Runs In The Family
When Buffy awoke she was in her own bed in her flat. She heard noises and smelled the distinct aroma of bacon and coffee. She walked out to the kitchen and saw Jack at the stove.
"It's not really time for breakfast anymore, but it's a universal meal." He put a plate full of pancakes and bacon in front of her, and then handed her a mug of coffee. "It's Ianto's special brew. He made and put it in the thermos special before…"
"Before what?" Buffy asked as she took a sip.
"Before I retconned everyone. Adam's gone, thanks to your instructions, but the damage was done. Are you going to argue with me about it?"
"No," she answered. "Not this time. This time… I'm glad. It makes things simple. But what about you? Adam got to you too, didn't he?"
"Yeah, but I can deal with it," he said. Then he held her eyes with his own. "Plus, there are certain things I'm not sure I want to forget. Do you want to explain how you showed up soaking wet in a blood-covered shirt with bullet holes? Thing is, I could have sworn the Hub log showed you dead."
"From what I hear, you can guess the answer: runs in the family," she replied, holding his gaze just as steady.
"How did you know? And how is it possible? I've had other children and none of them…"
"None of them had a mother who wasn't all she seemed. None of them jumped into a portal that—instead of killing them—sucked them to the other side of the galaxy and triggered the genetic energy."
"But how…" He gave her a measuring look while she ate her food. "You aren't going to tell me everything."
"When were you going to tell me you had this little habit of coming back from the dead?"
"Touché. Neither of us tells anyone everything."
"You'd think we were related," Buffy joked.
Jack grinned, but then he grew serious again. "Are you all right?"
"For being shot, waking up in a tiny box, and then fighting my way through water to breathe again, I'm good. Give me some more bacon and I may even work up to peachy with a definite side of keen."
Once again, Jack laughed.
Jack stayed a while longer. The team would be asleep at the Hub for a while yet, and he was monitoring the rift remotely. While Buffy put on a great show of being fine, he knew what sort of trauma she had just been through.
"Buffy," he said as he was just about to leave, "will you be all right?"
"I'm fine, Dad
. I'm alive aren't I?"
But as he held her gaze, his eyes knowing and full of empathy, she couldn't hold up the act any longer. When she finally let out the sobs, Jack held her close and let her cry into his shirt.
"I know," he said soothingly. "I know."
It didn't take long for her to pull herself back together. She pulled away and wiped her eyes. "Thanks… Dad."
He hugged her again and kissed her forehead. "I'll see you at work tomorrow."
It was still early evening, so Buffy decided to get out and see a bit of the city in the remaining light before going on a patrol. Cardiff may have been quiet on the demon front, but it wasn't silent.
She passed a large area of grass that she didn't know if it was a park or more of a village green. She sat on a bench and watched a group of men playing rugby. Even with these average guys, she started to see why Giles made fun of American football. When the group split up, one man checked his cell phone and came over to her. It was Rhys.
"Buffy!" he greeted. "What brings you here?"
"Needed some air," she said.
"How's Gwen? I haven't heard from her since she had to go back to Torchwood. I've been worried with the amnesia and everything."
"Amnesia? Must have missed that. I only got back from London so late last night it was early this morning."
"Ah, yeah, she couldn't remember me. Just… poof, no memories of us. I thought Torchwood might have had something to do with it, that Jack had… but I don't know."
"It wasn't Jack," Buffy said. "There was this other guy, Adam. He was messing with everyone's memories, so my guess is that's what upset her memory of you. She should be back to normal tonight."
"That's good news."
"Oh! And she won't remember forgetting you if everything works, so don't mention anything that happened."
"My lips are sealed." He looked at his cell phone again. "So I don't need to worry that she hasn't called yet?"
"I think Jack mentioned that retcon usually makes people sleep. Then there'll be the scuttle to figure out why they've forgotten all this time. Might take a while."
"Wanna grab a drink?"
"Sure, why not?"
Rhys was a really nice guy. He didn't ask her about being a slayer. Instead he shared some very hilarious stories about his cousin and the family Watcher legacy. The Welsh view of the English lightened it up considerably.
"So Torchwood," Rhys said as they sat with their drinks in a booth at one of his favourite pubs. "What's a slayer doing there?"
"It's something to do," she answered. "I may not be the only slayer now, but as far as I know I'm the only slayer that fights aliens."
"It must be weird not being the Chosen One anymore… but in a good way."
"Yeah, it takes the pressure off. I can come here and not worry about any hellmouths being neglected."
"So how'd you join Torchwood?" he asked and then took a swig of beer.
"Jack brought me on board," she said, keeping it vague.
"Are you and him…"
"No! God no! No. Just… no."
"Okay, no. It's just you seem really similar."
Oh, why not tell him? "Jack's my biological father. He didn't know about me until I came, which is why I came. Joining Torchwood just kinda happened and felt right."
"Your dad? Blimey, how young was he?"
Buffy laughed. "He's a man of mysteries. I wouldn't take the age at face value."
"Right," Rhys nodded. "I just wish he wasn't so good looking. He's not gay, is he?"
