Disclaimer: Don't own or claim rights to Buffy or Stargate~~~~~
Jack knocked briskly on General Hammond's door, and entered to the distracted summons. He noted the paperwork his CO was working on, and resolutely ignored thoughts of a similar pile sitting forlornly on his own desk. Finally, the General looked up, and asked why he was there.
“We may have a situation,” Jack grimaced.
“Yes?” Hammond prompted.
“Danny went to check out a new old book store in the Springs, and met some young people – brother and sister, I think. Anyway, the boy can read, uh, Latin, some other stuff, and is teaching himself hieroglyphics, while his sister, who is still in high school, reads Sumerian.”
Hammond leaned back in his chair. “Impressive,” was his only comment.
“Yeah,” Jack nodded. “Well, when Danny took us back to talk to the boy, he wasn't there. Instead, his old school librarian was, and we had a chat. It seems the boy, Xander Harris, hasn't been to college, and doesn't have any plans to go, which seems a waste, seeing what he's done so far. Anyway, the librarian, Rupert Giles, said that they've had a hard life, lost people, and they came out here to have a rest. Be safe.”
“How old are they? And why is this any of your business?”
“Harris is twenty-two, and his sister is, I don't know, sixteen? Her name's Dawn, by the way,” Jack added. He then frowned, and shifted in his chair. “I went back, today, to see if I could have a chat to Harris. Let him know there's people there he can talk to if he wants.” When Hammond nodded, he continued. “So we talked, and I gave him my card, which is when things went funny. As soon as he saw I was in the Air Force, he cooled off quite a bit. It went straight from 'Jack' to 'Colonel'.” He shifted again, not wanting to consider why the sudden coolness hurt. “Anyway, when I got back, I asked Carter to do a background check on Harris, which is when she found that he has a flag against his name. It seems the NID are watching him. Don't know why, yet. Carter was still working on that. Trouble is, of course, that we've already made contact with him.”
“What do you think?” Hammond asked.
Jack shrugged. “They seem like good people. Of course I've only met Giles and Harris once each, for relatively short periods of time, and both in static, neutral environments.” He sat back, and thought further. “Harris is a carpenter, makes furniture when he's not a the store. Don't know what he does with it, if he sells it or anything. Also, his reaction to finding out about me was … wary. He's definitely had some experience with the military, and not a good one. He got rid of me as quickly as he could after finding out. I'm almost half expecting him to be gone next time I go around. Although... He came to Colorado Springs, which is very much a military town. He'd have to expect some contact with military people,” he mused.
“Maybe he was expecting any military personnel to be interested in his books, not in him,” Hammond suggested. “We don't know yet why the NID are interested in him?”
“Carter may know more now. Should I try to get to know him better?” Jack asked. “I don't want to risk Danny at the moment,” he frowned.
“How about we wait until Major Carter can get us some more information,” Hammond decided. “Maybe if we knew why the NID were interested in him, we would be able to decide how interested we are in him.”
Jack nodded, and walked out, heading back to Carter's office for an update.~~~~~
Giles watched as Xander paced around the living room, chewing his thumbnail. It would do no good interrupting his thoughts now, so he waited until Xander was ready to talk.
Finally, Xander stopped, and faced the older man. “What did you think about those people the other day?” he asked, frowning.
“Dr Jackson and his friends?” Giles confirmed. “Intelligent,” he mused, “passionate. Concerned.”
“Anything strike you as … off?” Xander prompted.
“No,” Giles frowned. “Why?”
“The other guy, Jack, came by today. We talked, he was all sympathetic, 'been there, lost that.'” Xander chewed his lip thoughtfully. “Gave me his business card,” he added, distracted. “Seems he's in the Air Force. No surprise there. If the military were going to come at us here, they would use the Air Force. Still.”
“We could have gone elsewhere,” Giles offered. “We still can.”
Xander shook his head. “No. You said this was one of the mystically quietest places in the Continental US. Short of, you know, some place out in the sticks. 'Course, the trade-off is that its crawling with uniforms.” He began pacing again. “You think it was coincidence?”
“It could be,” Giles shrugged.
