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Child Heroes

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Kids Series". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: What if the Powers decided to grant the Scoobies and the AI gang a reward in their afterlife? What if the Scoobies and the AI gang had a say? And how would SG-1 feel about becoming a pawn in the Power's games?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > GeneraltootsFR1318,117234615,5147 Aug 087 Aug 08Yes
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I'm playing in other people's sandboxes here. If you recognize the characters, they're not mine.

Author's Note:This was the first fanfiction I ever wrote, it's unbeta'd and it's AU, so fair warning to anyone expecting gold: It ain't happening here. I wrote it because I wanted to see what the Scoobies could do growing up under SG-1's influence. I sort of succeeded. Oh, and there was a second part to this but my computer ate it. This was written before season 10 of SG-1 was even finished, but set after the Ori war.

At 1:30 in the morning, Jack walked into his house in D.C. to find a nest of children on his living room floor. He blinked and a letter fluttered down in front of his face.

It said, “Jack O’Neill, warrior for Earth,

What you see in front of you sleeping the sleep of the innocent are another Earth’s heroes. Fear not. They were at least eight years older than their current incarnation when they began fighting for their world.

They each reached death before they ought to have in their service to their duties, the majority before they hit thirty. We believe they deserve a reward and so their reward is rebirth. Except they had reached Powers levels themselves while fighting their demons and therefore can not be forced to do anything they do not wish to do. When approached with the idea of truly being reborn, they rejected it. But they each agreed that, with a few qualifications, they would wish to live life again (enclosed: list of qualifications).

In 3 days, a man and two…”

Jack glanced up to see a ferret-faced man in a bad leisure suit and a matching hat staring back at him. His gun was in his hand and he was maneuvering to place himself between the man the pile of slumbering children when ferret-face spoke.

“That gun’s not going to hurt me but feel free to keep hold of it if you want.”

“Who are you? And how did you get in?” Jack asked, slightly exasperated and a whole lot worried.

“I’m Whistler and I’m a messenger for the beings that sent that letter. The Powers. And as for how I got in, well, you’re a smart guy, you’ll figure it out,” Whistler said, Boston accent sounding smug.

“If they sent the letter, why’d they send you?” Jack asked, waving the letter, but keeping the gun steady.

“Actually, they didn’t,” Whistler said, “the man and two women sent me. The ones that letter’s going to tell you about after I leave. They wanted you to know the truth, as far as they can tell it. Ya see, those,” he pointed to the sleeping pile, “are their kids. Not by blood for the most of them, of course, but by choice. And in 3 days, they’re going to bring you six four-year-olds, a five-year-old, and a blue seven-year-old. And then, they’re going to leave.”

“Why?” Jack asked. “Why would they leave them? And why with me?”

“That’s the deal. The kids get another go, the parental figures get to watch from on high. That letter’s from the being that forced that part of the deal, by the way, so just remember that. As for why you, they wanted someone that would love them and die for them as they would. And because, in my opinion, those kids deserve a hero of their very own. I gotta go. Be sure to finish that letter, there’s not a lie in it, but how much of it that’s the full truth is up to you to decide.”

And the smirking ferret-faced man was gone between one blink and another.

…………….

When he’d finished and signed the letter agreeing to take the kids in, it disappeared, not that its contents were all that helpful. Mostly, it was a rehash of what Whistler said with some added self-aggrandizements and warnings about power levels and stability. Because obviously, beings that could de-age someone 20 years and move them to another dimension couldn’t make it so that the powers they possessed in their tiny little bodies were manageable. That would be too easy. And what’s more stable than shrinking someone and then denying them their parental figures. Hell, Jack had issues with the Ancients, but these beings were a joke and a bad one at that.

The qualifications between the two parties had been interesting, though.

‘:NO demons.

:They couldn’t be defenseless.

:Their parents (the man and two women) chose were they were sent to.

:They wouldn’t be separated.

:While they understood that the minds of children would not be able to handle all of their memories, they did not want to forget everything. Better yet, they wanted their minds mostly in tact.

:The Powers had to explain clearly to the person or persons chosen to be their new guardian(s) where they were coming from and why.

:The parents themselves would not be going.

:If the people chosen declined to take custody of the 22 children, they would be pulled back to the upper realms to begin their afterlives.

:They had to choose from the worlds not on a balance lest their appearance shift it.’

The last 3 had been the Powers’ qualifications and Jack couldn’t decide whether these Powers wanted the kids to fail or if they just enjoyed making life difficult for everyone involved.

Jack was quick to realize, though, that he was going to need help, lots of help. He was going to have to readjust his entire life just to have any kind of chance at raising, shit, at raising 22 kids into adulthood. Hell, he’d only had one before and had managed to mess it up beyond return. But he wasn’t giving them back, not before he had to. Because, if these Powers were the ones in charge of their universe, he could only imagine how bad life had sucked for them.

