AN: Would love feedback on this chapter (which granted, is not the
most action packed, necessary though it is). Thanks for all the
comments on the last one. I fixed a word or two in order to make
it flow better and actually well, make sense. I appreciate the
Also, home for the week without access to World of Warcraft. I
hope to have another update out mid-week. I really, truly do.
Especially because the alternative is homework. :) As always, I'm
so grateful to you guys for reading.
************** Trick or Treat: Chapter Thirty ****************
"So." Jack stared at the younger man who sat next to him on the
bench outside in the hospital gardens. It was still night outside
and the neon lamp lighting the walkway washed Xander's profile into a
stark contrast of shadow and light.
Xander's lips twisted and he leaned back so that he could slouch,
arms draped behind the back of the wood bench. "So," he replied
neutrally, his single eye still trained on the brightly lit hospital
So, this was how it was going to be, was it? Jack resisted the urge
to snarl, just barely. He was never known for his patience, but
Xander had certainly earned what little reserves Jack had built up,
despite the broom closet incident. But seriously, sometimes enough
was enough. The kid knew one of the US government's biggest secrets,
it was high time that Xander learned how to share. If only to stop
Kinsey from killing anyone else.
All right, his patience was up.
"Damnit Harris, spill already. What is going on?"
The man next to him didn't so much as twitch but the sudden tension
in the air was palpable. A beat of silence and then, "What I'm about
to tell you doesn't go beyond us. You and I, Jack, and not a
syllable even THOUGHT in someone else's direction."
"Come on Xander, you know that's not how this works."
Jack watched as Xander's hands tightened into fists before they
relaxed in what looked like a monumental force of will and his voice,
when he spoke was low, intense, the voice of a man who was used to
power. "Maybe not Jack, but that's how this is going to be. You
want in to the secret club, well fucking fine because you've managed
to earn yourself that right, but JUST you. Not Sam, not Teal'c, not
Daniel. NOT General Hammond and the current Head Honcho."
AKA, the President.
Oh yeah, Hammond would just LOVE that, let alone Daniel. Once his
curiosity was aroused bulldozers couldn't detract the SGC's most
"Harris..." Jack started to say wearily.
Xander turned suddenly, his good eye glinting in the artificial eye
while his patch cast the other half in darkness. "Don't bullshit me,
Jack. I spent enough time with you to know what your team means to
you. Now tell me you've never kept something out of the reports, the
paperwork, to help them, to save them." Well crap. "Now," he
continued in that same intense voice, "tell me what you would do if
you were the big bad Colonel of a bunch of kids, a bunch of little
girls. Tell me you wouldn't do anything in your power and beyond to
protect them. Tell me you wouldn't want their secrets spilled out
there for bastards like those NID people, like Robert fucking Kinsey
to find and use. Tell me if I'm out of line for asking, demanding
Jack stared at the younger man, stared and stared and didn't quite
know what he was looking for. Every time he had managed to finally
define Xander, every time he felt like the one eyed civilian was
a solved puzzle, Xander managed to shift and twist just enough to
show that Jack didn't know shit.
"These aren't my secrets to tell, Jack, you know that."
He leaned forward. "Do I, Xander? You're the one with a secret
military file, the one who knew how to save Janet, the one who was
oh so willing to help with our little Vampire problem..."
The shaggy haired man laughed harshly but his features were drawn,
tired again, devoid of his righteous anger once more. "And why do
you think I know what I do? Why do you think Kinsey attacked my
home, full of young girls, when he knew I was gone?"
Jack O'Neill liked to play the fool at times, but he sure as hell
wasn't one. He blinked once, twice, started to say something
profound, before finally managing a rather subdued, "Oh."
"Your silence, to your grave, Jack, beyond even."
He shut his mouth, considered his options for a moment, and nodded
Xander stood. "Let's walk."
It was cool out, but Xander didn't mind. He and Jack ambled through
the neighborhood that the hospital was adjacent to. The streets were
all but deserted at this time of night, really morning, and Xander
was trying to gather his thoughts.
