A/N: Happy Father's Day, Dad. I hope you like it.
Giles was no fool. He'd been watching over the Scoobies since they were teenagers. He knew what it meant when Buffy smirked like that without cause. The mischievous grins Xander and Willow exchanged when they thought he wasn't looking and the whispers and giggles of the students whenever they saw him told him everything he needed to know. He was about to be pranked. He'd started noticing the signs over a week ago, and he wished they'd just get it over with. True, he could always call them on it, but they would pout for weeks if he ruined their joke. It would be easier to simply let them spring whatever they were planning without interference. Still though, it was highly annoying of them to delay like this. He was tired of waiting for them to pull whatever it was. He just wanted to get it over with it already.
Giles huffed and shook his head. Dwelling on it wouldn't do any good. He'd just have to be patient. He turned back to the paperwork in front of him with a small frown. Giles found it to be dreadfully boring, and if it was possible to run a school without it, he certainly would. Unfortunately, it was not possible to do so, and having magically empowered children being the students of said school added additional paperwork to the heaps required for every institution. It was terribly inconvenient, but he'd know what he was getting himself into when he'd helped start the school. While he disliked it, he was mature enough to still fill it out on time.
Just then, there was a knock on his door.
"Come in," he called immediately, gladly putting down the dreaded forms with relief. Just because he would do them, didn't mean he didn't welcome a distraction.
The door opened slowly, and Giles raised an eyebrow when he saw who was standing on the other side of it. Jennifer Fawkes, one of their watchers-in-training, stood framed by the doorway. She was wearing distressed jeans and a ratty t-shirt for some boy band that Giles pretended he hadn't heard of. (He ran a school that mostly taught middle school and high school girls. He'd have to be deaf and dumb not to recognize the names of those popular at the time.) Giles didn't understand why anyone would intentionally add holes to their clothing, but he knew bringing up that point would just make him sound old so he ignored it. She was wearing a large amount of darkly colored makeup. Black lipstick coated her lips, and she sported a smokey-eye with dark red coloring her upper eyelid. A black stud was in her nose and a row of black studs over her left eyebrow. Her ears had a row of black flowers tracing the rim, and she had a large number of black and silver bracelets adorning her wrists. She was also wearing her normal steel-toed work boots and had her red-tipped light brown hair in an extremely messy ponytail that had her hair going every which way. All in all, she was dressed pretty normally for her.
"Ah, Miss Fawkes. How can I help you?" he asked calmly, laying down his pen and folding his hands in front of him with a reassuring look on his face. She seemed rather nervous, and kept biting her lip and fidgeting with one of her many bracelets.
"Well," she began hesitantly. "I was wondering if you could help me out with something."
He continued to look at her encouragingly. "Yes?"
"I, uh, need to pick up some new boots and jeans from town," she said with an anxious look.
Giles suddenly realized why she looked so afraid that he wouldn't want to help. Over the top look aside, Jennifer was not your average student even at an academy for slayers and magic users. She was one of the most unlucky people Giles had ever heard of, and that was saying something. Wherever she went, chaos and destruction followed, and it all seemed to be concentrated on her. They had checked multiple times in as many different ways as they could, but they couldn't find any evidence of her being cursed. But, for some reason, her unlucky streak only affected her when she was away from the school.
"Can't you order some online?" he asked carefully. He didn't want to hurt her feelings, but venturing out with her was highly inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst. They'd already had several injuries both to Jennifer and some of her companions from times when she'd gone to town, and he wasn't eager to join their ranks.
She shook her head miserably but firmly. "They discontinued the brand of boots I buy, and if I'm buying from a new company I need to try them on before I get them, or I'll have to worry about returns too."
Giles sighed and took off his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose. "Not that I don't want to help," he lied. "But why can't you just drive to town yourself?"
She gave him an incredulous look. "Are you kidding me? You know what's happened when I'm just a passenger; imagine how bad things could get if I was actually driving the two-ton death trap as it hurtled down the road at sixty miles an hour. I never bothered to get my license," she pointed out.
