The next day as he left the SGC, Jack reminded Janet and his team about the barbecue he was hosting. Teal’c was coming with Daniel and Sam was going to finish off the report she was typing about the technology she had found on the planet they had visited on the previous day before she headed home to get changed and heading to Jack’s. Janet was just finishing up the post mission medical examinations she was running on the newly returned SG-7 before she headed back home to collect Cassie and get changed and made her way to Jack’s house.
Jack stopped by the supermarket on the way home and picked up the meat and some bits for salad, knowing that Janet would want something at least marginally healthy on the table, as well as some drinks. Even though it was a school night and they all had work the next day, there was nothing to stop them from having a drink or two and then drinking soda or water or whatever for the rest of the night.
He couldn’t picture it being a late night, since all of the adults had to be at the base bright and early in the morning anyway.
Jack quickly drove home, carrying the shopping bags in from the car. He was pleasantly surprised when he walked in to find that the living room was clean, as was the kitchen. The doors out to the deck were ajar and he could see Willow and Xander sitting out on the wood. Xander was holding a phone to his ear and Jack guessed that his son was talking to one of his friends back at home. Shrugging his shoulders, he put the shopping away and then went upstairs to get changed out of his uniform.
Willow woke up early but she lay in bed until she was sure that Jack had left for work. Then, she got up and got dressed before she padded softly down stairs. She got herself some cereal and sat down at the dining room table to eat it.
She reflected back on the previous night when she’d kept thinking about everything she had lost. It wasn’t that she resented Xander’s father, she’d be eternally thankful for taking Xander and herself in. If he hadn’t, they would both be in foster care, almost definitely not together and who knew where. At least here in Colorado Springs, they were together with a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, being looked after by a nice enough guy, and the best part was that there were no demons. Or at least, that was what Giles had said. He’d asked around and none of his contacts had ever heard of Colorado Springs being a hotbed of demonic activity.
Willow had been relieved, ready for a break from the constant slayage. The battle against Angelus had been especially tiring with heavy losses on their side and the added strain of it being, well… Angel that they were fighting.
Willow thought about the spell she had cast in hospital. She was convinced it had worked. Cordelia had told her about how her eyes had gone strange and she’d started talking in some weird language, so something had definitely happened.
And then there was the comment Giles made when she was packing up her things. ‘Don’t fiddle with magic until I tell you otherwise.’
Giles was scared about her magic. Willow was, too. It hadn’t done Ms. Calendar any good and the stories she’d heard from when Giles had been learning the art were frightening. Back on the Hellmouth, the idea of being able to do magic so she could help Buffy out and protect everyone had been appealing, but now that she and Xander were relatively safe from the supernatural, the appeal was gone. From what Jenny had told her, though, it was too late to squash her powers away now. She’d done a spell and it had been powerful. Not everyone could resoul a vampire (even though Willow wasn’t sure whether it had even worked or not) and once someone used that kind of power, there was no going back.
Realizing that her cereal was quickly becoming soggy, Willow ate it up, rinsing her bowl in the sink before leaving it there, making a mental note to come back after she and Xander had eaten lunch and do the dishes, since they were having visitors that evening.
She wondered what Jack’s work colleagues were like. She had little experience of military people, other than Jack and the man Xander had become on Halloween. She found herself thinking of her mother and father’s work colleagues, the one who had pretended to know how she felt at their funeral, the ones that had patted her on the shoulder or ruffled her hair and had shaken their heads, their eyes filled with false pity, talking about how great her parents had been and how privileged she was to have had such wonderful her parents had been.
She knew that Jack’s friends wouldn’t be like that, she couldn’t see the hardened colonel taking that kind of talk and she doubted that any of Jack’s friends would have known her parents since she never heard her parents referring to any acquaintances that were in the military.
Willow hoped that they were nice people, since it sounded like Jack spent a fair bit of time with them outside of their work hours. She hoped they wouldn’t resent her and Xander for possibly affecting the amount of time they could spend together, although the fact that Jack wasn’t the only one who had a child would probably mean that it wouldn’t be an issue.
She thought about the girl, Cassie, that Jack had mentioned would be there and would be in the same year as she and Xander at school, at the same school. She knew it was unintentional on her foster father’s behalf but she resented the girl privately. The idea of she and Xander being friends with another girl so soon after Buffy’s… disappearance was upsetting. It felt like she was betraying Buffy’s trust. They didn’t even know if Buffy was alive or dead or trapped in another dimension, or even if she was a vampire. There was no way they could know unless Giles discovered a way to track her down. Even another Slayer being called wouldn’t be a giveaway, because of Kendra’s death a mere day before. The Slayer line didn’t even go through Buffy anymore, or at least, Giles thought it didn’t.
Willow hoped that Buffy was okay and that she would return to Sunnydale. They needed her there. Giles, Joyce and everyone else that they were friends with. Not just because she was the Slayer, but, well, she was Buffy.
Willow had been so caught up in her thoughts that she didn’t hear Xander coming down the stairs or hear him going into the kitchen behind her. She felt his hand on her shoulder and let out a loud squeal, whipping around. Xander held up his hands apologetically.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” he apologized.
“I guess I’m a little on edge still and I got caught up in my thoughts again. It’s okay,” Willow said. Xander got his breakfast ready and Willow glanced at the clock. Xander had slept in, it was approaching ten thirty. She’d been lost in her thoughts for longer than she anticipated.
