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Lonely Souls

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The second (much longer) installment in the Waifs and Strays AU. Covers season 1. Please READ THE SERIES INTRODUCTION!

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Joyce-Centered(Current Donor)vidiconFR1598780,1331571476385,45028 May 115 Jul 14No

Social workers and interior decorating

Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta’s, Letomo and EllandrahSylver.

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. And you can thank Twilightwanderer for the Abbott and Costello.

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

Thanks to all my recommenders for sticking with me. And to all my reviewers, thank you as well. Remember, reviews encourage me and inspire me and may change the course of (his) tory…

Chapter 63 Social workers and interior decorating

Monday, November 6th

“Do you think flowers would be over the top?” the Master mused as he sat in his chair, goblet in hand.

“I’d say send her a new bicycle and flowers, and a heartfelt thank you note. They were a disgrace to your species,” Rochus replied.

“True, true. They did unexpectedly well, however,” the Master pointed out.

“There were twenty-seven of them. And the demon ducks. It would have been a miracle if they hadn’t managed to do as well as they did.” Rochus’ mouth tentacles moved in amusement. “I liked the ducks.”

“Yes, young Mr. Wells really ought to be commended. Most amusing,” the Master grinned. “Perhaps a small, tasteful bouquet and a gift voucher to Neiman Marcus?”

“That ought to confuse them all quite thoroughly. With a handwritten message.” Rochus tapped his claws on the armrest of his chair. “And perhaps a tome of minor rituals for Mr. Wells?”

“Most certainly. Such amusing antics ought to be encouraged.”

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Paige Matthews yawned. “Can you explain to me again why we are doing this so early?”

“A very simple reason. Mealtimes are times at which you can see a family interact. Breakfast is not the best time of day for most teens,” Matt smirked at his intern, who groaned.

“I bet you had coffee!” Paige accused him.

“Of course. Why, didn't you? Was the pot empty?” Matt said guilelessly.

“I hate you,” Paige pouted, and crossed her arms. Matt's car stopped in front of 1630 Revello Drive. The social workers got out and walked up the path, seeing the construction work going on to connect it to 1628 and 1632, the foundation holes and the casings for the concrete.

A badly mangled candy apple red bike sat next to the house, Matt noted. Obviously new and equally obviously vandalized beyond repair.

He led Paige around the house and through the window in the kitchen door saw that the kitchen was full. He knocked on the kitchen door and waited. It opened, revealing a light brunette or dark blond with very clear blue-grey eyes, about nine or ten, looking up at him with frank, appraising eyes. She obviously noted the different dress style, the neat grey suit and tie for Matt and the colourful light yellow and red pantsuit worn by Paige.

*Dawn Summers* He noted to himself. “Good morning, Miss Summers. My name is -”

“Matthew Duncan.” Dawn glared at the two social workers. Paige shifted uncomfortably. Matt was unaffected. It was a formidable glare for a nine-year-old, but when all was said and done he had faced worse.

The girl looked at the sun and then at the two social workers. She opened the door, but they remained politely waiting. “I suppose you should come in,” Dawn commented grudgingly, and stepped aside for the two of them to pass.

The kitchen was indeed full. There were teenagers and adults and four young women in their twenties. Joyce Summers stepped forward and intercepted them. “Good morning. Can I help you?”

“I think you may remember me, I'm Matt Duncan, this is Paige Matthews, we’re with Sunnydale social services. We are here to see Xander, Willow and Kit.”

“Xander is sleeping. Willow and Kit as well,” Joyce demurred, stiffly.

“Sleeping? They are not going to school today?” Paige asked quickly.

“Not today, no.” Joyce shook her head. “We hope Kit can go to St. Ursula's after Christmas.”

“And Xander and Willow? Miss Rosenberg's attendance record is near perfect...” Matt baited.

“Yes, it is. Come with me, please.”

Joyce nodded at three older women who smiled and then looked at Buffy and Dawn. Both sighed and resumed eating. Joyce led Matt and Paige into the sitting room and waved at a couch. Paige was mortified to find herself yawning. Joyce smiled and went to the kitchen to fetch three mugs of coffee. She put a thin folder on the table.

“Xander's father killed his mother. He’s understandably… upset. He may be acting tough, but he hardly slept. So we're keeping him home today. Not even Principal Snyder was able to say that it was nonsense.” Joyce sipped her coffee.

Paige gawped and Matt looked uncomfortable. “About Xander... we've had some news, and we feel we ought to tell you now rather than later.”

“Is this about his cousin? Cousins, I should say.”

Matt blinked. “You know about that?”

“Happenstance.” Joyce scowled and then muttered something about stupid boyfriends and their stupid British influence and then sighed. “Coincidence. Jessica Harris was found by my fiancée and two friends of the family. One of them realized she was a cousin to her. And his father's cousin came by last night, she’d met Buffy and they got talking. Hannah White Doe Harris.”

“Yes. Quite. Umm. Ms. Summers? We can't allow Xander to be raised without a Native American influence...” Matt sounded apologetic.

Joyce snorted. “Simon is descended from Rebecca Rolfe, but I doubt that counts?”

“Who?” Paige asked confused.

“The English name of Pocahontas,” Joyce replied dryly.

Paige grinned and bounced like a schoolgirl. “Really? Cool!”

Joyce laughed. “Yes, really. Would you please excuse me?” She rose and went to the kitchen, returning a minute or so later with an older man with a lined, weathered face who sat down opposite them and smiled. “This is my father, Chief James Caldecott Four Bears Ellis,” Joyce smirked.

Matt opened his mouth. And then looked at the placid gentleman on the couch opposite, and then at the man's daughter. James smiled. “Cecelia is as blonde as wheat under the sun. And she has good strong genes. Has Iroquois blood, too.”

“What, she does? We do?” Joyce blurted out.

James smiled. “Never assume you know everything about your parents, Joyce.”

Joyce sniffed and glared. “Well some things I could do without knowing. But this you might have told me earlier.”

James shrugged. “The blood without the heritage is of no use. She never paid much attention to it.”

Matt cleared his throat. “So it seems that Xander would be instructed in his Native American heritage...”

Joyce held up a hand. “If he wants to be. Tony and Jessica Harris never even told him he was one-eighth Native American. Buffy and Dawn are too, by the way, and I am teaching them and so is Dad. But I'm not going to force him to learn if he does not want to.” 

Matt nodded. “That I suppose is fair. But with at least two living cousins...”

“Jenny is twenty-five, unmarried and really not ready for a teenage son. The rest of Jessica's family disowned her. Hannah is the only Harris who paid any attention to Xander, enough to travel across the country, but she's more than glad to leave him here,” Joyce supplied quickly, an anxious undertone in her voice.

“We'd have to talk to her ourselves to ascertain that, Ms. Summers.”

“I understand. She will be over later, but she's currently at the Sunnydale Motor Inn,” Joyce grimaced. “I offered a bed, but she preferred to stay on her own.”

Matt looked around the sitting room, and at the kitchen door, apparently considering the number of people currently staying at the house. “I see, well, no doubt she will be in touch. That leaves Willow…”   

Joyce reached over to the table by the couch and handed over a slim medical record. “At the tab,” was all she said. After the social worker opened the file to the place she’d indicated, she explained, “We found that out yesterday as well.” 

Matt read the page and his eyebrows lifted. “She didn’t know?”

“No, neither did Willow’s grandmother. Sheila Rosenberg did not reconcile her differences with Danielle until about a week after Willow’s birth. When she needed a cheap babysitter.”

Matt tapped his teeth with a finger, a nervous habit he had long ago picked up. “Well, that must have been unsettling for her.”

