Sam and Daniel walked into the infirmary, smiling when they saw Willow and Xander both awake, sitting up in their beds. Willow had a magazine in her lap and tapping a pen against her thigh, obviously in the process of doing a crossword. Xander, looking rather bored, was playing solitaire, laying his cards out on the tray.
Jack, on the other hand, was sound asleep in a chair. Sam covered her mouth to hide her grin and Daniel snorted in amusement. The noise made the two teenagers look up and they both grinned, putting their fingers to their lips. Sam bit her lip as she sat beside Willow’s bed, opposite from Jack, who was sprawled out in a chair in between the two teenagers. Willow picked up a notepad that had been sitting on the bed beside her and wrote a quick message.
‘He’s been asleep for two hours now. Janet says that he hasn’t slept since we came back.’
Sam nodded, shooting a look of concern at the colonel. Jack snored softly and someone, Sam was willing to bet Janet, had draped a blanket over him.
“How do you guys feel?” Sam asked. Xander shrugged.
“Okay, I guess.”
“Jack says that once Janet thinks that we’re better he’s going to take us to see General Hammond,” Willow added, “and everything will be explained.” Willow couldn’t stop the corners of her mouth from rising as she spoke, looking forward to hear the story they were told. After everything she’d seen and experienced in Sunnydale, she felt like she was ready for anything.
Sam caught the almost-smile on the young girl’s face but didn’t dwell on it, attributing the half-smile to an inside joke between Willow and Xander.
“I wouldn’t be worried,” Daniel told them in a hushed voice. “General Hammond is a good guy. He’s really glad that we got you guys back and that you’re both okay.”
Sam looked at the pair. It was the first time she’d visited with them both being conscious. They were coping well, or at least appeared to be coping well. Sam didn’t know either of the pair well, but they seemed upbeat and Janet had told her that she was thrilled with how well her two teenaged patients were recovering and coping with the ordeal they’d gone through.
“It’ll be a lot to take in but we’re all here to support you through it,” she told them reassuringly. Willow nodded.
“I know,” she said, trusting the older blonde. Sam made Willow think of the type of person she wanted to be when she was older.
“Daniel, Carter, will you shut up? I’m trying to sleep here,” Jack grumbled, obviously having woken up.
“Sorry, sir,” Sam apologized. Daniel had the sense to pretend to look ashamed. Jack groaned as he sat up.
“Don’t worry about it, Carter,” he grumbled. “You two better not get in the habit of getting hurt like this. I’m getting too damn old for this,” Jack told Xander and Willow. The two teenagers ducked their heads, looking apologetic.
“Sorry, Jack,” Willow said, because she felt she should. Jack had no real responsibility towards her and she knew that if it was only her that had been taken, it was unlikely that Jack would have led the rescue team himself. He was a Colonel; after all, surely he had better things to do than rescue wayward teenagers.
“Don’t worry about it, Willow, but let’s try and avoid this situation in the future. I’m already gray enough thanks to Daniel without you and Xander adding to it,” Jack told her before redirecting his attention to the members of his team that were present.
“Just wanted to visit.” Daniel shrugged casually. “See how the kids were going and that you weren’t bored or anything.”
“Uh-huh,” Jack said. “Carter, what’s your story?”
“I just wanted to make sure that Willow and Xander were alright, sir, and to see if you needed anything. I could go down to get some lunch or something,” Carter replied. Jack grunted.
“No, I’m good, Janet’s been keeping me well-fed,” Jack replied “You guys want to stay or is this just a flying visit?”
“Is it okay if we stay?” Daniel asked. Jack, Willow and Xander shrugged, so Sam and Daniel made themselves comfortable and began to chat with the two teenagers and their guardian.
Sam was pleasantly surprised at how well Willow and Xander were coping. Jack had told her earlier that both of them remembered everything that had happened and that he was worried that they wouldn’t cope when they were told what it was exactly they had been subjected to. Sam too had her worries. It was a big deal, a lot to take in. While they were coping now, it was yet to be seen how they would handle that they had, for lack of a better phrase, been abducted by aliens.
Although, from what she knew of the pair, she was willing to bet that Xander would make a comment about being probed.
The next day Janet released the two teenagers from the infirmary, although Jack had arranged for them to stay on base that evening. He had a couple of days off and he had decided that since it was already getting late in the day, it would be better to take Xander and Willow home during daylight.
Jack had gone home and grabbed some clean clothes for the two teenagers to wear while they were at the base and so, after their last check up, where Janet had given them clean bills of health, they got changed into the clean clothes and, accompanied by Jack, Sam and Daniel, headed towards General Hammond’s office.
Willow and Xander looked around curiously as they were led through the base. They both knew that if they got separated from Jack they would get hopelessly lost, so they stayed close and hurried along. Many of the men and women they’d past, most of them wearing Air Force uniforms like Jack and Sam. All of them did a double-take upon seeing Willow and Xander and many of them openly stared at them, only stopping either after Xander and Willow had passed or after Jack sent a scathing look in their direction.