Jack propped his head on his fist and stared at the pile of kids. And wondered, ‘why did he specify a blue kid? And blue? Like skin tone?’ because there was no way he was going to be able to hide a kid with blue skin.

Jack settled back on his couch and began to plan. He’d need to retire, had been meaning to any way. He’d need a new house, a huge house because he just knew that, warriors or not, there was no way he was going to be able to make any of them share a bedroom or, God forbid, a bathroom when they got older. And he needed to call his team, his team plus two, and see if they’d help him because buying a new house, running herd on 14 kids and preparing for six four-year-olds, a blue seven-year-old, and a five-year-old in 3 days was going to be impossible. And nobody did the impossible better than SG-1.

Besides, Carter and Danny had been wanting to retire since the Ori’s defeat. And Teal’c had been hinting at taking up permanent residence on Earth, only going to visit the New Free Jaffa Nation occasionally. Apparently, a hero was better when you didn’t get to see them all the time. Vala truly had no where else to go but Earth, no one other than SG-1, after the whole Ori debacle. Now, where Daniel went, Vala was sure to follow. Mitchell was, for once, the wild card. He didn’t want to retire and he didn’t want another team except SG-1. Clearly, the man had a hard road in front of him, because short of another invasion on Earth, SG-1 seemed ready to disband.

The phone began to ring and Jack leapt up to answer before it woke the kids, then remembered that they would sleep until morning. ‘One’ of the Powers’ gifts to him for doing them a favor. He really didn’t like that ‘one’ but who was he going to call and complain to?

When he answered the phone, he found it was SG-1, all of SG-1. Apparently, they were on speaker phone, because Danny’s voice was tinny-sounding when he said, “Why are there letters raining out of the ceiling onto our heads after debriefing? And where are you getting 22 kids from? Who are the Powers and how do they know the Ancients? And why are SG-1, sans Mitchell, being pretty much ordered to help you raise these kids?”

“Daniel! Letters are falling on your heads because the Powers have something to say to you guys and they obviously wanted you all to learn it at the same time. I got the kids from the Powers,” he glanced at the pile again, “well, 14 of them any way, the others are coming in 3 days. The Powers are, apparently, like the Ancients on crack with dubious morals and an even odder no-interference rule than the Ancients. And I wasn’t aware they knew one another, maybe there’s a higher beings club or something. And why isn’t Mitchell coming too?” Jack asked.

“Because,” Teal’c’s voice rumbled over the line, “he has been ordered to quote ‘forge his own destiny’ unquote.”

Jack coughed, then asked, “So most of you are coming to help me with this? Because I’ve got 14 kids asleep in my living room and six four-year-olds, a five-year-old, and one seven-year-old that is apparently blue or something on the way. I’m going to need to buy a new house. And furniture. They have three changes of clothes in bags somewhere in my house, but I remember kids at this age. Three changes won’t last through the day. And I need to find a pediatrician. And schools. And probably a nanny, maybe even two.”

After he’d run out of steam, Jack noticed the silence on the other end of the phone before he heard Vala say, “Well, now we know why we’ve been ordered to help. If we don’t, he’ll go mad and we’ll end up with the munchkins any way.”

“Vala!” Daniel hissed, which she must have just waved off because Daniel let out a huff.

Carter finally just said, “We’ll pack a bag and be on the first flight out.”

“I won’t,” Mitchell said quietly. “Forgive me, sir, but I need to stay here, forge my own path, and to do that I have to let go of you guys. Working with you was a dream, sometimes a nightmare, but mostly a dream. But now, I need to make my own name, build my own team.:

Because Jack realized exactly how hard that had been for the other man, he refrained from shouting his thanks to the heavens that most of SG-1 was coming to help him with the impossible.

Instead, he simply said, “If that’s your final decision.”

He could hear a chair role on the floor, then Mitchell said, “It is, sir. As of now, SG-1 is disbanding. I’ll talk to General Landry, get the paperwork started. I’ll have him send those retirement papers you guys were talking about to D.C. Sir, you’ll have to get permission for Teal’c and Vala to stay full time on Earth from the Pentagon.”

And then Jack heard footsteps and a door softly close.

“We’ll be on the first flight out. We’ll take taxis to your place,” said a very subdued Carter, before he heard the dial tone.



……..

For the next few hours, Jack put his overworked Pentagon aids through the ringer as he worked from his living room to get the paperwork for Vala Mal Doran to live on Earth permanently as a refugee from the Ori war and for Master Teal’c of Chulak, as a permanent ambassador of the New Free Jaffa Nation, permanent residence.

