"So we'll be leaving Friday after school and getting back on Sunday." Ms MacKensie flicked through the papers in front of her. "Now you've all had a check list: make sure you have everything marked on there as essential and if you can get some of the desirable items that would certainly make life easier. Those of you coming for extra geography credits remember your course books so you know what you're looking for and those of you coming along for the astronomy club I'll only have two telescopes, so please bring your own if you've got them. Have I forgotten anyone?"
"Life sciences miss!" Came a voice from the back of the crowded class.
The bell rang.
"Right!" Ms MacKensie yelled over the noise of students getting ready to leave. "Life sciences remember your books and specimen jars and anything else you think you'll need! I'll see you all tomorrow by the buses! Jon O'Neill please stay behind for a moment!"
She looked flustered to find him right next to her. "Oh! Jon, yes, given your situation I understand I haven't got a permission slip from your parents, but I wanted to check with you that you're comfortable with the risks that come with any trip. You need to be responsible for your own wellbeing this weekend."
"I promise not to sue the school if anything happens," he said with a smile.
Ms MacKensie fixed him with a look. "Thank you, but that really isn't the point-"
Jon stopped her with a gesture and a smile. "Don't worry I've been on a few camping trips in my time. I can take care of myself. I'll see you tomorrow."
Yeah he was pretty sure he could handle a school camping trip. Compared to some of the missions he'd been on (on-world and off-world) it'd be a breeze. It least it was unlikely that anyone was going to be shooting at him this time.
He was looking forward to the trip in spite of himself. A chance to get away from it all for a while, fishing by day, watching the stars by night: sounded like heaven. And since the only people on the trip were people who had been in that classroom and Cassie wasn't running up to him to warn him about Goa'uld, it looked like he might actually be able to relax without the fear of alien invasion as well.
Of course he could have done without Bobby and Dawn going too. Bobby he had kind of been resigned to knowning that meathead's grades, but he really thought Dawn would have been all right. Turned out transferring so late in the semester wasn't so great for the GPA: she was looking for extra credit in geography and life sciences this weekend.
"Hey Jon, there you are. What did MacKensie want you for?"
Jon returned Neil's smile, suddenly thinking of Daniel as the kid pushed his glasses up his nose.
"Oh, uh, just covering the school's collective butt over the whole lack of parental permission thing."
"Man, it must be so cool to live on your own! My mum is still trying to convince me not to go. She thinks I'll end up walking off the end of a cliff or something."
Jon stopped at their lockers and opened his. He tried to remember what he needed to be taking home to do his homework. "She's just trying to look out for you."
Neil was filling up his own bag with everything from his locker. The kid might not be that great at Phys Ed, but for sheer pack mule ability there was no one better. Jon had seen airforce trainees balk at that kind of weight on their backs.
"Yeah right. I just wish she'd lay off for a while." He picked out the last book and flicked it open. "Hey, I think I had a breakthrough with this word we were trying to figure out. Here."
Jon took the book and knew as soon as he saw it that Neil had cracked it. Ancient repositories: really useful once you already knew the answer, but try and remember something from them on your own…
He tried not to show his frustration at the way his brain was wired. "That's it, you got it. You have a real gift for this stuff."
Neil shrugged and slammed his locker. "It's easy really."
He said it like it was nothing and Jon tried not to be jealous, with mixed results.
He looked back his locker and sighed, slamming it shut. Not much point in taking too much back tonight: he just remembered he was taking Oz over to Jack to discuss the latest weirdness. Ah well, by tomorrow evening he'd be able to put it behind him for a couple of days at least.
"Hey you bringing your telescope on the trip?" Neil asked a little too nonchalantly.
Jon smirked. "Yes, we can share. Wouldn't want you to have to use one of those crappy school ones after all."
"Hey kid, you didn't say you were bringing a friend."
Jack looked warily at Oz, but Jon just pushed past him and carried on to the living room.
"Oz, meet Jack, Jack this is Oz."
He ignored their pleasantries to each other and headed straight for the cartons of Chinese food waiting on the counter that separated the living room from the open plan kitchen. He found cutlery in the drawer and got enough out for everyone, before making himself at home on one of the stools by the counter and digging in.