“Very, except for Xander and Jesse, Willow has always been very lonely, it’s one reason she likes it here, she is seldom really alone, unless she chooses to be.” Joyce cleared her throat. “Having a nosy little sister certainly makes it difficult.”

The kitchen door closed fractionally and Paige bit her lip, stifling her amusement. “Well, and then there’s Katherine…” Paige began.

“Kit. She hates being called Katherine,” Joyce corrected.

“We are worried about her education. You told us she won’t be going to school until after Christmas…” Matt continued.

Joyce glared at the two social workers, rising from her seat, her face indignant. “My daughter just had a severe relapse and had to be operated on for seven hours! She nearly died and you are worried about her education?” she asked scornfully.

Matt and Paige cowered into the sofa. “Err… I didn’t realize it was that bad…” Matt began.

“A full report was sent to Social Services,” was Joyce’s cutting reply. “But for your information, Kit is being homeschooled by myself – I have an MA in Art History; my fiancé, Dr. Meier, an M.D.; my sister Arlene who has PhD’s in Archaeology and Paleo-Biology and is a professor at the University of Chicago, currently on sabbatical; and my sister Clarice, who has an MA in Criminal Psychology. And before you ask, Arlene’s daughter Evelyn gets the same homeschooling!”

Matt Duncan cleared his throat. “That is quite err… extensive. Thank you,” he smiled. “I imagine it has been a stressful few days?”

Joyce sighed. “Yes, it has. My apologies for my outburst, but what with the mess with Xander’s birth parents, and Willow learning she had sisters, well, the house is rather fraught with emotions.” 

Matt grinned. “Actually, the fact you care so much is very good to see. Kit will go to St. Ursula’s?”

Joyce grinned wickedly. “If she were feeling better I’d get her to show you her uniform. She’s very, very annoyed.”

Paige stifled a sympathetic groan. “A school uniform? Oh, I see. Yes.”

“Skirt with pleats. Green plaid,” Joyce noted, eying the rather colourfully dressed young social worker.

Matt grinned at Paige who suddenly looked uncomfortable. “Can we see one of the children?” he asked.

Joyce shrugged. “Well, I was hoping at least one-”

There was a stumbling noise on the stairs and Willow came down the stairs, her hair sleep ruffled, in a pink dressing gown over her green pajamas and wearing a pair of slippers in the shape of owls and carrying her tatty stuffed bear. She yawned, rubbed her eyes and called out. “Mom? You still here? I thought you were going to the Gallery…” saw the guests, looked down at herself, blushed, let out an embarrassed ‘eep’ and ran back upstairs.

Matt very manfully kept from laughing. Paige winced. “Ouch, poor girl.”

Joyce rolled her eyes. “Well, one of them is awake. Evy is in the kitchen, with Arlene.” Joyce sighed. “I’ll just go up and tell Willow it’s no problem.” She looked at Matt. “It isn’t, is it?” 

“Since we come by at all hours, we expect to see people in various stages of dress,” Matt reassured her.

Joyce went upstairs and Matt walked to the kitchen door. Simon was coaxing Dawn to eat. Arlene was talking quietly with Evy. James and Cecelia were comforting Buffy about the fact she had to go to school while most of her siblings didn’t. Matt, who didn’t know all the names and the people, saw and heard a family that had been shocked but was coping.

He walked back to the couch and wasn’t tremendously surprised when a rather harassed looking Joyce Summers came back downstairs, grabbed a phone, dialed, smiled at him and Paige absently and spoke to the person on the other end.

“Marianne? It’s Joyce. Look I hate doing this, and I’ll pay double… You will? Oh, thank you. Thank you. Yes, his mother. Thank you for understanding. I hope to see you tomorrow. Bye!” Joyce hung up and sighed. “I’m sorry, but Willow just had a panic attack, and I promised I’d be right back.”

“A panic attack? What about?” Paige asked, worriedly.

“She just realized she has a brother and three sisters to lose now,” Joyce shrugged, hopelessly.

Matt nodded. “We’ll be back later, when things are quieter.”

Joyce laughed. “In this household?” She quickly let them out of the house. Matt looked through the window beside the door and saw her hurrying up the stairs. They saw her walk through the glass hall over the arch to Willow’s room almost immediately afterwards. They got in the car and drove away.

“You think those kids want to leave?” Paige asked.

“Hell, no. I wouldn’t either”

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Sunnydale Research, Main Lab, location of the Battle against Moloch, Monday morning, November 6th.

The great steel doors in the back room of the lab were sealed shut and the three workmen looked at it with a certain amount of distaste. The engineer tapped it lightly. “Right, we want this open. The walls are seven feet of reinforced concrete. There are two doors, this one and the other that opens onto the room, the alarms and the fire released a quick drying polymer cement in the cavity between them and the into the air vents. We need to get at whatever lies beyond. It still draws power and we haven’t been able to locate the off switch. We think it was the main frame, though it is probably a pile of melted slag by now. Everything clear?”

The workmen looked at the door, and then at the engineer. “We need a bigger hammer.” The smallest one stated. The other two grinned.

The engineer rolled his eyes. “I’ll leave you to it, then.”

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Ten minutes after coming home from school Cordelia Chase straightened her dress and blouse and bit her lip as she checked her image in the mirror. Not too much lipstick, and not too little. Hair just so. She closed her eyes and prayed to a god she no longer believed in. She took a deep breath and left her luxurious en suite bathroom, walking through her bedroom, into the hallway and then to the stair landing, and took another deep breath before schooling her face into the expressionless mask she had learned to wear around her father and then knocking on the door of her father’s study.

“Come in.” Victor Chase did not call out; he spoke in a carrying voice. Control was one of the things Chase admired. Control over emotions, control over people.

“Well, Cordelia? What did you find out?”

“Harris and Rosenberg weren’t at school. Harris’ biological father killed his biological mother. I don’t know why Rosenberg wasn’t there. I overheard Summers talking to Madison, apparently Harris and Rosenberg are going to be adopted as soon as possible.”

“Adopted? Interesting. Continue.”

“There is little left to tell. There seem to be more bodyguards. Summers complained about her real father not being worth much. And apparently Buffy’s aunt is dating Madison’s father, and is also somehow Dr. Meier’s sister.” Cordelia controlled her trembling as best she could, hoping her father would consider her report sufficient. Her eyes flickered to the canes hanging over the fireplace.

“So she is sister to both of them? Are you sure you heard that correctly?” Victor rose and rubbed his fingers over the bamboo canes, one after the other.

Cordelia swallowed. “Yes, father. Positive.”

“Very well. You may go. Tell your mother I want to see her.”

“Yes, father.” Cordelia left quickly, closed the door quietly and let out a breath of relief that her report had not elicited another beating. Then she straightened and went to tell her mother that her father wanted her.

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The lazy afternoon sun hung over Sunnydale as a black car drew up in front of 1630 Revello Drive. Sam Carter got out and so did Jack O’Neill. A silver sedan of uncertain make pulled up behind them. Jon and Daniel emerged from that one. Jon hummed as he thumped the ground with his cane. Jack took a deep breath, squared his shoulders and mounted the steps.

He pressed the bell and waited. The door opened to a crack, showing a tiny blonde girl with hazel or green eyes, who eyed him warily. “What do you want?”

“My name is Colonel O’Neill; I’m looking for Major Arlene Ellis,” Jack replied.

There was a gasp and suddenly the door was torn open. An auburn haired, growling apparition stood before the Air Force Colonel. Sam recognized her from her picture, Daniel from meeting her. Jack, however, knew her best. “Major Arlene Barbara Ellis, by order of the Secretary of Defense, your commission is being reactivated. You have two months from today to report to NORAD where you will take up a position in Deep Space Telemetry.”

