Disclaimer: Seeing as this fic is now complete, you'd be reading this on a hard copy from the book store if I owned it, instead of on a website called .
Jack had never seen himself as the vacationing sort. Oh, he'd take time off when he needed to relax and fish at his cabin, but Hawaii had never been on his radar.
When all had been over and done with, Jack had wanted Harry and himself to get away for a while. He didn't want them to have anything to do with Stargates, aliens, or anything more life threatening than a sunburn. Not that Harry got sunburns.
A mere eight hours after the General had overheard Harry's interest in Hawaii, an Airman had handed Jack plane tickets and the name of a hotel where reservations had been made. Jack had had a lot to do before they left; preliminary paperwork had taken a full day, and then Jack had had an evening to pack, and a morning to talk to the other parents before he was rushing through an air port. They arrived at their hotel on Christmas day, and it was a first for Harry and Jack together. Room service had already had an order made for a Christmas dinner for the two of them that night. He still didn't know who had arranged everything, but Jack wasn't complaining about the first class accommodations.
No, Jack wasn't exactly the vacationing sort, but it was relaxing to look out at the beach from their suite's patio. He was pulled from his reverie as Harry ran up to said patio and climbed over the divide.
"Hi, Jack," he said with a small smile, which had been the most emotion that Harry had shown since he had left the infirmary; outside of his nightmares, of course.
"Hey, Harry," Jack replied as Harry started to dry his hair with one of the fluffy towels that had come with the suite. "You having fun?" Jack asked.
"Yeah," said Harry, who had taken to the water like a fish since he had learned to swim last summer. "We played Frisbee in the surf, after we played in the sand."
"Sounds good," said Jack, "you making any friends?"
Harry shrugged and said, "Simona wants to go to see a movie later, maybe."
Having seen the way the girl had been looking at Harry, Jack thought she was more interested in sitting next to him than watching a movie, but he wasn't going to let Harry in on that just yet.
"It'll have to be an early movie," said Jack, "our plane leaves at six tomorrow morning, and I for one want some sleep."
"Okay Jack," said Harry, "I'll tell her."
Harry hopped the low wall again and ran off to where he had left his friends.
Jack didn't know what surprised him more, that Harry was running around shirtless, or that the other kids didn't seem to be making him feel awkward about it. Jack on the other hand had been questioned by just about every adult who thought it was their business. Jack usually answered with something along the lines of, "He was attacked; that's all you need to know."
Harry had declared that he wasn't going to hide this time. He still wore a glove over his hand device, but whenever the situation called for it, he went topless, regardless of who stared. Jack smiled. Hawaii had been good for his son.
Harry's feet swung back and forth through the air as he peered over his shoulder into the bathroom mirror. He was seated on the counter, his hair still dripping from a shower, as he passed a couple fingers over some of the scars on the back of his shoulder. They didn't hurt, but he winced as his fingers met raised scar tissue.
He had half an hour until he had to be ready to leave for the airport. Harry still thought that it was silly to take a plane when they clearly had other options, but the Air Force didn't want them to do anything to bring notice on them; like move from Colorado to Hawaii and back without any documented plane trips.
Harry had packed his things the night before, and then gone to bed early, in order to accommodate their early flight. The early bed time hadn't done him any good though. Things had been harder since Harry's capture, and nights were the hardest. But still, things were also getting better. He kept reminding himself of that.
Harry didn't regret anything that had happened, though the events haunted him. He had helped save the world, the whole galaxy even, and he was proud of himself. He just wished he could spend one whole night asleep. He wished Anubis had never found Ba'al's stash of torture devices.
Jack had been good about not pushing Harry on the subject of his scars, and Harry was glad, since he hadn't been able to make sense of his own thoughts. He knew that it wasn't normal to hold onto scars like he was though.
"Breakfast! " Jack called from the living room.
Harry slipped down from the counter and quickly pulled on clean clothes before rushing out of the bathroom, his hands still working a towel through his hair as his stomach rumbled.