Making himself at home…that was all too easy to do here in his own house. He remembered coming back here countless times after a hard mission, watching Star Wars with T or trying to get Carter to admit she liked the Simpsons, ribbing Danny till he finally relaxed.
No, that wasn't his life anymore, but it wasn't so easy to be reminded of it.
Jack came back in with Oz trailing behind. He took a look at Jon helping himself, but Jon could almost feel his internal shrug. They were the same person: they couldn't exactly act like host and guest.
Jack offered Oz a seat and grabbed a carton of his own.
"So what's so important you needed to talk to me without the others." Jack asked and Jon could see he was wary. He would have been. As a rule they didn't like surprises: it rarely turned out well.
Jon nodded to Oz while he finished his mouthful.
"Oz and a friend of his know about demons called Goa'uld that possess people."
That got his attention. Jon could see Jack working through all the things Jon had thought when he'd first heard that little piece of information.
"You don't say? Do you want to back up a little and explain?"
Oz nibbled on a prawn cracker. "We thought Jon was one."
Jon shared Jack's lack of amusement. That brush with the Tok'ra was closer than he had ever wanted to come to one of the snakes.
Jon and Oz explained what had happened that evening. How Jon had been caught and why, what Dawn and Oz had explained about demons, how Cassie had got involved-
"What did you think you were doing?!" Jack exclaimed at the mention of Cassie.
Jon wasn't impressed. "Come on, you would have done the same thing. Cassie and Dawn are friends, they trust each other and I needed someone who could vouch for me."
"Has high school made you forget what 'classified' means?"
"Don't be an ass old man. We only break the rules when it's really really necessary and believe me this counts."
Jack put down his empty carton with a sigh. "Fine. Care to explain why it's so necessary?"
Jon slurped up the last of his. "Because they have a way of removing a Guld without killing the host?"
Jack leant forward eagerly. "How?"
"Magic," Jon said, straight-faced.
Jack paused and looked between the two young men at his counter. "Seriously?"
Jon still wasn't 100% convinced himself. He looked to Oz. "Got any tricks you can do to show him?"
Oz smiled, but Jon couldn't help feeling there was something predatory about it. "Only one, but you wouldn't like it."
"O-k," Jack said slowly. He turned to Jon. "Some stuff has been going on at the base. Weirder than usual I mean, so I'll bite for now. I'm trusting you on this kid."
Jon snorted and stood. "Of course you are old man. If not us then who?"
Jon knew he shouldn't speak about himself in the plural, not with Oz right there, but he knew himself. Him and Jack: they didn't trust people too easily.
Jon led the way to the front door, but held a hand before Jack could shut it behind them. "The weird at the SGC: need a hand?"
Jack smirked. "Got one. Remind me to introduce you sometime: you'll get a kick out of him."
Jon nodded and waved good bye. "Later old man."
"See ya kid."
Oz spoke as they walked down the path to the car. "I can see why he's the one you trust."
Jon met his eyes, and there was no denying the certainty he saw in them.
"If not myself then who?"
Dawn pulled the guide rope and watched her tent fall in on itself for about the zillionth time. How were these things supposed to work and how in the heck did Jon get his up so quick?
"I think we're doing it wrong." Cassandra said, throwing down the mallet onto the heap of tent fabric.
Dawn frowned in concentration. "We can do this. It can't be that hard!"
"Ladies? Need a hand?"
Dawn and Cassandra rolled their eyes at each other at Bobby's words.
"Like you could do any better," Cassandra said. "Why don't you concentrate on your own tent?"
"Hey! A gentleman always helps the ladies first."
Dawn snickered. "Exactly why you should go back to your own tent." She ignored his put out look and sighed. "Maybe we should just sleep under the stars. That's what Oz does when he's out in the woods and he doesn't seem to mind."
"Yeah but Oz is..." Cassie faltered, casting a wary glance at Bobby. "Oz. He's used to it." She slapped at her arm suddenly. "And I don't fancy being eaten alive by mosquitos all night."
Jon sauntered over, grinning and rubbing his hands. "Howdy campers how's it going?"
"Fine," Bobby said quickly. "I was just about to help the girls put up their tent."