He’d gone searching for the kids’ things between phone calls and paperwork and found a black bag and a trunk for each kid. The dogs and cats were a surprise but they didn’t offer to bite him, so he was just going to go with it. He also found a box with a note with his name in big, black block letters on top of it. He took that back to the living room with him. Inside, he found 22 files with names and pictures on the outside. Inside the files were brief descriptions of lives lived and powers that each had. There were warnings here, too, but they seemed different, more conscientious of how each kid was going to react to the situation they’d been placed in.

When Landry called to ‘inform’ him of SG-1’s varied decisions and asked that Jack help push through the paperwork quickly and quietly, Jack managed to withhold the majority of his smart-ass remarks and agree. He then called his aids and promised 3 extra days off after all the paperwork for SG-1 was finished.

Most of the paperwork had been pushed through by the time 10 o’clock rolled around and the first kid began to stir. It was the oldest boy. He had dark hair and pale skin. He went from asleep to awake in mere seconds. He carefully sat up, gently disentangled himself from both blankets and limbs, and stood to stretch.

Jack judged that he was just hitting puberty, 12 or 13 maybe, and that the kid was tall and built blocky.

The boy eyed him warily, sizing him up, before padding over.

The boy held out his hand and said, “I’m Angel.”

Jack remembered that name, remembered that this kid had once been evil, taken lives, then had earned the right for rebirth, to shanshou. Just like another of the kids on his living room floor. He’d been warned about them. About how they would have most of the powers of vampires without the draw backs.

Jack slowly reached out his hand and clasped it around Angel’s. “Nice ta meet’cha. I’m Jack.”

The kid grinned, shook his hand once, let go, and said, “I’m hungry.”

Jack froze, then said, “I think I have some fruit loops.”

Angel kept grinning.

Jack asked irritably, “What?”

“I’m hungry for food.”

“Yes? And?”

“I was a vampire. Vampires drink blood, they don’t eat food,” Angel said, still smiling.

“Oh,” Jack said, thinking, ‘if I hadn’t eaten food in 200 years, I’d be happy too.’

There was a rustle from the floor and a bleary-faced blonde head popped out of the blankets. It was another boy, this one with blue eyes and sharp cheekbones, for all that they were still covered with baby fat.

“Did someone say food? I’m bloody well starvin’,” came a high-pitched cockney accent.

That seemed to be some kind of signal, because eyes started popping open and heads rose sleepily from the tangled mass of blankets and bodies.

Jack felt only panic. One at a time he could handle, but, en masse, he was going to be lost.

……………………

By the time the kids were all on their feet and stretching, someone was beating on his door.

After he pulled open the door, he didn’t even wait for her to drop her bags before he pulled her into a hug. “Cassie! What are you doing here?”

“Well, for one thing, we all agreed I’d spend the summer at your place before heading back to school. And besides, I got a letter from the Powers and the Ancients saying you were inheriting 22 kids and were going to need help. Who are you inheriting 22 kids from?”

“The Powers,” Jack leaned around her trying to see his front stoop, “listen, is your taxi still here? Because the kids are hungry and I have half a box of stale fruit loops.”

“Sure, it’s still got my bags in it though, and the cabbie needs to be paid for this trip. If you give me the money for the food, I’ll go buy what we need,” Cassie volunteered.

“Okay,” he said, pulling a hundred from his wallet.

He looked down to see a little red-haired girl tugging on his shirt.

“We’ll need lots of food. Buffy and Faith need a lot to keep up their metabolisms, and, I’m guessing, so do Spike and Angel,” she said, all the while staring up at Jack and sneaking peeks at Cassie. She leaned her weight into Jack’s side, hand still wrapped in his shirt, and partially hid her face.

“What’s your name?” Jack asked, picking her up and settling her on his hip.

“Uncle Jack! You don’t even know their names?” Cassie asked incredulously.

The girl pushed her face into Jack’s shoulder.

“They were sleeping, for cryin’ out loud! What did you want me to do? Wake them to ask them their names? They just woke up before you knocked,” he said, then glanced down at the dark-haired boy pulling on his pants leg. “What?”

“Her name’s Willow and I’m Xander and we like donuts,” he said.

“And ‘ot chocolate wif marshmallows,” the sharp-cheeked blonde boy said, the little lisp mildly adorable.

“Right,” Jack pulled out another hundred and handed it to Cassie, “any particular kind of donuts?”

“Glazed and jelly’ll do,” Xander chirped.

The blonde kid said, “I’m Spike, nice ta meet’cha,” as he hauled all 3 of Cassie’s over-stuffed duffels into the house as she left. “There’s two more taxis pulling up in the drive, mate.”

“Right,” Jack said, turning to face the kids, “I’m going to go help with bags, don’t burn the house down,” which, apparently was the funniest thing ever because each kid in the room lit up with laughter.

Except, that is, for the tiny little blonde moppet in the center of the room with her hands on her hips, “Hey! There were vampires on that gym! And the high school wasn’t my plan either! Either time. And those two warehouses in Cleveland were totally Andrew’s fault! He was practicing fire balls and I just happened to be with him,” she said petulantly.

