Jack leaned against the truck he had hired to drive back to Colorado as he watched Xander and Willow say goodbye to their friends. Willow was crying as she warmly hugged Oz, who patted her back and said little, just letting her cry on his shoulder, while Xander and Cordelia embraced, his face buried in her hair.
He was drawn from his musing when Giles and Joyce approached him.
“Thanks for looking after them this last week,” Jack said.
Giles nodded before he stepped up quite close to Jack, right into his personal space.
“If either one of those two get hurt or are mistreated, then you will have me to answer too. And I am warning you, I do not take any of my charges getting hurt lightly. Do you understand?” Giles threatened. Jack drew back, understanding where the other man was coming from. Giles cared for the teens in much the same way that he cared about his kids.
Jack nodded. “You don’t have to worry. I take care of my own.”
“That’s good.” Giles stepped back, clearing his throat and polishing his glasses. He offered Jack his hand, which Jack took.
“It was good to meet you, Jack. I see now where Xander gets much of his personality from.”
“Good to meet you too.”
“Please look after them. They deserve to be loved after everything they’ve gone through.”
“Will do, Joyce. Good luck with the search for your daughter. I hope she comes home safe.” Jack nodded at Joyce, shaking her hand.
“Thank you.” Joyce smiled before stepping back. Jack glanced back at the group. Cordelia and Willow were in a tentative embrace, Cordelia muttering something into Willow’s ear. Willow giggled nervously and pulled away as Xander and Oz did an awkward, semi-manly hug. Then Xander and Willow moved over to Joyce, both of them hugging her tightly, thanking her for everything.
Then it was Giles’s turn. Jack watched as the librarian looked down at his two former charges, the Brit’s eyes glistening with barely restrained tears as both Xander and Willow lunged at him, hugging him tightly. Giles wrapped his arms around the teens, burying his head in between theirs as he whispered into their ears. Jack couldn’t hear what was said but he saw Xander and Willow’s head shift as if they were nodding.
After a few minutes, they pulled away and Joyce pulled a camera from her pocket, snapping a last couple of photos of the teens and the teens with Giles and then Willow and Xander with the truck. Jack narrowly avoided getting one taken of him.
Then it was time to go. Jack moved around to the driver’s side seat of the truck he had hired, considering how much stuff the teenagers were bringing, and climbed up into the driver’s seat, waiting for the passenger’s side door to be pulled open. Glancing across, he saw final farewells being exchanged, along with promises to stay in touch.
Finally, the door was opened and Willow climbed in, followed closely by Xander. They buckled themselves in as Jack started the engine before Xander rolled down the window and stuck his head out.
“If Buffy comes back, tell her to call.”
“Like, duh. Of course we will,” Cordelia called out. Willow waved her arm out the window as Jack started to drive and in the rear vision mirror, Jack could see the others waving. Xander and Willow waved until they got to the end of the street before Xander closed the window and they sat in their seats normally.
Jack didn’t mention the redness in their eyes or the fact that everyone at the house had been crying except for Oz and himself. Willow leaned into Xander and rested her head on his shoulder and he rested his head on top of hers, seeking comfort from each other like they had so much ever since they had lost their parents. Jack blinked.
It was going to be a long drive.
It was night time when they reached Colorado Springs, having spent two days driving. Willow and Xander craned their heads to see their new home before they clambered from the vehicle.
“Nice house.” Xander grinned at Jack, who walked around to the back of the truck, opening it up and grabbing his bag, which he slung over his shoulder, and the nearest box. Willow and Xander both joined him, grabbing boxes as well, before they all walked up to the house. Jack lowered the box so he could unlock the front door before he opened it up, picking the box up and switching the light on as he lead the two teenagers into the house. Willow and Xander stopped in the doorway, looking around curiously. Jack frowned. It was obvious that someone, probably Sam and Janet, had gone through and tidied the place up a bit, because it definitely hadn’t been this tidy when he’d left. Sure enough, there was a note on the coffee table. He set the box down on the floor with a thunk and opened it up.‘To Jack,’
it read, ‘we thought you might appreciate a bit of help tidying up before your house is overrun with teenagers. The spare bedrooms have been cleaned out and are pretty much empty. We put the team’s spare clothes in the bottom of the linen closet. The fridge is full and we put some frozen meals in the freezer.
We hope things are going well. See you back at the mountain on Monday.
Sam and Janet’
Jack smiled and turned around to face to two teenagers. They were still looking around curiously.
“C’mon, I’ll show you your rooms.”
He picked up the box again, taking the time to note the W written on the top. Obviously it was destined for Willow’s room. Jack led the two upstairs, pointing out rooms along the way. His bedroom, the bathroom that they would be sharing, until they reached the two bedrooms. They were both at the back of the house, overlooking the back yard, and there wasn’t much difference between them.
“You guys can choose who wants to go where. I don’t mind either way. I’ll just pop this down and you can put it in wherever.”
