Xander nervously wriggled as he sat in Jack’s large office chair, the phone pressed to his ear. Upon Jack’s return to the infirmary, Xander had asked if it would be okay if he used a phone. Jack had been curious about the reason. But Xander had merely given Jack a pointed look and mumbled something about calling in and reporting the incident. Jack caught on, obviously realizing that it had something to do with what Tyson Rodd had said about a bounty. At the time, it had made the Colonel’s ears prick up... surely it hadn’t been the petite blonde who had come to Colorado Springs for Willow’s birthday that had the bounty on her head, although Jack was certain that there was more to the blonde that met the eye. Something about Buffy being called a Slayer had been mentioned by the kids during their explanation... but if he was honest with himself Jack had missed a lot of what was said, still trying to interpret everything that was being said.
Still, knowing it was important; Jack had given permission for Xander to use his phone, accompanied by Daniel while Jack, along with Sam and Teal’c, stayed with Willow, who had fallen asleep.
“C’mon, Giles, pick up,” Xander muttered as the phone on the other end rang. Eventually, a clipped English voice answered.
“Sunnydale High School Library, this is Rupert Giles speaking.”
“Giles, it’s Xander.”
“Xander, what is wrong? Is everything alright?”
“Er, not really. We’ve got a problem.”
“Yeah... Willow and I found out this morning that the Mayor has a bounty out in the supernatural world for Buffy’s head on a platter.”
“Xander... that is a serious claim. How did you find out?”
“We, er, got told by someone who planned to make the attempt. A werewolf, Tyson Rodd.”
“Damn,” Giles muttered. “I must admit, we’ve had some suspicions about his motives for some weeks now. Do you know anything more about this?”
“No... just that the Mayor wants Buffy dead... and it’s possible there would be money out on Willow’s head too. Maybe mine as well. Because of the Angelus soul thing,” Xander explained.
“And why were you talking to a werewolf? I was under the impression you and Willow were lying low.”
“He was killing people, Giles. Two people, dead over two nights. On the third night of the full moon, Willow and I went looking for him and, well, he found us. Willow shot him with the tranquilizer gun and we questioned him when he woke up.”
“That was rather dangerous, Xander,” Giles chided. Xander coughed.
“Yeah... that brings up the other problem we have.”
“Go on,” Giles sighed and Xander knew the Watcher was pinching his nose.
“My dad and his team saw Willow tranquilize Rodd. They asked us and we kind of... said more than we should have. They were there when we questioned him too... which was kind of a good thing, since Rodd got Willow by the neck. Jack shot Rodd in the head when he dropped Willow after she kicked him in the groin.”
“Good Lord, is she alright?”
“Yeah, they think she’s going to be fine. Just a concussion and a few bruises.”
“Well, that is a relief.” Giles smiled.
“What should we do about Jack and the others knowing?”
“I will consult the Watcher’s Council. It is likely that, given that Jack and his team are military, they will be told about what is going on. I understand that there is an open agreement between the Watcher’s Council and the President about this kind of thing.”
“Okay... so we don’t say anymore.”
“It sounds as if enough has been said already.”
“Giles, Jack and the others know about Oz as well... so maybe you should tell him too. Willow’s really upset about it all. I am too. They weren’t our secrets to spill, but I looked at Jack and I couldn’t bring myself to hide anything more from him. He was so mad at us, especially Willow. Jack has a thing about kids handling guns.”
“I know, Xander. You wouldn’t have said anything that you didn’t think was necessary. I’ll make the appropriate arrangements and thank you for the warning about the Mayor. You and Willow look after yourselves. Your lives are still in danger, you know.”
“I know, Giles, thanks. See you later.”
“Goodbye,” Giles said from the other end as Xander hung up, tilting his head back and looking up at the ceiling of Jack’s office. He had always known about the connection between the Watcher’s Council and the President. Giles had told him, Willow and Buffy about it when they were plotting to use the rocket launcher, so it had been no surprise that President Hayes would get caught up in the drama.
“Everything okay, Xander?” Daniel asked from where he sat on the other side of Jack’s desk. Xander nodded and got to his feet.
“Let’s go back to the infirmary,” Xander said. Daniel nodded and they pair walked out of the room, locking it securely behind them.
“Ah, SG1, come on in,” Hammond said when he saw Jack and his team at his open door. Jack nodded and led his team inside, closing the door behind him.
“You wanted to see us, Sir?” Sam asked as she approached the General’s desk. George Hammond nodded and gestured for the team to sit down at the desk opposite him (having brought additional chairs in for the occasion).
“Xander’s friends work quickly, it seems. Less than an hour after he called, alerting this man, Giles, of what has been happening, I get a phone call from the President and a few very interesting copies of files from an organization known as the Watcher’s Council,” Hammond told them, tapping the files in question on his desk.
‘The President is aware of all this?” Sam asked.
Hammond nodded. “He asked me to pass on his thanks to Xander and Willow for helping to save lives, both here in Colorado Springs and before now, when they lived in Sunnydale.
“Impressive. To have achieved recognition from the President of the United States before your eighteenth birthday,” Daniel commented.
“What’s in the files, General?” Jack asked, crossing his arms over his chest. Hammond let out a heavy sigh.
“It... It contains information about Willow and Xander’s extracurricular activities prior departing from Sunnydale. Some parts are still classified but the President and the Watcher’s Council have cleared the information that is left. There is enough information about Willow and Xander in this file that tells me that... that they’ve lived through things that most people three times their age have never experienced.”
Jack leaned forward and Hammond handed over the files. Jack handed them out, happy to share the information with the rest of his team. They were the people he trusted most in the world and he knew that they might be able to offer insight on the information within, although none of the other members of SG1 had experience with the supernatural, outside of their work at the SGC.