"Great!" Jon clapped his hands. "Then I'm heading down to the lake. There's bass out there with my name on 'em."
"Jon!" Cassandra called angrily as he turned to leave.
Dawn surpressed a growl. "Don't be such an ass! Help us get this up!"
Jon shook his head, but came over and started working with them. "How can you not know how to put a tent up?"
Bobby watched them from the sidelines. "How come you're so good at it?"
Jon shrugged. "Went on a lot of camping trips before. Here take this."
They worked quietly and in a few minutes it was up. Dawn grudgingly thanked Jon before he went to help Bobby with his. She didn't know what to think about this guy. She had actually kind of liked him, even when she had thought that he might be possessed. It wasn't ofen she met someone her age that took any aspect of life seriously. It was why she liked Cassie too: she guessed because they had both been through stuff, but Jon...When they had confronted him it had been like he had just cast aside the personality she had known. He had been just like a soldier, taking command, giving orders, demanding they explain everything while he didn't give them a thing. He reminded her of Buffy dealing with the First, or worse: Riley. The others might have forgiven Riley for being such a stiff, military jerk, but Dawn hadn't. Jon was just like him, acting like he knew everything, when he didn't at all. Even the Initiative knew what demons were even if they didn't have a clue of what to do with them.
Dawn sighed and went to fetch her books. She didn't have time to think about Jon. She needed extra credit for geography and life sciences if she was going to pass this semester.
Why couldn't school teach something useful like demon languages or weaponcraft?
No, instead she was going to spend her weekend hiking, looking at rocks, collecting specimens and writing notes on everything she saw and did. Fun.
"Come on Dawn, we better go," Cassandra said, gesturing over to where most of the students had started to gather around Ms MacKensie, Mr Thatcher, Mr Osborne and another man. Dawn set her books down, zipped up the tent and followed her friend.
"Everyone gather round please!" Ms MacKensie said, though most of the students were already there. "Everyone! I'm glad to see you all managed to get your tents up and your gear sorted. Now, geography and life sciences, please get some rest this evening. We will be starting bright and early tomorrow morning with a hike: I expect you all to have your books and any food or drink you might need with you. Astronomy club, we won't be going too far tonight, but we will be leaving as soon as the sun goes down, so please have your scopes and notebooks ready. Mr Osborne will be round soon to check you have a proper area for your camping stoves and will be passing out the food. Ok, I think that's everything. Oh wait!" The students turned back. "This is Ranger Mike Peterson, he'll be keeping an eye on us during our stay in the park. If you have any questions about the local area, be sure to ask him, I'm sure he would be happy to help."
The ranger smiled. "That's right. The ranger station is less than a mile away so I know this area pretty well. Anything you all need, just let me know."
He actually tipped his hat.
Dawn shut her mouth: she couldn't believe he'd just done that. How...Cliche.
She turned to Cassandra to share it with her, but stopped when she saw the stiffness in her friend's frame.
"Cassandra?" she asked. "Are you ok?"
She reached towards her, but pulled back when Cassandra suddenly flinched.
Cassandra looked at her wide-eyed. "Sorry," she said in low tones, her voice tight. "Did you see where Jon went?"
"He said he was going to the lake." Dawn searched the crowd, certain she knew what was up. "Wait, there he is," she pointed to where Jon and Neil sat by their tent, discussing whatever was in the notebook they were holding. She took Cassandra's hand. "Come on."
As they hurried over Dawn tried not to feel excited. They had found one. She was going to get to do the spell: her stomach rolled over in fear at the thought, but she felt good too. Finally she was going to be able to do something rather than just be Junior Watcher Girl.
"Jon," she said as they approached. "Can we talk to you?"
Jon looked up, hastily closing the notebook, though Neil frowned at him and opened it again, flicking through to try and find the right page. Dawn couldn't be sure, but she thought she recognised the script that was written in it. She have to ask Neil about it later, since Jon was obviously determined to be an ass.
Or maybe not. As soon as he saw Cassandra he stood, concern writ large over his face. "Ah crap. Who?"
Neil looked up, interested. Dawn wasn't going to rat him out. Neil had a right to know about the Guld as much as anyone, being involved with them before and all. Not that she was going to tell him herself. It was never a good idea to tell people about demons out of the blue, but if he overheard something that was hardly her fault.
