Willow turned her head, looking behind her. Her vision was obscured by Xander, who had chosen that moment to leap to her side, hauling her upright and embracing her. Willow’s eyes watered at the movement and she coughed, gasping for breath as she tried to suck air into her oxygen-deprived lungs.
Beyond Xander stood Jack, gun raised and pointed at the empty space where the werewolf’s head had been. Willow instantly knew that he was the one who had shot Tyson Rodd. Willow jumped again as the door burst open, the sudden movement triggering a coughing fit. Willow felt large hands rubbing her back as she tried to clear the cobwebs from her mind with oxygen. Someone pulled her against them, although Willow could still feel Xander’s familiar hands on her.
“It’s okay, Willow, I’ve got you,” Jack’s voice said softly in her ear as he rubbed her back. Willow didn’t have the strength to move or even hold her own body up, so she stayed where she was, leaning against Jack’s chest as he rubbed her back and Xander clutched at her hands.
“In and out, nice and easy,” Jack instructed and Willow forced herself to breathe in time with Jack, following the movement of his chest. Slowly, her breathing calmed, although her throat still burned, and Willow became more aware of what was going on around her.
Sam, Daniel and Teal’c were all looking at her with concern written across their faces... even Teal’s normally stoic and unreadable face showed his concern.
“You okay, Willow?” Jack asked. Willow nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Willow doubted that if she tried to talk she would be able to manage little more than a whisper.
General Hammond was standing over the body, along with several other soldiers. Two had their guns out, pointed at the prone figure.
“Didn’t need silver bullets or anything, did he, son?” Hammond asked Xander, who shook his head.
“No, werewolves are just like normal humans when they are not in their transformed state, except they have a heightened sense of smell. Did he get you, Wills?”
Willow blinked, having not even realized that she was tightly gripping the arm that Tyson had tried to bite and holding it close to her chest. She forced herself to let go of the limb and held it out for Xander to inspect. She thought she would feel the pain from a bite but then, she did feel sort of numb.
“Hang on... why would getting bitten matter?” Sam asked. “I thought the myth was that you had to get bitten by the werewolf while he or she was transformed, not a human.”
“That’s just it, it’s a myth. The fact is that werewolves are venomous 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of if it’s daytime or nighttime, full moon or no moon,” Xander replied.
“My boyfriend... Oz,” Willow croaked out, wincing at the sound of her voice. “He was babysitting his cousin and he was tickling him, which turned into play fighting, and Oz got bitten. That was how he became a werewolf... His little cousin was a werewolf.”
Jack blanched at the news and grabbed Willow’s arm off Xander, checking it for any damage, even though Xander had already done it, while all of SG1 winced.
Willow leaned her head against Jack’s shoulder and blinked. She was studiously avoiding looking at Tyson’s body and the blood splatters on the wall, since every time she looked at it her stomach churned and she really didn’t think Jack would appreciate it if she threw up on him and as uncomfortable she had been practically sitting in Jack’s lap at first, now she couldn’t bring herself to move.
“Hey, Willow, no dozing off now,” Xander softly reprimanded and Willow forced her eyes open, having not even realized that she’d closed them.
“Sorry, adrenaline rush is wearing off,” Willow apologized hoarsely, coughing weakly. Jack let go of Willow’s arm, satisfied that there were no bite marks.
“You hit your head pretty hard when he dropped you. I’d say that means you’re going to have a nice stay in the infirmary,” Jack told Willow, who groaned.
“Yay,” she said slightly sarcastically but in fact she was pleased. Her head was hurting rather badly where she had hit it and Willow was beginning to feel the strain from being awake for over 25 hours straight. Even in Sunnydale, it was very rare for that to happen.
At the thought of sleeping, Willow found herself starting to drift off again and fought against it.
“That’s it, kid, stay awake, just until Janet has had time to check you out. She’s on her way down,” Jack told her. Willow nodded in reply to that and Jack continued to rub her back soothingly. He was pretty sure Willow was concussed from the fall and Janet would kill him if Willow fell asleep before Janet had time to check her out and to confirm his theory.
Willow forced her eyes to open, focusing on Xander’s face. The teenager smiled.
“Guess we really were being stupid when we thought we would get away from this stuff for good when we left Sunnydale, huh?” he asked, shifting so he was sitting beside Jack. Willow nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Xander had been blocking her sight of Tyson’s body and the blood splatter on the wall but the view she now had made her stomach heave. Willow rolled away from Xander and off Jack’s legs to the side, landing on her hands and knees before she retched and threw up the meager contents of her stomach. There wasn’t much there, if Willow was honest. She hadn’t eaten anything before they’d gone looking for the werewolf the previous evening and she and Daniel had skipped breakfast that morning in the rush to get to the SGC.
As if on cue, Janet bustled into her room, her eyes widening when she took in the scene... Willow heaving on her hands and knees, bringing up bile and little else, the body of the man who had, while transformed, caused the deep bruising to Xander’s side that she had spent the night worrying about and Jack, kneeling beside Willow, rubbing her back, while Xander looked on, adding words of encouragement. She hurried over to Willow as the girl let Jack pull her back upright, obviously having finished purging her stomach of its contents. Willow leaned bonelessly against Jack’s chest, her back to the body, her head resting on Jack’s shoulder as she looked at Janet with slightly glazed eyes. Sam had called Janet the moment Tyson had been shot and filled the doctor in on what had happened, so Janet immediately got down to business and approached Willow.