Over a decade of fighting the forces of darkness had left a lot of
Usually Buffy, Giles, Faith or Willow gave "The Talk". Xander had
never managed quite the right mixture of flippant summarization that
the others had perfected years ago. He could have, perhaps should
have, brought Buffy with them on this little walk, but Buffy didn't
know Colonel Jack O'Neill. Jack didn't know Buffy.
In all honesty, Xander would have preferred to share this burden with
Teal'c. But Teal'c held a position as precarious, perhaps more
precarious, than Xander's own. From what he had seen not everything
was hunky dory in alien land. It had to suck to be an alien in the
SGC. It was damned nice to have friends who would kill for you, as
Xander was sure SG-1 would for Teal'c, but he also didn't doubt that
they'd HAD to kill for Teal'c over the years. That was a hard enough
thing to bea, having friends who cared that much. Hell, he'd been
there for the Rip Buffy from Heaven Party. Xander wasn't about to
paint a blazing red target on the big guy by telling him the next best
secret to the existence of the Stargate.
But Xander had been watching Jack too. Had been watching him because,
after Riley, he knew how it paid sometimes to have an in. Watched
long enough, hard enough, to know that the secrets he guarded wouldn't
be heard lightly or ever, ever revealed, not once Jack gave his
Xander still had enough of solder boy in his head to know that Jack
O'Neill was a great, great man, and a crappy soldier. The older man
did what he did well enough, took care of his responsibilities, did
his duty, was quite willing to bite the big one for the good ol' U.S.
of A., so he looked like a nice little Air Force Colonel, but Jack
loved his team like family, loved the people he was helping, and
didn't give a rat's ass for any authority he disagreed with.
Xander halfway thought Jack had been made a Colonel just to limit
the number of superiors who'd have to deal with him. It was probably
one of the reasons Xander was in charge of the Booty House. Not
many people tolerated his own brand of casual, smiling disregard for
authority figures, as the G-Man had pointed out on numerous
"So, are we going to play show and tell or just watch the sunrise
The younger man managed to restrain his urge to snicker and shrugged,
giving Jack a wicked grin. "All right, all right, I'll play, but
suspend all cries of outraged disbelief until the end of the spiel.
What do you know about the origins of Earth?"
The Air Force Colonel eye balled him for a moment and stuck his hands
deep in the pockets of his leather jacket. "Nothing that I'm overly
attached to. Mostly stuff that Daniel managed to slip in when I was
too busy shooting aliens to cover my ears. I take it this is all
going to be revelatory?"
Xander snorted. Revelatory. Hell. "Like the second coming."
"Okay." He took a deep breath. "Okay then."
"No, I'm good, I'm going. All right, so, this world, Earth- cause
after the whole Stargate thing I guess that can get confusing- Earth,
is a lot more complicated than you'd think. See there's humans,
you're pretty used to them, and there's other things. Bad, monsters
under the bed, wet your pants, bad things."
"Like Vampires," Jack cautioned.
"Right." Xander sighed. "Like Vampires. Other stuff too. Things
that make Vampires look like puppies and kittens and rainbows and
butterflies. Stuff that belongs here, stuff that tries to find its
way here. Bad, dark stuff. Tentacles, poison, apocalyptic drama
queens- the works. This stuff is the real deal, forces of darkness,
demons and ghouls and nasties."
"That the rest of the world just happens to ignore? There's how many
billion people walking around now, do they all just collectively
hallucinate these things away?"
His laughter was bitter and short. "Yeah, pretty much. Humans can
be fucking sheep if they try hard enough. I'd honestly have loved
going my whole life not knowing how to stake a Vamp, but Buffy shined
the light on the darkness and showed me everything that scuttled away
Xander gave Jack a condescending look. "How many Buffys with secret
government files do YOU know of?"
