As the evening progressed, Xander found himself relaxing and enjoying himself as he spent time with Willow, Cassie, Jack, and the other adults. Cassie kind of reminded him of Buffy, but at the same time she was so different from the blond slayer. Different enough that her presence wasn’t painful for him in reminding him of Buffy, who was either dead or trapped in a hell dimension.
Janet was nice but Xander got the feeling that she wasn’t the type you wanted to annoy too much. She was kind of like Joyce. Xander smiled as he remembered Joyce fighting Spike on parent-teacher night. Nope, Janet would be someone that Xander would try to stay on the good side of.
Murray was a little different, and Xander had trouble reading the taller man’s emotions. Hell, they were impossible to read. Still, he was nice, and Jack obviously trusted him. Xander decided that, for that moment, he was going to trust Jack, for the time being about Murray.
Daniel was interesting and reminded Xander of Giles. He was polite and friendly and he chattered away to the whole group. Xander felt at ease and liked the sound of Daniel’s voice. For a few moments, he was back in the school library at Sunnydale, watching as Giles lectured them about something. Like Cassie, it wasn’t painful for Xander to see Daniel, he wasn’t enough like Giles for that, but there was a similarity there.
Then there was Sam. Xander smiled as he watched Sam and Willow talk to one another. They were very alike in their interests and had a lot to talk about, without even going into whatever it was that they did up at the base and what Willow and Xander had done previously in their spare time. Xander felt a little bit of the guilt he carried within him for pulling Willow along with him away from Sunnydale to Colorado Springs, even though he knew it wasn’t actually his fault, slip away as he watched Willow giggle at something Sam had said before replying. Xander knew he could trust Jack but he wasn’t sure how Willow felt about his father. It, however, looked like she’d formed a bond with Sam, which Xander was happy about. Willow had someone she could look up to and trust and that was all that mattered.
Xander glanced over at his father as he thought of him. It had been good to see Jack interacting with others. Joking around with them, teasing with them. Xander knew that Jack wasn’t sure of what to say to him and Willow and everything came across as being a little strained, and Xander knew he and Willow weren’t helping by keeping quiet and reasonably withdrawn, so it was good to see Jack interacting with his friends socially. Xander hoped that one day, when everything that had happened in Sunnydale wasn’t so fresh, that Jack would be like that with him and Willow as well.
Xander was drawn from his musings when Jack cut across Daniel.
“Hey, Danny, did I tell you that Xander and Willow were in a study group back in Sunnydale. Myths and legends and ancient languages.”
Daniel’s eyes widened. “Really?” the archaeologist asked. “Which ones?”
Jack looked at Xander, who shrugged. “Um, we’d started on Latin, but I’m not so good at it. Willow’s better at it than I am. I was more interested in the archaic weaponry and doing food runs than anything else.”
“Which languages can you speak, Willow?” Daniel asked excitedly. Willow blushed.
“Um, Sumerian, a little Latin although I’m not very good, a little ancient Greek but not much, and a little Gaelic. I’m still learning and we haven’t been doing it for long, a little under eighteen months. I studied French in school as well,” Willow sheepishly admitted. Daniel let out a low whistle. It was an impressive list, since Willow hadn’t been studying the languages for very long.
“Like I said, Research Girl,” Xander whispered to Jack, a touch of pride in his voice. Jack nodded in understanding.
“Wow, and I have enough trouble with just one foreign language,” Cassie joked. Willow blushed a little.
“I had a good teacher.” She shrugged. “Our old high school librarian knows heaps of old languages and he was teaching me so I could help him when we were researching, um… things.”
“Old myths and legends and the occult,” Xander added helpfully.
“Interesting topics for a group of high-schoolers to be studying,” Sam commented. Willow swallowed nervously but Xander smiled.
“Willow liked the research and it was really interesting, not to mention that our teacher had a couple of weapons that we sometimes got to train with, under heavy supervision, of course. You know, swords, axes, big knives, crossbows. That was my favorite part.”
Daniel, Sam, Janet and Cassie all snorted in amusement and Teal’c quirked his eyebrow.
“He is so much like you.” Sam smiled at Jack, who shook his head. He wasn’t overly impressed with the idea of his son and his friends using weapons, supervised or not, but Jack knew that he really had no say in the matter. He hadn’t been involved in Xander or Willow’s lives at that point and Jack assumed that their parents had given their consent to it happening. At least they had been under the supervision of a trained adult.
Besides, if the group was focused on ancient myths, legends and the occult, then Jack doubted that guns would be involved. Xander and Willow were fine and hadn’t been badly hurt, so he knew he had no grounds to say anything.
