no more worries
(Okies, finally putting this and the next chapter out. Personally, I’m not all that happy with this chapter, but that may just be because I’m the writer and couldn't come up with a descent title for this chapter. Anyhoo, ENJOY! Thanks for all the feedback and reviews and to Jason for his help with the plot! See chapter one for disclaimer and spoiler information.)
“Who was that on the phone?” Giles asked, removing the arm of his spectacles from his mouth as he walked around the corner of the bookshelf.
Anya was staring at the handset, appearing a bit confused. She shrugged and hung the phone up, “Oh it was Dawn, but she just hung up on me. Rude little girl.”
Giles set down the book he held and began to clean the lenses, “I don’t suppose you thought to get her and Joyce’s new phone number? Or perhaps find out exactly where they were?”
“No, all Dawn wanted was the number for her mom’s doctor. She did mention Colorado not having any phone books,” Anya turned toward the door smiling as a customer came into the shop.
“Oh dear,” the former librarian mumbled. Joyce was very responsible with all her information and history; he could only guess that for Dawn to call and ask, that her mother somehow wasn’t able to. Hastily, he moved to the back room of the shop to speak with Buffy.
* * *
“So, do you think they’re happy and safe, where they are?” Buffy asked softly.
Giles nodded and squeezed his slayers forearm, “I’m sure they are, what with not being on the Hellmouth and all. The thing that has me worried is why Dawn would call…” he let the thought hang unfinished. “I’m sure we could find their phone number and call them …”
“No, if my mom’s sick again, then I don’t want to give her anymore stress, worrying about how I’m doing here.” Buffy stood up and walked across the room. “Do you think it’s my fault?” she sniffled.
“I’m certain it is not, Buffy. Anything dealing with the brain is very unpredictable. Almost more of a magic then science,” he assured her.
“Magic, hmph,” Taking a breath Buffy shoved the train of thought to the back of her mind. “Well, we better get back to researching this bank robbing demon thing.”
* * *
“So, what do you want to tell the girls?” Jack asked, parking the truck in front of his garage. Dawn and Cassie had been asleep when Joyce was given permission to leave the hospital. Not wanting to wake them, Jack went to pick her up alone. They’d spent over an hour talking to the doctor when he got there. Some of the test results wouldn’t be known until Monday, but the doctor’s initial diagnosis, didn’t seem to good. Due to Joyce’s previous surgery and coma, the options were few. In the end the physician told them somberly that he guessed only six months, perhaps more if she responded well to treatment.
After a quick stop at her house to pick up a few things, they found themselves wondering how to break the news. “The truth,” Joyce said plainly, “But let’s wait until tomorrow, I want them to have a good time at the dance tonight.” Reaching across the center console she gave Jack’s hand a squeeze. After a moment she released it and turned to open her door.
“How many times do I need to tell you to get your hand away from that door handle?” Jack warned teasingly.
Turning to him, Joyce saw the same playful look he usually wore when threatening her, except in his eyes. The glittering laughter typically present had been replaced by shadows all morning. “Are you okay, honey? I mean aside from the obvious…”
Jack jumped out of the driver’s side and moved to open Joyce’s door. “We should get inside before the girls come out and maul us,” he mentioned in a complete change of subject.
“Ah, must be something at work, “ Joyce sighed and nodded accepting the diversion.
* * *
The next day, Joyce and Jack sat down to talk to the girls. Both were stunned to say the least. Dawn was crying, Cassie stayed quiet soaking it all in, on the verge of tears. Joyce did most of the talking. Since the girls had gotten home Friday night, Jack seemed to be drawing more introspective. When Dawn asked about the options for treatment, O’Neill excused himself, muttering something that Dawn and Joyce both thought they misunderstood. Cassie however knew the word he said after ‘damn’ was ‘Tok’ra.’
A little while later Joyce found herself climbing a steep set of wooden stairs to the roof of the house. At times when Jack was bothered by something from work, she noticed, he could usually be found sitting in his perch looking up at the stars. Typically, she and the girls left him alone, but Cassie kept dropping subtle hints that Joyce should go talk to him. His back was to her, sitting in a lawn chair. As she approached, Joyce could see O’Neill brushing his hand across his face. Quietly, she moved in front of him and leaned against the railing of the perch.
“I know if it’s work related, you can’t say much, but talk to me Jack,” she pleaded softly.
A few minutes went by and she watched her fiancé trying to collect his thoughts. “A while back, I got sick. I almost died, but there was a way that… well I got better.” Jack started saying quietly, “The night you were in the hospital, an old buddy I work with sometimes, brought up the idea that the same thing could cure you.”
“Jack, that’d be…” She started to say amazing, but was stopped by the look on his face. “What’s the catch?”
O’Neill chuckled, cold and sarcastically, “There’s a hefty price tag attached to it.”
“And that would be?” Joyce asked.
“Can’t tell you, classified.”
Pursing her lips, she nodded slowly, “Well, what if I wanted to find out more? Or is it an all or nothing type deal?”
“No, even after finding out, you could still say no.” Jack finally looked up at her, “I just couldn’t bear it if something happened to you…”
“Like whatever you went through?” He nodded, the shadows around his eyes deepening.
Crouching down in front of Jack she cupped his cheek in her palm, “I have you and two beautiful girls to take care of, if there is something, anything, that will give me even one more day with the three of you. Shouldn’t I at least be given the option to hear about it?” she pleaded. Then Joyce clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth and grinned slyly at Jack, “Besides, it would mean I could get clearance, and if I decided against it, then you wouldn’t have to keep what you do a secret from me, right?”
A small burden seemed to visibly lift off Jack’s shoulders, “You are devious,” he accused, some of the spark returning as he pulled her into his lap. “I knew there was a reason I loved you.” As he buried his face into Joyce’s hair, Jack found himself praying she would say no.