Chapter 4 – Who Are You?
Chapter 4 – Who Are You?
ER Waiting Room
Sunnydale General Hospital
Friday, March 5, 1999
“Well, you could talk TO us, instead of about us,” Jack says to the group sitting before him, in his best “I’m the Colonel, you’ll do as I say” voice.
Daniel is standing just slightly behind Jack allowing him to take the lead. When the middle-aged man had entered the room and stared at him and Jack before rushing over to the group of teenagers to have a whispered conversation, alarm bells went off in their heads and warning signs appeared in big black letters reading “Something isn’t right here.”
“Well,” Jack demands, in no mood to play games. He’s worried about Xander and the last thing he needs is this nonsense.
“What makes you think we were talking about you?” Faith tries to bluff. It comes off part curious, part attitude. Jack stares at her hard. He takes in her appearance and sizes her up quickly. She’s about average height, pretty in a tough kind of way (she’d probably be called beautiful if she’d drop the attitude), has dark brown hair, makeup’s a bit overdone and she’s definitely not shy about showing her assets. Jack notices all this and dismisses it as insignificant. It’s the look in her eyes that snags him: it says “I’ll hurt you if I have to but I’d really rather not.” It throws him a bit because he believes it and believes she can actually do it, too.
He takes a closer look at her companions. The petite blond sitting next to her appears to be her exact opposite, at least visually. She’s shorter than the brunette, has a smaller frame and is dressed like she’s right out of an article on “what today’s fashionable teens are wearing.” She’s trying to look innocent, but not quite pulling it off. She too seems to give off a feeling of danger which Jack can’t understand. The boy to their left has jet black hair, a small, wiry frame and he doesn’t even blink when Jack stares at him. In fact, he looks kind of bored except that Jack call tell the kid’s sizing up him. He’s subtle, though, it’s not obvious. Jack feels the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. With a concerted effort, Jack turns to the man with them. He’s probably about Jack’s age, maybe a little older, he’s wearing glasses, his hair’s starting to recede a little and he’s wearing tweed...in California! He looks like what Jack imagines Daniel would’ve looked like in 10-15 years, if Jack hadn’t come along and saved him from geekdom. None of them are physically imposing or even look like they’ve got any serious muscles. They’ve probably never even seen the inside of a gym. So why exactly is it taking everything Jack has to keep himself from taking a step (or two) back away from these people. He’s getting the same feeling he gets when he looks at Teal’c: power.
“Giles, right?” Jack asks.
“She called you Giles, right? That’s your name?”
“W-w-well, yes.” Taking a deep breath, determined to do all he can to protect Xander, Giles holds out his hand and says, “I’m Rupert Giles. And you are?”
“Jack O’Neill. This is Daniel Jackson,” he says stabbing a finger behind him toward Daniel. “So, why were you and your friends – I didn’t catch their names – staring at us?”
“We weren’t staring,” Buffy says quickly. Jack just raises his eyebrows at her. “We were…looking, more like glancing, skimming even. There’s not really a lot to look at in this room.” After a beat Buffy asks Jack, “So, who are you hear to see?”
“Xander,” Oz says quietly. Everyone looks at him.
“How do you know that?” Jack demands.
“Am I wrong?” Oz challenges in a flat voice. Jack and Oz just stare at each other, neither saying a word. The tension in the room is building and everyone’s nerves are stretching taut.
“No, you’re not,” Daniel finally states. “We just want to make sure he’s all right.”
“Tell me, ‘Giles,’ how do you know Xander and why would you get an automatic call notifying you that he was going to the hospital?”
“I could ask you the same.”
“Nobody called me.”
“Then how did you know he was here?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“Nor you mine.” After another stretched silence, Giles asks “What is it you do, Mr. O’Neill?”
“It’s Colonel, actually,” Jack says smugly as he sees them all shift uncomfortably.
“Colonel. So you ARE military.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Well, it’s a problem if…”
“Buffy,” Oz says, shaking his head ever so slightly.
“What could the military possibly want with an underage boy, Colonel?” Giles asks a bit belligerently.
“Xander’s 18 and as far as I know, Uncle Sam has no interest in him.” The Scoobies all look at each other, their confusion obvious.
“If the Army ain’t interested in the Xan-man, what the hell are you doing here then?” asks Faith.
“I’d love to answer all you questions. Really...but I’m kind of a quid pro quo guy. Now, it seems to me that since I answered one of yours, it’s your turn. How do people know Xander?”
Once again, looks are exchanged by the Sunnydale group. Jack waits, but not patiently and not for long. “Fine. Question and answer session is over,” Jack says as he starts to move away.
Knowing they need more information from this man, Giles quickly answers “I’m the school librarian.”
“And, Xander along with the others here study in the library after school most days. We’ve become friendly.”
“You’re a study group?” Daniel asks, clearly not believing Giles.
“Yeah,” Faith says.
“Uh huh,” Buffy replies at the exact same moment.
“Right,” Oz utters a fraction of a second behind. Jack narrows his eyes. They’re obviously lying.
“Our turn,” Buffy says. “Answer Faith’s question: Why is an Army Colonel checking up on Xander?” Jack just stands there, looking at them through narrow slits.
“Jack,” Daniel says as he nudges Jack’s shoulder.
“Oh, come on Danny! You gotta be kidding me?”
“Well, they did ANSWER your question, sort of. It does only seem fair.”
After giving Daniel a look, Jack answers “This AIR FORCE Colonel is checking up on Xander because he’s my nephew.”
“You were there,” Oz states. ‘I knew I that was Xander’s scent I was picking up.’
“You were the ones who called the police. You stopped him, didn’t you?” Giles asks.
“Yeah,” Jack answers, his voice tight and his face pinched from the memory of walking in on Tony beating Xander to death.
“Well then, allow me to offer my deepest thanks. You may well have saved his life and for that we are forever grateful.” The teenagers nod their heads in agreement. The fear and anxiety bleed away and they relax. They’re still worried about Xander, but at least now they don’t have to worry that he’ll be put in jail.
Jack and Daniel notice the abrupt shift in the mood of Xander’s friends and relax slightly themselves. Okay, that was weird, one minute they look like their gonna spring at us if we breathe funny and the next their bonelessly sprawled out on the couch like they don’t have a care in the world. Jack takes a second look and realizes that while it’s no longer obvious, they still remind him of lions or tigers, in one of those National Geographic specials, that lull the unsuspecting zebra, then pounce ripping out its throat so they can eat it at their leisure. Okay, that was a bit graphic even for Jack. Funny how this group reminds him of a pack of wild animals. Hmm, weird.