He could hear SG-1 trooping up the walk to his front door. “Right,” was all he got you before a knock on the door frame sounded. He turned in time to see Xander dart around Carter to throw himself at Vala’s legs. Vala froze, panic mingling with pain and pleasure on her face, before setting a hand on the head and lifting an eyebrow at Jack. “That’s Xander,” he pointed to the kid plastered to Vala’s front, “this is Willow,” setting his hand on her leg, “that’s Angel and that’s Spike,” pointing to each boy, “and that one likes fire,” he said, which set the lot of them off again. The blonde moppet huffed, but she was smiling. “I’ll just go pay for the taxis,” he said, handing Willow to Angel and marching out of the house.

………………………….

By the time Jack came back hauling the last three duffels from the taxis, the kids had migrated to sprawl around and on the couch and were watching cartoons raptly. SG-1, however, hadn’t moved from the doorway. The bags they’d packed in themselves were stacked in the corner with Cassie’s. Odds were good that one of the kids had packed them in and then gone to settle with the rest.

Personal space was obviously something these kids took with a grain of salt. They were piled on the couch, squished together, sharing space easily. Angel had Willow on his lap and a gorgeous little brunette tucked under his arm. A small strawberry blonde boy was perched on the arm of the couch nearest Willow and a raven haired boy with piercing green eyes sat squished next to the brunette, Angel’s hand resting on his shoulder. Spike lay on his belly on the floor with a chubby little blonde with an angel’s face cuddled to his side, head tucked close to his. Xander was obviously some kind of touch stone for the other kids because he had a wary eyed brunette beauty pulled close under one arm and a really fragile looking blonde under the other with Little Miss fire bug clutching his hand. The last girl, a skinny little brunette, sat on the floor in front of Angel squished between a stocky little African American boy and a gangly brunette boy wearing glasses.

Jack tossed the duffels over with the others and was about to say something when another taxi pulled up and Cassie got out. Instead he pointed at Teal’c and Daniel and said, “Cassie’s back” and marched out the door again.

…………………….

When everybody had had a donut, a bowl full of cereal, and a glass of orange juice or a mug of hot chocolate, Jack decided it was time for SG-1 to read the files on the kids. Jack asked the kids if they needed introductions to the adults in the room and all the kids snorted. A little brunette beauty stood and said, “We know who you are, what you do for a living and what you’ve done to survive. The ‘rents gave us final say on where we wanted to go. And once you see our files in all their gory details, you’ll find we have a lot in common. Now, we’re going to find our stuff and our pets.”

“What pets?” Daniel asked, a little uncomfortable with young children knowing his history.

Xander snorted and said, “The dogs Hearne gave us and the kitties Bast gave us. The dogs are to help guard us, the cats are familiars for the magic users. Don’t worry, they’re not your average animals, they’re smarter and they live longer because, ya know, they’re magical.”

“Hearne and Bast?” Jack asked suspiciously.

“Well, yeah. They’re both gods of a sort that deal with the dead and spirits and stuff, so when we showed up, ya know, up there, they kind of took to showing us the way of things,” Xander said, a little embarrassed.

The girls all giggled. Willow finally said, “The reason they gave us the gifts is because the dogs followed us everywhere and got upset when Hearne made them leave us alone. And Bast wanted in Xander’s pants.’

“What?!”

“Well, to be fair, that was when he was still 20 something, not 7,” she said, smiling broadly.

Xander blushed and the blonde moppet said, grinning, “Yeah, Xander’s always been able to attract the oddest, most powerful, and/or dangerous women around.”

“Right, then,” Jack said faintly before turning to look at the people on the couch. Vala was full out grinning, Sam had her face buried in her hands but her shoulders were shaking, and Cassie seemed to be concentrating really hard on the ceiling. Daniel looked in turns excited and worried and Teal’c’s eyebrow seemed to be trying to climb off of his forehead.

The kids broke into groups to search for their wayward possessions, leaving six stunned adults sitting gaping in the living room.

Vala was the first to break out of the funk that having a 7 year old tell you the facts of life had caused. “Well, I think this is going to be interesting. We’re the guardians of child heroes who start fires, attract dangerous people and have no tact. I think I’m going to enjoy myself.”

Daniel only rolled his eyes, while Teal’c nodded, “Indeed, they are a very interesting people.”

…………………

The files explained the kids’ histories, the cover story for how Jack wound up with them, and their gifts. They also explained how much of their former lives the kids would remember. The older kids retained the majority of their memories, but the emotions towards them were flattened, almost as though they had happened to someone else.