Arlene’s hands fisted. Jack looked at her forehead, not meeting her eyes. That was a mistake, as he missed the point where Arlene finally lost it and kneed him as hard as she could, in the crotch.

Sam gasped, as did Daniel. Jon beamed and applauded. “Good girl, right in the knackers.”

Sam glared at the old man. “She kicked her superior officer!”

“No, she kicked her ex-boyfriend. He’s not officially her superior until she reports for duty.” Jon looked down at his groaning grandson and pursed his lips. “Well, I’ll introduce myself, apologize for Mr. Duty-before-love here and then we can drag him off to the nearest ice bag.”

“Jon? Is that you?” Simon’s voice came from inside.

“Simon? What are you doing here?” Jon replied, confused.

“I live here. You just activated my fiancée’s sister. And what are you doing with a bunch of Air Force officers?”

“Your sister-in-law? Hmmm. Do you have an ice bag? We can talk while my grandson whimpers.”

“Grandson?” Arlene growled. “That piece of shit is your grandson?”

“Yes, and before you continue, I never taught him to abandon women. I-“ Suddenly, Jon caught a sharp breath, eyes widening as he spotted something behind Arlene, inside the house. “Oh. My. Fucking. God!” Jon staggered and grabbed the doorjamb, pale as a sheet.

Simon leaped forward and took hold of him. “Jon?” 

“Helen…” Jon pointed a trembling finger at the young girl peeking over Arlene’s shoulder. “She looks like my Helen…” He looked down at Jack, who was slowly getting back to his feet, and then up at Arlene. “You can kick him again, I’ll hold him.” He added rather viciously.

“Granddad!” Jack protested, groaning in a way that would have been called whining by anyone else.

“The child Major Arlene Ellis could not have without you knowing about it? The teenage girl? She’s yours, you blithering moron,” Jon snapped, scathingly. He saw Jack’s face pale, saw the blue eyes roll back and sighed as his grandson hit the floor again. “Damn. I could have put that better.”

Jon groaned as he knelt by Jack and looked up rather helplessly at Arlene. “Look, I know you have no reason to help…”

Arlene gritted her teeth and looked over her shoulder where Joyce was standing with her arms crossed and a disapproving look on her face. Then her shoulders sagged. “Since this is my sister’s house and she is giving me the death glare, I don’t think my objecting would make much of a difference.”

“No. It won’t. Good afternoon, Colonel,” James interjected, quietly.

“Afternoon, Paisley,” Jon answered, absentmindedly, before looking up at James and groaning again. “Wonderful. Your daughter?” He nodded at Arlene.

“Yes, sir. Please don’t call me that, sir,” James pleaded.

Jon grinned. “Help me with this idiot and I’ll see what I can do. Captain Carter, Dr. Jackson, help carry this lug nut to the couch.”

Simon helped Jon rise and then Jack was carried to the couch by Daniel, Simon, Sam and James. James gently put the younger man’s head down and put a pillow under it. Arlene glared at Jack while hugging Evy closely. Daniel blinked and looked at Sam, then sidled over to the Air Force Captain and whispered. “Did that girl just become invisible?”

Sam glanced at the mother and daughter and was about to remark that the girl looked perfectly visible to her and Daniel ought to get his eyes checked after a year in the desert, when the girl faded. “Yes,” she managed her own strangled whisper. “She did.”  

Arlene had noticed her daughter’s reaction as well and whispered soothing words to her, while hugging her close. Her face was still thunderous and focused on Jack. “Arlene, go see your mother,” James commanded quietly.

“What?” Arlene glared at her father.

“Arlene, you’re not thinking straight, otherwise you would not have acted the way you did, and Evy would be your first concern. Go see your mother. Now please.”

Arlene glared at him. Evy suddenly slipped out from under her arm and walked over to Jon, who was leaning on the couch, trembling, his eyes closed, whispering to himself. She reached out a hand to support him. “What is he saying?” she asked.

“And the Lost Child will carry the Scepter, and the Gate Opened, and in the hand of the Lost Child will lie death and Life. For such is the Will of Osiris,” Daniel translated, without thinking and then blinked. “Wait, what?”

Penelope, who had been watching the drama with her granddaughters, gasped. “The prophecy of the Scepter. Simon, who is this man?”

“Jonathan, Lord Carnahan. My chief archivist. Bearer of the Scepter of Osiris,” came the clipped answer as Simon and Evy lowered Jon onto the couch.

“Oh dear. And Jack is his grandson and Evy is Jack’s daughter?” Penelope inquired.

“Apparently.” Simon felt the thready pulse in Jon’s neck and a look sent Willow scurrying for the emergency bag and Xander to the locked refrigerator in the basement that held the adrenaline and other medical supplies that needed to be stored cold.

Arlene growled and strode over to drag Evy away from Jon, but Penelope intercepted her. “Oh no you don’t,” she glared at Arlene. “You are coming with me, Cece is next door. Joyce, we will need you, James, you as well.” She looked around the room and smiled at Willow who was bouncing up and down, Simon’s bag in both hands, hoping to be noticed. “Simon?”

Simon looked over and sighed. “Willow, Amy, listen to what your Aunt Penny and grandmother say. Otherwise you will be handed over to your mother,” he pointed at Willow, then turned to Amy and added, “and you to Clarice for your punishments. Understood?”

The girls let out a near simultaneous “Meep!” of shock and then nodded. 

Penelope grinned. “Well then, everyone who wants to see an enchantment broken, come with me.”

“Enchantment?” Arlene grated out.

“And a very nasty one, too.” Penelope assured her. “Very well hidden. We will check Jack later, but yours probably enhanced your natural ah… dislike of being abandoned and turned it into a full-fledged murderous rage.” She looked at the unconscious man on the couch and then at Evy. “Quite understandable rage, really.”

“Mom? Please go and get the spell taken care of,” Evy pleaded.

Arlene looked about ready to explode and then deflated, nodded and let Penelope lead her away. Joyce followed. James took Xander by the arm, who had reappeared with a box of ampoules and looked confused at being dragged off.

Evy looked between her mother and Jon and then bit her lip. Arlene sighed. “Simon, look after Evy, please?”

Simon nodded reassuringly and Arlene left, guided by James’s arm around her shoulder.

Sam and Daniel stood uncertainly until Danielle looked over her shoulder and sighed. “You two had better come along. If you’re going to hang around here you might as well see what is really going on.”

Daniel looked thoughtful. “Will it make us happier to know?”

Danielle returned the look, a calculating expression on her face, studying Daniel closely. “You already know about vampires?”

Sam looked at her arm and then up, skepticism on her face. “So I’ve been told. I’m not certain I believe it.”

Penelope rolled her eyes. “You prefer genetic mutations, strange viruses and aliens as an explanation, I suppose?”

Sam flushed slightly, at the older woman’s words struck a nerve.

Willow raised a hand. “Actually, since magic seems to run more strongly in some families, genetic mutations might be a good explanation…err… Sorry?” her initial enthusiasm faded as she saw Penelope’s expression.

Penelope’s glare softened and she let out a chuckle. “Don’t worry dear. It has nothing to do with you, just with…” She waved a hand at Brenda and Sunnydale in general.

Willow nodded sheepishly. “Oh, of course. Sorry, Brenda.” 

Brenda smiled. “Not a problem, Will.”

Penelope returned her gaze towards Sam. The Air Force officer defiantly stood her ground. “I don’t know what is going on, I don’t know if it is the manipulation of quantum mechanics by psychic means, but I’m not just accepting the statement ‘It’s magic, accept it’ as a scientific fact!”