She had a good point, but Giles was regretting how eager he'd been for a distraction.
"I do have quite a bit of paperwork. Couldn't someone else drive you?"
She shook her head. "Miss Summers is teaching a class right now, Miss Rosenburg is helping out a group of irate wizards who keep getting attacked by some kind of slimy demons, Mr. Weasley is doing paperwork, Mr. Harris is repairing the wall that got lit on fire in the girls' dorm, Mr. Wells's leg is still broken from last time he drove me to town, and Miss LeHane is busy reorganizing her collection of useless junk," she listed off calmly.
Giles raised his eyebrow. "Reorganizing her collection of useless junk?" he asked dryly.
She shrugged. "People tend to make excuses when I come around asking for a ride. Can you blame them?"
Giles felt a stab of pity for the girl. She'd obviously come to him as a last resort, and he didn't have the heart to turn her away. The fact that she'd gotten used to people making up reasons to not be around her was heartbreaking, and he resolved to look into her situation again to see if he could figure out what they were missing so that this poor girl didn't have to be tormented any longer.
"Alright then," he said standing up. "Just let me grab my jacket and inform the front desk of our trip."
Her face lit up. "Thanks, Mr. Giles," she said earnestly.
He smiled at her and was glad he agreed to help. She didn't often smile that brightly.
He pulled on his overcoat, checked that he had his wallet, and then led her to where Rona was manning the front desk.
"I'm checking out one of the cars to take Miss Fawkes here to town to purchase some articles of clothing," he explained when she looked up at him. She nodded and, pulling open a drawer, removed a set of keys and had him sign out for them. He checked to make sure that Jennifer was out of hearing and not looking then leaned down and whispered to Rona. "If we're not back in three hours, send out a search party."
She nodded seriously, knowing that he wasn't kidding. Rona often ran the front desk and had been present on multiple occasions when a party that had gone out with Jennifer came back in shambles. He knew that if they were gone for too long, she'd send help.
They headed to the garage, and Giles unlocked the car he was borrowing from the school. He had his own car, of course, but it was very nice and he was not about to get it wrecked for a pair of boots. Just because he was helping Jennifer, didn't mean he wasn't protecting what things of his that he could. The school's cars were functional enough, but they were intentionally bought cheap with the expectation that they'd be destroyed by demons and such often. It would be no great loss if it came back a little worse for wear.
He climbed into the driver's seat, checked that his phone had a full battery and the car had a full tank of gas, then turned to smile a little apprehensively at his passenger.
"Well, then, let's be off," he said simply.
She returned his smile tentatively.
They pulled out of the garage and made it a mile and a half off of the property when there was a loud "POW!" and then the rhythmic thudding that indicated a flat tire. Heart sinking, Giles pulled over and checked. Sure enough, their front tire had been punctured. It looked like they'd run over a rather sharp rock. The lack of distance between them and the school was… discouraging. He'd hoped they'd make it quite a bit father before they experience difficulties. Still though, there was nothing for it.
Jennifer helped him change the tire quickly. It only took them thirty minutes as Jennifer was quite experienced with flat tires.
As Giles merged back onto the highway, he was considerably more tense than he'd been before. He was willing to help Jennifer, but he didn't want to spend all day on this. Much as he didn't like paperwork, he really did need to get it done, and he'd planned on having a quiet Sunday evening to himself when he'd finished as a reward.
They made it to town without another mishap, but Giles didn't let himself relax. It was never this easy with Jennifer. They drove past a gas station, and Giles checked his tank on reflex. His jaw dropped open.
"What on Earth?!" he sputtered.
"What? What is it?" Jennifer asked quickly from beside him.
He gawked at the gage for another moment before quickly looking back up at the road and searching for a place to turn around to head back to the station they'd passed.
"We're nearly out of gas," he answered tersely.
