Jack strode into the motel room, his phone at his ear. He had messages from Sam, Daniel and the General waiting for him, inquiring how the flight had gone and, in the case of Carter and Daniel, asking what was going on, as he hadn’t had time to contact them before he’d flown out in the morning.
They were going to have to wait, because Jack was ringing Hammond first.
“General Hammond,” Jack greeted when the phone was picked up.
“O’Neill, nice to hear from you. How did meeting your son go?”
“Very well, sir. I have a question to ask.”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“My son’s best friend’s parents died the same night as his. She has no relatives and is going into the foster care system. They’ve been best friends since they were in kindergarten together. They’ve seen each other nearly every day. They’re like brother and sister. I want to take her in.”
“Jack, you sure you can manage two teenagers. I mean, how old are they?”
“Xander is 17 and Willow is 16, she’s 17 in October.”
“Jack, they’re going to need attention. They’ve just lost their parents. They’re going to be a lot of work.”
“I can handle Daniel and Carter fine.”
“Good point, but these are actual kids, Jack.” Hammond chuckled
“Sir, Xander is going to be shattered if Willow is separated from him and they’re good for each other. They’re almost all the other one has.”
“And what did you want to ask me?”
“Well, I just sort of wanted your opinion of the idea, sir, and I wanted to know if you might contact the relevant authorities to make it happen more quickly.”
“I understand what you’re trying to do for these kids, Jack. I’ll see what I can do, no promises, and you have to be prepared to come back here with only your son. You named him Xander?”
“It’s really Alexander but apparently it got shortened over the years. Now Alexander is just for on paper. Even at school from the teachers, it’s just Xander.”
“Ah, right then. I’ll see what I can do. Oh, and call your team as well, they’ve been driving me nuts all morning with questions regarding where you are.”
Jack laughed. “Yes, sir.”
“See you when you come back to base, Colonel O’Neill.”
“See you then.” Jack hung up before he dialed Sam’s number.
“Major Carter,” she said as she answered her phone.
“Sir, where are you? The General called us into his office this morning and said you were taking a week off for personal reasons.”
“I’m fine, Sam. Can you get Teal’c and Danny in with you? I only want to have to say this once.”
Jack was quiet as Sam contacted the others and told them to get to her office. He hadn’t told any of them about Charlie having a twin, thinking that it wouldn’t matter. Now, he was going to have to come clean and the rest of his team weren’t going to be happy that he hadn’t told them about his other child.
It wasn’t long afterwards when Sam reported that the entire team was there and that the phone was on speakerphone.
“What’s going on, Jack?” Daniel asked.
“Alright, listen up. While we were away on our last mission, a message was left on my phone from the police department in a town called Sunnydale, in California. They were calling to tell me that my first ex-wife, and her husband, had been killed.”
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” Sam gasped.
“Wait, do you mean Sara? I always liked her,” Daniel said.
“No, not Sara. Sara’s fine, as far as I know.”
“Hang on, that means…”
“Jack O’Neill was married before,” Teal’c said in his usual tone. Jack nodded down the phone.
“Yeah, her name was Jessica. She was Charlie’s mother; we broke up when he was six months old.”
“So Sara wasn’t Charlie’s mother?”
“No, she wasn’t, she loved him like she was though. Anyway, Charlie had a twin brother, who Jessica took. We decided we’d take one of the boys each, and if anything happened to one of us and our partner, if we had one, then other one would get custody of both boys. Now Jessica’s gone, and her husband is too, I have to take in Alexander, Charlie’s twin brother.”
A stunned silence met Jack’s announcement and Jack could just imagine the looks on the faces of his team members.
“Are you okay, sir?” Daniel asked, breaking the silence.
“I’m fine, Danny. Xander doesn’t look that much like Charlie, and well, Charlie was ten when he died. Xander is seventeen now, so he’s a lot bigger than what Charlie was.”
“So, you’re going to take in your seventeen-year-old son? Hey, he can be friends with Cassie,” Sam said and Jack could picture her smiling at the thought.
“That’s what I was hoping for. Xander’s lost pretty much everything. One of his best friends is missing, presumed dead, and the other one lost her parents on the same night that Jessica died and it looks like she might be going into the foster care system.”
Jack imagined Daniel cringing at that. “Poor kid,” the archaeologist said.
“When will you be back, Jack O’Neill?” Teal’c asked.
“I’ve got a week off and the funeral is tomorrow. Depending on how things work out I might be home a little bit before my week is up just to give Xander a bit of time to get used to the new house and everything before I start leaving him during the days. There’s something else. I’ve spoken to Hammond and he’s looking into me taking in Xander’s best friend Willow, the one whose parents also died.”
“Sir, with all due respect, that’s two teenagers. You see what Cassie is like. Imagine two Cassies.” Carter winced. As much as they all loved Cassie, she could be a bit of a handful.
“So, I handle you three alright.”
“You do make a valid point,” Teal’c conceded and Jack snorted, imagining the way that Sam and Daniel would be glaring at either Teal’c or at the phone.
“Listen, their parents died on the same night and it was the same person who did it. They haven’t caught the bastard, so what’s to stop him coming after them. I mean, I’m not leaving some kid defenseless in a foster home, when I can look after her and protect her, while protecting my son, against some psychopath. Besides, she’s very smart, she’s a computer genius, according to Xander, and they’re part of a study group that studies mythology. Apparently she’s got a bit of a knack for ancient languages.”