“'Could be,'” Xander repeated. “'Could be' isn't 'yes'. Buffy was able to contact the bastards when Riley needed help. All she had to do was pick up the phone, ring a number. They were still watching her. Do you think they're watching the rest of us?”
Giles sighed. “I honestly don't know,” he shook his head. “They knew it wasn't just Buffy. They knew it was the four of us, and if they had any recordings of the final battle against Adam, then they had to have realised that it was the four of us working a spell to defeat him. With that in mind, we could still be under their careful eye.”
Xander began pacing again. “I've been thinking of taking up a martial art,” he said in a non sequitar. When Giles simply raised his eyebrows, Xander went on. “Something simple, quick, but efficient.” He stopped in front of Giles. “Spike suggested Krav Maga.”
Giles nodded thoughtfully. “Quite effective, as I understand it. And you probably have the right mindset to use it effectively. Especially if you thought one of us were in danger.”
Xander flashed a dangerous grin. “That's what Spike said. Volunteered to be my practice dummy. Of course, he called it 'sparring partner,'” Xander shrugged, still grinning, “but who am I to quibble?”
“Yes, I'm sure,” Giles rolled his eyes. “Has he said anything about how it's going?”
Xander shrugged, and dropped down into a chair. “He said it's been quiet this year in the 'Dale. I guess two Master vampires and a Slayer will do that to the general population. May not even be an apocalypse this year, touch wood,” he added conscientiously, knocking on his head. “So he's gone up to 'Frisco to annoy the girls. And that was an actual quote,” he added with a smirk.
“Oh, dear,” Giles murmured. “Whatever did San Francisco ever do to deserve that?”~~~~~
“So,” Jack began as he dropped into a chair in Sam's office, “what you got?”
Sam spared him a quick glance before reaching for some papers. “Well, sir, as a matter of background, he is a native of the town of Sunnydale, CA. The girl with him is not his sister, but the sister of Buffy, who recently died. Her father is apparently still alive and well, but never came forward after either her mother or her sister died, both of which occurred within months of each other.” She noted Jack's hiss of shocked sympathy, and went on. “Dr Rupert Giles has custody, now, and she lives with him, and attends one of the local schools. Um...” She ruffled through her papers. “Okay. Harris lives across the road from them, and inherited his girlfriend's share in Giles' store when she died in the same … incident that killed Miss Summers. Soon after the … incident, Giles sold up, and the three of them moved here. “
“Incident?” Jack queried, frowning.
Sam glanced up. “There's no police report, simply medical records that indicate both women died of severe blunt force trauma. Harris and Giles were both investigated briefly, but were both cleared practically immediately. Okay. The NID were originally mainly watching four of them: Harris, Giles, Summers, and another woman, Willow Rosenberg. Miss Summers received the most attention, then Dr Giles, Miss Rosenberg, and Mr Harris received the least attention of the four of them. They were also watching his girlfriend, Anya Jenkins, and Miss Rosenberg's girlfriend, Tara Maclay. Miss Jenkins is, as I mentioned, dead, while Miss Rosenberg and Miss Maclay both moved to San Francisco around the time that Mr Harris moved here.”
“Okay,” Jack frowned. “So any idea why they were watching them?” he demanded.
Sam pouted, though she would forever deny doing so. “The files were heavily encrypted,” she began, “and I mean heavily. I only have a fraction decrypted, and even then they've used acronyms and codewords, so... Miss Summers is referred to as 'the slayer', while Miss Rosenberg and Miss Maclay are referred to as witches. Uh, there was reference to HST's, though I have no idea what that's supposed to stand for. Dr Giles is a watcher, or Summers' watcher, or … something. I don't know what that's supposed to mean. Maybe her trainer?”
“And Harris?” Jack prompted.
“There's very little concrete in his file. It's mostly speculation about his place in the group. He had no coded designation, or anything like that. Hopefully I'll know more when I decrypt more of the files,” Sam shrugged.
Jack sighed. “Okay. Let me know if you get anything more,” he said, then nodded a farewell before leaving.~~~~~
Jack had approached Hammond, and sought permission to talk to Xander directly, citing that the direct approach would probably be the best. Permission had been granted, and so here was, walking up the front steps of the young man's house. He took a hopefully-calming breath, and knocked on the door.
