Characters: Jon O'Neill, Dawn Summers, Oz, Jack O'Neill, various OCs
Summary: Dawn comes to Colorado Springs to investigate.
"Are you sure you don't mind? It's just we're trying to cover three known hellmouths now and Buffy doesn't want her to go on her own, but there's no one else we can send, and I don't mean you're our last resort guy, even though, in this case, I guess you are..."
"Willow. It's fine. I'll take care of her."
"It's probably nothing anyway..."
"Exactly. Dawn will be back before you know it."
Jon lifted his head at the sound of the door. The teacher had been droning on about poetry during the Great War as if the actual fighting had just been a side note. Since Mr Lester had left he'd really been struggling to stay awake in English. Still, he couldn't blame Mr Lester for leaving: being possessed by a Goa'uld left it's mark. He remembered.
A girl entered. She was pretty: slim, long brown hair, perky smile. If she were twenty years older...He sighed to himself. He was turning into a monk, but dating high school girls was still just a little too creepy for him. Besides, Cassie would never look at him again if he tried it.
The girl passed the teacher a piece of paper.
"Everyone," Mrs Bell annouced, "this is Dawn Summers. She will be transferring into this class for the rest of the semester. Dawn, there's a seat free in the second row."
Dawn's eyes scanned the class in a glance as she walked over and took her seat. Jon tensed as he met her eyes for a fraction of a second. This was not normal behaviour for a teenager. He should know. He spent most of his time studying them to try not to stick out like the old man he really was. A normal teenager would have kept their eyes down, tried not to be noticed as the odd one out. That or play it up and make sure they were noticed as cool or as a clown. This casual, confident glance that seemed more like casing the joint than worrying about fitting in at a new school was definitely a new one on him.
For a moment Jon thought of the Goa'uld that had infiltrated the school a couple of months ago: it had warned that there were others, but he dismissed his thought just as quickly. A new transfer student was the least likely person to be infected: she wouldn't even have been around when the Goa'uld had been making their move. They still didn't know how many immature Goa'uld might be out there, lying dormant in unknowing hosts, but he felt pretty certain this girl wasn't one of them.
Seeing her with Cassie at lunch kind of confirmed it. Cassie would have come running to him the second she sensed a Goa'uld. One less thing to worry about...
Except Jon couldn't escape the feeling that there was more to this girl. She had a way of looking over a room that was almost military. As if she were constantly looking for possible threats. Not that high school couldn't be tough, but this Dawn was going a bit far.
He sighed as he opened his locker for his latin books. Maybe being away from the job was finally starting to get to him. The past couple of months had been blissfully quiet and that just wasn't something his mind was used to. Months in a row without having his neck on the block in one way or another just didn't happen to him: hadn't happened to him since he had enlisted. Maybe his brain just couldn't cope with the quiet life.
He slammed his locker shut and jumped at the sudden appearance of Neil.
"We're going to be late!"
His friend set off quickly down the corridor and Jon easily fell into step with him, a smile on his face.
"You know we have not been late for a single latin class this whole year."
"No thanks to you." Neil pouted and Jon couldn't help but laugh softly at his seriousness.
"How're you doing with that construction I gave you?" His voice was carefully casual, but Neil stiffened at the mention.
"It's fascinating!" He kept his voice low, but there was no mistaking the excitement in it. "It's like something I saw online once."
"Really?" Jon asked. He had been teaching Neil what he knew of Ancient for a while now and the kid had a real knack for it despite the fact that no one outside the airforce should even know it existed. If Neil had seem something like it online...
"Yeah, there's a guy on one of the construct language forums who was trying to incorporate something like it into one of his languages, but was having trouble with the tenses. I wish I could show him this." Neil continued quickly. "I know I can't, but it would so solve his problem."
Jon breathed a sigh of relief. False alarm. He tried not to feel disappointed.