Willow sank into a chair and ran her fingers through her hair, wincing as her head twinged as she ran her fingers over a sore spot. Although she had recovered quickly following her coma, her head still hurt from time to time. She knew Jack was aware of it and the fact that Xander had lightly sprained his wrist and been slightly concussed the same day, but he hadn’t mentioned either injury to them. Willow was thankful for that.
“How is your head feeling?” Xander asked, obviously noticing the gesture.
Willow sighed. “Much better, it just hurts every now and again, and I’ve finished the medication they gave me, so I think it’s going well. How’s your arm?”
“It was a little sore after we’d been moving boxes around and carrying things inside, but a good night’s sleep is enough to make it feel better. I should take it easy today though.”
Willow laughed. “Alright. What do you want to do?”
“Jack has a pretty cool movie collection. Do you want to give them a workout?”
“OK,” Willow conceded. “As long as you help me clean up a bit this afternoon. We do have guests coming tonight.”
Xander rolled his eyes but nodded, knowing that Willow would simply hit him with the Resolve Face until he complied. Willow smiled and waited for him to put his dishes in the sink before they went into the living room.
After spending the rest of the morning and half of the afternoon watching a couple of movies, Willow washed up the dishes in the kitchen while Xander dried. Then she tidied up the kitchen and the living room. They headed out into the yard together and looked around at the deck. Xander spotted the barbecue and knew that they would probably be spending most of the evening outside.
The outside area was already tidy, so they quickly straightened things up a little before Xander paused for a moment, glancing at his watch, shrugging and heading inside. Willow watched him from where she stood on the deck, puzzlement on her face when he returned with a blanket and the phone.
“Do you want to talk to Giles or Oz or anyone?” he asked. Willow smiled, accepting the phone from him while he spread the blanket out onto the deck. They both sat down on it and Willow dialed Giles’ home number. The phone rang a couple of times before it was picked up.
“Hello? This is Rupert Giles speaking,” Giles answered formally.
“Hey, Giles, it’s Willow.”
“Oh, Willow, how are you? Is Xander with you?”
“Yeah, he’s right next to me.”
“How is Colorado Springs? Is the Colonel good to live with? Are you happy?”
“It’s… different here. I mean, in some ways it’s the same but in others it’s really different. No demon sightings yet but then we haven’t been looking. We’ve only gone for one walk and that was during the day.”
“Willow, I know that I said that Colorado Springs wasn’t an area of high demonic activity but I still don’t want you and Xander patrolling. It is dangerous after all and not all dangers are non-human in origin.”
“I know, Giles.”
“Have you done anything else interesting? How are you settling?”
“Just been settling in, really. We’ve been watching some movies and tonight Jack has invited his friends from work around for a barbecue so we can meet them. One of them had a daughter about our age, so that will be nice. Have you found any sign of Buffy?”
“No, unfortunately. Oz and I went to the mansion the other day and we couldn’t find any trace of her or Angelus.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“I’m not sure,” Giles admitted. “But we’ve been doing lots of research to find out where Buffy is. I’m sure we’ll track her down soon.”
“I know you will,” Willow said softly. “You’ve always been there for all of us, you won’t give up on Buffy.”
Giles was quiet for a while and Willow could imagine him polishing his glasses furiously.
“Yes,” Giles eventually croaked, his usually clipped tone choked up with usually hidden emotions. “How is your head recovering? I’m afraid we all quite forgot about your injury and its severity in the chaos.”
“It hurts a little from time to time, but it’s getting a lot better. I’m not on the pills they gave me anymore.”
“That’s very good, Willow. I’m glad you are feeling much better.”
“Do you want to talk to Xander?”
“If you like.”
“He’s gesturing for the phone, so I better give it to him. I’ll talk to you soon, Giles. I miss you. Tell Oz, Cordelia and Joyce that I say hi the next time you see them, and… and if you find Buffy, tell her that we’re okay and that we miss her, alright?”
“I promise,” Giles said solemnly. Willow nodded, even though she knew that Giles couldn’t actually see her.
“Okay, Giles, I’ll pass you to Xander now. I miss you. Bye.” Willow handed the phone over and lay back on the deck, resting her head on the blanket-covered wooden planks. Xander leaned back casually, running his fingers though his hair.
“Hey, Giles, how’s life on the Hellmouth going?” he asked. Willow closed her eyes and listen to the wind gently blowing through the trees, letting the sound of Xander’s voice wash over her as he talked to Giles. It sounded very similar to the conversation she had shared with the librarian. Apparently at one point, Cordelia had walked in and been handed the phone, because Xander’s voice changed slightly and he started saying Cordelia’s name to the phone.
Willow heard the front door open and glanced at her watch. It was later than she’d thought. Glad that she’d cleaned up earlier, Willow looked over her shoulder as she spotted Jack look at them through the living room before heading upstairs, leaving some shopping on the kitchen bench. Willow let out a sigh and allowed herself to relax as she watched the clouds drifting by.
Colorado Springs wasn’t home, but, one day, maybe, it would become a home for them both.A.N. A little update to keep you all going. Thanks to everyone who has been reviewing. I really appreciate it. Keep it up...
Thank-yous also go to my Beta reader. Unfortunately my next semester at college is about to start so updates will become less frequent from now on, but i promise to update when i can.