Willow sat beside Daniel at the dining room table of Jack’s house, grinning eagerly as Daniel spread a couple of his more basic language books out. It had been a long time since he’d actually taught anyone before. Sure, he’d tried to explain things to Jack, the rest of SG-1, Hammond or other members of the SGC, but he knew that they lost track of what he was saying after just a few words. Willow, on the other hand, was an eager student, wanting to learn these languages because she wanted to.
Xander watched from the doorway, leaning against the doorframe, watching his best friend barely able to contain her excitement at being able to continue her learning of ancient and extinct languages.
“You want to join in?” Jack asked. Xander jumped violently, having not heard his father’s approach.
“Don’t do that!” Xander exclaimed. Jack had smirked at Xander’s reaction, but something in his son’s face stopped the smirk and he frowned instead.
“Sorry,” he apologized, “you can, if you want. Daniel wouldn’t mind. He’d probably be thrilled.”
“I think I’ll pass. Willow’s the one who likes this. If Giles is to be believed, I haven’t mastered common English yet, so I shouldn’t really attempt other languages.”
Jack couldn’t contain his chuckle. “Yeah, I don’t have that much of a head for languages. I know enough to get by, but not nearly as many of Daniel.”
“I don’t think there are many out there who would know that many,” Xander commented, turning his back to Willow and the archaeologist and heading to the living room. Jack poked his head into the dining room.
“Xander and I are just going to be out here, okay?”
“Okay, Jack,” Daniel called before he began to teach. Jack listened for a few moments, smiling when Willow began to repeat things in Sumerian back at Daniel. Satisfied that the pair would be kept amused for hours, he followed Xander into the living room, planning on some one on one bonding time with his son.
“You okay? I really didn’t mean to frighten you earlier,” Jack said, watching as Xander seemed to be lost in his thoughts.
Xander shook his head. “No, I’m fine. Just a little jumpy still. Don’t think it’s ever going to go away, that’s all.”
“Given time, it will settle down. Finding your parents like that must have been pretty freaky. I know if it were me I would be very jumpy. You and Willow are handling it very well.”
Jack was being honest. It wasn’t very often , only one or two times a week, sometimes three, that he woke up to Xander or Willow yelling or crying in their sleep and the other one always responding with soft and soothing words. Jack had known from early on that he wasn’t needed to offer comfort or guidance. Willow and Xander seemed to be capable of looking out for one another without his involvement, as far as their nightmares went anyway.
Xander shrugged. “I’m glad that Willow has gotten along well with your work colleagues. The computer teacher back at Sunnydale High died not that long ago and she was Willow’s idol. Willow got put in charge of the computer lessons at our school, even the senior classes, even though she was devastated by Jenny… I mean, Miss Calendar dying.”
“What about you… I know languages aren’t really your thing, you’ve told me that, and you’ve said that Willow was the computer person in your group. There must have been something that you were the best at?”
Xander paused. “Does making everyone smile, even when things are tough, count? Because I did that.”
Jack smiled. “Absolutely. In every situation you need to have someone who can see the funny side to life. When I do not have to be the big bad Colonel, that’s my job, usually. We have to stick together.”
Xander smiled at that. “Sounds like a good idea, Colonel,” he said. Jack chuckled.
“Of course it was. When have I ever had a bad idea?’ Jack spoke with his voice slightly raised, so Daniel would be able to hear in the next room. Sure enough, there was a response.
“Do you REALLY want me to answer that question, Jack?” Daniel called back. Jack smiled as he heard Willow giggling and Xander began to laugh beside him. His two teenaged charges were beginning to settle down and relax from the trauma they’d been through at last. Now they would be able to slowly begin rebuilding their lives and moving on, although Jack knew they would forever carry the scars of the last few months deep in their own psyches.
The school year started, and Willow and Xander presented themselves to the office on their first day, accompanied by Jack. They had already gone through all the enrollment details, so it was simply a matter of picking up the last few forms and pieces of information. Then the school bell rang and Cassie approached the group. Jack was thankful that Xander and Willow’s first class at Colorado Springs High School was one that they shared with Cassie.
“You two be good, okay? I really don’t want to get a phone call telling me that you’ve been in trouble on your first day. Remember which bus you have to take home and you both have your keys to get into the house and your phones?” he asked them. Willow inched closer to Xander, who put his arm around her shoulder, sensing her insecurity.
Jack had gone and bought them both mobile phones, for safety purposes. He’d programmed his work phone number, his mobile phone number, as well as the numbers for Sam, Daniel, Janet and Hammond’s office phones into Willow and Xander’s, just in case he couldn’t answer for whatever reason. Willow and Xander had accepted the phones,\ and had both then programmed each other’s new number, their new home number, as well as the numbers that would get them in contact with Giles, Joyce, Cordelia and Oz.
Xander hiked his bag up higher on his shoulder and nodded in response to Jacks question and Willow smiled.
“You’ll be fine,” Jack said and Cassie wasn’t overly sure who he was trying to convince, Xander and Willow or himself.
“I’ll look after them, Jack,” she offered, and Jack nodded at her.
“Thanks, Cassie. I appreciate it. I’ll see you two tonight when I get back from work.”
“See you, Jack.” Xander nodded.
“Bye,” Willow added from where she stood. Jack smiled reassuringly at them before he turned and hurried back to his car, knowing that they were both well and truly old enough to get themselves to class. They were in their senior year of high school, after all.