Her black stenciled browns knit together. "Didn't you check before we left? I saw you look."
He nodded grimly. "Yes, I did. I don't know how we can be so low now."
He pulled into the station, and they both got out to see what was wrong.
Giles groaned as he saw a trail of dark liquid marking where they'd been driving. A puddle was forming under the car as they watched.
"There must be a hole in the gas line," Jennifer said wearily.
He nodded. "I'll call a tow truck."
He put his hand on his back pocket where he always kept his cell phone, then froze. It wasn't there. Frantically, he checked his other pockets even though he never put his phone anywhere else. It was nowhere to be found.
"What's wrong?" Jennifer asked with concern.
"My cell phone, it's gone," he explained as he scanned the ground around him.
She blinked then nodded towards the car. "Did you leave it in there?"
He spun around and spotted it lying innocently on the front car seat. It must have slipped out of his pocket. He grabbed the door and yanked it open. Or, at least, that's what he tried to do. The door didn't budge. He pulled again, harder, but still nothing. Peering in, he could see that all of the doors were locked, though he didn't remember doing that. He put his hand in his pocket to get the key, and his stomach dropped. Dread flooding his body, he turned slowly back to the car. There, hanging in the ignition, were his keys.
Jennifer came up behind him, and stared mutely at the keys.
"Do you still have your phone?" Giles asked dully, already guessing the answer.
She shook her head dejectedly and pointed silently to a second phone resting between the chairs.
Giles's shoulders slumped. He leaned against the car for a long moment. Then he took a deep breath and straightened up.
"Alright, I'm going to use a phone inside," he said with false bolster. "I'll call a tow truck and a locksmith."
She nodded, and he left her standing beside the car.
Luckily, the locksmith was able to get there in only ten minutes, so they waited for the tow truck in the air-conditioned car. They could have hung out in the station, of course, but Giles didn't feel like getting locked out a second time. The tow truck took another twenty minutes to arrive. They rode with him and took care of payment easily. They used this particular car repair shop often for vehicles damaged on patrol, so honestly the man was only surprised that the car was in this good of shape.
He offered Giles and Jennifer use of his car, but Giles declined. He wanted to stay in the man's good graces and getting his car wrecked was not the way to go about it.
A cab took them the rest of the way and dropped them off at the mall without any further difficulties. Giles was relieved.
"Well, we've arrived. That's half the battle," he said with a sigh.
Jennifer gave him a look. "Do you know how much can go wrong at a mall?" she asked rhetorically. "Because I do."
Giles sighed again then nodded. "Good point."
They made their way inside and pushed through the crowds to Jennifer's favorite store.
"I'm going to pick out the boots first, okay?" she said.
Giles noticed that she didn't look too enthused, despite the fact that she was shopping. He supposed perpetual bad luck could make shopping trips seem rather unappealing.
Giles stood around awkwardly while Jennifer looked at dozens of pairs of shoes. At one point she gazed longingly at some heels that seemed to be made up entirely of black straps. They looked superbly uncomfortable to him, but right up a teenager's alley. She shook her head and moved away however, and gave him a rueful look.
"I only tried wearing heels once," she confided quietly. "I was thirteen. The eighth-graders' dance. I broke my ankle when they snapped as I walked down the stairs. Never again."
Giles grimaced. It was so unfair that this girl was having to miss out on life because… because of what? They still couldn't even figure out what was wrong with her! He felt like he'd let her down in a great way by not spending more time trying to figure this out sooner. As soon as I get back to the school, I'll put Willow and Percy on solving this, he thought resolutely.
Finally, Jennifer found a pair of shoes that she approved of. Once they tracked down her wallet (it had somehow made its way into a box of shoes she'd tried on), they purchased them and headed to the next store.
"Just some new jeans now," she said bracingly.
Giles nodded, hoping that they could leave soon.