Xander opened the door, frowning. “Colonel O'Neill,” he greeted calmly.
“Can I come in?” Jack asked nervously. When Xander simply opened the door and stepped back, he took the hint and entered, noting how the brunet glanced out the door before closing it.
“How can I help you, Colonel O'Neill?” Xander asked in the same maddeningly calm tone as before.
“Please, call me Jack,” he begged with an encouraging half-smile.
Xander raised his eyebrows briefly, before repeating, “How can I help you, Colonel O'Neill?”
Jack sighed. “Okay, business then. Do you have any idea why the NID would be watching you?”
Xander stiffened. “Who are they?” he asked with a slight growl.
Jack snorted. “A group of scum-sucking, cesspool-dwelling, bastard ass-holes.”
Xander's mouth twitched, much to Jack's relief, and he relaxed. “Don't hold back on me now, Colonel,” Xander offered as he walked into the kitchen, “tell me how you really feel.”
“Oh, I'm afraid I can't do that,” Jack grinned. “I'm pretty sure there's some profanity or public decency laws out there that would be smashed to bitty pieces if I did that.”
Xander came back with two beers, and offered Jack one. “Private property: go for it, Jack,” he instructed.
Jack took a sip of his beer as he watched the other man. He shrugged. “They want to cut one of my best friends into pieces just because he's different. They want to take what we're doing and make themselves rich as Croesus while pissing off the rest of the universe. I could go on, but, well, I don't have the time, and I'm not sure if you have the clearance.”
“They'd be into super-soldiers?” Xander asked. “And not too careful about how they do it?”
“Hell, yes,” Jack grunted. “That would be right up their alley.”
Xander smirked, and led the way into the lounge room where he dropped onto the couch. “Right. Think I know who you're talking about then. They probably hate us because we had to rescue them from a super-soldier SNAFU.”
Jack gaped at the younger man, then closed his eyes. “Is that what happened…” He shrugged, unsure how to go on.
“Them?” Xander asked, surprised. “Nah. They were small-time compared to what … to Glory. She -” Xander got up abruptly, and all but bolted for the kitchen.
Jack followed, already regretting the visit. “God, I'm sorry, Xander. I never meant…”
Xander stood at the sink, hands clenching the edges as if bracing himself. “Not your fault, you couldn't possibly know,” he ground out. “Glory was … beyond comprehension. She was the worst thing we've ever face. We beat her, but, well, she beat us, too. And now my best friend, ever, is a thousand miles away, and Dawnie is so lost, God, we're all so lost,” he whispered harshly.
Jack found himself behind the younger man, and dropped a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. “I can't… My son shot himself playing with my service weapon,” he offered. “So I kind of know what you're going through. And I'm not going to tell you it's all going to be okay, because it won't. Years from now, you'll accidentally think of your friend, and it'll bite again, but it does get a bit easier. You've got to trust me on that.”
Xander turned suddenly, and Jack found himself with an armful of tense young male. “I know. I know they're in a better place, and they're at rest, and all
of that, it's just … I miss them so much. Buffy was my friend, and she was my hero, and I was so close to asking Anya to marry me. Sometimes I feel so lost without her.”
Jack wrapped strong arms around his new friend. “And they'll always be with you,” he assured Xander. “And you'll find your way again. You have good friends, and you'll make new ones, and it won't be a betrayal of her at all. Trust me.”
“I want to,” Xander mumbled, his face buried in Jack's shoulder. “I liked you right from the beginning, and I want to trust you, but I'm afraid.”
Jack was silent for a long moment, thinking. Finally, he smiled. “If it's any recommendation, the NID absolutely despise me.”
Xander began to laugh, a welcome, if slightly hysterical, sound. “Actually, it kind of does.”
Jack found himself grinning. He had an armful of vital, attractive, if probably straight, man, and wasn't that a kicker. What's more, they seemed to be on the same side of the NID-Friend-or-Foe debate. Best of all, Xander wasn't pulling away. “Well, good.”