There was no way they were going to pick up the subject again though unless Jack was satisfied that they would be safe and properly supervised. They were only kids, after all.
Sam studied the pair of teenagers closely as they interacted with the rest of SG-1, Janet, Cassie, and one another. Alexander reminded her strongly of what she imagined the Colonel being like when he was a teenager. They looked very similar and Alexander had obviously inherited the infamous O’Neill brown eyes. She had seen glimpses, when the boy was with Willow, of how much he cared about her and the loyalty he had towards her, just like Jack did towards those he cared about, like the rest of SG-1, while at the same time she caught glimpses of the lovable, light hearted jester that she saw in Jack. It was fascinating, considering that Jack and Alexander, or just Xander as he preferred, had not seen one another since Xander was a small baby, even before his first birthday.
Willow, on the other hand, reminded Sam of how she imagined Daniel when he was younger. Willow didn’t look particularly confident in her surroundings and she was looking around nervously, kind of like Daniel was prone to doing sometimes when he was uncomfortable in a situation. Sam didn’t blame Willow, not in the slightest. Her entire world had, in the last few weeks, been turned completely upside down. Still, Sam found herself being highly impressed by Willow’s interest in science and technology, as well as her knowledge and interest in ancient languages.
In the back of Sam’s head, she had the thought of how great an asset both Willow and Xander would be for the SGC. Willow, with her knowledge and interests, was much like a mixture of Daniel and herself while Xander could become a great leader, like his father was. She shook her head, pushing the thought away though. It would be at least seven years before either of the pair could join the SGC, and who knew what could happen in that lengthy period of time.
Sam glanced across at Jack, who was talking to Teal’c. She watched as he broke of eye contact with Teal’c, glancing across the room, seeking out Xander and Willow, checking up on them, before returning his attention to Teal’c. It was a quick, sudden movement, Sam was sure that Jack wasn’t consciously aware that he’d done it. Sam was familiar with the action, though. Jack was known to do the exact same thing to Daniel and to a lesser extent herself, and Teal’c when they were off world. It was a protective behaviour, allowing the Colonel to check up on his charges and reassure himself that all was well. In that exact moment, Sam knew that already Xander and Willow had found themselves a place in the heart of Jack O’Neill.
Janet found herself watching the two teenagers throughout the evening. It was obvious, even to her, that both of them were still struggling to get over the tragic deaths of their respective parents and their forced move to Colorado Springs. She couldn’t even imagine what they were going through. Sure, their situation was strikingly similar to Cassie’s, but at the same time it was vastly different. Jack hadn’t told her much of the circumstances that had lead up to Xander and Willow’s arrival in Colorado but she did know that both Xander and Willow’s parents had been murdered in their homes on the same night while the teenagers were out and that it was suspected that the same individual was behind both sets of murders. Jack had confided in her that he was fearful that Xander and Willow were being targeted by someone and had speculated on whether or not Willow’s recent coma and Xander’s now healed arm injury, the result of an attack on the school library, was connected to the murders. Janet was personally inclined to believe that yes, the incidents were connected, but there wasn’t any real proof. At least now Jack would be able to protect them both if someone came after them.
Janet watched Willow as she ate. She looked like she’d gotten over her embarrassment from earlier and had positioned herself next to Xander, so she was close to him. Jack had asked her to watch Willow in particular to see if she was recovering from the coma. Janet had agreed, although she doubted that she’d be able to get much information by just watching the girl. Still, Willow seemed happy to eat and she didn’t look dizzy or as if she was in pain. Janet, in fact, thought that she looked well, except for the paleness of her cheeks and the shadows under her eyes, and Janet knew that the signs of weariness were more likely connected to her lingering grief regarding her parent’s death rather than the coma and head trauma she’d suffered.
She noticed how cautious Xander and Willow were when they were interacting with the others, with Willow tending towards being shy towards everyone except Xander (and occasionally Sam, when Willow got particularly drawn into what the older woman was saying), while Xander was polite and chatty towards everyone but physically kept his distance from everyone except his best friend.
Janet hoped that, given care, time and affection, Xander and Willow would settle down in Colorado Springs just as well as Cassie had.
Cassie smiled brightly at Xander and Willow as they sat beside one another. When her mother had told her that Jack was going to have his seventeen-year-old son move in with him, Cassie had been thrilled until Janet had reminded her that Jack’s son didn’t know about the SGC and therefore Cassie couldn’t talk to him about it. She’d been looking forward to being able to talk about the Stargate and the things that happened on the other side of it with someone her own age. Her excitement had begun to build once again when Janet had told her that not only was Jack bringing his son back form California, but he was also taking in his son’s best friend. Cassie had wondered what they would look like, and if they had seen many celebrities. They were from California after all.
