Welcome to Hell
Disclaimer: Don’t own or claim rights to Buffy or Stargate~~~~~
“So when's she getting here?” Major Paul Davis asked as he looked around the hotel room.
“She?” Jack asked absently, also checking the room.
“Your contact. I got into the Initiative's files – they have one primary contact amongst the locals, a student named Buffy Summers, code named 'Slayer'. Other than that, they're watching another student, her friend Willow Rosenberg, and her mentor, Rupert Giles. So there's a two out of three chance the contact is female, and, really? I'm expecting to see Ms Summers.”
Jack glanced at his team, then nodded at Major Davis. “Well, she … they'll be here soon enough.”
“Why do you assume it will be BuffySummers?” Teal'c asked, curious.
“She's the one who has the most contact with the Initiative. She's been inside the base, trained with them.”
The conversation broke off when a knock sounded at the door. “That'll be the contact,” Jack murmured, trying to keep the smirk from his face. He opened the door, to see a tense young man standing outside, checking the hallway. “Right on time,” he greeted, then turned to check Davis' reaction to their visitor. He was rewarded by the sight of a thoroughly surprised Major.
“Who's this?” Major Davis demanded.
“This is your liaison?” Xander smirked.
Jack grinned. “Major Paul Davis, this is -”
“No names,” Xander interrupted. “They don't know about me, and I'd like to keep it that way.”
“I need to call you something,” Paul complained.
“How about that name Angelus gave you?” Jack suggested.
Xander turned on him, eyes narrowed. “How do you know about that?” he growled.
“Word gets around, Mr Knight,” Sam soothed.
Xander looked at Jack, eyebrow quirked. “She's your techno-geek, right?”
“Yep,” Jack nodded.
“You got that from the internet?” Xander asked Sam, grin tugging at his lips.
“You'd be surprised what's discussed in chat rooms.”
“Chat rooms?” The grin was definitely there, now. “They talk about me in chat rooms?” He shook his head. “Okay. So. Sunnydale, and that thrice-damned Initiative. What's happening about it?”
“Well, I need information about it. Information not coming from the NID themselves,” he added.
Xander nodded, then glanced at Teal'c. “Do you know what they're dealing with there?” he asked Major Davis.
Paul glanced at the team. “Uh, I do, but they don't.”
Xander frowned, and slid a very quick glance at Teal'c before turning back to Paul. “You sure about that?”
“Um. Very,” he replied, puzzled.
“What's going on?” Jack asked, not liking the gathering tension.
“Someone's keeping secrets?” Xander proposed, looking straight at Teal'c.
“Not from us, he ain't,” Jack disagreed. “Why do you keep looking at him?”
“I was conceived, born, and raised on the Hellmouth. You get used to things, the way things feel. You get to the point where you can feel things. It's clearer the further you get from home, and LA's far enough for things to be clear. And your friend there feels off. And it's centred around his belly. Want to explain that?”
“Davis?” Jack demanded.
Major Davis waved a dismissive hand. “You've never met the team before?” he asked Xander.
“Never. Just the Colonel and Dr Jackson.”
Paul looked at the team before shrugging. “Murray is host to an organism. It's a symbiotic relationship where the organism replaces his immune system. Without it, he'll die.”
Xander frowned. “I know this one,” he murmured, and he began to pace. After a while, he turned back to the group. “It's a … gha-uhl, khaood, ghoul, right? Depending on the source? Which makes him a j'fah or gheffar?” He shook his head. “They disappeared, or were banished, depending on the stories, um, four, five thousand years ago? Back through the shappeh, shappari? A trans-dimensional portal? How am I going here?”
“Startlingly well,” Jack frowned. “Where did you get all that?”
Xander snorted and grinned. “Where else? Old and dusty books.”
“There are other sources?” Daniel gaped. “Of the – what did you call them?”
“Gha-uhl,” Xander supplied. “That's what they were in most of the stories.” He turned to Paul. “But they don't know about demons?” he clarified.
“No,” Paul replied cautiously.
“The shappeh. It's not trans-dimensional, is it?”
“Er... No?” Daniel answered hesitantly.
“Shit,” he muttered. “This is all we need.” He squared his shoulders. “Okay. The Initiative in Sunnydale. They're capturing and torturing sentient beings, not humans. At least, not one hundred percent humans. They are...” He shook his head. “We kill these things, okay? The dangerous ones, anyway. You don't torture them. You just kill. Clean. Right. We had a problem when Faith was taking too long beating on some. You don't catch them and stick them on a table and, fuck, cut into them. You don't stick bits of metal and plastic into them and make them helpless! You deal, and you move on. That's it. They don't even know what the fuck they're dealing with. I was there!” he insisted. “They're creating monsters. They're experimenting on their own people, and they don't know what the hell they're doing. They are going to incite a fucking war!” he bellowed.
