Chapter Nineteen by Genuka
You can all thank Manchester for not only starting this story but providing a good chunk of the ideas for this chapter and possibly the next one or two to boot. Happy birthday too me! You're getting what little I have 'cuz its my birthday!
Edited by Manchester!!
Back in the Stargate Universe, in the Council headquarters’ primary conference chamber...
"Okay, is it just me or was it actually a betrayal clause from the Watchers Council contract that triggered?" Jack tossed off in the room’s moment of silence after Ethan's little outburst, making most of the Watchers send matching horrified glares at the leader of SG-1. Jack ignored them in turn, taking the opportunity to get up and dust off his backside.
Daniel sighed. "It’s just you, Jack."
"The Council may be strict with those who betray our trust, but we are NOT Wolfram and Hart. Such extreme measures were discarded long ago. Plus, even back then, it was necessary for them to be manually triggered in the first place due to a need for subterfuge or to avoid outside interference," an offended Watcher snapped at Jack.
Gathering his scattered wits, Senior Watcher Whitby stopped everyone from leaving with a single statement. "Despite the distressing circumstances, there are several more matters to discuss before we adjourn."
"Oh? And what might those be?" a curious Jack asked, turning to face the elderly Englishman.
"The present leadership of the Council, the situation with the Demon Gate, and the additional situation with young Alexander and Mr. Rayne." Whitby said straightforwardly. "If we cannot retrieve Ethan Giles or confirm his status along with its temporary nature within the standard period, he will be declared unable to perform his duties and removed from office as per our usual practice. Although, due to the unique circumstances, we could probably extend the time limit of thirty days. Or, whoever is elected as his temporary replacement could officially extend the time period in which our Ethan has to contact this version of the Council. This isn’t the first or the last time that a Council head has been incapacitated or killed in the line of duty, however. Bearing both Council protocols and the extraordinary situation in mind, I now ask the assembled Conclave members to vote on the appointment of the acting Head Watcher."
"What about the notes from Janus?" Xander protested.
"Easy to forge," one Watcher not unkindly dismissed this.
"Oh, okay," a slightly disappointed Xander said, realizing the debate he was currently involved in matched the way things worked in the real, adult world.
"I'm tempted to nominate the boy or Rupert Giles," someone joked. "His brother did a fine enough job."
"While I do believe that Rupert would make a decent Head Watcher, Alexander is just a touch too young and untrained for the position," Whitby responded in a reasonably deadpan tone. His mild enjoyment at that quip increased a trifle at seeing the identical looks of appalled relief flash over the faces of the newly-created father and son pair in the conference room.
"Honestly, Maurice, you know that right now you're the only one who can fill Ethan Giles' shoes," another voice mentioned from somewhere in the back of the large room.
"I'm simply too old for this. I shouldn't have even come out of retirement, but that rascal Ethan lured me back into service," Whitby reminded everyone in return. He began to feel a bit exasperated by the sudden reluctance of the rest of the Council to choose someone to fill in for his long-standing friend.
"I like Mr. Whitby," Xander impudently announced his opinion out loud. "For some reason, Travers always rubbed me the wrong way, but this guy seems like he actually cares."
The rest of the room nodded in agreement and they just sort of looked at Whitby as if saying silently: *Do you really think we're going to pick another Head Watcher unless we absolutely have to? Especially if Ethan Giles shows up again in time and gives all of us that supremely fearsome look for going around his back?*
Whitby eventually caved. "Oh, all right! But this is temporary, mind you. As soon as the lad gets back, I'm stepping down or at least return to being his second in command. Regarding that, come what may, inside the year I’ll hand in my notice and this time, that retirement will damn well stick!"
"As long as you accept the spellwork for access to all of the enchantments and resources while Ethan Giles is away," qualified an anonymous voice from somewhere around the middle of the massed Watchers. "You don't know how long he's going to be...on extended assignment, shall we say. Nor can you hardly go against a being of that
sort of power."
The Senior Watcher – no, now the new Head Watcher -- and Jack both looked at the man sharply, before Whitby asked quietly, "And who might you be, sir? I don't recognize you." In the dangerous mood which had abruptly formed inside the conference room at the unexpected intrusion upon their discussion, stern glances were sent by the other Watchers at someone who shouldn’t be here, while they backed away from the stranger.
