Part Sixty Two
Dinner was beautiful.
The restaurant Jack O'Neill picked out was perfect. The Italian restaurant was one of her favourites. It was exactly what you would want if you were taking someone on a date and you wanted to get to know them. It was intimate and private.
You could talk here without really having to worrying about being overheard.
A perfect first date.
If you were actually on a date.
Jenny realised that Jack had been serious when he said he wanted to talk more about witchcraft. For the entire three hours, since they arrived, they spoke non-stop about it.
Jack was eager to find out as much as he could and he dominated the conversations with questions about the craft.
At first Jenny had been a little annoyed on Cassie's behalf. She knew what over protective uncles were like and Jack's behaviour was placing him in the worlds most over protective uncle category.
Well, it had been until the questions he asked began getting more…serious.
The last hour he had spent asking about spells, what was good, what was bad, if they could be undone and the law of return.
That was when it clicked, when she suddenly realised that this entire night, possibly everything, had nothing to do with Cassie. It's always in retrospect that you realise these things… but as soon as it hit her, she mentally kicked herself for not seeing the earlier signs.
Jack O'Neill wasn't a sceptic trying to find out about something he didn't understand.
He actually believed in it.
And it had nothing to do with Cassie.
How did she know? Because Jenny knew exactly how far Cassie was in her studies with the craft and the other indication was that Jack only mentioned Cassie once since he met her.
When he asked her out.
During their initial conversation none of them, including Jack, mentioned Cassie by name. It was only afterwards, when he came back into the shop, that she found out the person who was supposedly the cause of everything.
Jenny's heart almost leapt out of her chest when he said her name. She had no clue it had been Cassie they were talking about and when she realised it was, she freaked a little.
Jenny had kind of been a little vague when she mentioned Cassandra Fraiser. She wasn't just a regular like she told Jack. Jenny told that to Jack to gauge his reaction, she hadn't wanted to get Cassie in hot water because it was clear, from their questions, that they didn't know the extent in which Cassie was involved in the craft.
Cassie's interest wasn't passing like they believed. It was so much more than that.
Cassie was her apprentice
Not that Jack was aware of that. Jenny wouldn't have told him even if he asked her directly – but that was the problem. He never asked her. Not once, now that he knew, did he bring up his niece.
He didn't even talk about himself.
Everything was about witchcraft.
Cassie wasn't even at the stage of doing spells. She had only become her apprentice a month ago. Before then, Cassie's interest hadn't been serious. She was curious, and respectful, about the craft but she was always apprehensive. Along with her friends, Cassie frequented her shop most afternoons, reading the various books or
simply talking to her.
Jenny had seen the potential in her the first time the two really talked.
It was months before Cassie actually expressed real interest in the craft instead of something akin to fear.
The reason behind Jack's questions had nothing to do with Cassie.
Jenny was curious who was.
A wife? Girlfriend? One look at his hand confirmed he wasn't married and he didn't seem particularly interested in her. He had made no attempt to get to know her.
She kind of hoped this was actually a date. She didn't get many offers to go out, mainly because her work and coven kept her so busy. It had been a long time since her last date, even longer since her last boyfriend.
Guys didn't like being in third place in a woman's life.
Jenny couldn't blame them.
Her coven and shop were her passion. Everything else came after that. What guy would want to date someone who loved their job more than them?
Jenny looked at Jack while he ate his pasta. Her curiosity about the man increased now that she realised none of this was about Cassie. Was it ever about her? The five of them at her shop? Had they really been there for Cassie, or was it for another reason?
Were they all Air Force?
She knew from Cassie that her mom was Air Force and Jack had admitted he worked there as well.
What was this all about?
Jack looked up and met her eyes. "Everything all right?"
"Can I ask you a question, Jack?" she took a bite of her pasta.
Jenny had been told, more than once, that she lacked tact about certain things. Oh, Jenny knew when to be quiet, and when it was ok to voice your opinion, but her lack of tact came from her beliefs.
Jenny hated lying.
She hated bullshit even more.
He nodded. "Sure."
"All this talk about witch craft," she began. "Is it really about Cassie or is it about something else?
"What makes you think it's not about Cassie?" he asked, putting his knife and fork on the table.
"You haven't asked me a single questions about her."
Um… maybe she shouldn't have asked the question.