Xander and Willow nodded and Jack turned to head back to the truck to grab another box, leaving them to sort it out amongst themselves. Both rooms had new beds. Once he knew for sure that Willow was coming with him, he’d called Sam and asked her if she could go and buy two twin beds and he’d pay her back later. They’d already been delivered and set up, so now all they needed were mattresses. Both of them had kept their old mattresses, which were in the truck.
By the time Jack came back with another box, this time one of Xander’s, the two had chosen rooms. Xander was on the left and Willow on the right. He dropped the box off in Xander’s room, taking the time to glance around. Sam and Janet had done a good job cleaning up the room. Sure, it was a little bare but he was certain Xander would soon give it some personality. Willow would as well.
Jack went back outside and helped Xander maneuver one of the mattresses out of the truck while Willow continued to bring boxes in, both hers and Xander’s, and kept out of the way.
It wasn’t long before the mattresses were on the beds and it was decided that further unpacking could happen tomorrow during the daylight. Jack locked the truck up and came back inside. Willow and Xander were sitting on the couch together. Both looked nervous but Willow was definitely twitchier than Xander.
Jack sighed, “For crying out loud” he muttered under his breath, before he perched on the arm of the couch.
“So, what do you want to do now?” Jack asked.
At that moment Xander’s stomach chose that moment to rumble loudly. Jack snorted as the teens looked mortified.
“Yeah, that’s a good suggestion. Pizza sound okay?”
Xander and Willow both nodded sheepishly. Jack rolled his eyes. This was going to be like pulling teeth.
“Okay, while we’re all together and not busy, I just want to lay out some ground rules. Rule number one; neither of you are EVER, under any circumstance, to touch my gun.”
Xander and Willow rapidly nodded. Xander had told Willow about what happened to Charlie and they both understood why Jack felt the need to introduce such a rule.
“Good, now, while I trust you guys, if Social Services get the slightest hint that something’s up, Willow might be sent back to California, so therefore, rule two, if you are both in a room, the door has to stay open.”
Xander screwed up his face but nodded while Willow also nodded, although more thoughtfully. Her parents always used to have a similar rule when Xander was around.
“Rule three, this is your house. I want you to feel comfortable here. Therefore, you can go wherever you want in the house, touch whatever you want, eat whatever you want, drink anything non-alcoholic you want in this house. Connects to rule four, no drinking booze until you’re 21, or I tell you otherwise on a special occasion or something.”
“I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” Xander said with a grimace, thinking of Tony. Willow shuddered.
“Good to hear, rule five connects to my work. If someone from my work, or me, comes to you and tells you to do something, no matter how weird it is, just do it. I’ll introduce you to the people it would be and we’ll organize a safe word, so you’ll know if someone’s lying, but, well, I have enemies and they wouldn’t be above hurting you two to get to me. That’s it, rule-wise, for now.”
“Nothing regarding homework?” Xander said.
“Well, I’m not going to sit on you to make sure you do it, you’re both old enough now to take responsibility for it, but I don’t want to hear about you two slacking off either.”
“Can I ask some questions?” Willow asked quietly. Jack nodded.
“What do you want us to call you?”
“Just Jack is fine.”
“Okay then, are we allowed to stay in contact with our friends back in Sunnydale?” Xander asked.
“Yeah, of course.”
“Whew,” Xander sighed in relief, “okay.”
“Do we have a curfew, because I don’t really want to get in trouble if we stay out late?” Willow asked, managing to control her urge to babble.
“Um, how about 2200 hours for now, but we’ll make rule six to let me know when you’re going to be out and what time you expect to be back,” Jack replied. Xander and Willow nodded.
“That’s ten o’clock at night,” Jack elaborated, not sure if they were familiar with twenty four hour time.
“We know,” Xander said with a grin. Jack rolled his eyes mockingly.
“Geez, way to make a fool out of me.”
Xander laughed and Willow giggled. Jack reminded her so much of Xander that it was impossible for her not to kind of like the guy. Jack glanced at the clock on the wall and grinned.
“The Simpsons are on. Why don’t you guys turn on the TV while I organize pizza. Any requests for toppings?”
Xander and Willow told him their preferences and Jack picked up his phone while Xander found the remote and switched on the TV. Once he had placed the order, Jack dropped into a chair, since the couch was occupied, and watched his favorite yellow-skinned family as they moved around on the screen, chuckling at their antics. He felt his eyes shift across to the two teenagers. There hadn’t been any tears or yelling or arguments yet, which he took to be a good sign.
Maybe this whole parenting gig wasn’t going to be so hard after all.A.N. Well, they’re in Colorado Springs now, and Jack’s laid the ground rules down. Let me know if things seem a little OOC still, as I’m still hashing out how Jack and the SG:1 characters speak.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to update again, as I’m busy with my studies, but it should hopefully be soon.
Let me know what you think. Thank-you to everyone for the feedback I’ve been receiving. It’s been great. Thanks also to my Beta reader, who is great. I own any mistakes, but nothing else.