I do not own either Buffy the Vampire Slayer
or Once Upon a Time
. Nor do I own British folklore.Pairings:
Some bad language and references to sex, but no actual sex.Spoilers:
All of Buffy
is fair game. Spoilers up to and including for 1x20 'The Stranger' of Once Upon a Time
.A New Love
“A beautiful woman should never stand alone in company like this,” the English voice commented from above her. “It invites strange men to start a conversation.”
Buffy looked up, determined to give the ‘strange man’ a piece of her mind – and promptly melted on the spot. Gentle brown eyes dominated a face made all the more handsome by the self-deprecating smile its owner was wearing.
“And if we want strange men to start conversations?” she asked, tilting her head.
“Then I would be more than happy to oblige.” He kept an intense look on his face for a full three seconds before the both of them burst out laughing at the sheer cheesiness of the lines.
“Does that – that usually work?” Buffy asked, putting down her wine glass so as not to drop it.
“No,” he admitted, “but then I’m afraid most of the beautiful women I am in company with are sharks.”
“And how do you know I’m not?” Buffy wanted to know, arching an eyebrow.
“A shark would never waste time standing alone – she would be out, circling her prey,” he informed her. “I have a feeling you have better things to do with your time. You certainly look like you’d rather not be here.”
“Yeah, I, uh, I’ve not been out on my own in, God, nearly two years now. Takes some getting used to. I’m only here because the bosses wanted me here to schmooze with the clientele,” she explained. Then she blinked at him. “You’re not clientele, are you?”
“You work for Buckland’s?”
“I’m an antiques and arts appraiser. I specialise in medieval metalwork, with a personal interest in weapons and folklore,” she explained.
“That’s an interesting combination.”
“The kids like fairy tales. I like weapons,” Buffy replied with a grin. She had a good feeling about this guy, and if neither the kids nor the weapons frightened him off, as it did so many men, he might become a friend worth keeping.
“So you’ve not been out without the kids for some time? Were you worrying about them and the babysitter, or about your husband?” the man asked.
“Oh, that was smooth,” Buffy congratulated him. “I am now obliged to tell you that I’m single. I was widowed several years ago. The kids’re Nick, my son, he’s eight, and Emma, my niece. Her mom died during the birth, and her dad before that. It’s just me and the kids.”
“Then you have my sympathies for your loss,” he told her, utterly sincere. “I know only too well how lonely life can be without family.”
Looking into those eyes, Buffy knew he did. They told of an unspeakable loss, a loneliness filled by work and friendships, but lacking a deeper connection. It was an expression she had seen in the mirror, tempered only by her children.
“Thank you,” she murmured, and offered a hand. “Elizabeth Booth. Buffy.”
“Enchanted, Ms. Booth,” he said, placing a kiss on the back of her hand, making her giggle. “Jonathan Irons. Please call me Jack.”
“Then call me Elizabeth.”
“Only my family and oldest friends call me Buffy. My sister couldn’t pronounce Elizabeth,” she explained. In this world, the story was true. “So, you never said. Are you part of the clientele Buckland’s is so keen to impress?”
“Hardly,” he chuckled and Buffy felt a warmth ripple through her at the sound of his laughter. It was the sort of warmth that reminded her how long it had been since she had had a man in her life, someone to hold her and kiss her and, yes, fuck her until she screamed. She shifted slightly, as she started to recognise the signals her body was sending her.
It was ready to be fucked. And it really wouldn’t say no to this guy being the one to do so.
“Oh?” she asked, hoping her voice did not sound as squeaky as it sounded to her.
“I’m here due to one of my own clients. Thought they’d dazzle me with some high culture in order to convince me to take on more high-end cases.”
“Cases? What, you’re a lawyer?” Buffy asked, surprised. The smart suit had said professional, but nothing about him had suggested ‘lawyer.’
“Yes. Specifically corporate law. We keep a few large companies on hand, but on the whole, I tend to be more often on David’s side than Goliath’s,” he explained.
“A giant-killer, huh?” Buffy quipped. There was a flash of something strange in his eyes as he smiled.
“Something like that.”
And so Buffy found herself spending the rest of the evening in the company of Jack Irons, allowing him to introduce her to the few people he did know – and considered ‘worthy of her acquaintance’ – and generally managing only to worry about her children half the time instead of the whole time, and spending the rest telling her body that she was not going to leap into bed with Jack at the first opportunity.
His gentle kiss to her cheek at the end of evening as he handed her into a taxi almost made her jump him then and there. Instead she managed to return a quivering smile and head home, allowing her concern for the kids – being watched by Mrs. Kemp, a fifty-year-old neighbour who informed her that she needed the practice for her own grandchildren (never mind that she had three children still in their teens, none of whom she would permit to watch Buffy’s kids for reasons that Buffy left well alone) – to flood her instead.