"What did you order?" he asked Jack as he walked into the living room.
"You wanted it to be a surprise," said Jack as he gestured towards the table, where their breakfast waited with the stereotypical silver domed lids of room service.
Harry went and removed one of the lids. He looked at Jack. "When I said surprise me, I still thought you'd keep it in the realm of breakfast."
"It is breakfast," said Jack. "You've never had pizza for breakfast?"
"You always make sure there's no leftovers," Harry pointed out.
"True," said Jack. "In this case however, it's breakfast pizza. See, there's bits of egg and sausage."
Harry examined the small personal pizza carefully. "Huh," he said, and they sat down to eat.
"See," said Jack, after they had started in on their pizzas. "They mixed the perfection of a traditional sausage and eggs breakfast, with the goodness of pizza. Culinary art at its finest."
Harry thought that they had just had some pizza dough left over from the night before, but he gave a small smile and let Jack talk. He knew that Jack was worried about him, so Harry did his best to put on a happy façade; not that it was always a façade. Sometimes, pretending to be happy was just as good as the real thing, but sometimes it was just tiring. Harry went on eating, and he went on smiling. Breakfast pizza was actually pretty good.
Sirius was tired of waiting, but he had agreed to it. One of the conditions of his parole was that he let the Yanks decide when to introduce Harry to the wizarding world. 'We don't want to wait till his eleventh, but let's not rush things.' Sirius didn't like it, but he was free, and Harry was safe.
It was so strange to think of the word. Free. He wasn't loose, on the run, or escaped, he was free, and the world knew about it. Publications around the world had shouted out that Sirius Black had never sold out his best friends, had never killed those muggles. More importantly, Peter was locked up. Now the rat knew what it was like to be shut in with Dementors day in and day out. Sirius was at his liberty to openly walk down a street, and all he had to do was stay away from military bases and apothecaries (a condition of his parole due to his liberal use of Veritaserum). And stay away from his godson for the moment.
He almost missed his time living as Jet.
He was roused from his late breakfast, cold Chinese leftovers, with a nock at the door. Thinking of the cute rookie Auror who had been helping him settle into life on parole, he checked to make sure he was presentable. Casting a quick charm to freshen his breath, Sirius moved to the door of his new home in Colorado Springs. It wasn't the cute rookie.
Sirius's foot lashed out to kick Remus in the shin.
"Ow!" Remus cried, hopping about a bit. Sirius took a step forward and Remus held up a hand and said. "You can beat me up all you want, but first-" Sirius hugged him, unable to put his feelings at having his only remaining friend appear at his front door into words.
"That was for not kidnapping Harry from the Dursleys years ago," said Sirius.
Remus pushed back a bit to look properly at Sirius. "I regret that too," he said, "but I can't begin to-"
"I suspected you first," Sirius interrupted him again.
"What?" asked Remus.
"I thought you were the spy back then, that's why I picked Peter as the secret keeper. I arranged for the traitor to have the secret. I have just as much regret as you do. And well, Remus, I was kind of hoping that you could forgive me?"
"Only if you can forgive me," said Remus, looking close to breaking down.
"Done," said Sirius, who slugged Remus in the arm.
"What was that for?" asked Remus.
"One of the Aurors told me you were wasting your time in Egypt," said Sirius. "Harry got into a spot of trouble a couple weeks ago, and I could have used some backup."
"Harry's here?" asked Remus, flabbergasted. "Then you did have him taken from the Dursleys?"
Sirius gave him an odd look as he ushered him into the house. "I wouldn't even know how to do that from Azkaban, let alone be able to pull it off."
"Well how'd you find him here?" asked Remus.
"Wasn't that hard actually. You'd have been able to do it too, if you'd done the sensible thing and put some lumps into Dursley. Well, that and break a few dozen laws."
"Yeah," said Sirius. "He is now, anyway. He's been adopted actually, by the Air Force Colonel that was looking for him."