"So, I know you guys have done your Alexander Harris homework, and
know that I come from Sunnydale, not so fondly known as Sunnyhell,
literally. There are places in the world, you see, that are like
pimplesof darkness on Earth." Pimples! He HAD to spend more time
away from the girls that wasn't a military induced vacation. All
sorts of ugly things converge in these places, and they're where the
shit tends to hit the fan. They're called Hellmouths, or Boca del
Inferno, whatever. Giles always tells me my pronunciation sucks, but
you get the idea. Occasionally, actually about twice a year,
someone from either side gets the bright idea to unwrap the neatly
tied little hell package, and that's where the Slayer comes in."
"The Slayer your guy's big gun?"
Xander even managed to keep a straight face when he said, "Crossbow
would be more appropriate."
"Right, for the Vampires."
"Cause your bullets were oh so effective and my broken clipboard
Jack gave half a bow in Xander's direction. "Touché."
"Thank you. So back when humans were shiny and new, and your
Goa'uld things were running all around Earth too probably, this
group of men got this bright idea to balance things out. They gave
this girl super powers- extra strength, prophetic dreams, innate
weapon sense, quick healing- the works. Leveled the playing field
between the hunters and the prey and told her it was her duty to
step up to the plate for a quick, messy game of hardball. She was
the first Slayer."
Xander paused, and began to choose his words with more care. Once
you got past several thousands years of history, things started to
get a little more sticky. Trusting Jack or not, the less he could
give away about the girls in his little half assed summary, the
better. "Every time she died, the power would pass to a new girl,
and another new girl, and another."
"Sounds like a crap shoot for them."
He grinned ruefully. "Yeah, pretty much."
Jack stopped and look at Xander. "So, one girl..."
"In all the world," Xander chimed in softly as Jack scowled. See,
he had paid attention to Giles! Sometimes.
"One girl against everything that goes bump in the night. How long
would they last?"
He tried to keep from thinking of Ashley. Not long enough by far.
Xander kept walking and Jack followed. "Buffy was already considered
pretty fucking successful for a Slayer when she died about two years
He kept walking, even though Jack had stopped. "Define died."
Xander hugged his jacket closer to him. "Vampire drowned her. Yay
"Hell, how old were you all?"
Xander's brow crinkled as he tried to remember. "Fifteen, sixteen,
Sophomore year of High School."
Jack's outraged disbelief would have been more gratifying eleven or
so years ago. Now it just made him feel old, which was funny since
he knew the older man still thought of him as a kid half the time.
Xander would bet money he had more blood on his hands than Jack did,
even if it wasn't human. Though, Jack's might not have been covered
in human blood either, in retrospect.
"So you all have been doing this..."
"Willow and I have been involved for about eleven years, Buffy
twelve. Giles, for forever."
"Yes, how IS Rupert Giles involved in this little drama?"
"There was this organization that was dedicated to teaching and
guiding each new Slayer." Okay, so not getting into Council
politics. "Its agents were called Watchers. Giles's was Buffy's
"And the past tense?"
Xander's lips curled in bitter satisfaction. "The organization
went boom, literally, a few years back. Giles stays with us though
because, hell, its what Giles does- try desperately to keep us all
"And Buffy is still this one Slayer?"
"Well, funny thing this, you've met Willow in all her witchy
glory..." Jack's sour face was all the confirmation Xander needed to
continue hurriedly. "Well, around four years ago we had a little bit
more of an apocalypse than usual..."
"Meaning?" Jack interrupted with delicate precision.
Oh boy. "Meaning that we cut the Save the World Deadline a little
closer than usual." Though at least Buffy hadn't died that time.
"And Willow worked some major mojo for the Down to the Wire Miracle."
Complete with white hair.
"Meaning?" Jack asked again, though he didn't sound entirely
convinced he wanted to hear the rest. Xander wasn't entirely sure
he wanted to share it.
"Meaning she managed to activate every potential Slayer on the planet
and make them full Slayers."
"Oh hell." Jack had stopped absolutely stalk still in the middle
of the deserted neighborhood street and Xander, with a wince, turned
to face the older man who was indeed going through his own set of
revelations. "Your girls..." he breathed with dawning comprehension.
Xander sighed and ran a hand through his dirty, too long hair. He
really needed a shave and a change of clothes. "Yeah," he replied
with a ghostly smile that was half pride, half sorrow, "my girls."