As each member of the team finished reading a file, they’d swap it for another one. George sat back patiently, waiting for the team to be finished. Because of the sensitive nature of the files, they could not be removed from his office and would have to be destroyed once SG1, and probably Janet as well, had finished them. Hammond sighed as he spotted a vein pulsing in Jack’s head and he noticed the way that Sam was biting her lip, a bad habit from her youth that Hammond knew was a telltale sign the major was getting angry or upset about something.
Daniel’s eyes were a blur beneath his glasses as he quickly devoured the information presented to him. To anyone else, the information would have been impossible to believe but ever since he had joined the SGC, Daniel had learned that impossible just did not exist. Even so, some of the information within the files made his eyebrow rise in shock.
Xander had preformed life saving CPR on one of his best friends after she was drowned?
Willow had dressed as a ghost the last Halloween she had spent in Sunnydale and when everyone had become their costumes, she had effectively died and become a ghost herself?
Both of the teenagers were credited with staking numerous vampires?
Daniel put the file he was reading down, amazed at the things that they had done in the eighteen months they had been actively participating in slaying. He was not the only one thinking along the same lines. From the moment Teal’c had seen Willow and Xander in the park, taking on the werewolf, he had instinctively known that they were experienced fighters... more experienced than a lifetime of self-defense classes could make them. They both obviously had real combat experience. It was apparent in the way they had both fought and moved that the teenagers were seasoned warriors. The information in the files simply supported what Teal’c had already known.
Sam too had figured out that Xander and Willow had seen a lot of violence but she had never expected the situations they had been placed in to be so dangerous or to have such an impact. Willow and Xander had already, at the age of seventeen, saved the world twice from destruction, not to mention however many monsters they had helped to defeat before the monster in question moved on to bigger things... like ending the world.
“Are you okay, Colonel?” Sam asked, concern for her commanding officer written across her face.
Jack nodded, a strained look on his face. Ever since Xander and Willow had revealed their secrets, he had know that their childhoods had been far from peaceful, even without the abuse they had both experienced at the hands of their parents... but the files, the reports that he had now read, had shown him how much danger Willow and Xander had been in. Jack had gone very close to losing them both before he’d even had a chance to meet them. Hell, Willow had already died once, although it was only temporary, and Willow came back to life when the spell she was under had been broken. He shuddered at the mental image that flashed into his mind, Willow’s dead body sprawled out on someone’s front lawn, her ghostly figure standing over it, transparent and floating just off the ground.
“I’m going to go and check on them,” he told the others, who nodded, none of them able to comprehend what Jack was going through in the aftermath of what they had all learned in the last few short days.
Despite everything that had happened over the last few days, Jack found himself smiling as he walked into the infirmary. Willow and Xander were both asleep again. Willow was lying on her side, facing the chair Xander was sitting in, while Xander was covered in a blanket, curled up in the chair, his legs curled up in a position that didn’t look very comfortable but obviously was. In their sleep, Xander and Willow were holding hands with Xander clasping Willow’s hand as it lay on the bed in front of her.
Jack shook his head as he remembered what had happened in the interrogation room, how Xander and Willow had been calmly talking to Tyson, as if they had done this many times, until the werewolf had become aggressive and turned on them. It was then that Jack remembered how Willow had moved across in front of Xander the moment Tyson started becoming aggressive and Jack and the teenagers lost control of the situation (although Jack was beginning to question if Tyson had played them all along and they had never really been in command of the situation).
Jack hadn’t even noticed Willow’s gesture when it first happened, although he had seen it on a replay of the incident when he watched security tape. He hadn’t thought much about it at the time – he’d been distracted by the sight of Willow being strangled right in front of him, reliving one of the worse moments of his life.
Now, though, Jack was free to dwell on that moment and his gut churned. Willow had moved to protect Xander. It might have been something completely innocent but Jack knew that the gesture had a deeper meaning behind it. Willow had put herself in harm’s way in order to protect Xander. She had effectively sacrificed herself to increase the chances of Xander getting out alive.
Jack’s stomach churned as he wondered what had been going through Willow’s mind at that moment. He realized, no matter how much Willow pretended otherwise, what sort of damage he had done, both to his relationship with Willow and the friendship between the two teenagers, Willow obviously now thought that her life wasn’t worth as much as Xander’s and it was Jack’s fault.
Jack wasn’t sure if Willow had always thought this, or if it was new development stemming from his tirade at her, but either way he knew that he had to do something about it...starting from now.
Slowly, hesitantly, Jack approached the sleeping teens, a tear rolling down his cheek as he looked at Willow’s pale face. Jack couldn’t help but notice how disturbingly young Willow looked as she lay, sleeping, in the hospital bed. Considering everything the pair had been through, it was easy to forget how young they were...but now, as they slept, it was painfully obvious to Jack how young, and innocent, they were.
“I’m so sorry, Willow,” he told her, gently brushing a strand of long red hair back off her face. “I’m so sorry about everything.” A.N. Ok, I know what you’re probably thinking...that Jack’s kind of been neglecting Xander a bit, but the way I see it, Xander is more confident about his relationship with Jack, and they all know that. Don’t worry though; there will be some Xander and Jack bonding time in the next few chapters.
Speaking of the next few chapters, it is now the final few chapters for Second Chance. There will be two more chapters, and then an epilogue. There will, however, be a sequel down the track (I hope), featuring a slightly older Xander and Willow
Thanks to everyone how has been giving feedback, i am glad that so many of you are enjoying this story.
The next update will be up in two weeks,