Penelope grinned. “Well, I can’t tell you how we do it, just that it works. It might be psychic manipulation of quarks for all I know. But it is real. And calling them Aliens or ‘virus-mutated post mortem ambulatory exsanguinators’ or vampires, or whatever, still does not mean that they are not real either, and that they are not a threat, and need to be fought.”

Sam nodded, grudgingly. “Yeah, I suppose I can.”

“Then I think that seeing what may be used to fight them is not going to make things worse,” she smiled at Daniel, “And it may give you an insight in what it might be, if magic is not something you are willing to accept,” this time she smiled at Sam. “Who knows, it may bring you a little comfort, some nights.”

“Wonderful.” Sam muttered. “Vampires, demons and magic. All supposedly real,” she glared at Danielle. “Do you have any ideas what you are doing to scientific theory? If this is all true?”

Danielle grinned. “No, but Willow and her boyfriend, Dave, do. You might want to talk to them, maybe you can understand them.”  

Sam glanced at Willow, sighed and followed. “Yeah, I will. Maybe it will help.”

Daniel just shook his head, followed and smiled.

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Evy sat down on her knees on the couch, putting her hands between them, leaning forward. She was very close to Jon and seemed to be very confused. Jon opened his eyes and smiled at her weakly. “Hello.”

“Hey,” Evy answered. “So you are my other grandfather?”

“Great-grandfather. I’m your father’s grandfather.”

“So what do I call you?” Evy’s forehead crinkled.

“Well, what do you call Pais- your mother’s father?”

“Grandpa, or granddad.”

“Well, you can call me granddad, or granddad Jon. ”

“Grandpa Jon?” Evy offered, hesitantly.

Jon smiled. “That will do nicely.” He closed his eyes again.

“Jon, drink this.” Simon had filled a glass with water and handed it to Jon. Jon drank and then looked at Evy, who was studying him as if he was a most interesting insect.

“Who was Helen?” Evy blurted out.

“My wife. Your father’s grandmother.” Jon reached into his pocket and took out his wallet, showing Evy a number of rather faded and wrinkled pictures. “This is Helen, she died when our daughter was six.” Evy pointed at one of them. “And who is this?”

“Evelyn, our daughter, your grandmother. She was named after my sister,” Jon swallowed heavily. “Evy was killed by a vampire when your father was about eight.”

“Oh. And this?” She pointed at the oldest picture, a small one, of a young, bespectacled woman bent over a large book.

“That is another Evy. My sister,” Jon clarified. “That was taken a long time ago, in Cairo.”

“She was pretty.”

“She still is.” Jon smiled. “She lives in Britain.”

“Oh. Do you think she wants to meet me? And Mom?”

“In your father’s words, Yeah, sure, you betcha,” Jon winked. “I’ll have to call her. She will be over the moon to hear about you.”

“So you don’t mind? Me being your great-granddaughter?” Evy asked uncertainly.

“Not at all. I’m delighted,” Jon assured her.

“Jon, you need to rest.” Simon gave the older man a look. “You’ve had a shock and-”

“He can sleep in my bed,” Evy interrupted quickly. “Mom won’t mind.” She looked up pleadingly at Simon.

Simon smiled down. “Very well.” He glanced at the still unconscious Jack and helped Jon to rise, almost lifting him into the wheelchair that Hurst had brought in after recognizing the old archivist’s car. Jon rolled his eyes but settled in the chair for the short journey to the basement stairs

Simon led Jon down the stairs to the basement, closed the curtains and looked back to see Evy help Jon out of his coat and waistcoat, his shoes already removed. Jon looked rather bemused.

Simon’s face darkened and he leaned over to whisper to Jon. “She had lots of experience. She was treated as a servant.”

Jon’s eyes widened and then his face hardened. “Simon, would you mind if Evy stayed? I’m sure she has many questions.”

Simon looked between them and then looked at the clock. “Half an hour. No more.”

Evy looked rebellious but Jon grinned at her. “It will be enough for now. Come here.” He swung up on the bed and patted it. After a moment’s hesitation, Evy sat beside him.

Simon left, going to check on Jack. When he returned half an hour later, Evy was curled into Jon’s side, his arm protectively around her and they were both sleeping.

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When Jack woke up something very cold was pressing on his throbbing groin. He opened his eyes and looked straight into the dark brown eyes of a man he had met several times before. He almost yelped. The man reached out and kept him from rising. “You fainted, Colonel, and Arlene hit you rather hard. The aversion spell cast on the both of you came back with full effect when you met. Not to mention Arlene’s very real feelings of abandonment and…”

“Johnson women’s temper, yeah. I think you said she was your fiancée’s sister?” Jack tensed, expecting to have his ass chewed.

“Yes, I’m marrying her younger sister.”

“Joyce or Charlotte?” Jack asked absently, while scanning the room.

“Joyce… You seem to remember a lot about Arlene and her family.”

“I loved her. I still don’t know why I didn’t tell her why I had to leave. She knew, she understood about duty. She would… I don’t know, I think she would have understood.”

“It was a spell. Did you want to marry her?”

Jack snorted. “I was scared. But yeah, I think so. Why did they cast a spell?”

“They needed you out of the way so they could manipulate Arlene into giving up Evy for adoption. I would not be surprised if they engineered the mission you were sent on in the first place,” Simon explained, as he picked up a medical flashlight. “You seem quite lucid, but I need to check for concussion. Jon apologized for his words, by the way. He’s resting.”

“Resting? Is he alright?” Jack was about to rise again and Simon stopped him once more.

“He’s old, Colonel, and seeing Evy was a great shock. He’s resting easily now, sleeping.”

“How did Evy react?”

“She was frightened, excited and curious. For some reason she took to him immediately.”

Jack sighed. “Dogs, small children, and beautiful women. It’s this thing he has. And I missed it.”

Simon smiled. “Yes, but we have it all on film.”

Jack grinned and then sobered. “She wasn’t with Arlene. Now she is. Why?”

Simon took a deep breath. “Have you ever heard of something called Operation Marigold?”

Jack’s face darkened and his mouth settled in a grim line. “You could say I do, yeah.”

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Matt Duncan whistled as he walked up the path to 1630 Revello Drive, noting the parked cars and the lights on in 1628. He rang the bell, looking over his shoulder, smiling at Paige, who was looking over the ruined red bicycle. “Come on, Paige.”

Paige nodded and hastened up. “Just wondering what happened to the bike.”

The door was opened by a tall, dark haired man who seemed distracted and then smiled. “Oh, Mr. Duncan, Miss Matthews.” He stepped aside and Matt and Paige, after exchanging looks, went in.

Matt saw the Air Force Colonel on the couch, an ice bag on his groin, almost immediately upon entering.

“Err… Good afternoon?”

Jack waved quite cheerfully. “Hello. I’m Jack. Evy’s dad. You must be her Social workers.”

“Yes, yes we are. What happened?”

“I came to call Arlene to active duty. I left her while she was pregnant with Evy, though in my defence I didn’t know she was. Arlene has the Johnson Women’s temper,” Jack replied dryly. “Does that explain things?”

Matt blinked. “You seem quite relaxed about it…” He ventured.

“I abandoned her. I deserved everything I got,” Jack smiled broadly. “Got to love strong women.”

Matt blinked. “Right. Of course. Can we talk to some of the children?”

Simon nodded. “Kit is awake and upstairs. Joyce had gone next door with the others, doing something to do with interior decorating. Evy is downstairs, asleep.”

Matt nodded in understanding. “Can we see Kit?”

“I’ll lead you up.” Simon gestured at the stairs and Matt and Paige followed. Simon knocked at a door and there was a grudging ‘come in.’

