"Door!" Dawnie cried helpfully even though Janet was already on her way to open it. When she came back, the little girl climbed off the chair she was kneeling on and launched herself at the newcomers. "Uncle Teal'c!"
"What about me?"
Giggling, Dawnie leaned over to Daniel, knowing her Uncle Teal'c wouldn't let her fall from his arms. Kissing Daniel's cheek, she exclaimed, "You're pouting!"
Cassie, Sam and Janet joined into Dawnie's giggling. "Cute," Sam said and the women laughed when Daniel blushed brightly.
Crossing his arms in front of him, he stared at everything female and said, "I won't share the dessert I brought then."
Dawnie frowned and shook her finger at him. "That's not nice." Nodding once for emphasis, she added, "You better say you're sorry or you won't get one of Auntie Sam's yummy cookies!"
"Yes, Daniel," Janet said with an almost straight face. "That's not very nice of you."
Behind her, Sam and Cassie were pretending to wash some salad, as it allowed them to turn their backs to the conversation. Although, going by their shaking shoulders, they were too busy laughing to have time for anything else.
Teal'c was once again finding it hard to keep his face expressionless, the small girl in his arms being an expert at sneaking under his mask over and over again.
Knowing when he was fighting a losing battle, Daniel handed the bag in his hand over to Janet. "Fine. I'm sorry. Ice-cream for all."
Dawnie was still frowning at him but she nodded eventually. "Okay. Now be nice."
Sam's and Cassie's shoulders were shaking even harder now and Janet couldn't prevent the smile spreading across her smile either.
Now it was Jack's turn to pace. And Buffy couldn't blame him, after everything she'd just dumped on him.
She had told him once again that she wasn't objecting to him being Dawnie's dad. Or him being a dad to Dawnie. She'd told him that she trusted him with Dawnie. And Jack had been pleased and relieved to hear this. But then she had started with the 'buts'. And Jack had become more and more quiet. And angry.
She had told him that, apart from their small group of friends, she didn't want anyone to know about Dawnie's and Jack's blood relationship. To the outside world he had to stay Uncle Jack.
He had immediately protested against it and, after winning yet another staring match, Buffy had explained her reasoning.
Just like she had expected, Jack's mood had deteriorated even further.
After giving him a couple of minutes, Buffy had asked him a simple question that had stopped any further protests. "Do you have any enemies?"
Then she had told him that having her own enemies going after her daughter was more than enough to handle and that she didn't want to add even more to that list. And, amidst lots of cringing, she had reminded him that she was a minor when she'd gotten 'pregnant' with her while Jack had been ... much older. His enemies - at least the earthbound ones - would have a field day with this information. Especially as Jack could hardly go to the court and tell them the truth about Dawnie's birth.
Or they would simply try and use Dawnie against him, putting her into more danger of being kidnapped or harmed.
Then she'd gone on to tell him about her own enemies who'd only be too happy to add another target to their list. And, unfortunately, not all of her enemies were stupid and one or another might work out just how useful Jack would be to them after learning what exactly he did for a living. And the difference between being Buffy's friend and being Dawnie's dad could easily be the trigger to start digging into his background.
She had told him a bit more about some of the monsters - human and demon ones alike - she had faced in the past before he had stopped her. Ever since then Jack had been pacing the room, only stopping a couple of times to hit the heavy bag situated to one side of the room.
Buffy sighed, focusing back on the presence. Going by the voices from upstairs, dinner was almost ready. Standing up, she walked over to Jack and stopped him with a hand on his chest. "Dawnie knows. She loves you with all her heart. Nobody can take that from you. That ... I'm really sorry, but for now that has to be enough."
"Daddy!" Dawnie squealed as soon as Buffy and Jack appeared from the basement door.
Cassie turned fast enough to make Janet wince. "What!?
After making eye-contact with Buffy, Janet took her daughter by the shoulders and led her out of the kitchen, giving her a short and very basic explanation of Jack's sudden fatherhood.
Meanwhile Dawnie was studying her daddy carefully. "You're sad."
Buffy quickly turned and left for the backyard. Luckily her daughter had been too preoccupied with Jack to see the tears in her mommy's eyes. Jack, however, hadn't missed them - and they made him feel a bit better. Not because Buffy was in distress, but because it showed him that the decision to keep his fatherhood quiet hadn't been easy for her either.
Smiling a little he picked Dawnie up and hugged her tightly. "I'm feeling better already."
When Janet stuck her head in a moment later, he motioned towards the backyard and she quickly made her way out.
Dawnie, having missed Janet walking past them completely, leaned back and grinned at him. "I'm a good feeling better maker!"
Chuckling, he kissed her forehead. "That you are."
"Buffy?" Janet asked before putting a hand on her shoulder. Last time she'd startled the younger woman, she'd almost ended up on the floor. Luckily Buffy had recognised her just in time.
"This sucks," she said with conviction as she went into Janet's arms.
