As the weeks passed, Jack, Xander and Willow settled into a routine of sorts. Every morning, when Jack went into the SGC, more often than not, one or both of the teens would be still asleep. If they were both still asleep, he’d leave a note giving his expected time home. Then he’d leave the house, making sure he locked the door behind him in order to keep the teens safe. He’d spend the day at the SGC, performing his usual duties, going on missions, training recruits and running drills and exercises for the personnel, struggling through the mountain of paperwork that came along with being second in command at a military base as well as the leader of SG1, which brought its own mass of paperwork. At the end of the day, assuming he wasn’t on a long-term mission, Jack would head home to find Willow at some stage of preparing dinner or, if he was running really late, a serve of dinner in the fridge waiting for him. Then, depending on the time and how tired he was, they’d spend some time together, just the three of them. Xander and Willow would tell him about their day and he’d give them a brief overview of his, keeping anything that was classified out of his retelling. Willow and Xander still seemed to enjoy the stories, however, and Jack wondered at the likelihood that one or possibly both of them could, upon turning eighteen and graduating from high school, join the military. The very idea scared him but at the same time made him think of how insanely proud he would be.
Willow and Xander’s days weren’t as busy as Jack’s but they still managed to fill them. Every morning, when they were both up, they’d go for their run and workout before heading back to the house for showers and breakfast. After breakfast they would find ways to entertain themselves. Willow had read through the books Giles had left them with, being careful to keep them hidden so Jack didn’t see them, while Xander practiced making stakes. Sometimes Cassie would come over and they’d catch the bus into the mall or head to the movies or just hang out together. Willow and Xander found themselves liking the other girl and they quickly become friends. In the late afternoons they would head home and Willow would cook dinner. Xander often tried to help but Willow more often than not shooed him out of the kitchen. Both of them however most looked forward to the end of the day when Jack was safely back home, feeling that they could relax knowing that their caregiver hadn’t been hurt or, even worse, killed during the process of the day.
Of course, there were days that didn’t fall into the routine, like when Jack had taken advantage of some down time and had taken Xander, Willow and Daniel up to the cabin in the woods. Teal’c had gone off-world to visit his family for a few days and Sam had gone to visit her brother. Xander had loved it, enjoying being taught how to fish by Jack, even though they didn’t catch anything. Willow had enjoyed it too, finding the woods a very restful place to sit and contemplate what was happening, going into light meditation, just like Jenny had taught her to.
Then there were the few times that had seen Jack off world overnight. On those nights, as promised, Janet had gone by Jack’s house on her way home from the base to pick up Xander and Willow, who would be waiting with packed bags, so they could sleep over. As fun as sleepovers always were, Xander and Willow didn’t like it, both of them too worried about Jack to really enjoy themselves. Janet had picked up on it and thought it was quite touching that, after such a short period of time, they both cared enough about Jack to be worried about his welfare while he was off world (even if they weren’t aware of the fact that he was no longer on Earth). Usually it was just overnight but on one occasion, Jack and SG1 had been away for three nights, two of which were on the mission, the third night was spent in the infirmary. Janet had been reluctant to leave Xander and Willow alone through the day, even though Cassie was with them, but she didn’t really have a choice. It was as if she didn’t trust them or Cassie to look after themselves for the day, it was just that she didn’t want Xander or Willow to feel like they were being abandoned when they needed the reassurance that Jack was okay. Janet could understand where they were coming from, considering what had happened to their parents. Few teenagers would be able to be able to fully relax when they were separated for long periods of time from their guardian when they had, less than a month before, discovered the brutally murdered bodies of their respective parents
Jack, however, returned safely and the reunion had been quite touching. Janet hadn’t had the opportunity to witness it but Cassie reported back to Janet and Sam that Xander and Willow had looked very happy and relieved that Jack was home safe. Jack had looked very happy and relieved that both of his teenaged charges were safe and they’d all gone off together back to Jack’s house in his truck… leaving Janet to worry about the next time that SG1 would be away for a few days and the possibility of Jack not coming back from a mission, leaving the two teenagers in a perilous situation. She shuddered at the though of how much Willow and Xander would be affected if Jack was killed during a mission.