Cassandra looked frightened, but her voice was strong. "The ranger."
Jon sighed. "I can never have a nice relaxing weekend. Just do some stargazing, some fishing..." he sighed and looked to Dawn.
"You got everything you need with you?"
Dawn narrowed her eyes at him. "Like I'm going to leave home without it when it could be anyone."
"This is one of those "Mr Lester" situations again huh?" Neil said, looking up at them from where he was sat. He pushed his glasses up his nose in a nervous gesture since they were already all the way up. "Should we warn someone? Call those people again?"
"No." Jon's voice was absolute. "We have a different plan this time and can't risk it realising we know it's there." Jon rubbed his eyes for a moment then looked up at Dawn. "How long do you need to do your thing?"
He was taking control again! This was supposed to be her assignment: why did he have to come in a take control!
"I don't need your help."
He met her gaze without flinching. "You don't? The second you start chucking stuff on him and saying that stuff it's going to know you know and it's going to stop you. He may look normal, but he's stronger, faster, and more cruel than you can imagine and he will kill you without a second's thought if he can."
Dawn laughed and spoke in a fierce whisper. "Try being hunted by a turok-han or a gnarl or even a plain old vampire! I live with a werewolf! I can handle myself."
Jon's eyes hardened. "This isn't about you or what you think you are capable of. This isn't even about whatever you've dealt with before. I know these things and with a troop of airmen here I wouldn't take any chances. You are going to have all the backup I can get for you from these kids and be nice and controlled because we cannot afford to let even one of these things slip out of our grip." He paused and Dawn didn't even try to step in. She didn't know what this guy was, but she was starting to think that SGC place he talked about was something to look in to.
"Now," Jon said calmly and firmly. "we're pretty limited out here, so we're going to need all the help we can get. I'm sorry about this Cassie, but Dawn, I need you to teach Cassie the spell in case anything happens."
Dawn cut him off, exasperated. "There's no way! It's in this ancient demon language. I've been learning it for months and I had Willow teaching me. I mean it's not like it's difficult, as languages go, but it's not like there's an English/Demon dictionary out there."
Dawn watched the thoughts passing across Jon's face. "How Ancient? Can you show me?"
Dawn rolled her eyes and stomped back to her tent to fetch the book. This was stupid. These people had no idea what they were dealing with. For a moment she wished Buffy were here, but stomped on it. She didn't need Buffy. She could do this by herself. It would be nice to have someone around who knew the score though. On the way back she slipped her phone out of her pocket and sent a text to Oz.
Buffy had called it a weapon. Dawn just hoped she was right.
"Here," she said, passing the book over to Jon.
He held it surprisingly delicately. Giles had yelled at her over and over again for treating the really old books too roughly, but of course Jon had to be just perfect in that respect too. He flicked through the pages, his eyes scanning the text as if he actually understood it. No way: there was no way that was possible. He screwed his eyes shut for a moment and rubbed his head.
"Jon?" Cassandra asked. "Are you ok?"
"Peachy. Neil come take a look at this." Neil shuffled over and Jon pointed to some of the passages. "See this here, and this?"
Neil's eyes widened behind his thick specs, his dark fringe falling forward and scanned the page before they turned to look from Jon to Dawn and back again. "It's kind of like that language you've been teaching me. I'm not really following, but I thought she said it was an ancient language. Something with demons?"
Jon waved his comment away. "I'll let Dawn explain the demons, she knows more than I do, but think you could learn a couple of passages of this by the time we get back from the trip tonight?"
"No way!" Dawn said, drawing curious glances from the other students, but unable to contain herself. "There is no way you know this too! What are you?!"
Jon didn't look too pleased either. "Don't ask. Can you teach him how the rest of it works if he learns the words?"
Dawn looked at Neil, sat on the ground in his mac and cheap and functional shoes. If his hair wasn't so greasy and he didn't have the glasses...and he had a worse fashion sense he'd look a lot like Xander did when he was in high school. She knew she'd never really known Xander when he was in high school (she had been just a blob of green energy then), but she still had memories of what he had looked like. Even Xander could learn this spell: it didn't take any natural talent, just the right words at the right time. And the powder.