As it was, Nick had been good as gold – her neighbour had never seen such a devoted brother, and so well-behaved! – while Emma had been her usual rambunctious self, stubborn, wilful, cheeky, and utterly charming. It took all of Buffy’s energy to keep up with the toddler, and Emma’s endless curiosity made it even tougher.
Nick woke when she looked in on them.
“Mama?” He had clung to the old-fashioned name, and everyone seemed to think him the more adorable for it.
“Hey, how’s my little Pinocchio? Mrs. Kemp tells me you were good,” she murmured, smoothing his hair. It was starting to darken now, just a little, suggesting he’d be more auburn-haired than red by the time he was grown.
“I was,” he answered. “Did you have fun at the party?”
“I did. I even made some new friends,” she joked.
“That’s good,” he whispered with a yawn. “Night, Mama.”
“Goodnight, little one,” Buffy said, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “Sweet dreams.”
She kissed little Emma too, her small body sprawled in her cot. She’d need to get her a proper bed soon, she thought as she brushed back the golden curls.
The next morning, she woke soaked from head to toe due to dreams that had spent the entire night reminding her just how long it was since she had had a boyfriend.
What was it about Jack that had her pulse racing like she was in high school again? Was it the brown eyes and broad smile, a face as good-natured as it was handsome coupled with broad shoulders and a trim body? The way he wore his suit with a playful laziness that told her he’d prefer something more casual? The way his English accent – way yummier than Giles’ – caressed her name, and how she ached to let him into the group that would grant him the right to call her ‘Buffy’?
She tried not to think about him. It lasted for all of three days, when he arrived in her office bearing a dagger that she was sure was sixteenth-century.
“Where did you find this?” she breathed, eyes wide as she released it from its sheath. It was perfectly balanced, folded steel still sharp enough to slice a hair.
“Oh, I pick things up here and there,” he replied.
“This isn’t something you just pick up here or there,” she accused. “This kind of thing belongs in a museum.”
“It’s a knife, and it was made to cut, not to be admired,” he retorted, and she had to concede his point. “But if you’d like the story, I would be happy to give it to you over dinner.”
Buffy had been half-expecting the invitation. She had not expected herself to say yes. But say yes she did, and this time Mrs. Kemp decided that her teenage daughter could help her babysit the kids – “If she manages okay tonight, she can do it for you more often,” the woman proclaimed, and Buffy decided that Mrs. Kemp must have reasons, still to be left well alone, for changing her mind – while Buffy went out.
Nick, now well-acclimated to this world, was quite happy to tease her about her date, but could not help but be excited at the prospect of his mother – and she was that now, there was no longer any lie except the one where she gave birth to him – finding ‘true love.’ Buffy advised him that it was a little early for that, but he shrugged her off and instead held Emma still while they watched the process of Buffy getting ready to go out. Emma, in particular, liked Buffy’s necklace and earrings, a matched set featuring fairies in crescent moons (the discovery of real fairy tales worlds existing, even if they were cursed, had done as much to return Buffy’s sense of whimsy as becoming a mother).
And then Emma decided she didn’t want Buffy to go, and Buffy opened the door to Jack – suited up and holding a lovely bouquet of flowers – with a screaming toddler on her hip. Jack took one look at Emma, pulled a white gerbera from the bouquet, and presented to her with all the gallantry of a medieval knight.
“Would the lovely princess permit me a single night alone with the beautiful queen, that I might woo her and win her heart?” he proclaimed dramatically, making Jenny, Mrs. Kemp’s daughter, giggle from inside.
Emma simply blinked at him, surprised out of her tantrum, and looked at the flower in her hand.
“Pwetty,” she said. “Mama pwetty too.”
Despite her best efforts, Emma would not call her ‘aunt.’ By now, she had given up on anything except making sure that Emma knew the truth when she was older.
“Yes, your mama is very pretty indeed,” Jack agreed amiably. “As pretty as you.”
Emma blinked, and then let out a brilliant smile, and Buffy gave a sigh of relief.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
“Any time.” With those two words, Buffy knew she fell.
The date, complete with a wild story behind the acquisition of the dagger that Buffy was convinced was barely half-true, was a success. It was followed by lunchdates and movies, but they soon fell to outings with the kids, Buffy joking that she was checking his ‘daddy’ credentials before she got too serious. Caution was their watchword.
Buffy soon realised she needn’t have bothered. Jack proved himself everything she wanted him to be. Clever, cunning, compassionate, careful, cautious, creative… He happily listened to Nick’s stories of his fairy tale world, made joking comparisons to other versions of the stories, using it to show how stories could change in the retelling – “That’s how rumours and nasty gossip start, Nick. When people tell things wrong or add little embellishments, until even the truth becomes a lie, and sometimes they have no idea.” His way of treating Emma both like a princess and a tomboy soon won the little girl over, and by the time they had been dating a year, Buffy knew that he was part of the family. The missing link.