"What happened?" asked a flabbergasted Remus.
"Now that's classified," said Sirius.
"You can't be serious," said Remus, and before Sirius could say anything said, "and no serious Sirius jokes."
"Noted," said Sirius.
"But really though," said Remus.
"Like I said," said Sirius. "It is classified. I signed a number of documents to that effect and swore an oath. Also, I'm going to be meeting my godson soon, and I don't want to start things off by giving off all of his secrets."
"Look, Professor Dumbledore thinks that Harry was possessed by some kind of magical creature. He doesn't think that that's the case anymore, but we found something interesting in Egypt, about a creature that may have passed itself off as the sun god, so it's really important that we make sure he's alright."
"Wow," said Sirius. "It's weird how you can be so close while being so ridiculously far away."
"Well was he possessed?" asked Remus.
"He's safe now," said Sirius as way of answer, and Remus sighed. "It's just, it's so weird. I think it must be like what a muggleborn feels when they first enter the wizarding world. Only I think it's the same for the muggles that get exposed to it. The thing that took Harry got him sucked into all of it."
"And this man that's adopted him?"
"Oh, he's been doing his best to keep Harry out of trouble. The kid doesn't always make it easy though, but it's not always his fault."
"Let me guess," said Remus, "you've been keeping tabs as a lovable old stray."
"Family pet, actually," said Sirius.
"Gutsy," Remus commented.
"Oh, you don't want to know half the crap I've pulled."
"Hence your being out on probation," said Remus.
"Oh yes," said Sirius, "I think there were those who wanted to throw me in a hole somewhere and forget I existed."
"You'd have come back," said Remus.
"Oh yeah," said Sirius, "so, you want to hear how I did it?"
Harry was used to traveling by ship, with naught but the monotony of hyperspace to look out at. Yet still, a ten-hour flight from Hawaii to Colorado was so incredibly dull. Perhaps it was because Harry could have made the trip in a fraction of a second were he so inclined. Granted, he had to admit that first class was a decent way to travel, if you really had to. Which he didn't.
Harry spent his time on his laptop. He read cheery emails from his friends, watched some videos, and tried to get a little work done. Beside him, Jack slept in his spacious first-class seat, but he was woken up when the plane hit some turbulence.
Jack stretched in his seat and got his bearings before turning to Harry. "Hey Harry," he said. "What did I miss?"
"The flight attendant came by to get lunch orders," said Harry.
"And you said...?" asked Jack.
"I figured you wanted the chicken salad," said Harry.
"Impressive," said Jack, "you said that with a straight face. What did you really get me?"
"You didn't want a...?" Harry started, but gave up when he saw he wasn't going to fool Jack. "Steak sandwich with crisps."
"Now that sounds more like it," said Jack. "So what are you up to? Have you been working on the graft?" They were far enough from other passengers that they could talk with relative privacy.
"I finished already," said Harry, quietly.
"I forwarded it to Sam and Janet, like you said."
"They had agreed that as long as Harry worked towards developing the technology, Jack wouldn't push him to accept the Asgard's help. They had both held to their sides of the bargain.
"You never said anything about it," said Jack.
"Well I've been working on something else," said Harry.
"What's that?" asked Jack.
"Well here," said Harry, turning his laptop to face Jack. His Dad stared blankly at the screen, which showed a series of complex chemical formulas.
"Nice," said Jack, nodding his head.
"It's for a topical solution," said Harry. "Hypothetically, it should smooth out the skin on my back so the scars aren't raised up like they are."
"Good," said Jack nodding, "sounds like a good first step."
"It is," said Harry.
"This is basically an alternative to surgery."
"Yeah," said Harry. "And this is the second step." He called up another window, which held another series of chemical formulas.
"And what does this do?" asked Jack.
"Well," said Harry, "this would seek out the skin cells affected by the toxin, and turn them a darker color."
"What color?" asked Jack slowly.
"Basically a light brown," said Harry.
