Xander threw down his pencil with a loud sigh of relief as he finally finished his homework. Oz hadn’t been joking when he had told Xander that senior year is a lot of hard work and Xander knew that the workload would only increase as they got closer and closer to graduation.
Stretching his arms over his head, making his back crack, Xander got to his feet, packing away his school supplies for the night. Willow had a magic lesson that night and wouldn’t be home for at least another hour and a half. However, Xander didn’t have the house to himself. Jack had suggested that, since Willow was out for the evening, he and Xander could spend some time together. Xander shuddered as he recalled Tony Harris’s idea of father-son bonding time but he knew that Jack wouldn’t lay a finger on him… or at least, Xander hoped so. Thanks to the muscles he had developed through helping Buffy, Xander had bulked up and Tony hadn’t touched him for almost a year before his death, knowing that Xander now hit back… hard. However, if Jack with his military training tried to beat Xander, the teenager doubted he would be able to put up much of a resistance.
Xander shook his head, shaking thoughts of Jack becoming a monster like Tony from his head.
“Don’t be stupid,” he muttered under his breath. “Jack is the complete opposite to Tony. He’s spent time alone with you before… he saved you from aliens. Tony never would have cared that much about you. He wouldn’t even have called the cops if I went missing.”
Angry at himself for letting his insecurities get the best of him, Xander walked downstairs, following the noise of the television into the living room where Jack was sitting on the couch, watching a game of ice hockey that he had recorded a few days ago.
“Hey, Xander,” Jack greeted.
“Hi,” Xander replied, giving his father a quick smile before he glanced at the screen, watching the game play out. Although he had never really enjoyed watching sports, Xander found himself liking ice hockey. Jack had promised that one day he would take both Xander and Willow to a game and Xander was looking forward to it.
“Take a seat. I wanted to talk to you about something… while it’s just the two of us,” Jack requested. Xander frowned but sat down on the couch on the opposite end from Jack.
“I smell trouble,” Xander commented, trying to lighten the mood of the room, which had gone downhill rapidly. Jack was obviously struggling with what he was about to say and Xander knew, in his gut, that he wouldn’t like it. He felt his stomach tighten as it coiled up, tension flowing through his body.
“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for a while now… since you and Willow recovered from the kidnapping but I put it off. At first it was because I thought you weren’t ready yet and then it was Willow’s birthday and I didn’t want to spoil it for her, especially with Buffy coming up to surprise you,” Jack began. Xander felt his heart rate speed up. He really didn’t like the direction this conversation was going.
“What… What did you want to talk to me about?” Xander asked.
“When… when you and Willow were in the infirmary, Janet did full body scans on you both. It’s standard procedure for anyone who goes off world, just to make sure they don’t have any injuries that have been missed, and to, well, make sure no one brought back anything that shouldn’t have been brought back.”
“Like a Goa’uld?” Xander asked.
Jack nodded. “Exactly. Anyway, Willow’s scans turned out fine but your… yours were different. Janet thought she should show me, considering, you know, that I am your dad and everything.”
“What?’ Xander said, beyond confused now by the conversation. Jack took a deep, steadying breath.
“On the scans, Janet could see where you’ve had broken bones before.”
Xander gulped. Why hadn’t he thought of that? Willow had once explained to him that a doctor can tell if a bone has been broken before, even if it is only through an x-ray. Xander hadn’t understood Willow’s explanation, as she’d used a lot of big words, and they’d only been seven or eight at the time. (Willow had been reading her mother’s medical books.)
“I don’t suppose that you would believe me if I said I was a clumsy kid?” Xander asked sheepishly. Jack sent him an almost pitying look and Xander knew he was screwed.
“The breaks were in the wrong place for them to be accidental or the result of being clumsy, Xander,” Jack explained
“Damn,” Xander sighed. “Alright… what do you want to know?”
“We’ll start off with whom, although I already have a pretty good idea,” Jack said.