They got into the elevator and began moving between floors. Xander let out a whistle when he saw the sheer number of levels the base had. It must be a very tall building they were in, he figured, before they were let out and led along a corridor to a doorway with a nameplate reading ‘General George Hammond, US Air Force’ attached. Jack knocked on it.
“Enter,” a voice on the other side called. Jack exhaled and Sam shot a reassuringly look across at him. Jack nodded in response to the look and opened the door, leading the group in. Xander and Willow looked around nervously as they entered the office, seeing the desk and the flags, the red phone, the nameplate on the desk and the tall, friendly-looking man sitting behind the large desk, who had gotten up to his feet in order to greet them.
“General Hammond,” Jack greeted.
“Colonel O’Neill,” Hammond replied. Jack coughed.
“General, this is Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg. Xander, Willow, this is General Hammond.”
“Call me George. How are you both? Janet tells me that you’ve been released.”
“Yes, sir,” Xander replied, his soldier boy memories kicking in from the mere presence of the general.
“That’s good. Now, I hope you guys understand but before we start, you both need to read and sign non-disclosure statements. You can not tell anyone about what you are about to hear. No friends, no teachers, no one. It’s a matter of national security,” He told them seriously. Jack was surprised to see the serious looks on Xander and Willow. It was like they’d flicked a switch in their minds, going from curious, fun-loving teenagers to seasoned warriors in two seconds flat. It was rather unnerving.
“Okay.” Xander nodded.
“Not a problem,” Willow added. Hammond nodded, leading the pair over to his desk and showing them to two seats opposite his desk. Jack, Sam and Daniel sat down behind them. Jack subtly noticed that Hammond had moved his trashcan quite close to where the two teens were sitting, just in case one of them threw up. It was probably a wise decision. It wasn’t unheard of for new recruits to throw up upon being told about the truth.
Hammond walked around and sat in his own chair, passing the two files over to the two teens. Xander and Willow opened them up and began to read, the room falling silent as they read. Willow finished first and turned back to the start, going for a second look at it.
“Jack, you’ll need to sign it too, since they’re underage,” Hammond told Jack, who nodded in understanding.
Once Willow and Xander were both happy that they knew what was expected of them, they both signed the forms where it was needed before passing the files on to Jack, who checked that they’d signed in the right places before signing where he had to as well.
The completed forms back on Hammond’s desk, Hammond leaned back, studying the pair closely. He’d never met them before, although he’d heard Janet and SG1 talk about them and he could see so much of Jack in Xander. Willow too was how he imagined her.
“The truth of the matter is that you were taken from the street by rogue agents of a government agency. You were taken to a transportation device and were handed over to a foe of ours, who transferred you to his base. This base was a spaceship. Our enemy’s name, as you know, is Ba’al and he is a system lord of a race known as the Goa’uld. The Goa’uld are an alien race that require the use of a human host in order to carry out their work. They perceive themselves to be godlike over human races throughout the galaxy. Goa’ulds once roamed this planet but they were cast out in a rebellion by the humans. They use a race known as the Jaffa as soldiers in their armies, slaves, and to carry immature Goa’uld larvae that are not old enough to take a host. At the time, they used portals to get from planet to planet. We call these portals Stargates. A Stargate was discovered in Egypt during the first half of the 1900s and was brought here for study. Eventually the symbols of the Stargate were translated by Dr. Jackson here and we were able to build a device that allowed us to control where we were sent. Thanks to a security feed, we were able to discover which Stargate address you two had been taken to and we were able to send a team after you. We brought you back using the Stargate.” Hammond spoke slowly, leaving himself open to being interrupted by questions or comments, but none came. Willow and Xander just sat and listened intently, shock written across their faces. Once it was apparent that the lesson was over, they reacted.
“You mean, we were taken… by aliens. Ba’al was an alien? Are you serious?” Xander asked loudly.
“Very,” Sam replied. “You remember that snake thing he had, the one Willow killed? That was a Goa’uld, one without a host anyway,” Sam told them. Willow gulped.
“I need to sit down,” she announced.
“You are sitting down,” Daniel replied, slightly confused.
“Oh, goody,” Willow replied. Xander rolled his eyes.
“Is that your standard response to everything, Willow?” he asked.
“No, I just thought I should say it. It seemed to suit the situation,” Willow replied.
“At least we didn’t get probed.” Xander said.
“Daniel, you owe me ten bucks,” Sam told Daniel who sighed and nodded.
“They do probe, don’t they?” Xander asked, confusion written across his face.
“Not in the way you’re thinking of, they use hand devices instead, which you know about. Those things can be used to read your thoughts or just to kill. You two got the torture setting, which is rather painful,” Hammond replied. “Now, we’ve had a long running war going on against the Goa’uld ever since we started using the Stargate about seven years ago. Jack, Sam, Daniel, and Murray are part of SG1, the first team, if you like. They focus on exploring new planets and building up alliances with locals as well as trade routes. It also means that they are quite often the ones who find planets that the Goa’ulds are controlling. Ba’al has a long running animosity with Colonel O’Neill, which is why we believe you were taken.”
