salt and pepper haired chatterbox seemed to notice this as well. "You don't believe me, do you?" He cried in an obviously false hurt voice.
Across the room, unseen by both the waitress and the two newcomers, the Black haired teen smirked. That man reminded him of someone. Someone who had meant a great deal to him. A year ago such a reminder of Sirius would have caused him to spiral into guilt and depression.
Fortunately, those days were behind him. For the most part anyway. Regardless, he made the connection and peeked up from the menu he'd been studying, hoping in vain to find something that he hadn't already eaten a dozen times before in the previous weeks.
The large one was wearing a hat, which wasn't unusual. While it wasn't snowing yet, the beginnings of what was forecast to be a cold winter was creeping closer as the days grew shorter. But now, even inside the warm diner, the man-made no attempt to shed the insulating head-wear.
The nice Waitress with the curly brown hair returned with a steaming cup of Joe, as these Americans like to call it. He'd never been much of a tea drinker, but this stuff, when brewed right, was like a godsend. He had no doubt that his grades would have improved by leaps and bounds if the house elves had stocked it in the kitchens.
With reluctance, Harry selected the special. Not because of cost, but mostly due to the fact that nothing really spoke to him. Part of it was the mystery, as he'd already forgotten what said special was, largely due to his continued eavesdropping.
Shifting on the squeaky vinyl seat, he felt the edges of a letter poking him in the side, as if to remind him of its presence.
'Probably another three-page double-sided number six font behemoth from Hermione', he thought with a snort. Merlin only knew how she could use a single paragraph response he'd penned in the dim yellow light of a Super 8 Motel Neon sign and respond with half a novel.
The post owl had found him this morning, shortly after checking out of the motel a few blocks down the road. It was the third such event, the previous two arriving in rough two week intervals.
Six weeks. That how long he'd been stateside, so to speak. He thought it was brilliant, the lousy food aside. Everything was the same, yet slightly different. Architecture, roads. You name it.
But Harry didn't come here to gawk at the big, loud cars and their equally loud operators. Let's call it a long overdue vacation, destination unknown.
He certainly didn't expect to be in Colorado of all things. His arrival at Heathrow dictated the destination, as his words to the British Airways clerk had been; 'one ticket on your next flight out of this shit hole.'
She'd frowned at the choice of words, but dutifully processed his payment, and handed over a ticket to New York City.
So here he was, half a world away from the bullshite that was Britain, and ninety-nine percent of the people therein. Despite his best efforts to re-integrate into Britain's magical society, the 'famous' war hero often preferred the company of himself over that of others. Call it a by-product of dying and coming back.
As a result of this…distantness over the years, his once budding relationship with Ms. Weasley fell apart rather quickly.
'Well, at least she went quietly.'
A blessing really, if one recalled her legendary temper. Likewise, friends and associates moved on, once outside of Hogwarts. Harry found it difficult to…well, socialize. Sure, Ron and Hermione occasionally came to visit, but they had their own issues, and the last year saw them making appearances separately. That told him plenty.
Teddy and Andromeda made frequent appearances, and sometimes he returned the favor, but the close companionship he'd come to know inside the school's walls and Godric's House was gone.
And so, after several years of self-imposed isolation, the borderline recluse concluded he needed to do something with his life. Anything!
That something right now was sitting on a squeaky vinyl seat, tapping his finger in tune to the crackling radio the cook preferred to supplement his oh so thrilling job.
'Pot calling the Kettle black there, eh Potter?' The young wizard snorted before taking another healthy sip from the cup.
Yet despite the less than stellar lifestyle of hitchhiking and eating at roadside diners, for the first time in what felt like forever, he was happy as a clam. Yeah, he missed his friends a bit, but to be honest, since the final battle everyone had been walking around him on eggshells.
Incidentally, yelling at said people to knock it off only made things worse. Was that why he was here? Well, not here, here. Hell, all Harry knew was that he was in the State of Colorado. As for his destination? Well, there wasn't one. The West Coast for now. He'd always wanted to see San Francisco.
Breakfast arrived quickly, thanks to the few other patrons. Harry scarfed down the three eggs, two strips of bacon, hash browns, and toast with practiced ease. The by-product of eating around Ron, though living in a tent and dining on canned beans by candlelight for almost nine months had given him a different mindset about wasting food.
Despite having eaten the same greasy fare for the last month, he couldn't bring himself to waste perfectly good food. Honestly, Harry would never in a million years have thought he could get tired of bacon.