“If you’re thinking of Tony Harris, you are right. He had a drinking problem and he wasn’t the nicest drunk. I learned pretty early on that if he’d had a couple of drinks, I should go and just stay in my room or head to Willow’s house. He never hit my head, because that was too obvious and even in Sunnydale, people would suspect something was wrong… but any other part of my body was fair game.”
“How long did this go on for?”
“On and off since I was about six, I guess.” Xander shrugged. “He stopped about eighteen months ago though.”
“Why?” Jack asked, curious.
“I, um, kind of learned to hit back,” Xander sheepishly admitted. Jack felt a surge of pride well up within him at hearing how his son had dealt with his abuser.
“Did your mother know?”
“Yeah, she knew, but she didn’t do anything to stop it. She just sat in her room and drank… or slept. Willow was the one who looked after me when I got hurt. If I needed to go to hospital, she was the one who called an ambulance.”
Jack shook his head. “I’m sorry, Xander, I should have kept in contact, given you a way out or something. I shouldn’t have let you go so easily.”
Now it was Xander shaking his head. “No, it’s not your fault. Yeah, it happened but it’s in the past. Tony is dead, as is my mom. It’s not like they can go to jail over it. The bones all healed and it just doesn’t matter anymore. None of it does.”
“Do you think about it often?”
“I used to but not so much now. I’ve got so many other things to think about now. You, Willow, school, Cassie, your work, Buffy and the others back home… Sunnydale in general. I’ve let it go.”
Jack hesitated for a moment before he slowly reached out a hand, gently placing it on Xander’s shoulder. After a moment, he gave a gentle squeeze.
“You’ve got a lot of guts, Xander,” Jack said. “And you’re the bravest kid I know, but you don’t have to push what he did to you aside. Nobody will hold it against you.”
“Do any of the others know… other than Janet?’ Xander asked. Jack shook his head.
“Can it stay that way? I don’t want it to affect how Sam and Teal’c and Daniel treat me,” Xander requested. Jack nodded, knowing that this would be one secret that he would have no problem carrying to the grave.
“You have my word,” Jack promised solemnly.
Xander nodded trusting Jack’s word. He was right. Tony and Jack were completely different people. Jack was his real father, the one who gave a damn, who cared about him and loved him.
For the first time in months, ever since he had left Sunnydale, Xander knew that he was at home.
Cassie let out a belch that, had Janet been there, would have earned her a scathing look. Instead, it got chuckles of amusement from Willow and Xander.
“Nice one, Cass,” Xander commented.
“Thanks. Man, I could not eat another thing, I am so stuffed.”
“I know how you feel.” Willow smiled from where she lay on the floor of Jack’s living room. It was Halloween night and the three teenagers had opted for a quiet night with a few scary movies and lots of candy. Cassie had talked the others into dressing up to go trick-or-treating. Xander had been very careful, ensuring that the owner of the costume shop didn’t have an English accent, and Willow had decided that caution would be the best option and dressed up as Joan of Arc because, as she explained to Xander, then she would still be able to kick anybody’s butt. So far, however, the evening had proved to be uneventful, so their fears had proved to be unfounded.
Jack was notably absent and all three teenagers knew that something must have come up at the mountain. Jack had told them that he would be home (he wanted to be able to take photos of them dressed up) but General Hammond had called them once Xander and Willow had gotten home from school and informed them that Jack wouldn’t be able to make it home that night.
The three teenagers lay on the floor together, watching the movie on the screen. Eventually Willow let out a sigh.
“Do you ever worry that one day they aren’t going to be able to save us?” she asked quietly.
“What do you mean?” Cassie asked.
“I mean, obviously something’s come up and I know we were never told specifics but Daniel as good as told us that they’ve saved the world from destruction or invasion numerous times. Don’t you ever worry that they’ll screw up or something and Earth gets destroyed?”