“Which languages?” Daniel asked, perking up with interest.
“I don’t know, but they’re in a study group and Xander was calling her research girl and net girl.”
“Are they dating?” Sam asked. Jack coughed.
“No, they’re like brother and sister, been best friends since kindergarten and have seen each other for practically every day since then. That’s, what, eleven years?”
“Yes, something like that.” Sam conceded, “I think you should go for it, Sir. We’ll help you.”
“I know very little of adolescents but I shall give you my support too, Jack O’Neill.”
“I’m in,” Daniel said. “Anything to keep a kid out of the system.”
“Thanks.” Jack smiled. “I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Yes, sir,” Sam said, before hanging up. Jack hung up, smiling, before he began to make the sparse motel room a little more comfortable.
The next morning, Jack pulled on a suit, ready to attend the funerals of both Jessica and Tony Harris and of Willow’s parents. Apparently it was a coincidence that the two services were arranged on the same day, although thankfully at different times. Willow’s parents were being fare-welled at the local synagogue that morning, while Xander’s parents were being buried in the afternoon.
When he’d asked Rupert, as Mr. Giles had insisted he called him, Jack had been told that friends of Ira and Sheila Rosenberg had taken over the organization of their funeral, while Tony Harris’s brother organized Jess and her husband’s funeral.
Jack had accepted the tentative invitation from Willow to her parents’ funeral with a supportive smile. Rupert had given him a map of the town with the synagogue and the church where the Harris funeral was taking place, as well as the two cemeteries that had been identified in each couple’s will as their ideal final resting place marked on it.
He entered the synagogue ten minutes before the service was due to start, Jack was relieved to quickly spot Rupert, Xander and another teenager that Jack didn’t recognize sitting together in one of the rear pews and sidled in alongside them.
“Hi,” Xander said softly, his face looking pale. Jack knew that his son wouldn’t have slept well during the night, anxious about burying his parents. Jack knew that Willow would be in the same boat, wherever she was.
“Willow and Cordy are sitting with some of Willow’s mother’s friends,” Xander said quietly. “This is Oz, Willow’s boyfriend.”
“Hi,” the other teenaged boy said.
“Nice to meet you. How are you holding up, Xander?”
“I’m okay, I guess.” Xander shrugged, before the rabbi got up and began to speak. Jack followed along as best he could, but he didn’t understand a lot of what was being said, as it was being spoken mostly in Hebrew. From what he understood, Ira and Sheila Rosenberg were highly respected people within the community and that they would be greatly missed by Willow and their friends and work colleagues.
The service was short and simple, and the graveside burial was also simple. Willow, along with a Rabbi friend of her father’s and a few of her mother’s friends, put dirt on their coffins as they were lowered into the ground.
Afterwards, Willow was whisked away by friends of her parents, while Jack went back to the Summers’ residence with Xander, Rupert, Oz and Xander’s girlfriend, Cordelia. They ate lunch together quietly and waited for Willow to arrive.
Once Willow had arrived, having walked from her own house after having lunch with her parents’ friends, they drove in a convoy to the small church that the Harris funeral was going to be at.
There was much less people than at the Rosenbergs, but it was also much less formal, which Jack appreciated. Jessica had never been one for stuffy, formal functions.
Xander, Willow and their friends sat in the front pew, the two newly orphaned teenagers holding hands, huddled close. Jack heard Cordelia report to Oz and Rupert that Willow had sat in silence throughout her parent’s entire funeral, crying quietly. She’d been mostly ignored by the friends of her mother that she was sitting with, except for overly sympathetic and pity-filled gestures, heap pats, shoulder squeezes, and tittering condolences. Cordelia, who Jack figured up until about a year ago hadn’t been friends with the group, had stayed at Willow’s side, offering the red haired girl a shoulder to cry on.
Now, though, at the Harris funeral, Xander and Willow were free to comfort one another through contact with one another.
Jack listened to the eulogies as they were read out by Tony Harris’s brother, Rory, and one of Jessica’s friends. Although they’d never been a wealthy family, it sounded like they were reasonably happy, although it sounded like Tony Harris was very fond of spending his time drinking with his friends at the local bar.
Throughout the whole service and the burial that followed, Xander and Willow stood side by side, flanked by their respective girlfriend and boyfriend, with Rupert and Jack watching on sadly. They were the last to leave the grave site and Jack glimpsed the tears shining in their eyes before they got into Rupert’s car and were taken back to the Summers’ residence. He, on the other hand, went back to his motel, hoping that he wouldn’t be forced to separate the two of them when it came time for him and Xander to leave Sunnydale. A.N. Hi all, I hope you’ve all enjoyed this chapter. I apologize if the description of Willow’s parents funeral was off, but I’m not Jewish, so I had to read up on what the correct practices was, and it was a little confusing. Sorry if anyone was offended by any mistakes I made.
I am so thrilled with the feedback I’ve been getting for this story and that so many of you seem to be enjoying it.
Thanks to everyone who has reviewed, and to my Beta reader. You are awesome.
The next chapter will be up soon, I hope.