"I know. Jack seems to slowly come to terms with it, though."
Buffy gave her friend a confused look. They'd discussed how best to handle Jack's relation to Dawnie and, even though Buffy had subconsciously made up her mind early on, the talks with Janet had shown her that there simply was no other way. Not for the time being anyway. Janet had also warned her about Jack's likely reaction - and she'd been spot on as Buffy had found out earlier.
Smiling, Janet patted Buffy's back. "He looked happy enough when he told me you were out here."
"Yup." Winking, she added, "Dawnie hugging him tightly might have had something to do with it, though. But I know he understands where you're coming from. He might not like it but he'll accept it as long as he can see Dawnie."
"Well, yeah, about that ... I've come to a decision."
"Another one?" Janet dead-panned before becoming more serious again. "Do I have to sedate Jack before you tell him?"
For the first time since her talk - or talks - with Jack, Buffy chuckled. "No."
By the time Janet and Buffy came back into the house everyone was sitting around the dinner table. "I'm hungry!" Dawnie promptly announced and Buffy and Janet quickly sat down.
Dinner was a simple but loud affair.
When Buffy was done, she leaned back in her chair and observed the diverse group of friends she managed to acquire since coming to Colorado Springs. They were different to the old Sunnydale crew - but she felt just as home with them as she had with her friends at their best times in Sunnydale. She just hoped she could avoid some of the fallouts she'd had with them. That'd be a nice change, wouldn't it?
Smiling wistfully, she looked at each of the people around her new dinner table. Then she whistled.
Smiling sweetly when everyone looked at her in various states of shock, she said, "Just thought you'd like to know that I've come to a decision regarding the President's request."
Cassie's eyes opened wide and she mouthed 'the President?
' to her mom.
"And?" Jack asked trying to sound casual, but failing to convince Buffy - and everyone else for that matter.
"I'll accept. Well, if you wanna have me." Scrunching up her face, she added drolly, "And I'm so not looking forward to working out the details of what exactly I'm gonna do, how to be most helpful to you guys."
Jack took a deep breath after realising he'd been holding it while waiting for Buffy's answer. "Good."
Buffy huffed. "Good? That's all?"
Grinning, Jack nodded. "Yep. I mean, Hammond might have me
work out all the details with you."
Buffy wasn't the only one who groaned at that thought.
"I better stock up on large needles then," Janet commented dryly, immediately finding herself at the receiving end of three unhappy glares.
"I hate needles!" Dawnie said with conviction, voicing her own and her parents' thoughts.
Janet winked at her. "That' okay, sweetie. I'll just need them to make sure your mommy and daddy behave properly."
"Oh. That's okay!" Dawnie looked at her empty plate - and at the plates of everyone else, the needles longs forgotten. "Dessert!"
Even cookies and ice-cream lasted only for so long, so eventually dinner was over. Making eye contact and exchange a nod with Jack, Buffy cleared her throat to get everyone's attention. "I guess everyone here knows by now that Jack is Dawnie's dad."
"Yeah!" Dawnie exclaimed excitedly, patting her daddy's arm while doing so. Deciding she was ready for some serious cuddling - a tummy full of dessert almost demanding it - Dawnie crawled into his lap and sighed in bliss when she found the perfect spot.
Buffy smiled as she watched her daughter, then she turned her attention back to everyone else. "And for the time being we'd like to keep it between us."
"Why?" Cassie asked and Daniel, knitting his brows, looked straight at his friend. "Jack?"
Absently playing with a strand of his daughter's hair, he considered the right answer. In the end he went for the blunt answer. "It sucks ... but Buffy has made some valid points."
"Like what?" Daniel asked.
Smiling wryly, he held his friend's eyes as he answered. "Just imagine one of our not so nice friends discovers the mother of my daughter was underage when she got pregnant."
"Yeah. Oh." Sighing, Jack continued, "And that's just one of the reasons. And no, Daniel, I don't want to get into the others right now."
"What about Dawnie? I mean, I can't see her going back to calling Jack Uncle Jack
," Sam asked.
Jack, not having considered that particular aspect of the arrangement, looked at Buffy in alarm. She quickly shook her head and smiled lopsidedly. "I don't think I could get Dawnie to do that anyway. She can be quite stubborn, you know."
Everyone chuckled and Dawnie, having heard her name, became interested in the conversation again. "Mommy?"
Buffy cringed, having hoped to have that particular conversation in private. "Right. Remember our very special secret rules?"
Dawnie immediately stuck her bottom lip out. "Hate 'em."
Buffy smiled and gently stroke over her daughter's head. "I know. I hate we have to have them too."
Dawnie gasped, for a moment forgetting she was meant to be pouting. "Really?"
"Really." Bracing herself for Dawnie's reply, she said rather quickly, "And there's a new one."
And there was the pout again. Jack leaned down and stage-whispered, "Think you can teach me about those very special secret rules?"Cause this one is for all of us and I don't have that much experience with them."