Well, at least clogged arteries weren't on his mind. The thought of something as powerful as the Deathly Hallows being used to stave off Heart Disease amused Harry for some reason.
With the plates cleared, the young Wizard sat back with a full stomach, content with sipping on his free refill of Coffee and listing to the snippets of conversation from the two men in the opposite booth.
The older of the two seemed to like fishing. Harry also found out his name. O'Neill, as the one named Teal'c had referred to him as. Must be last names. Teal'c was an odd name, after all. Actually, the chap sort of reminded Harry of Shacklebolt. Quiet, with a powerful sort of presence.
One thing was for sure, the guy certainly didn't drive a desk. Maybe he was a muggle Auror? One had to be tough to do that kind of job in a country such as America.
One of the first things Harry picked up once he arrived in New York was a muggle projectile deflection amulet. The real ones (not the cheap crap sold to the tourists) set you back several hundred Galleons, but the muggles gun-crazed mentality here made it a sound investment. Fortunately, he hadn't needed to test it. Yet.
But the infamous Potter luck was about to change that.
Harry James Potter could confidently say that he was a war veteran. Having fought numerous skirmishes and several larger battles honed his reflexes and made him light on his feet. Being a Wizard was also something to add to his identity.
Both of these things, however, could not prepare him for what was about to happen. His efforts to figure out the other patron's line of work ceased when unpleasant static energy filled the air, emitting a barely audible hum that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand. The others felt it too, though only the two men he'd been listening to seemed to have an inkling as to what was actually causing it.
Their concerned looks told him it wasn't going to be anything good.
Harry rose, letting his Familiar Holly wand slip out of its arm holster with practiced ease. No one seemed to pay him any notice, which was good.
The bad news was the reason for this.
The humming intensified when a large shadow settled directly over the Diners parking lot. Seconds later, a thick set of metal rings seemingly fell from the sky, closely hovered over a section of the parking lot…and deposited a half dozen oddly dressed individuals on the faded asphalt.
Bollocks, it didn't take a genius to figure out that 'shit was about to hit the fan', as the Yanks liked to say.
"Get in the back!" the dark-skinned man hollered, while the older one pulled out what looked to be a muggle pistol. The rings appeared again, depositing another six men with the first. They formed a loose semicircle, while a small number entered the now deserted eating area.
Loud bangs from the pistol echoed through the enclosed space, making his ears ring. The gray warriors responded in kind, firing a sort of energy bolt from the bulbous tips of their staffs. The bench the two men crouched behind exploded into flame, causing the older one to curse colorfully.
Harry, on the other hand, grinned manically, finally realizing what had been missing from his life. It was an epiphany, brought on under less than ideal circumstances, but welcome none the less.
The now merrily burning furniture was belching thick, black smoke which, if left unchecked, would flush them out and into the waiting arms of the large group of hostiles outside. A simple bubblehead charm would negate the disadvantage, but those muggles playing hero didn't have that luxury.
Without much effort, the as of yet unseen Wizard snuffed the flames with a flick of his wand, then snapped off a pair of stunners that felled the lead two combatants.
Harry frowned, unhappy with the performance. The first had hit as intended, but the follow up was sloppy, clipping the armored man in the shoulder instead of center mass as he'd been taught.
"Must be getting rusty." He grumbled, determined henceforth to put a little more effort into keeping his skills sharp.
The graying man whipped his head around as if seeing the young man for the first time. A questioning look briefly graced his face, before the staff toting hostiles regained his attention.
The ones following up the rear returned fire, now aware of a third hostile firing red strings of light from the back of the eating area. Harry deflected the Staff blasts away with a shield, despite having ample cover to hide behind. This was so he could gauge the strength of these unfamiliar weapons without risking his neck.
Satisfied with his impromptu test and how the shield had held up, the young Wizard was about to stun the last two in the diner when he observed the two men get struck by concentrated lighting from behind the counter.
He briefly wondered if that Amulet worked against whatever had taken those two down. The distinct sound of another Zat'nik'tel discharging was the only warning he received before the darkness took him as well.
After much useless back and forth banter, most of it from O'Neill (obviously) their young cellmate began to stir. The two members of SG-1 had been ZATed so many times now their rebound times were down to less than an hour. Their prison buddy, on the other hand, was another story. For a while there the Colonel was actually a bit worried, considering just how thin the kid looked.
