Jack strode through the Stargate and down the ramp into the SGC, the rest of SG-1 at his heels. Hammond had ordered them to return to the base early during their last radio check in, so they’d packed up their camp and hiked back to the Stargate as quickly as they could. Multiple scenarios were flashing through his head, just like they always did when something unexpected like this happened, and now a disturbing number of those involved Xander and Willow getting hurt or dying, and him being called back only to find that one or both of them were dead.
Hammond strode up to meet the group, his face clear of expression. This was serious and Jack was instantly on guard.
“Welcome Back, SG-1. Head to the infirmary for post mission checks, then report immediately to my office.”
“Yes, sir,” Jack said before leading his team off. Worryingly, Janet wasn’t in the infirmary, even though it was her usual time to be on duty, and none of the nurses would answer the team’s queries of where she was. Instead they simply did their usual tasks, cleared the entire team of any sign of being compromised, and released them. SG-1 had practically raced up to Hammond’s office. Hammond beckoned them inside when the door opened to reveal them. Jack instantly spotted Janet sitting at the table with a disheveled-looking Cassie next to her.
“What’s going on?” Jack asked. Hammond frowned and gestured for the team to sit down at the long table. Jack and Sam sat down next to one another, opposite from Janet and Cassie, while Daniel and Teal’c sat beside the doctor and the teenager.
“Cassie, would you like to tell the story or would you like me to?” Hammond asked. Cassie looked at Jack, her eyes filled with tears.
“I’ll do it.”
“It’s okay, Cassie, no one blames you.” Janet said, shooting a piercing look at each member of SG-1, warning them that none of them better blame her daughter for what was about to be revealed. Jack felt his gut clench tightly when Janet’s gaze lingered on him and seemed to shift to one of pity. He had a hunch he knew where this was going.
“We… we were walking home from school. Me, Wills, and Xan. I was walking ahead of them with Jay, he’s a guy from my school, and I’ve got a few classes with him. Anyway, they were walking a bit behind us but I didn’t realize how far behind they were. We were just walking when I heard Xander scream at me to run. Jay had gone inside his house already, so I backtracked and hid in a garden. There were three guys, sunglasses, black suits, and a black van with another guy driving. Willow and Xander were on the ground; they were pinned down by these guys, face-down, and were being handcuffed. Then the one who wasn’t pinning them down had two needles and he injected them both with this stuff, I don’t know what it was… it was clear. Then they picked up them both and Xander and Willow were all floppy… either unconscious or sleeping, I couldn’t tell, and put them in the back of the van before they all sped off. I went to the spot where they were to see if there was anything that they’d dropped. They dropped their schoolbags and it looked like they’d tried to run away… I ran back home and called Mom and she sent out people to investigate.” Cassie burst into tears. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to leave them alone, I thought they were closer, and there was blood on the pavement, but I don’t know whose, and I was scared. I’m so sorry.”
Jack shook his head. “It wasn’t your fault, Cass,” was all he managed to say before he realized what had been said. His kids… some bastards had kidnapped his kids. There had been blood on the pavement, one or both of them was injured. Cass didn’t report hearing a shotgun but a silencer could have been used. It might not have been the needle that had made them go limp. Maybe they were dead… or being tortured for information about the SGC. He was dimly aware of Sam’s hand on his shoulder but he didn’t respond… couldn’t respond. He knew he had enemies… none of whom would accept the fact that Xander and Willow knew nothing about the SGC. Jack had a feeling that Xander wouldn’t take well to being held captive and would mouth off. He was too much like Jack himself, after all, and would try to draw their capturer’s attention to keep them away from Willow.
“Jack?” Jack heard Sam’s soft voice and buried his head in his hands, running his fingers through his hair.
“What is being done to reclaim Colonel O’Neill’s children?” Teal’c asked.
“We’ve got guys scouring the area, asking if anyone saw anything… anyone acting suspicious. Cassie got a look at the numberplate of the van and we’re running it. We’ve hit a couple of roadblocks though.”
“Someone doesn’t want us to track this van down; we’ve hit a couple of firewalls blocking our tracing of the numberplate. The techs are getting through them but it’s taking time.”
“NID, sir?” Sam asked, voicing Jack’s question. Hammond frowned and nodded.
“It looks likely, we don’t know why. There’s no indication through official transcripts that they even know about Xander and Willow, let alone are interested in them.”
Jack mentally cursed, his loathing of the NID increasing.
“How long… how long has it been?” Jack asked.
“Five hours, we alerted you as soon as we could.”
“I don’t get it, why would the NID go after Willow and Xander? I mean, they’re just ordinary kids. They don’t know anything about the Stargate, they don’t even suspect anything that’s going on. I’ve been making sure that the things I’ve been showing Willow have nothing to do with the SGC and heaps of other personnel here have kids that don’t know about it. It’s not like we’ve been working on anything particularly bad at the moment that they would want to interfere with. It’s been pretty quiet recently,” Daniel said. Teal’c nodded.