Most importantly, however, during those first few weeks, Jack, Willow and Xander built up their family unit. In the evenings they spent time together, talking, or watching some form of sports. Jack taught them both the ins and outs of ice hockey and promised to take them to a match at some point and to take them skating. Willow had cringed at the idea. The last time she and Xander had gone skating had been for Jessie’s thirteenth birthday party. Neither her parents nor Xander’s parents had had the time or the inclination to take them ice skating, even though Sunnydale did have its own rink and it was a bit too far from the middle of town to walk out there. When they were younger, Jesse’s parents had taken them out sometimes but as they’d gotten older the teenagers had preferred going to hang out at the movies or just staying at someone’s house and watching movies and playing video games. She imagined that it would take her awhile to get used to skating again.
Xander looked equally anxious about getting back out on the ice and Willow knew he was scared of making a fool of himself in front of his father. She knew Xander was worried about what would happen if he did something wrong or upset Jack. Would Jack be like Tony Harris and turn to violence in order to discipline Xander? Willow hoped not, remembering how on a few occasions Xander had stumbled over to her house after being beaten and kicked out, needing Willow to bandage him up and soothe his pain. Thankfully, her absentee parents hadn’t ever witnessed the aftermath of Tony’s attacks on Xander, so Willow had been free to watch over Xander as he slept in her bed, sometimes through troubling nightmares that would leave him sweating and crying out in his sleep.
Despite their fears, Willow and Xander felt themselves relaxing around Jack, their lives becoming slightly more normal away from the Hellmouth as they began to slowly move on and recover from the events of the last six months, from the first moment that Angelus had threatened Willow in the school hallway to the last moments when Willow had done the spell attempting to return Angel’s soul to his demon-controlled body.
Willow and Xander had been living with Jack for a month when the phone rang. Willow looked up from the book she was reading. Daniel had offered to keep teaching her languages like Sumerian, Latin and a new one for Willow, Ancient Egyptian, the next time the team had down time, so she had decided to keep her mind sharp by doing as much reading as possible. Xander had gone out for a run, having decided that now that he didn’t have a Slayer watching his back he needed to really work on his fitness… and running speed. Willow usually joined him, but hadn’t felt like it that particular morning. Willow set her book aside, marking her page before crossing the living room to get to the phone.
“Hello? O’Neill residence,” she said as she picked up the phone.
“Ah, Willow, it’s Rupert Giles here.”
“Giles, it’s great to hear from you, not that it’s been awhile, because we talked a few days ago. What’s up, have you tracked down Buffy? How’re things going on the Hellmouth? Are you, Oz and Cordy managing okay?”
“We’re coping quite well, thank you Willow. Unfortunately Buffy has not been located but we’ve had several leads in the last few days. Joyce believes that Buffy is somewhere in this dimension, that she ran away after being forced to kill Angel.”
“But… that would be good, wouldn’t it? I mean, she wouldn’t be in a hell dimension or anything, right?”
“We can hope, Willow. As it is though, the next Slayer has arrived in Sunnydale.”
“Yes, a young woman by the name of Faith. She arrived last night. She is quite proficient at the arts.”
“Does she have her own Watcher?” Willow asked.
“No, unfortunately Faith’s watcher died just prior to her coming to Sunnydale. I shall be serving as her Watcher,” Giles replied.
“Well, at least you still have a job,” Willow offered.
“Well, yes, that is true. Anyway, what I rang to talk to you about. Have you attempted any magic since the soul restoration?”
“No, I’m kind of too scared to after what you said and Ms. Calender warned me about it and I haven’t needed it, you know, with no monsters out there in Colorado Springs.”
“That’s good, Willow. I’m glad you’ve been listening.”