"You don't have light brown skin," said Jack.
"No I don't," said Harry.
"You want to turn your scars into tattoos."
"Essentially," said Harry, a little nervous as to what Jack's reaction would be.
"Tattoos being permanent?" asked Jack.
"This being a little more so," said Harry with a nod.
"Why?" asked Jack.
Having known that he would be having this conversation, Harry had already tried to put his thoughts into some coherent order. He wasn't sure yet if he had been successful. "Well," he said, "I talked to Teal'c before we left, and I asked him about his symbol." He referred to the golden symbol of Apophis affixed to Teal'c's forehead. "I asked him what he thought about it, when he saw it in the mirror."
"What did he say?" asked Jack.
"He said that it used to be a mark of shame. It was a mark of slavery and a reminder of the things that he had done for Apophis. But now, he says it's a symbol of honor, and triumph over the false gods, because, you know, his is dead, just like all the others.
"Anubis tried to take over and find people like me to study and use, but we stopped him. I stopped him. He put these marks in my back to make me less. He wanted to subjugate me, but I won, and Anubis is either dead or trapped forever." Harry stumbled a little over his words, making sure that he didn't say anything sensitive. "The symbols on my back are a mark of victory over Anubis, no matter what they actually say. And I want to feel that. I want to be proud of them, but first I have to..." Harry didn't know how to finish.
"You have to make them your own," Jack offered.
"Yeah," said Harry, feeling relieved that Jack understood, at least in part, a knot in his stomach he hadn't noticed unwound.
"Have you thought about having tattoos on your back for the rest of your life?"
"Better than scars," said Harry. Jack nodded to show he conceded the point. "Besides, they could still be hidden by just about any shirt."
"True," said Jack. "But your friends at least will notice eventually that your scars have turned into tattoos. Unless you plan to always wear a shirt around them from this point on."
"Yeah," said Harry, "I was wondering about that." They could think of some kind of explanation.
"Are you sure about this?" asked Jack.
"Pretty sure," said Harry. "Plus, I'll always have the skin graft to fall back on. And the cool thing about that, is that most of it relies on non-classified technology. It could be passed off as just another medical advancement made by the Air Force, so it could actually be introduced into mainstream medicine."
"Most of it?"
"The actual transplant would be much easier and faster with... alternative... technology," said Harry. "But it's still doable without it."
"That's good, Harry; something else to be proud of."
"Yeah," said Harry, a little uncomfortable with the praise.
"So," said Jack, "you have both the skin graft and the tattoos to develop and test safely. That gives you plenty of time to think about what you want."
He looked like he wanted to say something else, and Harry wondered if it was about the Asgard, but Jack stayed silent.
"What do you want me to do?" asked Harry.
"I want you to do whatever's best for you."
"Well, yeah," said Harry. "But what would you do?"
"If it were me," said Jack, "I'd let my friends take care of it."
"Why?" asked Harry.
"Because," said Jack, "I would already know that I didn't have anything else to prove, to myself or anyone else."
"Hm," said Harry.
"You're still leaning towards the tattoos, aren't you?" asked Jack.
"Yeah," said Harry.
"Okay," said Jack.
Colorado was even colder than they had left it, and something of a shock after the pleasant Hawaiian climate.
"You sure you have to go in to work so late?" asked Harry as he hopped out of the truck in front of Matt's house.
"Yeah," said Jack, "they were fine with me doing my paperwork in Hawaii, but they want me to do a more in depth in person debriefing as soon as possible. Besides, I'm still on Hawaii time. I'll see you later in the evening."
"Alright," said Harry.
"Have fun with your friends," said Jack.
"See you," said Harry, closing the truck door before running up the walkway to the Carvers' home.
Harry was ushered into the home by Mrs. Carver, and to his surprise he was soon surrounded by all of his friends.
"What are you guys all doing here?" he asked them.
"Sleep over," said Tommy, "Mrs. Carver said you could stay if you wanted."