Jack remembered the day when he and Sara had sent Charlie off to school on his first day. Charlie had been so excited and Sara had been so nervous. He remembered that she’d cried the whole way home in the car. Charlie had been unaffected by nervousness, quickly finding some of his friends from preschool and walking into the classroom together. Charlie had, at the last moment as he crossed the threshold into the classroom, looked over his shoulder at Jack and Sara and just smiled at them. In that moment, they’d both known that Charlie was going to be fine and he had been. Jack hoped that Xander and Willow would settle into their new school just as quickly.
Jack drove out to the mountain, having informed Hammond that he was going to be a little late because he was dropping Xander and Willow off on their first day of school and Hammond had nodded approvingly. Jack and the rest of SG-1 put in so much time and effort into their work, Hammond wasn’t going to deny Jack the opportunity to drop his kids off on their first day of a new school, hoping that Xander and Willow would be safe there.
Xander and Willow found themselves, much to their surprise, settling into their new school well. Willow was enjoying her classes and Xander had begun to make a few friends among the other boys within their year level, although he spent the majority of his time with Willow and Cassie.
Outside of school, Willow’s lessons with Daniel were going well and after every one, she would tell Xander all about what she had learned. The witches from the coven that Giles had asked to tutor Willow had been in contact with Willow, having been delayed in their arrival in Colorado Springs, but Willow was set up to have two lessons per week initially, with more or less depending on her progress. Both Willow and Xander had also been keeping up with their training, going for runs to the park, and going over obstacle courses. Often they got off the school bus going home a few stops away from the house and used that as their run, and Xander had found a map of Colorado Springs and was looking into one day in the not too distant future having them both run home from school as a training exercise.
In between school, homework and everything that they were doing in their spare time, Xander and Willow were kept busy but they always tried to spend as much time as they could with Jack. It was a novelty for them both to have a father figure in their lives that actually seemed to care about them. Giles had cared but the way that Jack asked them both about their days and took a keen interest in every aspect of their lives, while at the same time trying to get to know them better, was different from the way the Englishman had gone about looking out for them. The fact that Jack actually was Xander’s father made a difference too but it had surprised both of the teenagers how much they both cared about the man as well. Xander had begun to learn about sports like ice hockey and was finding that he was quite enjoying both the sports and spending time with a father who didn’t drink in excess and who wasn’t abusive, while Willow was constantly trying to earn his approval and affection and enjoying finally having a parental figure who was there to pay attention to her.
Xander and Willow had been at their new school for almost four weeks. Jack was away on a week-long mission, so they had all of their things at Janet’s house and walked to and from school with Cassie, since Cassie lived much closer to school than them. It wasn’t the first time that they’d stayed with Janet since they’d started at their new school but it was the longest time that Jack had been away for since they’d met him.
They were walking home from school with Cassie on the third day of Jack being away. Cassie was walking a bit ahead of them with one of they guys from Willow’s Lit class. Cassie liked him and Willow suspected that it wouldn’t be long before they were dating (from her limited knowledge of dating anyway,) and so she and Xander had lagged behind a little to give the others some privacy.
Cassie and the boy, whose name was Jay, disappeared around the corner but neither of the Scoobies were fussed. Both of them knew the way back to Janet’s place, so it didn’t matter that they’d lost sight of Cassie.
Neither of them noticed the dark van parked in a side street they crossed, too focused on the in-depth discussion they were having about Sunnydale. Nor did they notice the way the van’s engine started and it slowly crept forward, turning around the corner of the side street and approaching them from behind.
Xander whipped around as he heard the van pull over alongside them and three men in black suits, sunglasses and gloves stepped out of the back of the vehicle. Through the tint Xander could faintly see another man sitting in the driver’s seat.
“Hey, kid, relax, we work with your dad,” one of the men said. Willow tensed in response and Xander gripped her hand, shifting so he was more in front of her.
“Really? What’s the password?” he asked defensively.
The man snorted. “Look, kid, O’Neill’s in trouble, you’ve got to come with us… now.”
“We aren't going anywhere with someone who doesn’t have the password,” Xander said. “Besides, how did you know we were O’Neill’s kids?”
The man cocked his head. “We’ve got our ways and means. You look too much like him to be anyone else’s and the description we were given was pretty accurate.”
“Say the password or we’re leaving.”
Xander and Willow bolted. ‘Get them’ was definitely not the phrase that Jack had told them during their first week of living with him. They could hear the men’s feet pounding behind them as they ran down the pavement.
“Cassie…RUN!” Xander screamed as loud as he could to alert Cassie that they were in trouble, hoping madly that she was still within earshot.
Xander yelled when he felt strong arms grab him around the middle in a tackle, throwing him hard into the concrete path. He heard Willow scream as she went down beside him. They were quickly pinned down by agents and Xander winced as he felt handcuffs being tightened around his wrists. He turned his head, looking over his shoulder at the men. The one who wasn’t pinning them down was preparing what looked suspiciously like a pair of syringes. Xander began to struggle and could hear Willow’s muffled pleading.
“No, no, get off, no, let us go, please,”
“Sweet dreams, princess,” the standing man sneered before plunging the syringe into the back of Willow’s exposed neck. She immediately went disturbingly limp. Xander’s struggles renewed.
“You too, big boy.” The man smirked as he approached Xander. Xander winced as he felt the sharp sting as the needle was shoved into his neck, before the world faded to black.A.N. Uh oh, what’s going to happen now…? Xander and Willow are in huge trouble…but who is putting the life of the teenagers in danger. Is it something from their past in Sunnydale, or is it something to do with Jack’s work.
Thanks for your reviews, they have been very encouraging and supportive of this story. Thanks also go to my Beta Reader for editing this for me. I own all errors.