Sam, Daniel and Teal'c all knew Jack well enough to know when he wanted to be alone, so they all kept a respectful distance from the infirmary. None of them complained, however; all of them wanting their own space so that they could process everything that had happened in the last few hours.
Sam shut herself up in her lab, alone with her computer and other technological bits and pieces that she had taken from other planets to study. She had planned on examining a small device that another team had found that, according to the residents of the planet they lived on, supposedly stopped children from getting lost by indicating the way back to another device that could be kept at the home but after five minutes of trying to focus, she gave up, leaning back in her chair. All she could think about was Xander and Willow... the moment that Tyson Rodd, while still transformed, had lunged at Xander, intent on ripping the teenager's body apart, the helpless look on Willow's face as she tried to breathe as the werewolf had held her up by her throat, the guilty looks the two teenagers had given one another as they tried to explain what was going on. A week ago, Sam would never have believed the two teens but now that she had seen what Tyson had been capable of and she had watched as the wolf had transformed back into a man, she realized that humans were not the only ones living on earth... and that was before she had read all the files Hammond had shown SG1.
Sam's thoughts turned to Tyson Rodd, whose body now lay in an isolation room. General Hammond had explained the situation to the president and Sam knew that Tyson's death would be covered up. A background check had been done and it appeared that Rodd had no family and no friends. He lived out of a motor home that had been found parked on the street not far from the park where Xander and Willow had been attacked. It saddened Sam to think of how lonely the man must have been but then she thought of the cold way he had addressed Colonel O'Neill, Xander and Willow and how he had boasted of his plans to murder Willow and Xander's friend. Slayer or not, Buffy was still just a teenage girl that had her whole life in front of her and who was only in her final year of high school. She didn't need crazed, psychotic werewolves after her, although it sounded like someone had put a bounty on Buffy's head. Jack had told her that Xander had called up Buffy's Watcher and told him about what Xander and Willow had learned. Hopefully, the warning would be enough to prevent something bad happening to the teenager. Still, at least now the SGC was aware of what was happening in Sunnydale, they could provide assistance, if it was ever needed.
Like Sam, Daniel had retreated to his own office, where he dwelled on what he had learned. It angered him that, all along, there had been a military base in Sunnydale but instead of actually doing anything to save the lives of people living there, such as Xander's mother, Willow's parents and Xander and Willow's friend… Instead, they seemed to be more focused on doing experiments on the demons and vampires they captured, leaving the job of saving lives and preventing the end of the world to a group of teenagers who shouldn't have to worry about coming home to find their parents' bodies drained of blood on the living room floor.
Daniel shuddered as he thought about the guilt the two teenagers would carry for the deaths of their parents, on top of the pain that came with losing your parents (which Daniel knew quite a lot about).
Still, upon reflection, Daniel realized that he should have known that humans were not alone on the planet. Almost every culture in the world had stories about monsters. While they were all slightly different, there were too many similarities between the tales to be coincidental. All of those stories... the myths and legends that Daniel had studied extensively were based on fact, on real demons and monsters and it frustrated Daniel that he had never noticed it before now.
Still, Willow had promised to lend him some of the books she had about the supernatural, so Daniel was bound to learn more about what the two teenagers had faced in their life prior to their arrival in Colorado Springs. From what he had read in the files, it sounded like Xander and Willow had fought hard to prevent the needless deaths of the people of Sunnydale and of the wider world and the pair had never given up, regardless of what the odds of survival were.
Not dissimilar to SG1, if Daniel thought about it.
Teal'c sat quietly in his room at the SGC. He had lit his candles, intending to kel'no'reem, but he had found himself unable to focus on his meditation. His mind was filled with what he had learned about Earth and its nonhuman inhabitants. Willow and Xander and their friends had been fighting as warriors in a battle that they were not equipped for... and yet they had fought bravely and had protected the lives of the people of Sunnydale… and indeed the rest of the planet. Warriors of such bravery were few and far between and Teal'c felt proud of the pair and what they had accomplished. He knew that, despite everything that had happened, Jack O'Neill was proud of them as well.
Thinking of Willow and Xander made Teal'c think about Rya'c. Teal'c missed his son deeply, although he knew that he belonged on Earth with the SGC. One day, potentially, Teal'c hoped that Rya'c would meet Xander and Willow. Rya'c was learning to be a great warrior, after all, and Xander and Willow were on a similar path. It was unlikely, as Willow and Xander were not part of the SGC, and it would be many years before they were.
Teal'c privately believed that Xander and Willow were destined to join the SGC in some capacity. They had combat experience, they knew about the Stargate, and they were used to things that weren't exactly normal. From what Daniel had told him, Teal'c knew that Willow was good at languages and that she was also gifted with using computers. Xander too had skills and knowledge that would prove beneficial for the teen should he decide to join the SGC.
Despite this, however, Teal'c knew that the SGC's work was highly dangerous and that there was a risk of something happening to either of the teens should they choose to join the SGC at some point and Teal'c didn't want that to happen. They had grown on him and Teal'c didn't just regard them as friends but as family, not merely because of the relationship with Colonel O'Neill... but in their own right.
Predictably Jack knew that his team had decided to keep a respectful distance from him but he was grateful for the opportunity to spend time alone to try and comprehend everything that he had learned and seen over the last few days. Trusting that Xander and Willow were safe in Janet's capable hands, Jack had retreated to his own office and locked the door so he could sit and think in private.