Jack was giving her an intense stare. There was no expression on his face, he was just looking at her… what was he thinking about?
Finally, he spoke. "My friend is a witch. When I found out, I kind of freaked. I handled it badly. I didn't understand and I, well, it got ugly. When Janet told me about Cassie, I thought it would be a chance for me to… I figured if my friend saw that I took the time to find out about it, they would see I was sincere."
Was that it?
Well, it did kind of make sense. Jack was asking a lot of questions people usually didn't ask. Was he just finding out as much as he could? "You and your friend are close?"
"Best friends," he took a sip of the wine. "Cassie is part of the reason I'm here…"
"Just not all of it," she finished for him. "I'm sure your friend will appreciate what you're doing."
"I hope so."
He was telling the truth.
This was about his friend.
Jenny searched for a something else to talk about. She hated the sadness in his eyes when he mentioned his friend. He handled it badly, most people do, his friend was probably just as eager to patch things up with Jack, as he was. Still, Jack's expression spoke volumes. He didn't want to talk about it. Actually, it was a surprise that he told her that much.
They did just meet after all.
They knew next to nothing about each other, except what they spent the last three hours discussing.
It was time that changed.
She liked him. What was the worse that would happen? They became friends. Jenny didn't see that as a bad thing.
If she was lucky, then maybe they'd go out to dinner again.
Without the witchcraft.
"What do you do for the Air Force?"
He made a face. "It's, um, classified."
Her first attempt at getting to know him worked like a charm. "That must make it hard, on relationships, not being able to talk about your job."
"Yeah," he started eating again. "My ex-wife never really understood. I don't blame her really. It would have been rough on her."
And on him, she added silently. There was a slightly haunted look in his eye when he mentioned his ex-wife. "How long were you married?"
"Fifteen years," he replied.
Wow. "I'm sorry."
He shrugged. "We're friends now… well, as much as we can be."
The haunted look was back, but this time, ten times as strong. "One, Charlie. He died over ten years ago."
Oh god. "Jack I'm so sorry."
She should have kept her mouth shut.
"It was a long time ago," it was clear that whatever happened was painful. Not that losing your child wasn't ever painful.
She changed the subject. "I've never married. Could never find a guy who could handle my commitments, no one likes to be second place. Between the shop and the coven there isn't a lot of time…"
"Coven?" Jack cut her off. "You have a coven of witches? How many in the coven?"
"Um, about fifty."
Oh god, he was going to start freaking about Cassie.
"Fifty witches," Jack seemed exited. "Are they like you?"
"Witches like me? Yes."
"Jenny, I need to make a phone call," he pulled a cell phone out of his pocket. "I'll be back in a minute."
Then he was out the door.
What was that all about?
** ** **
"Oh lord," Giles exclaimed loudly.
Giles stared down at the picture in front of him. It had been by accident, more than design, that he found this page. The book he was reading wasn't even about demons, but realities… but… well, it looked remarkably like the demon Faith described.
He prayed to every god that it wasn't.
"…it, Giles?" Daniel asked.
"I think… I think I found it."
Faith gaped at him. "You're shitting me. You've found it already?"
Well, Giles didn't quite call this already. They've been researching for hours. The process was incredibly tedious. His head was pounding furiously from the exertion…
Or was it from what he found?
He held the book out to the three of them. "Is this the demon from your planet?"
Wide smiles broke out on all three of them.
"That's it! Damn! You're brilliant!" Faith grabbed his face and kissed him on the lips.
Well, um, yes… oh…
Her eyes widened when she realised what she did. "Sorry, got a little carried away," she was blushing furiously.
"That's, um, quite all right."
"Ok, so what…"
"…is the demon, Giles?" Willow wanted to know.
"It's a Zaenik demon," Giles waited to see if Daniel or Willow recognised the name. They didn't. "Like you assumed, it's a trans-dimensional demon that only appears in realities under its protection."
He had all their attention.
"It's sole purpose is to ensure that the balance between the realities is always maintained. When a being, like Willow, comes into a reality where there is no natural defence against them, the demon eliminates the risk." Giles really didn't like what he was reading. "There is more to it than that… I'll need to take some more time to read it but… it doesn't look good."
"Why?" Daniel wanted to know.
"Because the demon can only be killed by beings from this reality.