Kit was leaning against her pillows, a pile of school books on her nightstand, a laptop at her side and a disgruntled look on her pale face. She wore a t-shirt with a My Little Pony on it and a tatty, if clean stuffed bear peeked out from under her blankets. Her cast was covered in drawings and names. “DAAAAADDDD!!! Dawn doesn’t have to learn French! Why do I?” she whined.

Matt coughed, hiding his laugh. Paige grinned. “You’re making her learn French?”

Simon looked rather pale and a bit shocked but shrugged. “It’s a required subject at St. Ursula’s. Spanish would make more sense to me.”

Kit glared. “They’re making me take that too! And Aunt Clarice wants me to take Latin; she says it will give me a better understanding of the Romance languages.” She crossed her arms awkwardly. “And that so does not mean what I thought it would when she got me to agree to sign up.” She continued, in a highly annoyed voice.

Matt and Paige had to struggle to keep from laughing.

Simon smiled thoughtfully. “Actually, that is a very good point, but my Latin is far too rusty. I doubt Clarice’s is much better, so we’d better bring a tutor…”

“DAD!” Kit yelled. “I won’t have time for anything fun!”

Simon grinned and sat down by her, ruffling her hair. “Don’t worry Kit-Kat, I’ll personally make certain you’ll have time for fun.”

Kit bit her lip and looked uncertain. “Promise?”

“Promise,” Simon leaned in to kiss her forehead as Matt and Paige looked on thoughtfully. “Mr. Duncan and Miss Matthews would like to talk with you.”

“Paige can do that alone. I’d like to talk with you, if you don’t mind,” Matt said.

Simon shrugged and nodded. Paige sat by the bed. “So, Kit, tell me, how have you been, all things considered?”

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Matt Duncan walked thoughtfully past the wood lined trenches and noted that the foundations went deep enough to construct a connecting passage between the two basements as well. No doubt a panic room would be built as well, he mused. Dr. Meier was certainly rich enough to warrant one. The kitchen door was open and showed that the wall to the living room had been broken out, as well as the one to the dining room and the Utility room, the whole being held up by heavy duty jack posts and beams. A large canvas sheet prevented the dust from the building works from seeping upstairs.

The building site was also remarkably neat. Matt carefully made his way inside and then through the dustsheets up the stairs. There was a hole in the wall on the side of the garage and he deduced that there would be another ‘Willow-annex’ there, the main bathroom had been demolished and several doors stood open to ventilate the paint fumes and in one case, curses. He stuck his head in through the door with the curses and saw that it was the Master bedroom. It was dyed a very horrible shade of avocado green, with flaking brown, there was an enormous, built in bed, and the lowered ceiling was covered in wooden slats, painted brown. Xander was using a rather large sledge hammer to break up the bed, aided with more enthusiasm than skill by Willow, while Amy was watching and Buffy was sulking in a corner. All wore gloves and safety goggles.

“It helps distract them to work with their hands, and Patrick and Simon agreed that wrecking something was just what they needed.” Joyce’s voice came from behind Matt.

He turned round and grinned. “Works for me. This place is rather, err…”

“Horrible? Yes, I noticed. It’s a good thing Simon can afford a massive renovation. Come on, there’s someone in Kit’s room you want to meet.”

Matt followed Joyce and in the room that in 1630 held Kit found a tall, rangy woman in worn jeans and a lumberjack shirt busily painting a wall while a woman who looked vaguely familiar did the same with the other. Joyce gestured at the two women. “My sister Clarice and Hannah White Doe, Xander’s cousin.”

Hannah nodded and Clarice smiled and suddenly it clicked. “Wait, Clarice Starling? Darlin’ Starlin’? I thought you were an orphan!” He looked from Joyce to Clarice and then swallowed as both women glared at him equally.

“The onlah… only reason you are still standing upright and not whimpering and clutching your balls is because Willow, Kit and Xander, for some reason I cannot fathom, seem to like you,” Clarice growled, taking a step closer with her paint brush threatening in hand.

Matt stepped back. Joyce rolled her eyes. “Down, ‘Ris.”

“Why?” Clarice asked belligerently.

“Because Mom is behind him, and so is Arlene.” Joyce grinned evilly at Matt. “Now you may be here to check on the children, but that gives you no right to insult my sister…”

Matt gulped and looked at Hannah, who raised an eyebrow. “Don’t look at me, dude. You’re the one who called her that.” She grinned. “I’m working off my sins by painting. Maybe if you grab a brush…”

Matt looked over his shoulder and saw the face of Cecelia Ellis, looking rather more scary than a bear protecting her cubs, and then at Arlene, who seemed to be measuring him up for a casket, and then at Joyce and swallowed.

“Err…I’m really very sorry for insulting you, Miss Starling, Agent Starling?”

“Assistant Director Starling,” Cecelia corrected with pride in her voice. “Go and supervise the bed breaking before Buffy decides she wants to swing the big hammer.”

Matt’s eyes widened in alarm. “She’s far too small to handle that! She’s tiny!”

The entire Johnson clan stepped forward. “Who are you calling tiny?” Clarice and Cecelia chorused, neither of them taller than Buffy.

Hannah sighed. “And here I thought they’d send someone intelligent to clean up Sunnydale Social Services,” she gave Matt a sympathetic smile.

Cecelia glared at Matt. *Definitely worse than her granddaughter.* The nervous Social worker fidgeted.

“One remark like that to Buffy, young man, and I will show you exactly-”

“Cecelia, stop threatening the poor lad. Mr. Duncan, come with me.” James Ellis took Matt by the arm. Once they were back to the door of the Master bedroom, he leaned over and whispered. “If you value your life at all, you will never, ever, make a disparaging remark about their height to any Johnson woman.”

Matt nodded his fervent agreement. James handed him a mask and Matt settled in to watch, and question, the teens demolishing the bed.

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Matt steered the car out of the street and looked at Paige. “Well?”

“She’s very happy she isn’t the child of the man she thought was her father, the guy in jail. So that makes her happy. She’s not quite so happy about going to St. Ursula’s. She won’t tell me what they did to save her life because that might get Ms. Summers and ‘Dad’ into trouble. She seems quite cheerful and other than refusing to talk about that, discusses everything freely. She does wish that Joyce would stop buying her My Little Pony things, as it is and I quote, ‘Totally baby stuff.’ So, what was up with Dr. Meier, he looked quite shocked there for a bit.”

“Yeah, that was what I wanted to talk to him about. That, apparently, was the first time Kit called him ‘Dad’. He wasn’t expecting it for weeks, maybe months yet,” Matt replied. “It shook him, but in a good way.”

“Oh.” Paige considered before answering. “Yeah, that would do it. And the others?”

“A painting party in the next house over, preparing Kit’s room and a non-basement room for Xander. Ms. Summer showed me the plans.”

“Xander and Willow are doing about as well as can be expected.” Matt grinned. “Willow apparently has been sneaking cheese, though she denies it. Someone polished off half a pound of Cheddar, however, and Joyce Summers is determined to get to the bottom of it.” He sighed. “Hannah Harris was there as well. She signed a release form and it’s in my bag. Mr. Ellis… Chief Four Bears, that is, was her own teacher, so she is hardly going to object to Xander being taught by him.” 

“And Evy?”

“Major Ellis and Colonel O’Neill will be working on visitation rights, or so Dr. Meier and Ms. Summers assured me,” Matt scratched his nose. “And they both put their foot down, very firmly, about me going downstairs. Evy and her great-grandfather were resting.” He chuckled. “Dr. Meier did show us a picture of that. Apparently that needs to be sent off to Britain ASAP, for Lady O'Connell to see.” 

Paige sighed a bit wistfully.

Matt smiled at her. “I know you miss your parents, Paige, but you still have the rest of your family. They all love you; you're a wonderful young woman.”

“Yeah. Yeah. So wonderful my birth mother left me behind in a church,” Paige replied bitterly.