“What? I always listen.” Willow pouted.
“Yes, Willow, I’m sorry. I’m just not getting much sleep. Now, I’ve been in contact with a coven and they’re willing to send some of their members over to teach you how to control and, if necessary, use your magic. I should have begun teaching you months ago when I saw you taking an interest in it but I was busy with Buffy and the whole Angelus and Jenny thing.”
“I get it, it’s okay. So, when do my lessons start?”
“They’re going to arrive in about two weeks and will contact you regarding when and where you will meet. They both have family in the area, so they will travel into Colorado Springs to meet with you, probably once or twice a week, considering that you will be at your new school by the time they arrive.”
“It sounds great.”
“How are you and Xander settling in?”
“We’re going great. Xander’s out running at the moment. I usually go with him, but Daniel, one of Jack’s friends, has offered to teach me some languages when they have down time, so I’ve been practicing.”
“Is this Daniel good at languages?” Giles sounded interested. Willow smiled to herself
“Yeah, he’s an archaeologist and linguist. His name is Dr. Daniel Jackson, have you heard of him?”
“Yes, I do believe I have. Prior to myself becoming Buffy’s Watcher, I heard of him back in England. He had a theory about the pyramids that intrigued the Watcher’s Council greatly. You’re lucky to have the opportunity to study under such an educated man, Willow.”
Giles sounded jealous and Willow beamed. “I know, I still miss you though, Giles and I know that Xander feels the same way. No matter how good Colorado Springs is, Sunnydale’s always going to be home. You and Buffy are still the ones that started us off on this whole chapter of your lives. If it weren’t for you two, both Xander and I would be dead, just another set of Sunnydale statistics.”
“Willow, that was very touching. Thank you.” Willow heard Giles clear his throat and knew that he would be furiously polishing his glasses, trying to ignore the tears building up in his eyes with his stoic British stiff upper lip.
“You’re welcome, Giles,” Willow replied, sitting don on the sofa, having brought the cordless phone with her so she could talk and read at the same time, just like she imagined Giles doing in the library of Sunnydale High.
“Are you and Xander ready for the new school year? It is a very important year for you both, after all.”
“Yeah, Jack’s enrolled us and we’ve got all our stuff all ready to go for next week. We’ve already got Cassie as a friend.”
“How is that going? I know that you will both need to make new friends, other than one another.”
“As much as I was prepared to not like her, we get along really well. She’s smart and we’ll be in a few classes together. She’s really nice and we’ve got similar tastes in movies and music and stuff. Sometimes it feels as though Xander and I are betraying Buffy, because we have another friend who’s a girl and sort of fits into our little friend triangle thing though.”
“I’m sure Buffy won’t mind. She wouldn’t want you and Xander to be lonely after all. I’m glad that you and Xander have been able to find a friend so quickly. Cassie is the daughter of one of Jack’s Air Force colleagues, yes?”
“Yes, that’s the one. She’s Janet’s daughter. Janet’s the chief medical officer at the base where Jack and his team are based. Cassie wants to graduate to become an Air Force medic as well. She’s told me that she thinks that what Janet does is the coolest thing ever. Janet’s the one who looks after us when Jack can’t make it home.”
“Ah, I see. I’m afraid I have to go now, Willow, but do pass my greetings onto Xander and we’ll be in touch again soon.”
“Okay, Giles, miss you.”
“I miss you too, Willow. Goodbye.”
“Bye, Giles.” Willow hung up before she smiled happily to herself and continued on with her reading. A.N. Hi all, so sorry about not updating this story for so long. Just got through a rather busy period of time with University and home life. Now I'm able to relax and take a break, so i thought I'd put a little update up for this story. I hope you've all enjoyed it.
I've planned some Stargate type action next chapter, and it will start a series of events that will run over a number of chapters. Hopefully it will turn out well for Xander, Willow, Jack and the rest of SG1.
Reviews are much appreciated.