“That’s a cheerful thought, Willow,” Xander snorted.
“You know what I mean,” Willow protested, rolling her eyes. Ever since she found out the truth about vampires and demons over eighteen months ago, she had felt like she had some role in protecting the world from a potential apocalypse. Sure, it was a supporting role but at least she was involved and could do something that could protect the world. It was only a few short months ago she had played a key part in averting an apocalypse after all. Now, though, Willow was frightened because she knew about the whole other threat towards Earth… the extraterrestrial threat posed by the Goa’uld faced by the SGC so frequently. There would be nothing at all she, or Xander or Cassie, could do to prevent the Earth being destroyed or invaded. They would have little to no warning, no time to prepare for their death or enslavement. Willow was helpless and it terrified her.
“I know what you mean,” Cassie said softly. “My mom doesn’t tell me about what happens off world… how many times SG1 has saved Earth… but I know that it happens and I know that my life depends on them but I trust them all. None of them would let anything happen to Earth… to us. If the worst did happen… well, it wasn’t because Jack and Sam and Teal’c and Daniel and the rest of the SGC didn’t try.”
Willow and Xander nodded in agreement, knowing that Jack would die before he let the Goa’uld retake Earth. All of his team would… like the Scoobies would die before letting the world be overrun with demons.
“Of course,” Cassie continued, “I kind of have a plan in mind so that I won’t always be out of the loop.” The other teenagers looked at her with puzzled looks on their faces.
“What’s that?” Willow asked curiously. Xander, however, had put two and two together, realization dawning on his face as the confused look slipped away.
“When I graduate from high school, I’m going to join the Air Force, train as a field medic, and then join the SGC,” Cassie announced.
“It’s a good plan, Cassie,” Xander acknowledged. “I must admit, I’ve kind of been having similar thoughts. I mean, not the whole field medic thing but the joining the SGC. At least we’ll be able to help then.”
Willow snorted. “I was thinking along the same lines. I mean, I know that Daniel is teaching me languages that they encounter off-world, although he won’t teach more Goa’uld until I finish high school and Sam talks to me as much as she can without breaching confidentiality about the technology they’ve encountered. It all sounds so fascinating and, well, you get to go to so many different places. Who wouldn’t want to explore different planets and meet different cultures?”
“So… we’ve all had the same thought… we want to join the SGC… hey, maybe we’ll be on the same team,” Xander grinned. Cassie and Willow both laughed.
“No way, Xander. Maybe after a few years but there is no way they would put three new recruits on the same team, even with an experienced team leader.”
“I didn’t mean right away,” Xander scoffed. “I mean, you know, fifteen years from now. We could be SG1 version 2.0, or something.”
“SG1 version 2.0?” Willow asked, quirking an eyebrow in a manner very similar to Teal’c.
“Indeed,” proclaimed Xander, lifting his can of soda. “To SG1 version 2.0”
“SG1 version 2.0,” Willow and Cassie echoed as they tapped their cans together and drank deeply. The trio sat in silence after the gesture, swallowing their mouthfuls of drink, before they exchanged glances and dissolved into laughter.
They were still laughing hysterically when Jack came through the front door fifteen minutes later, worn out after a long day spent completing the mountain of paperwork that had built up on his desk, disgruntled because Hammond had told him that, in no uncertain terms, Jack was not to leave the base until every i had been dotted and every t crossed.
Still, Jack thought as he looked at the three teenagers giggling away, smiling up at him from the living room floor while a movie played in the background, at least the kids had had a good night. A.N. I hope that he Xander and Jack scene was what people wanted...i found it hard to capture the emotions that Xander and Jack must have been feeling. No doubt that, in future chapters, there will be future reference to this, but for now that's all folks.
Please review and tell me what you think. I really value your input and suggestions, and it really inspires me to hear about how much so many of you are enjoying this story.
The next chapter will be up in approx two weeks, but keep an eye on my profile in the next week for some changes.