Dawnie turned around in shock, trying to figure out if he was serious. "Really?"
Tilting her head, she asked, "Do you like the new special secret rule?"
"Hate it," Jack said with conviction. "What'cha think, wanna hate it together?"
"Uh huh." Biting her lower lip, she whispered, "What's the rule?"
Jack looked at Buffy for help. He wasn't quite sure how she wanted to handle it and was willing to have her explain it first - before coming up with possible changes if necessary.
"Right. I know you love your daddy ... but we can't tell anyone who isn't here now about it. This also means you've got to call him Uncle Jack when you aren't here or at your daddy's house."
Dawnie wanted to protest but one look at her daddy told her he was on her mommy's side. Then a thought struck her. "Uncle Xander knows, right?"
Smiling, Buffy nodded. "Yeah, that's right. But I don't want you to tell anyone else yet, okay? Your daddy and I have to work this rule out for ourselves first."
Dawnie's face fell. "Oh. Uh. Okay."
Buffy looked at her daughter in alarm, ignoring the confused looks Jack was giving her. "Is that an 'oh' or an 'oh, oh'?"
Looking at her lap, Dawnie played with the hem of her shirt. Which was all the answer Buffy needed. "Dawnie?"
"I told Aunty Faith," she said quietly. Then, defiance settling in, she glared at her mommy. "Cause she's my friend!"
Buffy leaned back in her chair, releasing a rather pitiful groan. This wasn't exactly going according to her plan. She had hoped to work everything out for herself before telling her friends about it. Now her only hope was that Faith would keep her mouth shut. In fact, there was a good chance she hadn't told anyone yet.
Getting her phone from her pocket, she quickly went through the phonebook and chose Faith' number. She impatiently tapped her fingers on the table while she waited for her to answer. "Faith. Hi. How are you? I'm fine. Yadda yadda yadda. The thing Dawnie told you recently? Keep it quiet, please?"
Buffy frowned as she put the phone away.
"That was an interesting conversation," Jack said with raised eyebrows.
"And so polite," Janet mocked. "Did she even get a single word in?"
Buffy simply stuck her tongue out to them before turning back to Dawnie. "Okay, you can talk to Faith, but not to anyone else until I tell you, okay?"
Dawnie huffed but nodded. Stupid very special secret rules.
"So," Jack said conversationally, "who's this Faith?"
"I like her," Cassie piped up and Dawnie followed suit, "Me too!"
Shrugging her shoulders at the curious glance she was getting, Cassie added, "We've talked on the phone."
"About boys. Yuck," Dawnie explained while scrunching up her face in disgust.
"What?" Buffy screeched before remembering who else was in the room. Coughing, she quickly added, "I mean, I see. Soo... anyone else want some coffee?"
Later, much later when everyone but Jack had left, he and Buffy were standing in Dawnie's room, watching their daughter sleep.
"So," Jack asked once they'd finally left the room, "You okay with this?"
"You and Dawnie?" Jack nodded. "I guess ... actually, yes, I am. But it's ... unfamiliar territory for me. Having her dad around. Well, her having a dad in the first place. So..."
"Be patient?" Jack finished for her and Buffy nodded. "As long as it goes both ways?"
"Yes!" Buffy said enthusiastically. Then she frowned. "Guess I should mention I'm not known for my patience."
Jack chuckled. "Neither am I."
"Okay. How about shouting matches?"
"I can hold my own," Jack said smugly.
"Good! Good." Buffy nodded to herself. "How about the odd shouting match when our patience with each other runs out?"
"Without Dawnie present," Jack said immediately. "Or Janet, for that matter."
"Naturally. Do we have a deal?"
"Looks like it," Jack replied.
"Good." Buffy sighed in relief as she led Jack to the front door.
"So," Jack said as Buffy opened the door for him. "Who exactly is that Faith person?"
Grinning, Buffy pushed him out of the door. "That's a story for another time. Maybe."THE ENDA/N: So that's it. The end. For now anyway. I already have ideas for more stories in this universe (including 'Jack the Fisher' ;)). After all, Dawnie needs to create more havoc, Buffy needs to beat up more Jaffa and Goa'uld and SG1 needs to be introduced to the supernatural (even Jack has only heard the stories, not seen it) - though they'll always focus on their work at the SGC. That won't change.
It's also time to thank all of you for not only sticking with me during writing the story but also for the huge amount of feedback I've got from you! You rock! I wouldn't have been able to pull this off without you! I mean, sometimes the smallest comment can give rise to a huge plot bunny. Anyway, it's really time to say goodbye now.
But I'll be back next year. I promise (even if RL is kinda crazy right now)! And if you have any suggestions or ideas of what you'd like to see, just drop me a line.
Oh, and for those of you who are interested ... I made my NaNoWriMo word count! The story isn't finished but at least it kept She-Muse and He-Muse busy and out of trouble. LOL.