“You never know how that can turn out. Do you know that Kit’s Aunt Clarice is Clarice Starling? And Cecelia Ellis is her birth mother.”

Paige’s eyes bugged out. “Wait, what?”

Matt chuckled. “I recognized her. When you see her with her mother and sisters, the likeness is really quite extraordinary. But that is not common knowledge, so keep it to yourself. I’m only telling you because you will be visiting the family more often.”

Paige nodded, still stunned. “Wow… So you think, maybe I’ll meet my birth mother too?”

Matt smiled. “I’d say to never lose hope.”

Paige smiled gratefully and then grinned. “I wonder if we will ever go to that house and find everything perfectly normal?“

“Only if normal is SNAFU,” Matt replied dryly.

Paige giggled.

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The doorbell rang and Willow opened it. Giles stood blinking at her, Jenny’s arm tucked into his. “Oh, hello. Mom’s in the kitchen. Gran, Nana and Aunt Penny are there as well.” Willow smirked as she stepped aside. Giles walked into the foyer, glanced into the sitting room, saw the old gentleman sitting there with Evy and a long, golden spear in his hands and let out a strangled gargle.

Jon looked up and then he rose, quite smoothly, supporting himself with the rather formidable looking weapon, and walked towards the couple. “Dr. Giles, Miss Calendar.” He grinned at Jenny. “Or should I say ‘Dategirl’?”

Jenny blinked, sudden comprehension on her face. “SoS?”

Jon bowed gallantly. “The very same. Your mother… is in the kitchen.” He smiled at her kindly as she flushed. He stopped Giles as the Watcher tried to pass and whispered in his ear. “If you hurt her, I’ll borrow one of Rick’s maces and make your nights with your little Circle of Demon worshippers look like a positive holiday, understood?” Jon’s kindly smile never wavered. 

Giles paled and nodded, whispered “Yes, Lord Carnahan,” glanced longingly at the spear and then fled to the dining room, where he could hear male voices. Jon looked after him and then returned to the couch.

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It was just after dinner and Jon was talking to Evy and Jack kept looking at her with an odd, desperate hungry look on his face. Finally, Arlene moved into his line of sight.

“Jack, we need to talk. Now.”

Daniel rose and stepped between them. “Can I talk to you first, Professor Ellis?”

Arlene’s eyes narrowed and she looked ready to tear the young archaeologist to shreds when Daniel gave her his best pleading look. “Please, it is important, really important.”

Arlene growled. “Very well. Come with me.” She led Daniel to the back porch and leaned against a pillar to face him. Though she was much smaller, Daniel nevertheless swallowed in nervousness. That knee to the groin had looked really painful.

“You know that Jack married?” he asked quickly.

“I vaguely heard about it. I also heard she left him. Good for her,” Arlene snarled. “Was that all?”

“No. They had a son, Charlie.”

“What, he was denied visitation rights?” Arlene demanded to know.

“No… They divorced…” Daniel was looking for words. “Charlie shot himself. With Jack’s gun.”

Arlene gasped. “Impossible.”

“Very possible. Charlie is dead. Evy… Well you can understand what Evy means to him.”

“I need to talk to Jack,” Arlene said absently, her face thoughtful and confused.

“Please, you can’t cut him off from Evy. It would destroy him.”

“Like losing Charlie. Yes. That is why I need to talk to Jack.”

“Professor Ellis!” Daniel exclaimed, shocked.

Arlene rolled her eyes. “Not like that. Jack always, always, kept his guns in a safe. Always. He never forgot it. There is no way he would change that routine, and certainly not with a child in the house.” 

Daniel blinked. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that somebody sought to destroy Jack and did not care how they did it,” Arlene growled her green eyes hard. “And I want to know who, before they come after Evy.”

Daniel stunned, followed meekly as Arlene marched back into the house.

“Jack! We need to talk. Simon, Jon, would you join us?”

Jack looked confused and then nodded, Simon and Jon following. Arlene sat down and looked at Jack. “Daniel told me about Charlie. Jack… It’s impossible.”

Jack glared. “What is?”

“He can’t have gotten at the gun, Jack. Not without help. And I doubt his mother thought it a suitable toy.”

“There was no one in the house. The inquiry said the safe must have failed to lock, or I forgot…” Jack argued – his face bleak.

“No, Jack. No. Jack, Charlie… If anything had happened to Evy, or if they had managed to get control of her…” Arlene shuddered. “He would have been the Heir of the Bearer of the Scepter. Can you imagine how many people might be interested in controlling or ending that line?”

Jack swallowed, tears in his eyes. “They murdered Charlie. They made me think…”

Jon was pale with anger. “Marigold. Jack has known about them for years.”

Arlene nodded pain on her face. “I’m so sorry, Jack.”

Jack shook his head. “No, Arlene, thank you. At least now I know it wasn’t me. That nightmare has been haunting me.”

“Now, about Evy,” Arlene grimaced. “If I have to move to Colorado Springs I may need to ask for child support, unless I can sell or rent my house in Chicago. I can’t maintain that on a Major’s salary as well as a place in the Springs.”

Jon waved a hand. “You can use mine, I’ll just move into one of the apartments.”

Jack blinked, so did Arlene. “What?”

“I will also pay for her education. Jack will just have to inherit a little less,” Jon continued airily.

Arlene exchanged a look with Jack. “You own a house in the Springs?”

“I bought quite bit of property before the Academy was founded. Made a tidy amount of money,” Jon grinned. “I kept some choice plots, as well as a number of rental properties and a house. Six bedrooms, three and a half bath, large living area…” He cajoled.

Arlene looked at Simon, who shrugged. “If he says he owns it, he owns it. Otherwise I would have offered.”

Arlene turned back to Jon. “And in exchange?”

“I want the chance to get to know her better. I’ll move to Colorado Springs, not into the same house, but somewhere near, and -”

“No,” Arlene shook her head. “First we talk to Evy, and if I have a full time job at the Mountain, and Evy does not mind, I’d want you to move in with us.”

Jon smiled, pleased. “I should warn you I have a whole host of disgusting habits.”

“And if even one of them is transferred to Evy, I will take that Scepter and stuff it where the sun does not shine,” Arlene threatened.

Jon gulped, and then grinned. “By George, but I love a woman with fire! He- heck Jack, no matter how powerful the spell, you should never have let this woman go.”

Jack grinned at Arlene, who was eyeing Jon suspiciously. “Sorry Arlene, it's a family thing. We like strong women.”

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Sam Carter bit her lip and then sat down by the redhead who was sitting on the porch wing, looking up at the lit up tree house. “Hey, I don’t think we were properly introduced. Captain Samantha Carter.” *Right. You know this girl understands science, and she is your best bet in getting a handle on what these people actually do and how they do it, not to mention what they are fighting. I doubt I can get her to join the Air Force, but she might still be willing to help the god old US of A if I do this right.*

Willow blinked at suddenly being addressed by a near stranger in full uniform, smiled shyly and then managed a murmured “Willow. Willow Mei- Rosenberg.”

Sam smiled. “Nice to meet you.” Sam looked down at her hands. “I wanted to talk to you, actually.”

Willow gave Sam a surprised look. “Me? Why me?”

Sam winced. “Err… Well, this is a bit painful. You err… Hack?”

Willow flushed and then blanched and started to tremble. “Oh! Oh! You’re here to arrest me? You are, aren’t you? I’m going to jail! Mom warned me this was gonna happen! I don’t want to go to jail! I can’t be in a cell; I don’t want to be Big Dora’s favorite girl!” Willow wailed, starting to cry, heaving great big sobs.