“Hey, buddy,” Jack soothed. “You got to calm down, now. We get it, the Initiative is bad news of the worst sort. Is there anything else we need to know?”
Xander paced. “She's experimenting on her own people. We're sure of that. We've been there, and spoken to their people. And there's worse. She's made a hybrid. A demon-human-tech hybrid. She called him Adam. He's freaking scary. I'm pretty sure he's stronger than Buffy, and that's saying something.”
“Buffy's the Slayer, right? That means something special?” Jack asked, frowning.
“How...?” Xander shook his head. “Never mind. Yes, she's the Slayer. She's phenomenally strong, fast, all that. Not like anything you've ever seen.” He sighed, and flopped into a chair. “I don't know what we're going to do,” Xander murmured, sounding lost. “He's already out there. He's killing, raising an army. I'm not sure there's anything you can do, short of napalming the whole town.” He dropped his head into his hands.
“Anything you can think of?” Jack asked. “Anything that might help?”
Xander huffed a joyless laugh. “Get ready to send us to hell? Clean-up on aisle two? 'Cause that's what it might come down to,” he warned.
“We can...” Paul began. “I can warn the Joint Chiefs. Get funding pulled.”
“Don't you get it?” Xander demanded. “He's out there already. He's not reliant on your funding issues any more. Yeah, sure. Pull your guys out. Maybe that'll reduce the casualties when we finally go to war.” He sat back, eyes closed. “What was that line? 'Go tell the Spartans?'”
“It is not the Hot Gates, and you will not die,” Jack hissed.
“I am the least of them,” Xander retorted. “But I will
be there, and I will
fight, and, if necessary, I will die for them.” He surged to his feet, and turned to Major Davis. “Tell them. Get them ready to burn the place to the ground if necessary. If we fail, you cannot let him out. He will rule the world, do not doubt that.” He shrugged. “Don't worry about me. I'll already be dead.” With that, he stormed out of the room.
Silence fell for a long moment, then Sam spoke. “Is he for real? Demons? And, and all of that?”
Paul nodded. “Apparently the government has known about demons for some time. And Sunnydale is some kind of … nexus point for them. That's what Mr Knight was referring to. The Hellmouth, I think he called it. Apparently the town is saturated with them.”
“But... Surely...” Sam tried.
“And their high school graduation was a gas explosion?” Jack offered.
“And he equates the Goa'uld to demons?” Sam asked.
“Ancient texts would portray them as such. Did
portray them as such,” Daniel corrected himself. “I can't believe he has sources that talk about them,” he wondered.
“Sources you won't get to look at if we have to raze the city,” Jack warned. He turned to Paul. “So what are we going to do about this?” he asked.
“I don't know,” Paul shook his head. “This... This is beyond anything I have ever come across, and you people are good for expanding a person's horizons in new and unpleasant ways.”
“Oh, we're not that bad,” Jack grinned.
Paul gave a tired smile. “Yeah, actually, you are.”
“So what are we going to do about all this?” Daniel asked, anxious.
Paul shook his head. “I go back to Washington. Try to get this pulled. Try to get the NID the hell out of Sunnydale. I don't know what we can do about this 'Adam' creature he was talking about.” He sighed, and turned to Jack. “Keep me posted?”
“When he tells me, I'll pass it on to you,” Jack agreed.~~~~~
Jack worried. That wasn't all he did. There were missions, trips through the Gate, and endless paperwork to be done. And even occasional calls from Xander. Their friend had been captured, and he'd gone in with his people to get the other man out. The chipped vampire (They had a vampire! Vampires were real!) had tried to divide them, weaken them, destroy the team feeling that was their best defence against Adam. But he worried. These were kids, and they were doing the adults' jobs. Because the adults were the ones to make the mess that the kids were going to have to clean up. And, hopefully, survive doing so.
The reports had been coming closer together as time passed. The last report had been five days ago, and he was getting antsy that about the next call. Major Davis had reported that the Initiative were still going strong, and were not, definitely not, being disbanded at this point. Walsh had died, and been replaced by an Army colonel, pending a review, but things were still proceeding. It was all Jack could do to not scream in frustration.
When the phone rang, he reached for it absently. “O'Neill.”
“Hey,” the younger man's voice comes. “It's me.”
“Hey,” Jack returned, noting the tiredness in the other man's voice. “How's it going?”
“Over soon. Going in as soon as I get back.”