"I don't think you can put any sort of label on Captain Jack Harkness," Buffy said. "But he is in a relationship with Ianto, if that helps."
"Oh, it does."
"Gwen didn't tell you?"
"Nah, we're still trying to figure things out now that I know what she does."
"How's that working?" she asked. He only let out a heavy sigh but then smiled. "Give it time; you'll get there."
"It's just… sometimes I feel like she's settling. I mean, look at me. I know I'm not…"
"Don't even finish that sentence," Buffy interrupted. "I've known you for all how much time in how many days, and I would have loved to have a guy like you in my life. Don't let her go because you feel like you don't measure up. She needs you—more than she lets on. Just be you and love her, and you should be fine."
"Sounds like you've had experience," Rhys said, and she could tell he was taking it to heart.
"Yeah, there was an ex who left me because he didn't feel appreciated enough. There was a whole list of reasons added to that why it was never going to work, but at the time…"
"Has to be tough, being in a relationship and being a slayer. Not a lot of men could handle their inadequacy issues next to you."
"Yeah," she agreed. Riley didn't feel man enough, and Angel didn't feel worthy enough.
"Terrific gal like you, you'll find a guy," Rhys said kindly.
"And speaking of finding a guy, I need to go out and find some evil to slay."
"I should check on Gwen. See if she's answering her phone or at home. And don't worry, I remember. Not a word about her memory lapse or Adam or anything from the past forty-eight hours." He gave her a friendly half hug when they left the pub. "You might try the university. Drunk students are easy targets. Plus there are all those nuts pulling all-nighters with their books, staying out too late in the library."
Rhys was spot on with his advice. She caught two vampires lurking a little ways from the university library. She staked one and chased the other to its nest in the sewers. There were three more there. None of them were bright, and it took no time at all taking them out.
When Buffy entered the Hub the next morning, she overheard Gwen talking with Owen and Tosh.
"And he won't tell you anything?" Tosh asked Gwen. She smiled at Buffy when she saw her, and Owen gave a head nod as Buffy took her seat next to him.
"Nothing," Gwen answered Tosh's question. "And I know something happened that he knows about."
"Not so great being on the other end of someone keeping secrets, is it?" Buffy said. It was a simple statement of fact without any meanness or sarcasm. But it still visibly rattled Gwen.
"Do you know what happened?" Owen asked Buffy.
"What happened when?" Buffy asked.
"We can't remember the past two days," Tosh said. "Jack does, but he only says not to worry about."
"Nothing else?" Buffy asked.
"Not one word more," Owen grumbled.
"All information and video from that day has been wiped," Tosh said.
"Hmm," Buffy murmured.
"So?" Gwen asked impatiently. "Do you know anything?"
"Nothing worth mentioning," Buffy said.
"Now what is that supposed to mean?" Owen asked.
Buffy had turned to her computer and was pulling up the files she had been working on. "Just what I said: I know nothing worth sharing with the group right now. And if Jack thinks you don't need to know, who am I to share—if I in fact know anything?"
"That is so like Jack," Gwen complained. "It's so maddening!"
"I don't think you know anything," Owen said, but Buffy only smiled. "Ianto, did you get anything out of Jack?"
Ianto had just joined them and handed around coffee for everyone. "Nothing," he replied.
Buffy was typing with one hand and took a mouthful of coffee with the other. When she put the mug down she felt everyone staring at her. "What?"
"You didn't do your usual sniff, taste, sip for poison routine," Owen pointed out. Tosh looked surprised, Gwen confused, and Ianto had his usual expression but marked by a decided blink.
Buffy shrugged her shoulders. "It's not that big a deal, guys."
"So I'm not trying to poison you?" Ianto asked.
"Don't think so," she replied.
He walked away. Tosh returned to her work, and Gwen went to try and wear Jack down about the missing memories. Owen still looked at Buffy.
"So what really is the reason?" Owen asked her in a quiet whisper.
"Let's just say that in all the perfectly forget-worthy stuff that happened during the past day, I know Ianto isn't going to try and kill me."
Owen made little noises of frustration as she had just proven that she knew exactly what everyone else had forgotten and was deliberately not telling them. Buffy smiled. While she was sympathetic to having memories altered, knowing exactly what and why they lost those days made their reactions amusing for her to watch. Jack came out of his office, moving away from Gwen. He caught Buffy's eye and they both grinned. Owen watched the exchange with suspicious eyes, but was prevented from saying anything by Tosh's alert going off.
"Jack," Tosh said, "there's a report of what may be a weevil loose near Leckwith."
"May be?" Jack asked.
"Fits the general description, but no CCTV to confirm it."
"Yes," Tosh confirmed.
"Ianto, Owen, why don't you guys go check that out?" Jack ordered. They nodded and started gathering things before leaving. "Buffy, come with me."
Buffy followed Jack down to a tunnel that had been set up as a shooting range. Guns, safety glasses, and those plastic sound-dampening earmuffs were set out on a table. Instead of the usual body outline and numbered circles there were paper targets of weevils.
"Show me what you got," Jack said and pointed to the table.
"What? Just have at it so you can then correct my technique?"