The clothing store that Jennifer entered next was darkly lit. Loud, obnoxious music filled the air, and Giles was reminded of his ill-spent youth, something he could have done without. There didn't seem to be anyone above the age of thirty in the whole of the place to his further dismay.
Jennifer moved deftly through the store, heading to a display of jeans in the back. She'd clearly been there before. Giles trailed behind her, ignoring the weird looks the teenagers in the store were giving him. As they were making their way down a narrow aisle a ladder with an employee on it toppled over, nearly on their heads. Jennifer leapt back. The man yelped as he hit the floor.
"Are you okay?!" Jennifer gasped. She rushed forward and helped him sit up.
He grimaced and rubbed his head. "Ugh, yeah, I think I'll be fine."
She bit her lip and seemed closer to tears than Giles had ever seen her. "I'm so sorry."
He smiled at her and laughed lightly. "Don't apologize. It's not your fault."
Jennifer flinched and went slightly paler. "Y-yeah. Right."
She stood up and went back over to Giles. She wrapped an arm around her body in a self-hug, and there was such a defeated air about her that Giles couldn't help but hurt for her.
"Jennifer-" he began, but she cut him off.
"Let's just get the jeans and get out of here," she said briskly as she brushed by him.
Giles pursed his lips but did not argue. Getting back to the safety of the school seemed to be the only thing that could end the disaster this day was becoming.
She grabbed a few pairs of jeans and tried them on. They looked exactly the same as every other pair Giles had ever seen her wear.
"These work," she said uncaringly.
They bought the jeans without any problems this time, and as they stepped out of the door Giles felt only relief. They could leave now. They'd done it.
Just as he was thinking that, a siren began to whoop and red lights flashed. His shoulders slumped. What now?
A mall cop approached them.
"M'am, sir, can I see your bag and receipt?" he said firmly. It wasn't a question.
They nodded mutely, dreaded what he'd find.
He looked through everything in the bag and eventually came up with a key chain with a cross on it.
"I don't see this on your receipt," he said holding it up with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh!" Jennifer exclaimed. "I don't know how I missed that."
They went back and quickly purchased the key chain, thinking it would look less suspicious than simply putting it back.
"Besides," Jennifer said in an undertone as they left for the second time. "It never hurts to have an extra cross in our line of work."
Giles nodded, approving of the thought.
They made their way through the crowds until they were passing by a watch store that was near the entrance. Just then, the store's door burst open, and a man in a black ski mask rushed out and grabbed Giles from behind. He put a gun to his head as security hurried towards them.
"NOBODY MOVE OR I'LL BLOW THIS OLD MAN'S BRAINS OUT!" he yelled.
Giles snapped. It had already been a terrible day, and this was the last straw.
He whirled around towards the man's chest and, wrapping his arm around the man's gun arm, punched him in the face. Jennifer swiftly moved forward and secured the gun.
There was a collective silence from the crowd around them that had frozen when the gunman first appeared, then everyone began to clap and cheer. Giles gave them a tight smile, and Jennifer ducked her head shyly. Security stepped in and quickly took the gun and cuffed the would-be-robber. Jennifer leaned towards Giles and whispered. "Wow, I've never really had anyone appreciate us for saving them. It's kinda nice."
He nodded, and whispered back. "Unfortunately, while the praise is pleasant enough, the public eye has its disadvantages."
He tilted his head to indicate a security officer walking towards them. Jennifer tensed slightly and leaned back, sticking her hands in her pockets. She bit her lip and bounced up and down on her heels.
"Are you okay?" the officer asked first.
Giles nodded and glanced at Jennifer who also nodded.
"We're fine," he said aloud.
"Good. I'm glad. We're going to need both of you to stay here and answer some questions for the police," the man said bluntly.
Giles didn't react. He'd seen this coming. It was never a good thing when the police became interested in any of them, but he didn't think things would be too bad this time. They had done nothing wrong and simply had to say that he'd had some self defense training and knew what to do when the man grabbed him.
The police arrived and took their statements. By the time they were finished, the mall was closing.