She sighed, beaten. "Sure. I can teach him."
Jon was looking at her with sympathy, though she wasn't sure why. "Thanks. Cassie, stay with them ok?"
"Where are you going?" She asked.
Jon just stood. "To get some more help."
Bobby turned around to sort out whoever had found them, but took a step back when he realised who it was. The others were already trying to subtly cover up the cans they had smuggled away from camp.
"What do you want O'Neill?" Jesse said, all sneers.
Jon just looked at Bobby and raised and eyebrow. "I'll take one of those beers for a start."
Before Jesse could say anything Jon was catching the beer Bobby had thrown to him and was cracking it open. He took a long slug. He was going to need it for this conversation.
He pulled a face. "Rough. Remind me to clue you in on the decent stuff." There was a pause as everyone waited for him to leave. He cocked his head. "Bobby, can I talk to you?"
Bobby looked back at his friends briefly, but ignored their curious looks as he went to join Jon out of hearing distance.
Jon took another sip of the beer. Rough it might have been but it did the job.
"What do you want?" Bobby said.
Jon didn't have the time or the patience for the teenage boy posturing so cut straight to the point. "You remember what happened with Mr Lester? Well the same thing is happening with the Park Ranger here, only this time we have to fix it on our own." Not strictly true. He could call in the SGC any time, but then they wouldn't get the intel they needed on this "spell", so for all intents and purposes they were on their own for this one. "We've got help. Dawn has a way to turn the ranger back to normal, but he has to be immobile for at least a few minutes while she does her thing."
Bobby looked at him warily. "You got that thing you used last time? Seemed to work pretty ok."
Jon nodded. He had the zat in his bag, never went anywhere without it these days. "Yeah I've got it, but I'd rather not rely on that by itself. I got lucky last time, real lucky, and I'd like some backup this time."
"Got it in one. You're the only other person here who already knows what's the what and no one else can know, understand?"
Bobby blanched. Yeah the airforce could get pretty scary about warning civilians about things like "Top Secret" and "National Security".
Bobby nodded. "I get it."
"Good, because it's you and me on him ok? I'm trusting you to help me keep the others safe. Apart from Dawn they've not got a chance if he goes for them."
Bobby nodded again. "Dude, what is she?"
Jon rolled his eyes and raised his can in salute. "A pain in my ass. Let's hope she knows what she's doing." He finished off the can. "When Neil and I join the astronomy club on the trip you're to go with Dawn and Cassie to the ranger's cabin ok? Whatever she needs you to do to prepare you do exactly what she says, but by 11 we're going to be coming for you and you've got to be ready for anything once the ranger comes in that door. Whatever doubts you've got get rid of them because we can't afford them. I'll be right on his heels, but he's going to be pissed the second he sees anyone there and you have to protect the girls. Understand?"
Bobby swallowed, but nodded. "You can count on me."
He was going to have to. God, he was going after a Goa'uld with a pack of kids and a magic book. He needed a miracle to get them through this.
The astronomy trip rolled round all too quickly
Neil was still muttering the spell to himself as they hiked to their viewing spot. If he listened Jon could almost make out what he was saying, the spell was close enough to Ancient, but he preferred not to. Aliens he could handle, even having alien databases in his head, but he wasn't quite ready for spells. He kept an inconspicuoous eye on the friendly ranger instead. The guy knew his forest, Jon had to hand him that, and if he wasn't inhabited by an alien snake bent on universal domination he would have respected him a lot more. As it was there wasn't much to look out for though. Their guide was in full ranger mode and Jon doubted he even realised he had a snake in his head. The last one had been immature enough to not be able to control Mr Lester unless he was asleep and Jon suspected this one to be the same.
No reason not to take all precautions though. His zat was clipped to the back of his trousers, covered by a jacket just a little too warm for this time of year and he was careful not to make any moves that might be considered suspicious. Neil was a weird enough kid that the other's had already ribbed him for being more interested in dead languages than the present, which effectively wrote off his muttering as long as the Guld didn't understand ancient. Now all they had to do was wait.