Jack knew he should have expected for something to be off about Xander and Willow's past. The way they had interacted with him, especially after the kidnapping, had indicated strongly that they were hiding something but he hadn't expected this. It was big for Jack to learn that Willow and Xander had faced the odds, faced down creatures that only existed in scary stories, for over a year, surviving thanks to their own wits and the strength and support of their friends, not to mention a little luck.
If Jack was honest with himself, he had been scared by what he'd found out and what it meant for Xander and Willow. They almost definitely had targets on their back due to their connection with Buffy and there wasn't much Jack could do to protect them. He could of course impose a curfew on them but Jack knew that doing so would only make things worse between them. Things were already strained between him and the two teenagers... he didn't want to add fuel to the fire.
Thinking about the tension between himself and Xander and Willow made Jack think about the other discovery of the last few days: the one about Willow's self-sacrificing ways. Jack hadn't realized how deep the damage he had inflicted on Willow ran until he'd noticed the way Willow had stepped in front of Xander when he had reviewed the video recording of the attack, trying to protect him. The image of Willow, calmly stepping in front of his son, as if it was the most natural thing for her to do, would be permanently etched in Jack's memory.
Jack was aware of the fact that Xander knew what Willow had done too, which had made it worse. The resentful look that Xander had sent towards Jack had cut the Colonel deeply, not that he would admit to it. Given time, Jack hoped things would ease but he wasn't foolish enough to think that he would ever be truly forgiven for how he had treated Willow... how he had broken her, despite promising to himself when he took her in that he would do anything he could to protect her.
Wearily rubbing his hands over his face, Jack leaned back in his comfortable office chair, wondering what on earth was going to happen next.
After all... something was always just around the corner
Janet sat in her office, absentmindedly filling out some paperwork. Things were quiet in the SGC infirmary... for the moment. With the exception of Xander and Willow, there were no long-term patients... only the teams coming and going for their usual post-mission check-over. Still, Janet wasn't going to jinx it by commenting on it. She was keeping her mouth firmly shut on the issue.
Putting down her pen, Janet looked at the finished paperwork before putting it into a desk drawer. She rubbed her hands over her face wearily. It had been a long couple of days and she was looking forward to going home and getting to sleep in her own bed.
Of course going home would bring up a whole new thing. What on earth was she going to tell Cassie about Xander and Willow? They were both going to miss at least a few days of school, possibly even a full week, and Cassie was bound to ask questions. Janet didn't know what to tell the girl. Willow and Xander knew the truth about Cassie, so in all fairness Cassie should be told about the truth behind Xander and Willow, but then Janet wasn't sure that it was her secret to tell. She'd seen how upset Xander and Willow had been that they'd been forced to tell Jack and General Hammond and the rest of SG1 the truth.
Xander huddled a little under the blanket that someone – he was willing to bet Janet – had draped over him, and watched as Willow slept. He was tired but he couldn't bring himself to sleep. He'd always had trouble sleeping when he knew Willow was injured... he hadn't slept at all when she'd been in the coma the previous summer. Now was the same, even though Janet had reassured him repetitively that Willow would be fine. Xander trusted Janet, she reminded him strongly of Mrs. Summers, but Xander knew that he wouldn't be able to relax fully until he and Willow were safely back at home.
Or rather, Jack's house.
Xander let out a sigh, wincing as the deep breath made his side hurt, as he thought of his father. He knew that Jack had only said when he did because he was upset, scared, and confused. Both he and Willow knew that they possibly could have gone about their hunt differently but the habit of keeping the supernatural a secret had been too ingrained to make them even contemplate going to Jack and the SGC. Xander accepted that he had made a mistake... they all had.
Still, Xander couldn't stop himself for resenting Jack for the damage done to Willow's self-esteem during that tirade. Xander had watched as, since they had moved to Colorado Springs, Willow's confidence had begun to build as she'd become more comfortable with Jack and his friends. It was still too early to determine how much of that progress had been wiped out but Xander hoped, more than anything, that Willow and Jack would be able to mend the bridge and continue to get along.
Xander would never admit to it but ever since he had come to Colorado Springs, for the first time in his life, he had felt like he belonged to a family. Jack, Willow and him. Sure, it wasn't what anybody would call normal and Xander was pretty sure there was a picture of the three of them in the dictionary next to the word 'dysfunctional' but it was still a family... and along with Sam and Cassie and Daniel and Teal'c and Janet, it was one of the best things Xander had ever experienced in his entire life.
Normal was overrated, anyway.
A.N. Okay, so one more chapter left, and then the epilogue, which will lead into the new story. I haven't started writing it yet, and i don't think it's going to be very long, but I do plan on writing it...when my muse allows me the inspiration, and real life allows me the time.
Thanks to everyone has read and supported this story. For those of you that complained that i was focusing too much on Willow...my apologies. I am a Willow writer. I've now switched this to a Willow centred story to reflect the way that this story has gone. Honestly, at the start, i was going to try and focus on Xander. I see that I didn't quite achieve that goal. Oh well, at least most of you are enjoying it.
More will be up soon...although it might take longer than usual, as I've got a lot of other stuff coming up.