“Daniel Jackson is correct.”
A soft knocking at the door interrupted the conversation and Hammond called for whoever it was to enter. Jack didn’t pay attention, too lost in his own turbulent thoughts. He couldn’t help but remember how Charlie had looked, coated in his own blood, and wonder if he was going to see Xander… little Alexander in a similar condition, his brown eyes blank and unseeing. He remembered the first time he’d held Xander in his arms, cooing softly at his little boy, smiling at the tufts of dark hair that covered the little boys head thickly. Of the pair, Alex had been the first one Jack had bathed by himself and the first one whose diaper Jack had changed without a nurse at his side. Predictably, it had been a pretty nasty one, but Jack hadn’t cared. He’d just looked at the little boy, lying on the change mat, looking up at him, studying every detail of his face. Charlie had been his firstborn but Jack had loved both of his little boys equally. Even after he and Jess had separated and Alexander had been taken away from him, after the last final joke about being glad that Charlie and Alexander weren’t identical, so they couldn’t pull a parent trap on him and Jess, he’d missed his little boy, wondering what sort of person he was growing up into, whether he liked sports like Charlie or was he clever… what was his favorite color… was he walking yet… and talking? Did he have friends? When Charlie had died, Jack had wondered if Alexander had survived his own childhood or if he too had been killed by the foolishness of his father. When more time had passed and Jack had begun to slowly recover from the loss of Charlie, he’d continued to wonder about his young son’s life.
And now? Now it could be all over.
Hammond cleared his throat and Jack forced himself to meet his commanding officer’s eyes. He had a bunch of papers, obviously having been handed to him by the scientist from Janet’s lab that was leaving the room. Hammond cast his eyes over the paperwork and passed them to Janet.
“The blood on the pavement, some of it is definitely Xander’s, but there were others as well. They’ve concluded that one of them is Willow and that another individual was injured. They’re running a search to identify who that individual might be.”
“One of them got one of the bad guys,” Sam surmised. Jack didn’t know which one of his kids it would have been, so he said nothing.
“There… There’s been a further development. The NID have contacted us. They say there’s been a breach at Area 51. A certain… artifact was activated during this breach and that video surveillance indicates that various individuals passed through this artifact into the room, then left, taking a few other individuals with them.”
“A Stargate,” Janet said simply and Hammond sighed.
“Or something with similar transportation properties. Our techs have studied the surveillance tapes and, thankfully, everyone that went through the gate into Area 51 left Area 51. Among those who entered Area 51 were several Jaffa.”
“Goa’uld,” Jack said softly, dread creeping into his chest. From her seat Cassie whimpered and Janet rubbed her back soothingly.
“What does this have to do with Xander and Willow?” Daniel asked.
“I need to have one of you confirm it but from the security camera, it appears that there were two captives that changed hands. They both appeared to be unconscious and had sacks over their heads, but the clothes they were wearing match the ones Cassie described to us as being what Xander and Willow were wearing.”
“I guess they’re going to find everything out a bit sooner than we originally thought,” Sam said softly, an attempt at humor. Cassie was the only one who smiled
“Those snakes have my son and daughter. Do we know who they were following, sir?”
Hammond shook his head. “No, the video isn’t detailed enough to make out what was said between the two groups. There is more. The men who took Xander and Willow to Area 51 were NID agents. They were caught on the way out. The NID have agreed to send them to us for questioning.”
Jack cracked his knuckles at the very idea of getting his hands of the ones who put Xander and Willow in danger. Teal’c too looked ready to back Jack up.
“You do realize, Jack, that I’m not going to be able to let you go anywhere near them. You’re too personally involved.”
“Yes, sir,” Jack sighed.
Hammond sighed and looked at his assembled colleagues. They all looked devastated. Hammond shuddered to think what would happen if one… or both of Jack’s teenagers were taken as hosts and the Colonel was forced to kill them in order to protect himself or someone else at some point in the future. It would destroy Jack, the already mentally scarred man struggling with his son’s death, would be unable to cope with the consequences of the Goa’uld taking Xander and Willow as hosts.
Hell, Jack already looked shattered. Hammond could only guess at what his friend was thinking. George knew that he would never wish this on his worst enemy… not for anything.
Jack felt like he’d spent hours in Hammond’s office, processing the news over and over again, but really had been only half an hour. Xander and Willow were off world, held God knew where by some snake bastard, and he had no idea where he could find them. He’d heard Hammond tell Sam that they were trying to get into the video feed from Area 51, so they could see if it was obvious where the Jaffa had come from… or more importantly, where they’d gone to with Xander and Willow. There was little else they could do.
Jack wanted to hit something, preferably the face of the NID bastard whose fault it was that his teenagers were in this situation.
He didn’t think it would go down overly well with Hammond, but Jack O’Neill was past caring. He just wanted Xander and Willow back, safe and unharmed.A.N. Greetings all. Thanks for all the feedback I've been getting for this story. I really appreciate how you take them time to review. I am very glad that so many of you appear to be enjoying this story.