Xander looked a lot like how she imagined him, very much like a younger Jack. He acted like his father as well. Willow, Xander’s shy, red-haired sixteen-year-old best friend was nice too. Cassie was in awe of the younger girl’s intelligence but she knew not to say anything further. Willow had already proven that she was easily embarrassed and Cassie didn’t want to make her new prospective friend uncomfortable.
Cassie could sympathize with what the pair were going through. It had sounded like a horrible way for their parents to die. It had brought back memories of when her own family had perished. Losing your parents, then being forced to come to a whole new world had been a frightening and daunting experience. She didn’t want to think how hard it would be for Xander and Willow, even though they had only had to come across a couple of states to their new home, and they still had one another as security in the new environment.
They were, in a way, lucky though. Cassie could see how much Jack cared about them already and she knew that he was a great guy. She looked up to him, and he’d always been there for her if she’d needed him. He was like an uncle for her and Cassie was in no doubt that Jack would take his role of being a father for Xander and Willow very seriously.
Daniel relaxed into his chair beside Teal’c as he ate his meal, enjoying the flavors. Jack cooked up a good barbecued meal. He pretended to be focused on his food, using the observation techniques he’d picked up off-world to watch Jack’s new teenaged charges without them noticing. He sympathized with them completely, knowing and understanding how it felt to suddenly lose your parents and have your entire world ripped out from under your feet. Of course, Daniel couldn’t help but begrudge their luck to have been taken in by someone like Jack and not been left to languish in the foster care system, particularly Willow who Jack had held no responsibility for. At her age, she had little chance of being adopted and who knew what kind of home she would get. There were many nice foster families out there and Daniel had even stayed with a few, but there were also, unfortunately, the not so nice ones. He’d stayed with a few of those as well, so he was relieved for Xander and Willow that they’d managed to escape the system that he had been dragged through.
Daniel continued to observe the pair. As the evening had progressed they had grown a little more relaxed around them but neither of them looked completely at ease yet.
He’d been pleasantly surprised when Willow had told them the languages she was starting to learn and Daniel had immediately wondered whether or not she planned on continuing to learn the languages. He would be happy to teach her when he was off-base and not on duty. She sounded like a keen student and it would be nice to spend time exploring languages that weren’t found on other planets and found on obscure artifacts. He did enjoy his job immensely but it would be a nice change for something on the side. Daniel had held off saying anything, though, until after he checked it with Jack first.
Xander was so much like Jack it was uncanny. Despite the teen’s insecurities over being surrounded by strangers, Daniel could see so much of Jack in him. Not just physically, but in the way Xander acted as well.
Daniel smiled to himself. Willow was a lot like Sam and Xander was a lot like Jack. It was almost as if they were going to be a little family unit. Daniel had a gut feeling that it would only be a matter of time until Sam’s maternal side kicked in and she started to consider Xander and Willow as her children. He’d seen how much Sam liked spending time with Cassie and he could see the trait extending through to Xander and Willow easily, especially given the interests Sam and Willow shared. Daniel wondered how long it would be before Sam would start teaching Willow about astrophysics.
He would bet that wouldn’t be long at all.
Teal’c surveyed everyone as he looked around the room. Sam, Janet, Cassie and Daniel were all watching Xander and Willow, but trying not to be obvious about it. Teal’c was curious about the pair of human teenagers himself but he found it amusing that everyone else seemed so interested in them. The young boy, O’Neill’s son, was very much like his father and the girl, Willow Rosenberg, was quiet, polite, but very insecure and shy. Teal’c could not remember Cassie or any of the other young humans he had met being this quiet and reserved. He assumed it was because they had just lost their parents.
Teal’c was inclined to agree with Jack in thinking that there was a connection between what had been happening recently to Xander and Willow, the attack on the high school library, the murder of the computer teacher, the disappearance of their best friend, and their parents’ murder. It was all too coincidental.
Still, Teal’c hoped that they would be safe now. He would protect them, just like he protected his team. Teal’c swore that he would make sure that they stayed safe and weren’t hurt by anything or anyone who meant to harm them.
They were O’Neill’s children, his family, and by extension they were part of Teal’c’s family as well.A.N. Another update at last. Really sorry about the slow updates, but real life has been getting in the way of this story. Anyway, thanks to everyone who has been reviewing. I promise it will get more interesting and have a bit more action soon.
A huge thank you goes out to my Beta reader, without whom this fanfic would be littered with grammar mistakes and English-isms.