O'Neill's troubled thoughts quickly evaporated though when his deep rhythmic breathing gave way to a painful groan. The kid was experiencing his first 'ZAT induced hangover', as Jack had coined it. Oddly enough, it wasn't the first term he'd come up with that had caught on. SGC'isms is what the base personal coined them.
He cupped his face and grunted, wishing the pounding in his head would cease.
"Morning, sport!" O'Neill greeted in a jovial if somewhat sadistic manner. "Rise and shine." He followed up with a grin.
The teen rolled onto his side, hands rising and raking them through his wild hair.
"Merlin's Hairy Ball sack, did anyone get the plate off that Truck?"
Both Jack and Teal'c did the eyebrow thing this time. The Jaffa because he didn't get it, and Jack out of amusement.
"The discomfort will pass in time," Teal'c said calmly. O'Neill's brain translated this to mean; 'Suck it up, buttercup. It's just a little headache.'
The Colonel's smirk grew, despite the situation.
"That was a pretty neat trick you did there, with the lights and all." The kid remained silent and unmoving, still on the floor with a hand over his eyes.
"No idea what you're talking about, mate." The teenager deflected, which wasn't surprising. The accent did throw the Colonel off a bit. The way he talked quickly told Jack that the kid was a brit. He'd worked with enough of them during his Black ops years.
Initially he'd assumed the kid had stolen one of them and was from the Colorado Springs area.
Seems his theory had a few holes in it.
So what was a foreigner doing in Colorado Springs of all places? Tourist perhaps? Nah, who the hell would visit Colorado in the late fall of all places? Ski season wouldn't start for another three weeks. Immigrants perhaps? Dual citizen? The possibilities, while not endless, were more than he liked.
Time to press a little further then.
"Yeah sure, kid." Jack snorted, arms folded. "Where'd you get the INTAR?" The Jaffa stun tech was becoming ubiquitous as a training tool for new SG teams. Jack also knew the trainers had excellent security procedures, and none of the weapons had been reported missing from the USAF training facilities. But the red lights were unmistakable. While he hadn't seen the weapon in his hands, two crimson bolts splashing over the Jaffa and knocking them out cold could only be that.
"Intar?" their cellmate muttered, putting on a good show. "What are you going on about?"
"Oh, quit yanking my chain. What else could it be? C'mon, just fess up."
"Mate, I haven't the foggiest idea what you're blathering on about." Not interested in humoring the man any further, and trying to steer the conversation away from his previous actions in the diner, he looked around, making sure they both saw the confusion on his face. Not surprising, Jack thought, recalling seeing his first Goa'uld ship from the inside. The walls were golden in color, with strange writing covering a good portion of them.
"Where the bloody hell are we?"
This time Jack frowned. No point in feigning ignorance. He was going to find out sooner rather than later who took them, even if he was lying about the whole Intar thing.
O'Neill, out of options for now, decided to bring the kid up to speed, simply because asking too many questions around the Goa'uld usually ended in a judicious helping of pain stick to the neck.
Not something he wanted to subject their tagalong too if it could be helped.
"Goa'uld Al'Kesh." O'Neill explained. "It's a big honkin' troop transport. It sounds like we entered Hyperspace about an hour ago."
Harry stared at the older man with more than a bit of doubt.
"We're on a big ass spaceship, going faster than light." He elaborated, trying to keep the irritation out of his tone. After all, it wasn't the kid's fault they were stuck here.
"The people that took us, they're called the Goa'uld. Evil bad guys that terrorize the Galaxy. We were taken captive."
He then openly scowled. "And right before my big vacation too! Those damn Snakes!" He flicked a quarter at the solidly shut door with a loud ping.
The teen snorted. "Right. Good one, mate." The amused expression lasted for a few more seconds until he suddenly realized that the man was, in fact, being serious.
"You're not joking." It was more of a general statement than a question.
"Huh." Was all he could say.
While the youth was digesting the fact that there were aliens and that he wasn't even on Earth anymore, Teal'c and O'Neill got busy trying to short some circuits within the door controls.
"So what's your name, kid?" Jack finally asked, just because the silence was getting awkward.
"Harry. Harry Potter" he replied distractedly. Not overly surprising considering what he'd just been told.
"Well Harry, I'm Jack O'Neill and this is Teal'c. Nice to meet ya"
The teen didn't respond, apparently still in processing mode. Their names were simply added to the queue.
"Damn it, Carter could do this blindfolded." the Colonel growled several minutes later. In reality, all SG members had rudimentary training on disabling Goa'uld tech like this. O'Neil had just opted to skip out of his lesson.