"Um," said Harry, "thanks, but I've been looking forward to my own bed tonight."
"Mom said you'd probably say something like that," said Matt, "thought we'd check anyway. Come on, I'll show you the new games I told you about."
"Cool," said Harry, letting himself be led upstairs to Matt's room, which now had a number of sleeping bags and pillows piled in one corner.
"So what do we want to play?" asked Matt, "I'm taking votes for Ratchet and Clank, and Mortal Combat."
"Weren't you trying for Grand Theft?" asked Harry.
"Yeah," said Philip, "but his dad said he was raising a lawyer, not a defendant."
That sounded like something Matt's dad would say.
"I tried to tell him I wanted insight into the criminal mind," said Matt, "but he didn't buy it."
"That's because it's a BS argument," said Tommy.
"Pretty full of it," said Andy.
"That's it," said Matt, "you're all against me. Harry, my only true friend, what do you want to play?"
"Ratchet and Clank," he said, not really knowing what the game was about, and trying to keep from grinning over being back amongst the easy bantering of his friends.
"Alright," said Matt grandly, "let's save the galaxy."
They had no idea.
If anyone had asked Harry ahead of time if he would have fun pretending to save the galaxy from ridiculous alien threats, he would have given them a dubious stare. But it was actually… relaxing. It also wasn't a game he was automatically good at, ironically enough.
It was a while before anyone asked him a serious question.
"So how've you been, anyway?" asked Tommy.
"Okay," said Harry after a moment's thought. "I mean, you all know sort of what happened."
"Sort of," Andy agreed.
"It's not something you just… walk away from. But I'm doing okay."
"Yeah?" asked Simon.
"Hawaii was nice," said Harry.
"Don't pull any punches, Harry," said Matt, "Tell us exactly how awesome it was."
"It was really awesome," said Harry. "The weather was great, and so was our hotel. I don't know how to describe it."
"See, I told my parents we need to take a vacation in Hawaii," said Matt.
"What did they say?" asked Tommy.
"They said that we already did. When I was four."
"That doesn't count," said Philip.
"It really doesn't," agreed Andy.
"That's it," said Matt, "I'm starting a list of places I need to go to before I'm six feet under."
"That's a nice way of putting it," said Tommy with a role of his eyes.
"Don't forget things you need to do," said Andy.
"Sky diving," suggested Simon.
"Oh my God, you're insane," said Philip, who did not like heights.
Harry smiled as he listened to his friends talk. It was good to be home.
Jack picked Harry up around ten o'clock, as Harry's friends were getting ready for bed. As they had been warned by Lou, a friend of Jack's who had agreed to look after the place while they were away, Jet was nowhere to be found when they got home; Harry was confident though that the massive dog would return. Jack clearly wasn't, but he had put up a hopeful front for Harry. They were still unpacking the next morning when the doorbell rang.
"I got it," called Harry, whose room was closer to the door. He walked to the entryway, supposing that one of his friends may have dropped by on their way home. It was not one of his friends though, but rather four adults, one of whom he recognized instantly as his godfather. A woman near the back, it took him a moment to recognize, was one of the witches that had accompanied his father to take Anubis's mothership. He had seen her when Jack had tried to talk him out of his suicidal plan. The group was headed by an Asian man in a business suit, and completed by a mustachioed man standing close to his godfather.
"Mr. Potter," greeted the Asian man. "My name is Stephen Lee, I'm the Secretary of Magic and I am here on behalf of both the President of the United States and Wizarding America. I have a lot to tell you."
Jack came up from behind Harry and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Well, this should be interesting."
A/N: Well that's it. Thank you everyone who's read and reviewed this story, I've loved the support. For all of you that have asked for a sequel, the fact is that I don't know if I will make one for this one. I will be making one for Tar'Chell's Wrath though, so keep an eye out for that one.
I have one final request: for all of you that have read this without reviewing before, would you please consider leaving just one for the end of the fic?