That man merely grinned and made his way to the cleared area where SG-1 and Whitby still stood, warily observing him coming nearer until they heard, "You may call me Janus Anquietas. The...person who shanghaied your Ethan decided it might be a good idea to give me a heads-up. Maybe run a little interference for you all, at my counterpart’s request. Some of my colleagues just aren't that open minded when it comes to someone interfering
with our descendants."
Daniel choked, just before hissing at his friend, "Jack! Don't piss him off! He's one of the Ancients!"
With an amused smile dancing about his lips, Janus Anquietas approvingly regarded Daniel. "Well spotted, Doctor Jackson. Normally, we aren't allowed to interfere, but this is a rather unique situation and I thought that it deserved some...delicate
handling. I'm also here to confirm the situation regarding Ethan Giles, Alexander Giles, and Ethan Rayne. Chaos is all well and good, but sometimes things need a touch of order." In a quick upwards gaze, an eyebrow was mockingly lifted at the room’s ceiling at the conclusion of that little reproof.
The Ancient then directly examined Jack and murmured, "A fitting legacy and gift for one of our own who has grown." Next came more loudly, "I must ask you to follow through with the information that Alexander has given you when it comes to your team finding our old repository. You will definitely need the Asgard as friends. Too, despite the changes which have been wrought, transforming those of us that remained behind from Alterans to humans, you are still by inheritance none other than Alterans. Our children of our blood, and you have grown old enough as a people that our guidance would be...limiting and possibly destructive. For some
dangers, we may still help but for the most part you must discover what remains of your legacy from the ravages of time and decide how to proceed on your own. We made...many mistakes, and I'm genuinely sorry for them, but our mess is part of the same inheritance as our history and technology. Free will and most of all, choice,
is still yours. Choose wisely." There was a flash of brilliant light and Janus Anquietas was gone.
"Okay, was anyone else weirded out by that? Anyone? And why won’t you guys call me Xander?!" Of the stunned room, that teenager was the first to offer up his opinion on the whole bizarre recent situation, with the last part being the most important thing of them all for an increasingly cranky Xander.
Standing by his acolyte, Ethan Rayne muttered from out of the corner of his mouth to the boy. “I suspect it’s now become a running gag, with permission having been given from on high for everyone to join in and otherwise enjoy the fun of teasing you. Though, if you want my advice, just go along with it. Keep entertainingly protesting how you really want to be called, but don’t make too big a fuss about this. Because otherwise it’s entirely possible that things will subtly rearrange themselves for you to be known permanently as, say, something on the order of Snookums Giles.”
Sending a suspicious glower at the part of the room out of earshot where his new son’s face had turned bright red as if he’d just swallowed his tongue, while other-Ethan smugly smirked, Rupert turned to the others there and cleared his throat. "I believe that settles the matter of both our new Head Watcher and the need for both of our visitors to return to the SGC, no matter how much we might want to keep them here. I have already provided testimony on young Alexander's situation and the fact that I have custody--"
"What?! He appeared in our base!" Jack protested. "We should get custody!'
Rupert bestowed a quite annoyed expression upon all the members of the Stargate team. "Yes, it’s true Alexander did exactly that, being sent to this dimension at the Demon Gate’s location. Regardless, he’s my son and, and unlike Rayne, this young man apparently has an authentic, traceable history in this world. I suspect we can thank the deity Janus for that. We had to completely fabricate Rayne's background."
At that specific point of their dispute, the two arguing men were too occupied by this to notice how surprised both Xander and Ethan were over hearing that last little tidbit of news. The dimensional exiles simultaneously glanced at each other, only to then shrug helplessly in shared acceptance at yet another bout of nuttiness being inflicted upon this duo. With this done, the Sunnydale contingent turned back their attention to the wrangling still going on between SG-1 and the Watchers.
"I'm going to want a better explanation than that," O’Neill practically growled.
Deciding it’d be a good idea to join in before things got really nasty, Daniel spoke up. "Jack, the situation is frankly complicated. If we'd done the paperwork ourselves, then we could have decided upon custody, but someone up the chain of command could just have easily declared Alexander to be a threat or a military asset and ordered us to hand him over to them. Consider what we learned at the base yesterday, about Jon O’Neill," softly finished Daniel to a still-stubborn military man.