The six four-year-olds and the five-year-old wouldn’t remember much of anything of their former lives, especially Dana who would get to live the life she should have gotten to live in their world. Their memories of that world were supplanted with memories of their lives in this one, modified to include magic and powers that they and the other kids would exhibit and the need to keep them secret. The last seven year old was kept behind because she was being outfitted with a soul of her very own, one that would be specially made to withstand being attached to a nearly pure demon.

The kids’ powers gave everyone a moment of pause. Dana, Faith and Buffy were Slayers, meant to fight enemies that were strong than your average human. Connor, Spike and Angel were like male Slayers, minus the prophetic dreams. Wesley and Andrew were warlocks, Dawn, Willow and Tara witches, with Dawn having the added bonus of being the Key, whatever that was, and Cordelia was a Powers blessed seer with a little something extra on the side. Kit and Carlos were powerful mediums and Kit had the potential to be quite the healer while Carlos was going to be a rockin’ Shaman. Doyle was half-demon, who, because he’d once been a seer then died in the service of the Powers, had been fundamentally changed to the point where he would be a prophet like Cassandra of Troy. He would be able to, with effort and training, discern the future using runes, palms, tarot cards, etcetera and so forth. Oz and Jordy had been werewolves but, because that required a magic to support the changes to their DNA unavailable to in their new world, they’d been made shape changers. They could change into any canine that they wanted. The last four kids, Xander, Fred, Anya, and Gunn, were, except for the company they kept, fundamentally normal. Their files were flagged, though, which worried everybody.

And the warnings had said that they were powerful, more so than most even for their world. That they had had enough power in their possession to stay in the upper realms without going mad or being forced to a different dimension, even the four norms. And that while they hadn’t all known each other on Earth, they’d forged strong bonds with each other in the upper realms and were fiercely protective of each other.

The cover story explained away both the number of children and the variety of backgrounds present. Joyce Summers had been established as Jack’s half sister, Rupert Giles her husband, and Jenny Calender Giles’ ex-wife. The three adults were close. They adopted the majority of the children, with the exception of Dawn and Buffy Summers. The three adults were each orphaned and rich, so, in case of their deaths, they named each other, then Jack as guardian and executor of the children and the money.

…………………..

The kids came trooping back with a backpack each and carting trunks. They were trailed by two jet black dogs that were almost as tall as they were and 10 cats of varying colors and breeds. As they sat their things down, Cordelia’s skin began to glow and her eyes turned milk white. Everybody got quiet, awaiting the news.

Finally, the glow faded and she blinked her eyes. “No trouble, just a check-in. The ‘rents have found three suitable locations for a house. The Powers almost have your second gift of thanks ready. And Anya, Fred, Gunn, and Xander can look forward to some gifts of their own: the Powers have decided that it’s not fair that the four of you are, ya know, normal, so they’ll be making some changes.”

As Cordelia scribbled down the address, one for the D.C. area, one for Nevada, and one for California, everyone that was being “gifted” complained.

“But I like being normal!” Xander whined.

“Yeah, and the Powers deciding to “give” me things ain’t my idea of a fun time, ya know?” Gunn said.

“This is gonna suck,” Anya muttered. She’d had only a little power as a human the first time. Being gifted from the Powers was a whole different kettle of fish.

“This isn’t a good idea,” Fred protested.

“What second gift? How many more are there? And why does this seem like a bad thing?” Jack asked.

Cordelia snorted and said, “What do I look like, a telephone service? This is a one way connection, people. And you guys,” she pointed to Jack and the other adults, “are getting gifts that have been sanctioned by us or the Parents, so it’s not that bad for you. For the soon-to-be former normals, however, it’s another story. And it seems like a bad idea because the Powers are crazy, cracked up beings that use the lives of humans as a game, like chess or monopoly. And, if you’re wondering about which addresses we’ll vote for, well, most of us were from California originally, so the warmer climates are going to top the list.” When she handed the list to Jack, he noted that the California address was close to Berkley, and the Nevada address was close to Area 51. The D.C. address was actually in Virginia.

……………………….

The next day and a half were spent making food runs, finishing paperwork, and checking out the addresses Cordy gave them for California. California won over Nevada and D.C. because the kids hated the cold with a fiery passion and Jack refused to live in a city near a pyramid, even a glass one. The addresses came from more visions as more decisions were reached. Each was thoroughly checked out and dismissed for one reason or another. Finally, the kids went into a huddle and began a fiercely whispered argument that lasted nearly 30 minutes and ended with Cordelia poking Angel repeatedly in the chest while calling him a brooding baboon.

The petite girl finally marched up to the huddled adults towing the reluctant boy along behind her.

“We want to look up something, if that’s alright?” She politely asked. Funny how her questions always sounded a lot like commands.

The adults curiously relinquished the computer to the kids. Willow took the helm, her tiny hands flying over the keyboard before she paused and a triumphant look crossed her face. She nodded to Cordelia, who turned to Jack with a wide smile.