The kitchen door was torn open and Simon hurtled through, took in the scene of Sam helplessly trying to comfort Willow, moved in to sit at Willow’s other side and gathered her close. “What did you do, Captain? Did you threaten my daughter with jail?” His voice was dangerously level.

Sam swallowed, remembering all the stories about General Meier, the ones that had seemed unbelievable when she had seen him interact with his family. “Sir! I asked Miss Rosenberg if she err… hacked. I swear I didn’t threaten or imply anything, sir!”

Simon’s eyes narrowed. “Why did you ask?”

Sam groaned. “I felt guilty.” She looked at her hands again. “I didn’t know she was fifteen when I tracked her down. And then the JAG office got involved.” Sam swallowed. “I-I… she was just so young, and with her track record…” Sam’s voice trailed off.

Simon let out a short laugh. “So you are the one who tracked down my little Elf?” Willow was still sobbing into his shoulder and he gently rocked her and caressed her hair. “I see,” he sighed. “Ordinarily I don’t think Willow would have reacted quite this emotionally, but things have been rather hectic around here.”

Sam looked at the crying girl. “I never intended to, well, err…”

“Not very good with children, Captain?” Simon asked with a slight smile, as Willow’s sobs subsided a bit.

Sam sighed. “Not very, Sir, no. Will she be alright?” Sam added anxiously. *Please, oh please let her be alright. I do not want to spend the next twenty years on latrine duty!*

“She will. Willow is much stronger than she looks. But she has been severely shaken the past few days.”

“I am really very sorry about this,” Sam helplessly repeated.

“Captain Carter, Willow likes hacking, but never realized quite what it was she was doing. Being found out, being held responsible for her actions, those are things that had to happen for her to see the consequences of her actions.”

“Oh. Err…” Sam looked rather unsure of how to reply. After a moment’s silence Simon spoke to Willow in a soothing voice.

“Willow? Willow? Captain Carter is not here to arrest you. I’m not quite certain what she wants to talk to you about, but she is not here to arrest you,” Simon assured his daughter.

“Simon Promise?” Willow whispered, anxiously.

Simon laughed. “Simon promise. Now what did you want to talk to my daughter about, Captain Carter?”

Sam grinned. “Well, after I err… found out about you, I well, I got curious,” she drew a piece of paper from her pocket. “And I found this, so I wanted to talk to you about its practical application in the Air Force and…”

Willow looked at the paper and then her mouth fell open. “DA-A-AD!!” She turned to Simon accusingly. 

Simon lifted an eyebrow? “What? All I did was to submit your paper to AJAS.”

“B-but I wrote it with Dave! It wasn’t finished! It’s bad!” Willow was working up to a full scale panic.

Sam coughed. “It made the short list.”

Willow’s eyes widened, the sheer shock calming her instantly. “It did?”

“Oh, yes. I personally haven’t read anything this good from AJAS since Winifred Burkle wrote about Black Holes.” Sam glared. “And she’s going to study History! What an absolute waste!” 

Simon chuckled at the outburst. “No doubt she disagrees. And so would many of the Founding Fathers.” He glanced at Willow. “Feel up to discussing N-spatial relationships with the good Captain?”

Willow bit her lip “Can Dave come by?”

Simon smiled. “Why don’t you call him, I’m sure Captain Carter won’t mind.” 

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Jack groaned as the ice bag on his groin moved. After Daniel had managed to divert Arlene, and after the revelation that he might not be responsible for his son’s death… He’d withdrawn to the couch, hoping to avoid a confrontation about his daughter. He’d need to tread carefully if he wanted any chance to get to know her, even with Arlene’s grudging admission that he had been just as cruelly used as she and Evy had been.

Dropping into their lives with an Activation Order was not the best way to introduce himself. He winced at the memory of the description Carter had given him of the way Evy had reacted to her and Daniel’s visit. There was a soft giggle and he opened his eyes to see his daughter look at him. “Laughing at a man in pain isn’t very nice,” Jack pointed out.

“You’re lucky. You should have heard what Mom was planning to do to the men who wanted to kidnap me,” Evy pointed out. “If Granddad hadn’t been there, you probably would have been in a hospital. But that would have been bad, because then Mom would be in jail.” Evy’s voice was both thoughtful and distressed at the end of the sentence. 

Jack froze, his mind unerringly going to the most important part of Evy’s words. “Kidnap? Why? Who?”

“Because of my magic. I can become invisible. Uncle Simon thinks some rogue government agency,” Evy stated simply.

“Oh. I see. What about your mother?”

“She has visions. Aunt Charlotte can make things move with her mind, Aunt Joyce is a Mother, Gran can freeze people or blow them up. Aunt Penny can make things move too, but better than Aunt Lolly, because she’s older.”

“Oh. Right. Of course.” Jack blinked at the ease with which Evy revealed her family’s powers. “You’re very trusting.”

“The people who would use us are the same ones who killed Charlie.” Evy flushed. “Oh! I’m sorry! Mom told me not to…” her face tightened as her eyes reflected her sudden distress.

“Evy, Evy it’s alright. You want to know about Charlie?” Jack soothed, though his voice broke a little on his son’s name.

Evy tilted her head. “He was my little brother. Yes. Yes I think I want to know about him. Will you tell me?”

Jack smiled sadly and reached into his jacket. “I have a few pictures. Would you like to see?” 

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Late evening, Monday 6th of November

The car that carried away the three Earth born members of SG- 1 was filled with thoughtful silence. Said silence was finally broken by Sam. “She's very beautiful,” she ventured.

Jack scowled. “Yeah. If any boys come sniffing around I'll have to think up some proper threats.”

Daniel snorted. Sam coughed. “I meant Major Ellis. You seemed quite friendly at the end. Do you think now that the spell is gone you’ll get together again, sir?”

Jack shrugged. “I don't know, but I doubt it. Too much time has passed, too many grudges, guilt, you name it. They may have been inspired by a spell, but they’re still real.”

“I see.” Sam nodded. “Will it affect your functioning, you think, Sir?” she very tentatively asked.

“I'll probably do my darnedest to get home each mission, to get home to Evy. But if you mean between me and Major Ellis? I'll advise the General to keep her at the base, not as an SG team member. She will be invaluable as an analyst and she would kill us if we kept her from Evy. Evy is still very fragile.” Jack scowled as he remembered the things he had been told about the way his daughter had been treated.

Sam nodded in agreement. “I've no doubt she would make a great team leader, but she would always worry about Evy. Sending her out, at least until Evy is older, would not be wise, I think.”

“Yeah, she might get upset. And we all know what happens when she gets upset. How are you doing, Jack?” Daniel asked solicitously.

“Wonderful. Just peachy,” Jack growled.

“Need another ice bag? General Meier did say that you needed to keep refreshing them...”

“Shut up, Daniel.”

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The car with Jack, Daniel and Sam disappeared in the distance. Evy yawned in the doorway and stumbled to the couch where she collapsed and then promptly fell asleep again.

Jon smiled at the sleeping form of Evy, remembering the look on Jack’s face when his daughter had curled into him and then fallen asleep lying on the couch, and then looked up at Arlene. “She sleeps a lot; I assume that is still an effect of having used her talent for so long?”

Arlene nodded. “We think so.” She bit her lip. “I’m sorry I kneed Jack.”

“I’m not. Jack tends to mope and feel guilty. It went quite a ways to make him feel better, it feels like it evened the score,” Jon sighed. “Bloody idiot.”

“Language, please. Evy might still hear you,” Arlene corrected.

Jon lifted an eyebrow. “From what Jack told me that sounds like pot and kettle.”

Arlene sighed. “I try, okay? I may not be a perfect mother, but I will do my very best.”

“You realize Jack would not have come here, you would not have been activated, if it were not truly important? That it is not spite?” Jon asked anxiously.