“Hi, Doc,” Jack greeted. “I’ve got to say, I’m glad you’re here.”
“How bad?” Janet asked, looking at the red marks on Willow’s throat.
“I’m guessing concussion but I don’t know for sure. Her breathing has got a lot better, though, but her voice is still really hoarse.”
Janet nodded, agreeing with Jack’s concussion theory, and begun to check Willow over. Willow said little, just nodding or shaking her head in response to Janet’s queries. Finally, Janet leaned back from Willow. “Okay, let’s get you on a stretcher and get you up to the infirmary,” she said, signaling to two soldiers who had a stretcher to come into the room. Teal’c approached Jack and picked Willow up from the Colonel’s arms and placed her gently on the stretcher. Willow focused on remaining sitting upright as Jack staggered to his feet, his knees troubling him after being on the floor so long. Thankfully, Sam and Xander were on hand to help steady him.
“Okay, let’s get her to the infirmary,” Janet ordered. Willow closed her eyes and decided laying down would be a good idea, as remaining upright was taking more energy than Willow could spare and if Willow was honest, the stretcher’s movements weren’t making her stomach feel any better.
At least, Willow thought as she curled on her side, everything fading quickly to black as she drifted to unconsciousness, she would feel better after sleep.
At least... she hoped she would.
Jack sat beside Willow’s bed, Xander in the chair on the other side of the bed. The teenager had fallen asleep and Janet, while checking Willow, had draped a blanket over him.
Willow had a concussion but it was not overly serious. Her throat would be bruised for a few days and Janet had recommended limiting how much Willow talked for a few days. Despite that, however, it seemed that no permanent damage had been done following Tyson Rodd’s attack on Willow.
Jack knew that he would never forget the sight of Willow, dangling in the air as Rodd clutched at her throat, coming close to suffocating her and threatening to break Willow’s slender neck. In fact, the last twenty four hours had been memorable. Willow and Xander had revealed the secret life they had led ever since their sophomore year of high school. They were soldiers in much the same way Jack was and it hurt, if Jack was honest, that Xander and Willow had both concealed the truth from him and that they had freely thrown away any choice they had of ever living a normal adolescence... a normal life, period, when they had chosen to fight the supernatural. It wasn’t right, in Jack’s book, for two teenagers to be put in the position of either fighting to save the world, or watching their classmates disappear one by one, knowing that they would never see them again... or if they did, they wouldn’t still be their classmate but rather a blood-sucking monster instead.
Of course, Jack felt bad about Buffy, who apparently had no choice in the matter... it was her destiny to fight the vampires, werewolves and demons on a nightly basis. It was her destiny to die at the hand of a vampire, werewolf or demon, but Jack couldn’t bring himself to think about that. It was Xander and Willow he was concerned about for the moment. It was Xander whose side had turned a remarkable shade of blue and purple with mottled yellow patches where the teenager had been bruised by being thrown and it was Willow who was lying in a bed in the SGC infirmary, unconscious and concussed, having just almost been choked to death.
“Do you have a minute, sir?” a quiet voice asked. Jack nodded, recognizing Sam’s voice instantly. The major entered the room, her gaze wandering over the two teenagers before fixing on Jack.
“Jack...” she began. “I suspected something was off about them. If I had known it was so serious, I would have gone to you, I swear.”
“I know, Carter. They’ve gone a long time keeping this secret from me... from everyone. Heck, I don’t even think their other parents knew about this. It would have been a hard secret to keep... the injuries, the late hours, the fatigue... they got good at protecting it. I can’t blame you for that. What tipped you off that was something wrong?”
“Their reactions to the truth about the Goa’uld, and the Stargate,” Sam replied. “It wasn’t normal. I expected them to be more scared about it or more surprised... but they were just curious. They weren’t worried at all. I mean, can you imagine trying to tell the truth to any of Cassie’s friends... after they’d gone through being kidnapped and tortured?”
Jack shuddered at the very thought. “Still, I suppose it wasn’t that much of a stretch, really. Going from vampires and demons to aliens. If the supernatural exists, it’s not a big thing to learn ‘well, the extraterrestrial is real too’ and be okay with it.”
Sam nodded in agreement. “I suppose that’s a good point. Still, it kind of explains how they fought back against Ba’al. Most people... even soldiers... would have given up but they fought.”
Jack nodded but stayed silent. Reaching out, Sam put her hand on Jack’s shoulder.
“I know Willow broke the rules last night with the gun and that you’re upset because they didn’t tell you about this before but Jack... You should be proud of them. If they were my kids, I would be very proud of how they’ve handled this whole thing. I am proud of them. They looked out for one another and they used the tools they had available to them. They’ve done the best job they could.”
“I know,” Jack said. “Thanks, Carter.”
“No problem, sir.” Sam turned and walked out of the room, leaving Jack alone to his thoughts. A.N. A softer moment after all the action packed things that have been happening in the last few chapters., but still a moment that is important in the grand scheme of things. It also sets the theme for the next few chapters, which will focus on Jack and the team dealing with what they have found out, and Xander and Willow dealing with Jack and the team knowing about the supernatural.
There have been some comments about Xander and Willow not being able to fight for themselves. I am of the opinion that, given that this story goes AU at the point of end of season three, Xander and Willow aren't at the point of being really good in combat situations. The same applies with Willow's magic...but that will be explored further in a later chapter.
On that note thank you to those who have taken the time to review. I really appreciate the feedback I have been getting.