They stepped into the dim Latin room and Jon stopped short. Dawn was there talking to the teacher quietly while the small class got themselves seated. Not many kids went in for Latin class, there was only other girl and three boys including Jon and Neil. What were the chances that the new girl, a girl popular enough to get recognised by Cassie and her friends, would actually want to take Latin? It didn't seem likely, but as Jon took his seat he tried not to read anything into it. So Dawn was a well-rounded kid: good for her. If only more of the kids around here were like that maybe high school wouldn't be such a pain in the -
"Everyone, this is Dawn Summers. Her old school taught a number of different ancient languages and I'm sure we can all learn a lot from her. Take a seat Dawn and we'll get started."
It was a small room, but there were plenty of seats given the size of the class. So what were the odds she would sit next to Jon?
Pretty good it turned out.
He returned her smile as she sat down next to him and tried to focus on the teacher for the rest of the lesson. It wasn't hard. Despite having the knowledge of the Ancients in his head and spending a time loop learning the damn stuff languages still didn't come naturally to him. He was determined that next time he went through the gate he'd be as prepared as he could be. He had a good grounding in physics from flight school and running into a number of the cultures from his ancient history class had certainly helped him understand the basics, but he needed all the help he could get with this.
His head ached by the time class was over.
"Hey," Dawn said hesitantly beside him as they packed their things away, "you're in my English lit class right?"
"Uh, yeah. Jon O'Neill." Neil gave him a thumbs up sign which he resolutely ignored as he fell into step with Dawn as they left class. "So, where have you moved from?"
"Cleveland, but my last school was in Sunnydale, California."
"The one that collapsed? Wasn't there a big earthquake or something?"
Dawn smiled, but Jon wasn't fooled. He had lost enough people to know that look. "Or something."
She shook herself and a bright smile came to her face. "It's fine. Well, I've got math now. I guess I'll catch you later."
He returned her wave as she left and wondered what someone her age could possibly have seen to reflect so darkly in her eyes.
Lunch the next day he saw her again.
She was with Cassie and her friends getting her food from the counter. He was sat at a table with Neil and some random guys from their year who seemed happy to stick to their own conversation. Dawn was laughing with Cassie: they seemed to be getting on well. That was good. Cassie was a good kid and if anyone understood what it was like to go through losing your entire town it was her. Even if Cassie could never talk to Dawn outright about how her planet had been wiped out, that kind of thing left a mark Dawn would recognise. It would be good for both of them to have someone who understood.
"You like her don't you?"
Jon took a bite of his...He wasn't sure what it was, but he focused on his plate anyway. "Who?"
Neil rolled his eyes. "Dawn. You don't have to hide it, man." He paused before continuing. "Unless this is another 'Uncle Jack' situation?"
"What did I say about never bringing that up?" Jon made his voice firm, but Neil just waved his tone off.
"Fine, fine it's not that. It's cool. She's cool. I mean a girl that pretty who likes Latin? Man, if you hadn't got there first I'd be all over it."
Jon grimaced. "Go for it. I'm not interested in Dawn."
"You serious? How can you not be interested in her? Are you gay? 'Cause it'd be totally ok if you were-"
Time to stop that line of thinking. "I'm not gay. I'm just not interested in Dawn."
Yet his eyes found her in the crowded room. She was pretty: she'd be gorgeous in a few years when her figure had had a chance to fill out, but seeing her there with Cassie...If Cassie was like a niece to him what would one of her friends be? He might call himself Jon these days, but he knew some parts of him would always be Jack.
They had gym after lunch. Jon had been working hard to get his condition back and was pretty happy with how he was now. It would take a little longer to get back to how he had been, but he was fit enough that gym class was about as taxing as a walk in the park. He stepped out of the changing rooms resigned to another hour of boredom, but wasn't prepared for the little wave Dawn gave him from where she stood huddled with some of the other girls in their sweat pants and tshirts. He lifted a hand in a half-hearted wave back and went to stand with Neil.
"Not a word." He said as he caught the look on Neil's face.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" The coach, a burly woman in a dated pink and green shell suit, said. "Gather round please! Now, today we're starting a new set of lessons in basic self defense. Anybody here done any self defense before?" A handful of people raised their hands and Jon was surprised to see Dawn was one of them. He rose his hand and noticed that Bobby did the same. "All right I want to test each of those people quickly and try and put you with a partner who is a comparable level. I'll work on some more advanced moves with you once the rest of the class are set up. Jon and Mike front and centre. You two can go first. I want to see you spar on the mats there."