“I know. Jack may be petty about things like the TV, but not about things like this.” Arlene looked at the sleeping girl on the couch. “What are your plans? Do you really mean to settle in Colorado Springs.”

“Well, since Simon has settled in Sunnydale to be with his family, I think I may make a point and settle near mine.” He sat on the opposite couch, folded his hands over the Anubis-headed cane and smiled. “I never thought I’d see Jack so happy again, after Charlie died…”

Arlene nodded. “I understand.” She sat beside the old man and sighed. “It might actually be for the best, Sunnydale is not a good place for Evy. She needs to get clear of the dark magic.”

“Colorado Springs has a good atmosphere.” Jon smiled as Evy stirred, her hand looking for something.

Arlene rose, picked up Evy’s fallen bear and put it under her hand. “She will miss the family though, especially Kit.”

“They seem fond of each other.”

“For a while, they were all the other had.” Arlene smiled as Evy brought the old bear up to her face in an endearingly childlike manner and sighed. “I can’t forbid Jack from seeing her,” she glared fiercely at Jon. “But if any of you hurt her…”

Jon looked straight into her eyes. “I will hand you the Scepter myself.”

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Tuesday 7th of November, before school

“And drive carefully, and I packed a lunch, and don't forget to stop and rest and change drivers,” Joyce instructed. “And Brenda, you are just as welcome as your sisters, remember that.”

Penelope grinned at her granddaughters and then her sister. “Yes, Joyce. We will be fine, don't worry. Prue, you’re the first driver. Joyce, if the exhibition gets rebooted we'll be back.”

“We'll have the other houses in order for you to sleep in by then, I promise. Unless you don't want to.” Joyce winked at Phoebe, who stuck out her tongue.

The Halliwells and Brenda exchanged final hugs and then got into the cars, before driving off.

Cecelia looked after them and then at Joyce. “Well, it's time for you to go to the Gallery. Don’t worry; there are enough of us to keep an eye on Kit and Evy and to guide the workmen. Though I'm sure Patrick sent the best he has.”

Joyce grinned at Clarice. “For many reasons. Another date tonight, 'Ris?”

“I'm gonna cook dinner for Amy, Patrick and me.” Clarice shook her shoulder length hair. “And bake a pie with Amy. She's getting a bit tired of brownies.”

Joyce grinned. “Excellent. So, what time will you be home?”

Clarice sniffed and Cecelia harrumphed. “Crude, Joyce, very crude,” Clarice chided, and then grinned. “But I think Amy might go into hysterics if I slept over.”

Cecelia sighed, rolled her eyes and shook her head.

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Tuesday evening, November 7th

Willow took a deep breath and looked at Buffy, who nodded encouragingly, and Dawn, who did the same. Kit looked at her nervously, before running over and giving her a quick hug.

Willow smiled in gratitude, squared her shoulders, knocked on her parent’s bedroom door and went in to face her punishment. Or as her sisters later pointed out, as she ate ice cream with them and her mother on the couch in front of the TV, not face. It turned out Willow was remarkably accurate with a pillow, even while lying on her stomach.

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Wednesday evening, November 8th

“Do you think he will like it?” Joyce looked around the Master bedroom in 1628, bathed in the building lights. She dabbed at a spot of paint on her cheek. After the bed had been torn out and the panelling torn from the ceiling by the combined destructive force that was her children, the room had been cleaned, plastered and painted and the en suite bathroom thoroughly scrubbed. It might be bright orange, but at least it was clean. It, like the main bath, the kitchen and basement, was supposed to have been ripped out for remodelling, but for now the bedroom and its adjacent bathroom were needed for a guest. A guest Joyce in particular was frightened of welcoming, as was clear from her tone of voice.

Danielle rolled her eyes at Cecelia. “He is not an ogre, Joyce. Charles Winchester is a very cultured man, with a great deal of empathy. He has been looking out for Simon for years. And yes, he will love you, and no, he won’t think you aren’t good enough for him. ”

“But he’s a Boston Brahmin-”

“Joyce, his entire family is dead. All he has left is a cousin, who is a wastrel and a drunk. His sister and his niece were drowned in a car accident in 1962, his mother died of grief. Simon is really all he has, and all he has ever wanted for Simon is for him to be happy. You make him happy. The only thing in the world that could make Charles any happier was if you…” Danielle sighed.

“If I what?” Joyce asked. Danielle just shook her head. “If I what?” Joyce demanded.

“Nothing you can do, Joyce. Simon took away the option in 1966,” Danielle finally explained.

“Oh. Children,” Joyce sighed. “He’ll just have to be happy with the children we have.”

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Thursday afternoon, 9th November

The big black BMW pulled up in front of the house and Hurst got out, opening the door for the passenger.

The gentleman, who emerged before Dawn and Kit’s curious eyes, as they peeked over the edge of the windowsill of the master bedroom, was still tall and straight, but what little hair remained was a close shaven fringe around his bald pate. His forehead was high and his eyes bright blue. The door opened and Simon rushed down the stairs. The tall, old man opened his arms. He was as tall as Simon, despite his age, and in his youth must almost have been twice as broad as well.

“Wow,” Kit whispered. “He must have been really big when he was young.”

Dawn nodded. “Simon seems really pleased to see him.”

“I heard Dad tell Aunt Joyce that he was the only real father he ever had,” Kit replied, still whispering.

Dawn grinned at the way Kit spoke about her mother. The other girl had never had a father, so it was easy for her to slip in the mode of address that Willow and Xander used. She had had a real mother, so, despite the obvious affection she had for Joyce, she still only rated an ‘Aunt Joyce’, which Joyce had pointed out, was a vast improvement over Ms. Summers.   

“Come on, we have to get downstairs to meet him,” Dawn answered, leading Kit downstairs.

Joyce was standing in the living room, looking rather nervous. Simon came in, carrying an old leather suitcase and followed by the old man, who looked both thoughtful and amused. He winked at Dawn and Kit. “Well, now, isn’t this a much more comfortable and dignified way of taking a good, long look at me?”

Joyce groaned, mortified. Charles laughed. “Don’t worry. I’ve been spied upon by many little girls,” He looked sad for a second, before continuing. “You must be Dawn,” he pointed at Dawn. “And you Kit.”

Kit nodded, Dawn merely stood looking at the man with a grin on her face. “So, what do we call you?” she asked cheekily.

Joyce groaned again. “Dawn!”

Charles laughed, again. “Well, I don’t know. What would you like to call me?”

Kit took a step forward and took Simon’s hand. “I heard Dad tell Aunt Joyce that you were his real father,” she looked apologetically at her foster parents. “So would that make you a sort of grandfather, like Nana Morry is a sort of grandmother?”

Charles blinked and then looked at Joyce who looked about ready to sink through the floor in embarrassment, and then Simon, who merely shrugged and smiled. He looked back at Kit and smiled. “Grandfather, eh? Yes, I think I can live with that.”

Kit smiled back. “Good to meet you, Grandpa Charles.”

End note:  

For those of you who are wondering, this is not a sudden introduction. The fact that Charles would be coming for a visit was stated in Chapter 24…

The American Junior Academy of Sciences (AJAS) is the only US honor society recognizing America's premier high school students for outstanding scientific research. Each state’s Academy of Science nominates high school students as AJAS delegates. The chosen delegates are then invited to attend the AJAS annual conference. The AJAS mission is to introduce, encourage, and accelerate pre-college students into the professional world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

AJAS meets annually in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) annual meeting, and is sponsored by that body. AAAS is the largest scientific organization in the world and the publisher of Science.

And so we finally fully merge these two main story lines. I hope it was an acceptable and enjoyable way.
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