He grinned. She looked at the guns on the table. Picking one up, she loaded it, and then without any further preparation raised the gun and shot several rounds at the target. She then looked at Jack. The grin had been replaced with an open mouth as he looked at the holes neatly gathered around the head and heart of the weevil (assuming the heart was located in the same area as humans and most demons).
"But you… and guns…"
"Just because I don't like them doesn't mean I don't know how to use them." She put the gun back down on the table. "Should I test the rest of your firearms, or are we done here?"
"We're done," he answered, still in shock at the deadly accuracy with so little apparent attention.
He followed her back to her station and leaned against the desk with his back to the screens. He gave her a long searching look for a moment. "You're good with guns, very good. If that's how you are with a weapon you hate, how are you with the ones you do like?"
She grinned smugly. "You really don't know much about slayers, do you?"
"The one and only that I met, we didn't talk shop much. Mostly we just stayed in."
There was no mistaking the reason they stayed in; sometimes she wished her father wasn't quite so open about sexual matters.
"I don't really want the details," Buffy said. "But remind me to show you what I can do with a sword or crossbow."
"Crossbow's too conspicuous and not very practical. The sword I'll consider."
"It's all I ask… and the understanding that the first weapon I'll pull out is a knife or stake."
"I could really go for a steak right now. How long is it till lunch?" He looked at the clock on her desk.
"Because you're the first one to make that joke
," Buffy muttered.
"Jack," Owen's voice came over the comm. "It's not a weevil, but it's definitely something big, bad, and ugly. We're going to need backup on this one. Big backup. Guns aren't working."
Jack looked at Buffy. "I think it's time to grab that sword."
There was no time to grab her sword back at her flat. She made a mental note to keep a weapons chest in Torchwood from now on, and maybe even another set of weapons in the SUV as well. It was a very short trip to Leckwith Woods with Jack's intense driving. She felt slightly safer in the small car than she might have in the large SUV, but only slightly.
"Where did you learn to drive? Indianapolis?" she asked as they got out of the car.
He just pulled out his gun and started running towards the sounds of Owen, Ianto, and growling. Owen held off the huge beast with a branch while Ianto held back. Shooting it had made it angry. Buffy ran right past the men. It was screaming demon to her slayer senses. She jumped back from a swing of its huge claws. She kicked its middle and it stumbled back. While it was unsteady and the claws were down she continued to kick and punch it, but soon it regained its footing and swiped at her again. It caught her arm and left long bloody gashes, but they weren't deep enough to prevent use of the arm.
"Shouldn't we be helping her?" Owen said to Jack, who had a hand on his shoulder to hold him back.
"Our guns are useless," Ianto said.
"She'll handle it," Jack said. He tried to sound more confident than he was.
Buffy leapt over the demon and came up quickly behind it. With a quick and powerful yank, she snapped the thing's neck. It fell to the ground.
She looked up over the fallen carcase and smiled. "That was fun!"
Jack laughed more in relief than humour and helped Ianto take the carcase to the SUV. Owen fussed over Buffy's injured arm. They fought the whole way back to the Hub about it: she said it was fine and just needed to be washed off, and he insisted on stitches and heavy bandages. In the end, Buffy won the argument. After cleaning the wounds Owen had to admit that there was even then a sign of healing. He did convince her to let him bandage it; she didn't want blood all over the inside of her new jacket, now did she?
Buffy had time enough to put down her keys and carefully pull off her jacket before her cell phone rang. Ready to put the jacket back on, Buffy looked at the caller ID and then relaxed and dropped the jacket.
"Spike," she said as she answered the call. "To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?"
"So it's a pleasure when I call now?" he teased back at her sarcasm.
"Did you need—ow—something?" She had pulled at her wounded arm while moving the phone to her other hand.
"Are you injured?"
"God, it's like you're psychic or something," she grumbled. "But if you must know I got a bit clawed up at work today."
"Thought the big boss man wasn' letting you out and about to attack the nasty aliens."
"We've come to a compromise. And it wasn't alien, just garden variety demon… with big claws."
"Apparently. I just called to see how you were gettin' on is all. Where was this fancy team while you were gettin' mauled?"
"Standing back at a safe distance," she replied defensively. "It was really big and impervious to guns."
"Did you get in your 'I told you so' speech?"
"Not this time," she said with a laugh. "I'll have to remember that next time. I wanted to work more on my 'I was right' dance first."
He laughed, but afterwards she could feel the shift in mood. "Take care of yourself, Slayer."
"Don't I always?" With that they ended the conversation.
At moments like this, where he so obviously worried about her, she felt a twinge of guilt over not telling him about her little "I come back from the dead" trick. But it wasn't something for over the phone, and she had no idea when she'd ever be back in California to see him face to face. And even then it was doubtful she'd tell him. At least Jack knew. That was one weight off her shoulders. Someday soon the rest of the team would once again find out, and when they did she hoped they would remember it.
HXHXHXHXHXHXHXHXHXHXHI know, I know. It was mean to retcon everyone so that they don't remember Buffy's big secret. They'll find out soon. It won't be as epic, but hopefully it will be funny. I haven't quite worked it out yet and am open to suggestions.