And look at the stars
Jon missed them, missed seeing them up close in ships and visiting whole new solar systems via the gate, but gazing up at them on a warm clear night wasn't half bad either.
Neil tensed when the teacher told them to pack up for the walk back to camp. Luckily the ranger was helping some of the others and Jon took the opportunity to whisper too him.
"Stay cool. Hang back with me when we get to camp and get ready to dump the bags and go. Just follow me and it'll be ok."
Neil nodded stiffly and finished packing up.
By the time they were back at camp Jon could feel the adrenaline running through his own system and had to remind himself that Neil wasn't one of his team as he directed the kid wordlessly. He couldn't afford to treat Neil like Daniel. He was a good kid, but this was brand new to him and he was obviously terrified. Jon strengthened his resolve: he'd be strong for Neil.
They slipped in behind the ranger as he headed back to his cabin. Jon kept them at a distance when he realised how loud Neil was moving through the woods, but always kept the ranger in sight. Finally they spotted the cabin. The ranger opened the door and Jon dashed forward, not waiting for Neil to catch up.
The cabin was warmly lit inside, cozy and not huge. Dawn had put the containment circle right inside the door and while the ranger looked on in shock Jon pushed him into it, the green energy snapping into place the second the Goa'uld was inside.
He paused for a moment, taking stock while the Goa'uld, now very aware of what was happening, battered on the inside of the shield and screamed in it's own language. Cassie stood in the far corner, out of the way, Dawn the other side of the circle from Jon and Bobby to his left, nice and close in case of trouble. Jon nodded in approval as Neil arrived and edged around him to stand by Dawn, hovering near the book and the small pouch that held the sparkly stuff.
"I do like the green," he said in thought, looking at the shield.
Dawn pouted. "It's supposed to be clear. Stupid monks."
He wasn't sure what that was about, but time to get on with the show.
"Hey!" He yelled at the Guld. "Quiet down already! We're not impressed. Dawn, getting it going."
She nodded tightly threw the powder through the shield and started to speak. The Guld just glared at her to start with, then let it's eyes flash as it turned to Jon.
"What is this O'Neill? A child speaking words? Have the tauri no more weapons?"
"Do I know you?"
Jon knew it was a mistake as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Like a Guld would worry about classified information.
It grinned obscenely. "I am a servant of the great god Ba'al Colonel Jack O'Neill. Yes, we know you. How galling it must be: the great Colonel O'Neill's mind trapped in the body of a child. An Asgard joke, but a useful one. How much easier it will be for my master to break you than the last time..."
Jon whipped the zat out of his trousers. "Ok, I think you're done talking now."
"What's he talking about?" Bobby asked in wonder, so intent on Jon he wasn't watching his own feet.
"Stay off the circle!" Jon yelled, but it was too late. Bobby's shoe scuffed a hole in the circle and in a second the Guld had pounced on Dawn, knocking the girl to the floor. Jon fired and didn't wait till the energy had even fully dissipated before he pulled the alien off the girl. He wasn't alone for long: Bobby piled on the fallen alien with him and Jon let him watch the thing for half a second as he turned to Neil.
He didn't wait for Neil's response, but soon heard the words of the spell start up again, hesitant at first, but steadily growing more certain. The words ended, the powder shimmered and Dawn opened her eyes in time to see the Guld thrash under the two boys. They kept their hold, even when the translucent form of the immature Guld emerged from the ranger's mouth.
The perfectly alive and well Guld.
Jon darted away, but Bobby and Dawn hadn't had their reflexes honed by knowing what it was like to be inhabited by one of them. The snake darted at Dawn. So fast-
"No!" The furious scream from corner of the room reverberated the hut and with a squelch the snake exploded into sticky tendrils.
Jon looked at Cassie. "Hail Dorothy."
Bobby followed his gaze until he quelled the boy's curiosity with a look.
"Uh, Colonel?" Neil said, taking a step back from the ranger where he was starting to rise.
Jon sighed. Oh yeah this was going to be good. He was going to have to find a way to convince Neil never to say that again. He settled for lending a strong arm to the ranger.
"Ok buddy up you come."
The ranger shook in his arms. His eyes darted into every corner of the room. "W-where is it?"