“Did we mention that some of us used to live in a hotel we owned in L.A.?” she asked. “And may we mention that said hotel is now standing empty?”

All the kids fanned out away from the computer when Jack approached. And there it was; a grand dame of a hotel that had recently been restored by owners who had then gone bankrupt. It was perfect. 50 single suites on the second floor, 10 master suites on the third floor. It had a full basement with laundry capabilities for the whole hotel and a first floor equipped with a state of the art kitchen, a ballroom, and a formal dining room that could seat a hundred.

Jack rocked back on his heels, grinning. The price was steep, but the kids’ cover story included rich eccentric parents and equally rich eccentric benefactors. Each of the other adults signed off on the idea of the hotel. Sam and Daniel were babbling about the short commute to U.C.L.A., were they could teach part time and have full access to the labs that would overflow with government sponsored research. Cassie was happy that she wouldn’t have to swap colleges to be able to help with the kids. Vala was sighing over the shoes to be bought in L.A. And Teal’c had plans for that ballroom. It was going to be an excellent gym.

“Now we just need furniture. And clothes for you guys. And stuff for you guys,” Jack said, still grinning.

Willow stepped up to the computer and began clicking away. Fred was asking what color everybody wanted sheets, blankets, walls, writing everything down. One by one, the bare bones of each kid’s came together. Then they all took a piece of paper and began to write out what they wanted in the rooms besides furniture. Books, guitars, TV’s, VCR’s, and DVD players, movies, computers, the lists kept going. The boys handed over their papers and then went to the computer to start looking for clothes. They didn’t feel the need to go shopping for them in stores. The girls steadfastly refused to buy clothes off the Internet. They would shop in a mall or go naked, those were the choices. They picked out furniture and room color, made lists, and bought clothes for the eight not present. It seemed as natural as breathing them to think of the ones that would be there but weren’t yet.

And so the hotel was bought, the furniture and clothes ordered and shipped, and shopping trips for their things planned. It took 14 determined kids an hour to do what had taken the adults a day and a half to finally give up on. The kids refused to see to it that Sam, Daniel and Jack’s houses or Vala and Teal’c’s things in the mountain were packed and shipped to the Hyperion. They were too busy planning the conversion of the top floor from master suites into a library, a game room, and a media room. Arguments about whether comic books would be included in the library or be for personal use only, if a slate topped pool table would fit into the elevator to be brought up or it they were going to have to get inventive, and if the media room should be set up like a movie theater or like a living room with a projector for a TV bounced around the room with wild abandon.

The adults backed slowly out of the kitchen and into the living room where they all looked at one another. Shell shock was a good term for it. They’d all been bowled over by 14 kids who never shut up, always had a plan, and never sat still. They managed to be both some of the most scarily competent and adorable kids it had been Jack’s misfortune and pleasure to meet.

…………………

By the time half past midnight rolled around, marking the third day, Jack was a ball of nerves and the kids were refusing to give in to their young bodies’ demands and go to sleep. They wanted their younger members and their blue sister and they wanted to see their parents one more time before they got on with the business of living their lives.

So when a knock sounded on the door, everyone held their breath as Jack opened the door. An older gentleman stood flanked by two women. A girl that looked like a blue version of Fred stood in front of the blonde woman who was holding a boy and girl, each with extremely blue eyes. A downright fragile looking little blonde boy stood in front of a darkly beautiful woman holding a dark-eyed girl and a miniature version of Oz. The man held a dark haired boy and girl in his arms. Finally, Jack remembered to ask them in. The reunion was one to be remembered. The younger children raced for the older ones and the older ones darted for their parents. There were tears and we-won’t-forgets.

When the kids finally released their parents and started squeezing the stuffing out of the missing eight, the parents wandered over to the other adults in the room.

“I’m Rupert Giles,” the man said with a stiff English accent before nodding to the blonde woman, “this is Joyce Summers,” and to the dark beauty, “and this is Jenny Calendar. We wanted to thank you for this and we thought we’d mention some things before we had to go. The children won’t do well in normal schools. High school was literally hell for most of them. They’ll need to go through the schooling again to keep current and to make sure their cover stories stick. They’ll do best with tutors. Here are the names and numbers of who we believe would work best for them. They can’t go to your average pediatrician, who might notice they’re not quite human, so we thought we’d remedy that ourselves.” He nodded and the blonde woman walked to the door and pulled it open. Just outside was the red-headed Dr. Fraiser. “So, really, your second gift of thanks is quite self-serving on our parts.”

Janet walked in and patted Jack on the arm before gathering a weeping Cassie close to her.

“You’re dead,” Jack said hoarsely.

Janet smilec and reminded him, “Me and the majority of the people in this room.”

“How…?” Daniel asked

“It required stealing blood samples from your Asgard friends to have a base for the body, then simply calling her consciousness into the body,” Giles replied. “Oh, and as for nannies, well, the tutors should be willing to take on that responsibility as well.”