Finally snapping out of his trance, Harry cocked his head towards the dynamic duo.
"Out of curiosity, what will you do should you succeed in getting that door open?"
The two men stilled. It was a valid question. There were at least a dozen Jaffa on the ship, not counting the crew. Probably a reinforced platoon, meaning over thirty bodies in total.
Jack shrugged. "We usually wing it. But getting some weapons would be on the top of our list."
Harry absently chewed the inside of his lip, observing Jack and Teal'c tinker with the door controls, and weighing his options.
The Statute of secrecy was almost globally enforced, and America was no exception. They hadn't seen much if his memory could be trusted, but perhaps it was time to play the Obliviation game, even if he wasn't overly keen on rubbing an eraser through someone's brain.
That being said, if they were speaking the truth and he was in fact in space (he still had reservations about that), then Harry would need their help to get back.
It's not like you could just pull a U-Turn and just go back. He'd seen enough documentaries about space flight (thank you discovery channel) to know that plotting a course through the vastness of space was incredibly complicated, with a lot of head-spinning inducing math involved.
Not exactly his forte.
Of course, this could just as well be some elaborate, abet weird plot to kidnap him. But what if it wasn't? What if they really were on a spaceship?
All right, so he'd help them, and figure out if they were trying to pull the wool over his eyes later.
The raven-haired teen patted down his pockets, finding them empty.
All right, no problem. They hadn't taken the locket around his neck, which further reinforced his belief that his captors weren't Magic users. It was secured to his person with a sticking charm and muggle repelling charms, to name a few. Pulling it off, he opened the small latch and fished out a penny-sized trunk, which was deftly unshrunk using some fancy wand-less magic.
"Woah, how the hell did you do that?" O'Neil said, the door panel momentarily forgotten. Harry grinned, rummaging around in the multi-compartment trunk before emerging with the Elder wand.
"Magic." The teen stated matter-of-factly, reshrinking the wooden chest and rescuing it.
Both Jack and Teal'c blinked. "Riiigghght." The former said, even as he watched the seemingly impossible.
Harry's grin only widened. With the flick of the powerful wand, the doors jumped open with a god awful screech, revealing a surprised pair of guards, facing away from the doors.
Regardless, two impressively quick stunners dropped the poorly placed Jaffa before they could as much as shout out a warning.
This time, his aim was true, he noted in satisfaction.
O'Neill's mouth hung open for a few seconds before clicking shut. His eyes were glued to the thin, elaborately carved stick in the youngster's hand, and the easygoing body language shifted to guarded.
The two members of SG1 quickly picked up the arm-mounted Zat's, while Harry took his time inspecting their oddly dressed captors, even going so far as to nudge on with his foot.
"O'Neill, they bear the symbol of Heru'ur." Teal'c informed, instantly switching into teacher mode.
"The guy whose hand I threw a knife into?" Jack asked casually, his eyes never leaving Harry's.
Oh, there was definitely a story to be told there.
Teal'c led the way, guided by his knowledge of Al'Kesh layouts. Seems this one actually had dedicated prisoner cells, meaning this particular vessel seemed to pick up unwilling passengers all the time. The hallways were mostly deserted.
Twice a pair of guards passed, but their clunky boots gave them away far in advance. In the prelude to their second near encounter, Harry was forced to use a light Banisher to push his new acquaintances into a conveniently designed alcove, before casting a disillusionment charm over them, then himself.
"You can make people invisible?" the Colonel hissed in barely contained excitement after the Jaffa had moved on. "Cool!"
Harry snorted before lifting the charm. Their stoic guide informed them that the bridge was near. In fact, it was through the next set of doors. A quick and dirty strategy was formed after Teal'c explained the layout of the Pel'Tak, as the Goa'uld liked to call their ship bridges. Harry would unlock the entrance, then focus on the center of the room with his, and he was quoting O'neill here; 'flashy hocus pocus stick'. Jack and Teal'c would handle the flanks.
Deciding to keep the muggles on their toes, Harry substituted the simple unlocking spell for one that caused the entire door to simply vanish. The action nearly threw off his two companion's concentration, which had been the idea. Even in strange situations, Harry couldn't resist the opportunity to mess with the muggles he'd temporarily teamed up with.
The engagement was one-sided and over in the blink of an eye. Harry was beginning to feel embarrassed these blokes had been able to capture him at all.