Oh, he had his faults. An unfortunate tendency to ‘bring his work home.’ A temper that could get downright vicious when riled, although it was never displayed to Buffy or the kids, displayed primarily against poor drivers and nosy busybodies. Shades of arrogance and overconfidence, but never anything dangerous. That was what made him all the better, all the more real.
Of course, when he proposed and dropped an additional bombshell on Buffy, those elements of his character were rather more understandable.
“Buffy, there – there’s something you need to know about me. And, and you’re going to think I’m completely mad, but I love you, utterly and entirely, and before I can ask you what I need to, I need you to know the truth,” Jack told her, her hand clasped between his.
“Okay,” Buffy said, her entire body suppressing shivers at the seriousness in his voice. “I’ll listen, Jack. I won’t – I’m not gonna judge you.” Then her eyes narrowed as a frisson of horror shot through her. “You’re not gonna tell me you’re married, are you? Because that would be totally –”
“No!” Jack laughed, soothing that fear away. “No, I’m not married. No, it’s, er, do you remember when we first met, and you made that joke about me being a giant-killer?” Buffy blinked and nodded, recalling that night well. “Well, that, er, that wasn’t so metaphorical as it might have been.”
“Wasn’t metapho– Jack, what are you saying?” Buffy asked, her heartbeat thundering in her chest.
“It was the fairy tales,” he murmured. “You liked them, your kids loved them, and I thought, I knew, I could trust you. That you would believe, that you wouldn’t think I’m crazy.”
“I’m Jack the Giant-Killer, Buffy. From the stories. Not in Britain, of course, I don’t know exactly how the stories bleed through, but I got too big for my boots back home. Tried to take what I shouldn’t. It took a magic bean and a portal to a world without magic, this world, to get me to safety.”
“You didn’t try to steal a golden goose, did you?”
“What? No. I, er, I might’ve carried off the giant’s daughter to her erstwhile suitor. He’d been pretty much locked up to prevent him going after her, and he, er, hired me to kill off the giant and free the daughter.”
“But it didn’t go to plan.”
“No. And the giant kept coming after me, wanted to kill the Giant-Killer. I might’ve nicked a magic bean off a fairy in order to make my mistake.”
“And you became a lawyer?”
“I needed some way to help. And, er, I’m older than I look.”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed.
“You told me you were thirty-five.”
“I was! When I came here. But, er, I haven’t aged. Well, until this last year or two. Then I noticed the wrinkles.” And Buffy had a funny feeling that it wasn’t simply Emma and Nick’s arrival that had started that. Obviously their curse was somehow involved.
“So you’ve been here how long?”
“I, uh, fifty years.”
“So, I’m dating an eighty-five-year-old.” Then she gave a sniff. “Still not as old as my first boyfriend.”
So Buffy revealed her secret, and Jack only laughed and told her that it was clearly why they had been drawn together.
“Two, what, outworlders? Exiles? We were meant for each other.” And then he brought out the ring, a beautiful thing of antique gold and emerald, ivy-leaves engraved into the setting. “Buffy Booth, I beg you, please do me the honour of granting me your hand in marriage.”
It was a full five minutes before either of them could speak enough for Buffy to actually confirm her reaction meant ‘yes.’
The kids were thrilled. Nick was even happier when Jack revealed the truth about his origins. Buffy found it hilarious when it turned out that ‘Jack the Giant-Killer’ was a folktale in his own land of fairy tales come real.
Buffy and Jack wed on a sunny day in June, with Emma playing flower girl and Nick bearing the rings, and a small collection of friends and colleagues on either side of the hall.
And for the rest of the year, Nick told Emma stories of their parents’ true love every night as they drifted into the land of slumber.
When Buffy heard him, she only wanted to laugh. Maybe it was true love.
All she knew was that she was done baking.Author's Note:
Okay, first things first, I do not own Jack the Giant-Killer, and he is not the same Jack from 'Jack and the Giant Beanstalk.' Jack the Giant-Killer is a Cornish folktale, although its precise origins are debated, and he is associated with killing several giants, usually through trickery (he lures one into a pit and tricks another into slashing its own stomach open), which is why I thought 'lawyer' was an appropriate job for him.
The magic bean in question is one of those mentioned in the episode 'The Return' - the bean there is the *last* magic bean, the rest being lost, used or stolen (I don't think they say what happened) - which will lead someone to a 'land without magic' - the 'real world' of OUaT. In this case, Jack got one of the beans before they were all lost.
I have not decided if and how the 'fairy tale' world's timeline corresponds to the Earth timeline, but for this series, Jack arrived on Earth in 1935. As you may guess, he was not always a lawyer. Regina's spell actually causes him to *start* aging, even as it retards the aging of those trapped under it.
I just liked the idea of Buffy becoming more intimately connected to the fairy tale world - and let's face it, Emma's going to have her mind kept pretty open by this lot!