"It ok-" Jon started.
"Cassandra exploded it." Dawn said succintly. She found a blanket somewhere and wrapped it around the ranger's shoulders. "All that's left is a smear on the rug. Sorry about that by the way."
Jon and Dawn guided the shell shocked ranger to a chair where he shook and stared at Jon.
"It was an alien. It knew you, remembered you, but as an old man. On a ship in space. Tied to...Something horrible. How is that possible? How is any of this possible?! I had an alien in my head!"
"Alien?" Neil and Bobby looked at each other.
Dawn shrugged. "Alien, demon who cares." She knelt down next to the ranger. "Hey what's your name again?"
She smiled sunnily. "Hi Mike, nice to meet you. I'm Dawn. This is Neil and Bobby and Cassandra and I guess you know Jon, or Jack, or Colonel, or whatever. I know this has been kind of crazy, but you're safe now."
"Kind of?" Mike said uncertainly.
Dawn shrugged. "Compared to my normal life? Yeah, kind of."
Jon had to admire how she dealt with him. She stood and turned to him. "So whoever you are, I'm guessing your airforce people are going to want to be here?"
Jon ran a hand through his hair. "I'm Jon ok?" Oh well in for a dime in for a dollar. "I just have Jack's memories...And biology."
He turned his back and flicked open his cell.
Dawn sighed and in spite of everything she wished Buffy was here, that Buffy was the one to deal with all this. Sure she was controlling and patronising and never took Dawn seriously, but she was good at this and Dawn didn't know how long she'd been unconscious, but her head was really starting to hurt.
"Are you ok?" Neil asked shyly.
Dawn forced a smile. "I'll be fine. You did a good job finishing that spell."
Neil blushed and nodded thanks.
Oh yeah, she could be in control too even gongs were ringing in her head.
Bobby hooked a thumb at the door. "Hey I'm going to head back to camp. I've been through the whole secrecy thing with the airforce and wouldn't mind skipping a second round. Anyone want to come with?"
Neil looked between him and Jon, still on the phone, talking in low tones. "Sure. I've done this whole bit before too." He turned to the girls. "See you later."
The phone snapped shut.
"Cassie you go with them too. I'll find some other way to explain why the Guld exploded."
Dawn hadn't noticed how pale Cassie had looked before. She looked ready to pass out: whatever magic she had to be able to do what she did it must have taken a lot out of her.
Still Cassie protested. "But Uncle Jack-"
"Jack will accept anything I tell him." Jon grinned. "Or at least he'll understand why I have to lie to him. We kind of think the same."
Cassie smiled wanly and moved to join the boys.
Bobby opened the door and screamed.
Dawn rushed forward. "Oz you came!"
Oz smiled serenly stepping past the stunned boys into the cabin. "Hey."
"See you later," Neil said hurriedly and shoved Bobby out the door. Cassie waved to Oz mutely then followed.
"How did you find us out here?" Jon asked and Dawn smiled as Oz just did his enigmatic look. She gave him a hug.
"Thanks for coming," she said into his shoulder, trying not to shake as he held her. Her head hurt so much. They had come so close it all going wrong. She felt the adrenaline start to leave her and forced back tears. She only pulled away as Jon started to speak.
"Jack and the others will be here soon. They'll want to talk to you both about that spell now that we've got confirmation that it works. You'll have a proper debrief at the mountain."
Dawn felt Oz tense. "I won't go to your base and I won't let Dawn go either. If you want to hear what we have to say you'll do it under our terms."
Jon nodded and, Dawn couldn't believe it, looked almost apologetic when he asked. "Got anything to back that up? The US airforce isn't used to hearing 'no'"
Dawn backed away hurriedly as Oz started to change. She trusted Oz, she really did, but Oz himself had told her he found it too easy too lose control when he changed form. After going on a date with a vampire, the First Evil pretending to be dead people and variously evil/non-evil Spike, Dawn had learned that 'not taking chances' really meant 'treat them like demons until they proved otherwise'.
Oz's eyes looked into hers calmly behind the wolfy facade and she breathed a sigh of relief.
It was a long moment before Jon spoke.
"Yeah that ought to do it. I can't wait to see their faces."