"We could have listed Rayne as the kid’s uncle." Jack pointed out, meanwhile trying not to think about the fact that in the future he might have a younger clone. "Then there wouldn't be a custody issue."
Sam reluctantly contradicted her superior. "It might not involve custody, but that’d still leave us with plenty of other issues, sir. Even with General Hammond doing all he could, his own bosses have the authority to take both of them, and we’d never see Xander and Ethan again."
"Had the Goa'uld discovered XanderGiles and EthanRayne in their midst and learned the information these Taur’i know, they would either have become Goa'uld or been kept as prisoners until such time as they provided all of the secrets that they carried. Your world would have been destroyed," Teal'c solemnly reminded his comrades. "It is fortunate that we retain them at all to the extent allowed."
"I still don't like it," Jack irascibly fretted.
"Nobody’s asking you to like it, Colonel," interjected a traditionalist Watcher near the door. He, along with all the others in the conference room, had been avidly listening in on the argument. Now conscious of his audience’s attention, the Watcher went on to express what several of them also had to be thinking, "Yet, this is a better solution than might otherwise have occurred. Be grateful that both the Watchers Council and the SGC see those two” (a finger was then pointed at a pair of startled visitors) “as valuable assets worth protecting. It could have easily been decided by one or the other that they were too dangerous a security breach to remain alive." This impolitic comment caused SG-1, Rupert, Rayne, and a good chunk of the reformist faction of the Watchers to stiffen at the implied actions and threat.
just a damn second! You were going to kill us?!" Xander blurted out, staring in shock at the man who’d dispassionately suggested his and Ethan’s deaths.
"You know far too much. Even if you never misuse this knowledge, others are sure to do anything to acquire this highly classified information. It’d be rather prudent to eliminate beforehand the danger you pose." The same Watcher said just as candidly as before, not backing down an inch. But then, this was another part of the Council’s ancient traditions, never flinching from the harsh decisions to protect humanity when they needed to be followed through to their fullest demands.
Inwardly groaning over the politics and situation they were in, Jack forcefully told Xander, "Kid, with what you've given us and also that little message from the Ancient, you're definitely a part of the SGC. Nothing is going to change this, and we protect our own. Some of the more persistent vultures are going to have to learn that the hard way."
During those last words, O’Neill scowled at the impassive Watcher who’d earlier insinuated that declaration of intent to cause harm. Turning away his angry stare as if ignoring a disgusting mess left by a stray dog on the floor, Jack then pointedly informed the entire room, "I think we're done here."
"Yes, indeed," Rupert icily agreed. He was also glaring in an almost Ripper fashion at the self-same Watcher who’d just threatened his son. Dismissing that pillock with equal repelled loftiness, Rupert addressed Xander and Ethan. "Come along, you two. It’s a bit of a drive by taxi to my place. Besides, if we don't leave now, I'm liable to hurt one of those gits. When we get home, I'll provide you both with that explanation about what we found concerning Alexander’s mother."
At that point, a loud Harrrumph!
sound froze everyone in their tracks. The entire room looked at where Provisional Head Watcher Whitby was giving them all an austere, unyielding gaze from beneath a pair of magnificently bushy eyebrows. In a voice of command, the oldest person there now laid down the law:
"Before you go storming off, Colonel O’Neill, I think that it would be wise if Rupert acts as a liaison with your group. That way, whatever problems or issues may come about regarding the Council, you have someone on hand along with Alexander's guardian in case of any difficulties," Whitby ground out. "I hate to see Rupert go, but this is important."
Jack and Rupert obediently nodded in unison, mesmerized by the elderly man’s air of absolute authority. SG-1 plus their two latest strays then followed Rupert out of the conference room, with the door closing on its own behind them all.
However, just before the panel clicked shut, the person with the best hearing there managed to catch a menacing, “Right,
you bloody lot, I hope your wives, husbands, and mistresses aren’t expecting you back in their beds anytime soon, because we’re going to settle this here and now if I have to rip off your—”
Teal’c allowed himself a flash of an actual approving expression.
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