Jack pushed his fear down deep inside. “What's the plan?”
“For all he's part demon, there's one thing he can't plan for: magic. It's the only way we can fight him.”
“So, what? Wands at high noon?” Jack teased.
Xander laughed. “Gods! That would be something. No. But there is a spell, and yours truly is involved. Of course, once we take Frankie Junior down, there's all the rest of them. Whatever your guy was going to try, it failed. They aren't just there, though: they've packed the pits. The place is full of demons.”
“Sounds ominous,” Jack observed carefully.
Xander huffed. “He wants to raise an army. To do that, he needs parts. Equal volumes human and demon.”
Jack closed his eyes. “But ordinary humans aren't going to stand a chance against demons. Not one on one.”
“Nope. He needs the Slayer there to even the odds.”
“And you're going in there, anyway.”
“Have to. It's the only way any of the humans will get out of there alive. And, anyway, once we've taken him down, well, it's just a normal Saturday night slay-fest. Just with extra civilians to liven things up.”
Jack just sat there, unable to talk, and thankful that the other man was just letting him be for a moment. Finally, he was able to speak. “You take care, now. We still need to have that talk.”
“Yeah,” Xander responded, and Jack could hear the smile. “Think it would be nice to have a rest. Okay. See you on the other side,” he promised.
“I'll be there.”~~~~~
Jack walked into the General's office on his invitation, and dropped down into the seat. “They're going in today, sir,” he informed the older man.
“Today?” Hammond confirmed, frowning. “They have a plan?”
“Magic,” Jack nodded. “He said it's the only thing Adam can't fight against.” Jack shifted in his seat. “I want him, sir. And I think he's ready to come in.”
George Hammond gave his 2IC a long, measuring look. “Why? What is it you see in him that you couldn't find in another young man. Someone properly trained, for instance.”
“He can think on his feet,” Jack ticked points off on his fingers, “he's not exactly a stranger to weirdness, he was able to figure T out from the stories he's read, and he has language skills. Granted, not as good as Danny, but, really, who does?”
George considered the points, and then nodded slowly. “Very well, make the offer, and we'll go from there.”
Jack grinned, relieved. “Thank you, sir.”~~~~~
Xander looked around the table at his friends. “I … I'm going away,” he began.
“What?” Buffy demanded. “Why?”
“I don't fit in here anymore,” he shrugged. “And I've had an offer. This guy I've been talking to, he really wants me to join up. It's not … this … but I think I could fit in there. Could do some good.”
“You'd join the Army, Xander?” Willow frowned. “After everything we've just been though?”
“Air Force,” Xander corrected, “not Army. And they've got a guy like Giles, with the books, and a computer geek like you, except, you know, old, and … I won't be in the way, there,” he finished softly.
“You're not in the way here,” Giles contradicted. “You're a very valuable member of our team.”
“What do I have to offer, Giles? Really? You've got the book smarts, Will's got the computer stuff, and the mojo, and Buffy's the Slayer. I'm just me.”
“You're the Heart,” Giles explained.
“And how often are you going to need a Joining Spell? Really? 'Cause, have to say, not looking forward to the next lot of dreams,” he added with a small smile.
“It's not just that,” Giles argued. “You could not have filled that part if you weren't already our heart. You must know that you would be deeply missed.”
“See, that's just it. I don't know that I would be. You work well together, and I just … I just feel like I'm tacked in there.”
“But...” Buffy began softly. “You're always here,” she protested.
“And maybe now it's time for me to not be here. Most of the time, anyway. I'll try to get back if you need me. Apocalypses, and stuff like that.”
“No, Xan,” Willow decided. “You can't go. We need you here.”
“No, Will,” Xander gently returned. “You don't need me. And I am going. But I will be back.”
Willow huffed. “When you can get the time,” she muttered.
Xander reached out and cupped her cheek. “Don't make this any harder than it has to be,” he pleaded softly.
“Then don't go,” she asked, eyes filling.
He leaned forward, and kissed the top of her head. “This is something I need to do,” he said with finality.
“But I'll miss you,” Willow whispered, miserable.
“And I'll miss you. But I need to go, now.” With that, he wrapped his arms around her, and held her.
Willow clung to him, giving way to tears, but giving up on her arguments. Buffy's turn was next, and she sank into her friend's embrace. When Giles offered his hand, Xander simply looked at him, and drew him into a brief hug.
“Look after my girls,” Xander murmured before he let the other man go.
“Will do, son,” Giles replied with one last squeeze.
Xander gave a last, blinding smile, then left.~~~~~
Jack straightened his jacket, then knocked on the door. He nodded to the slovenly man who opened the door. “Colonel Jack O'Neill,” he greeted. “I'm looking for Xander Harris.”