The bridge secure, he turned and threw up an old fashioned brick wall. It looked horribly out of place, which was partially why he did it. That, and you know, to keep people out.
"Shop's locked up tight." He stated, theatrically brushing his hands clean. "So, now what?"
The smart, but cruel thing to do would be to turn off life support within the rest of the ship. But seeing how Teal'c had a huge bleeding Jaffa heart made of gold (again this was O'Neill talking), they opted to seal the former first prime on the bridge while Harry and Jack swept the rest of the ship.
Normally Jack wouldn't have teamed up with simply anyone for such a sweep, let alone a young kid like Harry. But the way he'd performed up to this point made it clear he was no stranger to this sort of work.
And wasn't that tidbit of information interesting? How did someone so young have training in small unit tactics and close-quarters combat?
The hand signs were different, and initially led to some confusing, but humorous moments, but they both adapted.
That stick of his was close enough to a gun, the bright, multi-colored lights a bit on the slow side velocity wise, and far too flashy for his liking, but offset by a lack of noise. It emitted snaps, reminding him of a whip, and while not exactly quiet, the noise would not carry over a great distance.
He learned early on that red meant stun. That's what he thought the Intar was, and initially, after busting out of their cell, he'd still had reservations that the thin stick could be one. After all, the Goa'uld tech could be made to look like almost anything. That theory was quickly squashed when the kid was faced with multiple opponents.
A swarm of aggressive birds dogging their opponents was not something he'd expected, or the old fashioned ropes, thick as his wrist, ensnaring the surprised Jaffa. Heck, he blasted one into the wall with a fire hose pressured stream of water.
The kid certainly was the real McKoy. How he did it didn't matter, as long as he kept that stick pointed at Jaffa and not him. And that suited Jack just fine.
It took perhaps twenty minutes, but by then the majority of the raiding party was securely locked in the main cargo hold behind seamless doors that couldn't be pried open or overridden, and the few patrolling guards joined their unconscious jailers in the brig.
Upon receiving the all-clear, Teal'c executed a proverbial U-turn, dropping out of Hyperspace in the middle of nowhere and firing off a quick text-only message to the SGC. The banging emanating from the cargo bay started soon thereafter, as expected.
As for Harry, he spent the first twenty minutes of their return trip looking for his Wand. Jack tagged along, deciding to play twenty questions while he searched, but apart from a few single-word answers, the Wizard's lips were sealed. They eventually found it, along with O'Neill's M9 in a small storage room after resorting to using a point me spell, which raised even more questions.
"C'mon, Harry, tell us a little about yourself" Jack practically whined, the trio now back in the Pel'Tak. The teen rolled his eyes in mock annoyance but retained a hint of a smile. Really, this Jack fellow was quite the character.
"Sure-" Harry shrugged. Jack bounced up and down, clearly not acting his age. "-But first you tell me about what it is that you do, and why all of this doesn't seem like anything new to you."
"I'm afraid that's classified." The Colonel retorted almost instantly, clamming up.
"Well, I'm afraid I can't tell you anything either", Harry shot back even quicker. "You know, Statute of secrecy and all that. Sorry, mate."
O'Neill groaned in frustration. "The fact that you're bound by laws I've never even heard of tells me plenty, but also raises even more questions. Fine. I'll talk to the General when we get back. But when you get cleared, I want answers."
The Brit scoffed at the demand, causing Jack to follow up on the ultimatum with a wagging finger. "Hey, consider yourself lucky that it's not Daniel you're dealing with right now! Or Carter! Those two would make you long for my tender mercies. Honestly!"
"Sure." He deadpanned, not really knowing who those two are. But he couldn't imagine anyone willing to work with this Muggle. Well, apart from Teal'c. Though working together is a stretch. Harry swore the Jaffa ignored O'Neill most of the time.
With the low key interrogation on hold for the moment, Harry transfigured one of the crew seats into a plush looking recliner and sat down, letting out a louder than necessary sigh of content. Seemingly guessing what his favorite drink was, he then pulled a nice, frosted bottle Budweiser from the chilled box in his trunk, and popped the cap.
O'Neill gazed longingly at both the chair and the beer.
"Say, could you…?"
"Not a chance." Harry cut him off gleefully. Jack grumbled while Teal'c had to fight back a rare laugh.
Ahhh, it's happened again. I've started another work, with absolutely no heading, plot or direction to speak of. All I know is that Harry needed to meet up with SG-1.