Then Giles, Jenny, and Joyce waded back into their children.

While the women fussed over the remaining 18 kids, Giles gathered Xander, Fred, Gunn, and Anya to him. Smoothing the curls back away from Xander’s face, he said, “You know that the Ancients ascended and, in doing so, they gained powers. The PTB have decided to give you gifts that will resemble those of the Ancients, plus an innate ability with Ancient technology. Actually, nearly everybody from our world has a stronger version of the gene, that’s were our worlds overlap the strongest. So the Powers and the Ancients have decided that all of you will innately know Ancient technology. But you four are the only ones that will exhibit the powers of the ascending.”

He turned to Jack and the other adults and said, “The Ancients are looking at them like their heirs, so, if they should ever step foot in Atlantis, it will likely treat them like it would one of its creators. And they would not be forced from Atlantis; they would have rights to it.”

Then, after hugs, kisses, and tears, the man and two women were gone.

………………………

Janet squeezed Cassie once more, and then moved out to try to soothe the cranky, weepy children. It was far past bedtime and, while in some ways they were more mature than the average child, they were still children in body. Miraculously, the kids didn’t put up any fuss. They spread their blankets and pillows, curled tight together, and fell into a fitful sleep.

Jack watched Janet smooth the hair away from a tearful Faith’s sleeping face and marveled. They’d given them back a lost friend. She looked up and smiled at them all before making her way over.

Looping her arms around Cassie and Sam, she said, “Let’s go into the kitchen. I’ve got some things that I need to talk to you about.”

She led the way and took a seat at the head of the minuscule table, the others filling in the rest of the space around the table. She said, “The Powers and the Parents have decided that five more gifts of thanks should be enough. The next will be Jack’s knees. They’re going to fix them, better than new. The fourth will be that we’ll age slower, the adults. It wouldn’t do to have the kids escape a world full of death, only to have their guardians up and die because of old age. They wouldn’t say how much slower, just slower. The fifth is primarily for Daniel. Should you wish it, the Powers could strip the gou’ald memories from Shifu and place him among the family. He’d have powers akin to Angel and Spike’s. He’d be six and he’s agreed to it. They can’t bring Charlie back, he’s in a Heaven dimension and it’s cruel to pull people from their peace. The sixth gift is that, should any woman in the family get pregnant, the children will be born blessed. Normal won’t really be an option for these kids, but happy would be. The last is kind of trivial but the money in the kids’ trust funds will never run out. We’re their executors until they turn 18, then they get to do what they want to do with it. They told me that any that would get to know the truth about the kids would receive a letter; everybody else gets the cover story. And the kids shouldn’t go to Atlantis until they’re older, there are things there they don’t need to see. Plus, the kids have what could be considered IOU’s from several Powers and demon lords. One of them has marks showing how many have been used, though those may be hidden.”

She sat back and waited. The quiet explosion of voices came within seconds. Everybody argued over everything until they finally reached a conclusion: why does Jack get so many gifts; slower just sounds bad, won’t people notice; what’s one more kid in the bundle, as long as he isn’t going to be a danger to himself or others; pregnancy, who said anything about pregnancy and of course normal isn’t an option; and at least we won’t have to worry about money.

…………………………

The next day started early with someone pounding on the door. Jack, who’d been sleeping on the couch in boxers and a t-shirt, raced to the door with knees that hadn’t felt that good since he was twenty. He yanked it open to find General Hammond on his doorstep in full dress blues. He stood aside, waving him in.

The General lifted his hands to show a letter in one and a stack of paperwork in the other. He glanced toward the living room, then again for a longer look. He walked to the edge of the blanket island, staring down at the sea of children. He zeroed in on Faith’s face and visibly paled.

“She looks like my brother’s oldest when she was little,” he said quietly. “We didn’t know about her until she was five. She was nearly feral when he got her. She died when she was 17 trying to save some kids from a car accident. It exploded with her in the back seat.” He looked at Jack and said, “The letter said that they’re another world’s heroes. I’d say that’s right.” He looked back at the girl wound around an older boy’s waist and said, “Take care of her, Jack. The letter says that she’s my niece, but not to take her away from the others. That she needs them. So take care of her and the rest of them.”

He turned and stiffly walked to the kitchen. Jack looked back at the kids to see Angel and Faith’s eyes open, staring back at him. He winked and went to get the other adults. He figured they needed to be in on this conversation.

Hammond sat at the kitchen table, staring out into space. Everybody filed in and filled up the table. He started passing out packets of paperwork. “These are retirement papers, permanent residency grants, and identity papers for you, Dr. Fraser. All these need to be signed and dated and then you’ll be free of the SGC to raise those children,” he said.