Jon prepared himself to go easy on the kid, but it wasn't long before Mike was down on the mats. They stepped aside and Bobby went next against another guy. Bobby had obviously been practising. Jon nodded in approval as he took his guy down. He had a long way to go yet, but it was nice to see that all that had happened had encouraged the kid to get some real training rather than relying on intimidation and size. Bobby nodded to him as he came off the mat and Jon returned it. They hadn't spoken since "the incident", but when it came to Bobby not speaking was a step in the right direction.
Next came Dawn and the only other girl who had put her hand up. The other girl was a karate student and to start with Jon didn't like Dawn's chances. The girl knew her stuff and pressed Dawn, but Dawn had other ideas. Her form was terrible, her arms looking too long for her body as she flailed, but not a single hit connected and the match was over with a quick kick to the knees that had the karate girl sprawled on the mat whimpering for a moment before Dawn knelt next to her gushing apologies and helped her up.
"Ms Summers!" The coach barked. "That kind of form will not be accepted in this class. You will partner with Jon. Maybe he can teach you some restraint!"
"Yes miss," Dawn said quietly, her head bowed and went to stand by Jon.
"Go over to those mats there and spar in your pairs while I get these lot sorted."
Jon led Dawn over to a mat.
"Don't worry about her," he said, "in a real fight you did the right thing. Do enough damage to get away and run like hell."
"That's what Buffy says."
"Your coach?" he asked.
She shook her head, her long brown hair waving with the movement. "My sister. Well, I guess you could kind of call her my coach too. She's big on making sure I can protect myself."
"Your folks don't mind?"
She shrugged. "Mom died a few years ago and we've got no idea where Dad might be. We look after each other."
"I live on my own myself. It's good you have your sister to with you." He fell into an easy stance and saw her do an imitation of something similar. She really didn't have much finesse. "Here." He went over to her and corrected her stance. She had a long scar across each palm. He tried not to focus on it, but filed it away in the back of his mind to think about later.
"Oh Buffy's back in Cleveland. I'm just staying with a friend of hers for a while." She faced him with determination. "So, do you want to do this or what?"
They sparred. What Dawn lacked in finesse she made up for in enough dirty tricks to keep him on his toes. He wanted to shake her sister's hand: a girl Dawn's size couldn't afford to worry about niceties if she was attacked. Still she also couldn't afford to waste what little strength she had. Jon corrected her moves slightly to put what force she had behind them and showed her something a little more standard for the benefit of the coach when she came round to check on them.
He was actually out of breath by the end of the lesson and thanked Dawn for the workout. She beamed at him.
"No problem. I had fun."
She had a pretty smile.
Cassie turned and smiled as Dawn came hurrying up. She liked the new girl despite what everyone said about her being weird. They said the same about her sometimes. The really popular girls always did. She did her best to try and pretend she was just a normal Tauri, but she guessed there was no fooling some people.
"Hey, what's up?"
Dawn beamed. "Someone said you knew Jon O'Neill?"
Cassie sighed. "Yeah, he's kind of a friend of the family."
Her eyes sparkled and Cassie knew they'd lost another one. Why did so many girls like Uncle Jack? It was creepy. "Look, I don't mean to shoot you down, but I don't think Jon's real interested in dating."
Cassie shook her head vehemently. "Not at all. He's just a bookworm you know? More interested in studying that going on dates."
"New girl, you like the nerdy type?" Bobby came round the corner and dumped an arm around Dawn's shoulders. "You should go out with my buddy Jake." He slapped his other hand on a beaming Jake's shoulder. "He actually reads the articles in his skin mags."
"Gross!" Dawn heaved his arm off her as his friends started laughing.
Cassie bristled at Bobby's behaviour. "Why don't you go bash your heads against walls or whatever it is you footballers do." They kept laughing as they walked away. "Jerks."
"At least they don't wear their letterman jackets all the time." Dawn looked down for a moment, then put on a smile. "Hey do you want to come over tonight? Oz has promised to use his mighty cooking skills to order pizza."
Cassie laughed. "Cool. I'll grab that dvd I was talking about before and we can watch it."
"Great! I'll see you later."