“So, we were kidnapped as a part of some sort of grudge match between you and Ba’al?” Xander asked Jack, who nodded, looking a little guilty. Xander nodded, although he couldn’t help but wonder why it was he was targeted in order to get back at those around him. Angelus had targeted him and his family and Willow and her family (and her fish) in order to get back at Buffy, and then Ba’al targets him and Willow in order to get to Jack. He glanced across at his best friend and could see that Willow was having the same thought.
“You know, this is kind of a big deal,” Willow said, having also realized that she and Xander were taking the bombshell that had just been dropped on them a little too well. She forced a touch of panic into her voice, by simply imagining that Ba’al was a giant frog. She looked over at Xander, who caught on.
“Yeah, I mean… it’s aliens. They don’t try to invade… do they, you know, like in Independence Day or Men in Black?”
“Sometimes, but they’ve never succeeded, obviously,” Jack replied. “The issue with their whole superiority complex thing is that they tend to underestimate us a lot.”
“And we’ve been lucky,” Hammond added.
“Yes,” Jack nodded in agreement. “Lots of luck.”
Willow and Xander looked at each other at that particular comment. It sounded very much like the Scooby Gang and their battles against the forces of darkness. Willow knew that being underestimated by their opponents and luck had played a huge role in their success on the Hellmouth.
“Another thing you should both know,” Jack told them. “I’ve been told that I can tell you this, so obviously she trusts you. Cassie is, technically, an alien. We found her on another planet when she was eleven and brought her back here because the rest of the population had been wiped out.”
“Cass is an alien?” Xander asked, shocked at that bombshell. Why were all the hot girls not human? Buffy was a Slayer, Cassie was an alien, their hot substitute teacher had been a giant praying mantis looking for virgins… Xander shook his head at that particular memory.
“Murray is, too, isn’t he?” Willow questioned. Jack and Sam nodded.
“Murray is a Jaffa who rebelled and is a member of the Jaffa rebellion. He has worked with us for years now. I’ve lost track how many time he’s saved my life, let alone helped save us from defeat,” Jack told them.
“He has been keeping away from you both because he was concerned that you would be upset by him being around you, given what happened,” Sam added.
“How did you figure that out?” Daniel asked.
“Just a feeling,” Willow admitted, deciding on the spot that if Murray had earned Jack’s trust, then he had hers as well. Xander, despite some worry (Angelus lingered rather freshly in his mind), nodded his head, coming to the same conclusion. He would be cautious, like he was around all strangers, but he wouldn’t be hostile. Murray had not done anything that was remotely threatening to Xander, Willow, or any of the others, that Xander had witnessed anyway, so he would reserve judgment until he knew Murray better.
“Are there real names actually Murray and Cassie? I know that we’ll still call Cassie, well, Cassie at school, but, you know, Murray and Cassie don’t appear to be very alienish names,” Xander asked.
“Murray’s real name is Teal’c but he uses Murray in public since it is, as you say, less alienish,” Daniel explained, smiling in amusement of Xander’s butchering of the English language. Willow couldn’t help but think that the bombshell had made Daniel appear to be even more like a younger, American Giles in her head than he had been before.
Still, she hoped that she and Xander had convinced the adults that the news had been completely unexpected for them. It had been, to a certain extent, but Willow knew that she and Xander would have reacted differently had they not previously known about the supernatural. If vampires and demons and gateways to hell existed here on earth, what was stopping aliens from roaming the skies and mysterious circular portal things from being used to jump from one planet to another?
“Do you think we could see the Stargate in action?” Willow asked hopefully. It sounded pretty cool and exciting and Willow wanted to learn as much about her new guardian’s work as possible while she had the chance. Xander nodded in agreement and they turned their combined, best puppy dog looks on Hammond. War-hardened General or not, Willow was sure that he wouldn’t be able to resist them.
“Well, I think we can arrange that,” Hammond said with a small smile. Underneath the desk, Willow and Xander discreetly high-fived one another, celebrating their victory.
Even after everything they’d seen in Sunnydale, they’d never seen an interplanetary portal in action before. While it was true that had they both passed through the Stargate before, they’d both been nearly unconscious when that had happened, so Xander was ready to discount that encounter as irrelevant and not counting.
Clearly the meeting was over, and Xander and Willow stood up, Willow putting her mouth close to Xander’s ear.
“So much for having a nice quiet life, huh?” she whispered. Xander snorted in amusement at her comment.
“Oh well, what’s life without a few aliens and things?” he said in reply. A.N. Okay, the big revelation has occured. I hope it lived up to your expectations. i was trying to get Willow and Xander to the point of being mildly shocked, but not being really surprised, since it was always a possibility, since they know demons, Vampires and Witches (oh my!), are real.
Thanks to everyone who has been reviewing. i really appreciate it.
The next chapter might be a little while away, as I'm back at uni, and i don't have a solid plan for the next chapter.