Shifu came padding into the kitchen in an overly large T-shirt clutching his papers to his bony chest. He handed Daniel the papers and pulled himself into his lap. Daniel sorted the papers, finding a social security card and a birth certificate. There was even a medical history, with Janet having done most of the doctoring.

Hammond watched the mildly familiar child settle himself bemusedly, before looking at Jack. Jack just shrugged, going back to filling out the rest of his paperwork. When each person at the table had finished their paperwork and passed it back to Hammond, he stood to leave and said, “SF’s are packing your belongings in Colorado. The President has agreed to let you use Air Force One to fly to California today. After you leave, SF’s from the Pentagon will come pack your house, Jack. It was a pleasure working with you all,” he said, saluting. Jack, Sam, and Janet saluted back and he was gone.

……………………

Jack swore to never again to travel with 23 kids on an airplane. Several of them had balked at the idea of flying, muttering about towers and dragons. Others became hyper, bouncing in place from excitement. A few disliked the idea of using government property for transportation, wanting to fly, figuratively, under the radar.

Getting the kids settled on the airplane had been difficult, but had gone quick enough. Choosing tutors and nannies from the lists that Sam, Daniel, and Janet had made proved impossible. The kids refused them all, for one reason or another, including one being a mad scientist who made a Frankenstein cyborg and another who shot Tara in their world. The name Ethan Rayne cropped up and was shot down within seconds. Finally, Jack handed them the list of names that Giles had given them and they all fell silent. They whispered amongst each other for a few minutes before Spike handed the list back and said, “They were good people in our world, we’d work with any of them now.”

Jack gritted his teeth and looked at the list again.

It read:

1.) Kevin Lorne: he'd been a demon in the last universe. In this one, he was a transplanted alien. He wasn't green with red eyes and horns. He was blonde with brown eyes. He’d gotten a degree in general education. He could teach the children English, music, dance, and art.

2.) Graham Miller: A former member of the SGC, he left when he lost his team and his leg to the enemy. He went back to college and got his degree in general education. He could teach social studies and psychology.

3.) Gwen Raiden: a mutant thief in the last universe, she's got degrees in mathematical education and computer technology. She could teach computers and math. She’s bit of a genius and a little crazy. She has the gene.

There was an address and phone number included for each person.

A short phone call with each, during which time the three got a letter, led to three tutors, one live-in nanny, and one technical support staff for Sam for the projects the SGC contracted her to do. Lorne was looking forward to being near other people that weren’t quite normal and so nanny it was for him. Raiden had been offered the opportunity to work for the SGC when it first started but refused to work underground. It gave her the heebies not having any way to escape. She agreed to fill out all the paperwork that the SGC demanded so that she could work on a consultant level. Miller had wanted to work with the people of the SGC again, so the opportunity to tutor Jack O’Neill’s kids was treasured, but not to the point where he wanted to become a nanny.

…………………..

Jack found that living with the kids, the Fraisers, and his team to be bizarre. The kids spoke their own language, one that sometimes even they couldn’t understand. They would act more mature than Jack sometimes, then act their age. Cassie and Janet had a patter about their conversation that implied that they’d lived together forever. They certainly argued like mother and daughter.

And his team. Daniel allergy proofed the entire hotel. Carter built a working lab, complete with its own generator. Vala had demanded that one of the rooms be turned into a closet so that she and the other girls would have plenty of room for their clothes. And Teal’c pouted when the girls ganged up on him and refused to let him make permanent changes to the layout of the ballroom. The room would be perfect, in their opinion, for dances and parties, and if the equipment he put in couldn’t be moved or damaged the floor, then they would be very upset at him. They may not even talk to him for awhile. Watching a man like Teal’c back down at the threat of loosing the companionship of eleven little girls had been one of the weirdest days of Jack’s life. It’d been funny, but weird.

What was the oddest thing was that, despite everything, he enjoyed himself. Tripping over twenty-three kids was just part of his daily life now. He braided hair like a pro, knew to tell the girls repeatedly and often that they were beautiful, and that waterworks would eventually stop and he would get to be a hero for letting them borrow his shoulder. He watched The Simpsons, talked about fishing and cars, and bandaged scraped knees, wiping away tears like the best father in the world.

If, every now and again, he joined sparring matches and got his ass handed to himself by a thirteen year old boy, or that one memorable time, a seven year old girl, nobody made a big deal about it. If Carter wigged out because Willow, Oz, and Fred knew enough mathematical theory to correct her equations and Daniel because Wes and Dawn started cursing in Etruscan, everybody just shrugged it off. And if Jack had to loan Vala a shoulder to cry on when Xander absently called her Mama Vala, he wasn’t going to tell anybody because she’d done the same for him when Dawn called him Papa Jack. It was all just another day in the lives of the oddest family to hit Earth in awhile, child heroes and their chosen guardians combined. And it was spectacularly, wonderfully not normal. But happy. Definitely happy.

The End

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