The man looked him up and down, then walked away from the door. “Boy!” he yelled at the floor. “Cops here for you.”
After a moment, Jack followed the other man into the house, shaking his head at his stupidity. He heard something that sounded like hurried footsteps on hidden stairs, and turned to see Xander appear through a door.
Xander grinned as soon as he saw the older man. “Colonel O'Neill! Great to see you. I was more expecting a phone call.”
“Something like this, Xan, had to turn up personally.”
“What's this?” Tony Harris demanded. “What are you up to, boy?”
Jack smirked. “Your son's a hero, Mr Harris,” he explained. “A full-grown National Treasure.”
Xander blushed and sputtered. “Am not. I'm just a guy.”
“Sign of a true hero. Wouldn't you agree, Mr Harris?” Jack taunted.
“Boy ain't no hero,” Tony snorted.
“Uh huh,” Jack nodded. “Which is why the US Air Force is so eager to recruit him.”
“Uh, yeah,” Xander fidgeted. “Can we talk about that? I kind of have some things I need to do with that,” he explained.
“Sure,” Jack nodded. “How about we go somewhere private.” He turned to Tony. “Sorry, but a lot of what we have to discuss is classified.” With a nod to Harris Snr, he followed Xander down to the basement.
“So,” Jack continued, once he was assured of some measure of privacy, “what do you need?”
Xander grimaced. “To be able to come back here at short notice. For apocalypses and stuff.”
Jack considered. “Well there's two ways we can go about this. You can sign up, go through Basic and work through the ranks. We already think you'd make a great junior officer. Your second choice is to sign up as a civilian consultant. Either way is going to involve getting an education.”
“Yeah,” Xander sighed and grinned. “Kind of figured that. So, say I sign up, do Basic, all that, what happens to me?”
“You'd be assigned to the SGC, no question about that. You're too important for us to risk you going anywhere else. You'd be assigned to my team to start with, and then one day get a team of your own.”
Xander's eyes went wide. “You're planning on giving me a team? Eventually, I mean,” he added.
“Once you get through the ranks,” Jack nodded. “You can't stay in my team forever. You'll get your promotions, get leadership experience. You'd need to look at it as a life thing, though. No use doing this if you're just going to sign up for five years.”
Xander ran his hands through his hair, and began to pace. “And the civilian consultant route?”
“No leadership positions that way, not really,” Jack warned, “and you'd still be assigned to another team eventually. With your background and your language skills, you really could go either way. Personally, I'd rather see you in the Air Force. I'm pretty sure we can arrange some recommendations to get you straight into the Academy, too. General Hammond would be happy to help,” he nodded.
“Four years, thought,” Xander considered. “Four years before I'm at the SGC.”
“Either way, you'd need to get some qualifications,” Jack argued.
Xander chewed his lip in thought. “Still, I think I'd be better off as a civilian. Fewer restrictions for me.”
Jack nodded. “It also means you can start with us earlier. General Hammond has agreed to allow you to sign on part-time, while you're doing your studies. You still need to do a few things before you can go through the Gate, but you can work with Danny, and stuff like that.”
Xander smiled, and nodded. “Sounds good. So when can I start?”
Jack grinned. “Whenever you're ready.”
“Cool, 'cause my bags are packed, and I've already said my goodbyes.””
Jack glanced upstairs. “All your goodbyes?” he asked.
“All the important ones,” he shrugged.
Jack nodded, then grabbed a bag. “Let's go, then.”
Xander grinned, and grabbed his other bag, and a box, then led the way upstairs.
As they passed through the lounge room, Tony frowned at them. “Where're you going, boy?” he demanded.
“Got a job,” Xander explained. “Which means I'm leaving today. I'm all paid up, and moving all my stuff out, since I'm moving interstate.”
“What the hell kind of job could you get?” Tony demanded.
“I'm afraid that information is classified, sir,” Jack answered before Xander could. “Suffice to say that your son will be serving his country, and, no doubt, doing a very fine job of it.”
“Yeah, right,” Tony muttered. “Believe that when I see it.”
Jack looked at the other man, and clenched his jaw, biting down on all the words he wanted to say. How someone like Xander had ever come out of this house was a mystery to him. He turned to find a worried Xander looking at him, almost pleading with him to not say anything. He nodded to the younger man, and walked out the door. Soon enough, he'd have the other man far from here, hopefully never to return.
It took a few more trips, conducted in silence lest he slip and pour out his utter contempt for the drunken excuse for a father, but then the car was packed, and they were heading out of Sunnydale, heading for a new future.