Jennifer sat down on a bench by the mall's entrance while Giles pulled out his phone and called the school.
Rona answered promptly.
"Rona," he said by greeting. "It's Giles."
"Are you okay? What happened?" she didn't sound surprised, but then again, they'd gone into this expecting disaster and they'd left quite some time ago.
"We're both fine, for the most part," he reassured her quickly. "But we're going to need someone to come pick us up. Our car is in the shop."
She didn't ask why. She knew they were going to tell the whole story when they got back. "Not a problem. I'll send someone right away. Where are you right now?"
"We're at the mall."
"Got it. They'll be there shortly."
Giles hung up and sat down next to Jennifer who was leaning back with her eyes closed.
"The school will be sending someone to pick us up," he told her.
She nodded, but didn't open her eyes. She looked as exhausted as he felt. Giles just wanted to curl up with a good book then sleep for a very long time. Unfortunately, he still had that dratted paperwork to complete when he got back. He wondered whether or not the world would end if he turned it in tomorrow and took the rest of the night off. Probably not, he decided. He leaned back as well and turned his face to the sky as he closed his tired eyes.
Giles opened his eyes again and wiped a drop of water off of his glasses. He looked up and saw ominous clouds rolling in. Around them, rain began to fall heavily.
Jennifer's eyes popped open. She grit her teeth then grabbed a bag and hurried to the mall's entrance where there was a small overhanging ledge that provided some shelter. Giles grabbed the other bag and followed her.
They huddled together and waited. Giles hoped nothing happened to the person picking them up on their way there.
"I'm sorry," Jennifer said quietly. She seemed close to tears.
Giles fixed her with a stern look. "It's not your fault," he replied firmly. "I don't know what's causing this, but you are not to blame. And I promise you, we will not rest until we have determined why these things keep happening to you and put a stop to it, alright?"
She looked up at him with teary eyes and sniffled. "Okay," she whispered.
Giles smiled at her kindly.
"So, I realized that I don't really know much about you," he pointed out. "What are your parents like?"
She smiled and wiped a tear off her cheek. "Well, my parents actually adopted me when I was a baby. I never met my birth parents, but I don't really mind. Mom and Dad have always treated me like I'm really their daughter, and they never blamed me for any of my bad luck. I've got a little sister too, and she'd always follow me around everywhere and try to copy everything I did. I love them a lot," she said shyly. "I'm really lucky to have them."
"They sound like excellent people."
They talked about her hobbies and what her life had been like before she'd gone to the school for some time before a car pulled up to the curb by them. The window rolled down, and Faith raised an eyebrow from the driver's seat.
"Well, are you going to get in, or what?" she called over a crash of thunder.
Giles and Jennifer grabbed the bags and rushed into the car. Giles took the passenger seat while Jennifer slumped in the back.
"Gratitude," Giles said softly to Faith.
She nodded and took off.
"So, you two have fun?" Faith asked innocently.
Giles shot her an angry look. He glanced back to see Jennifer scowling.
"I hate shopping," she muttered.
Faith's lip curled up in a smile, but she said nothing.
They sat in silence for a long time, and Jennifer closely inspected her black nail polish. Giles watched the landmarks, silently counting down the seconds until they were home free.
The car jerked, and Faith swore. Giles leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes with a grimace. From the backseat, Jennifer groaned.
Faith pulled over and got out. A moment later, she was back with a fierce look on her face.
"Both front tires are blown," she informed them grimly. "And we've only got one spare." Giles sighed and, pulling off his glasses, began to clean them. "I'll call for another car," she huffed. She reached for her phone and froze. A look of pure fury crossed her face. "My phone's gone," she seethed.
Jennifer buried her face in her hands. Giles checked his own pocket, but knew before he came up empty that his would be gone as well. He looked back at Jennifer, but she shook her head.
"Our phones are gone as well," he informed her wearily.
Faith swore again. She tore through the car but the phones were nowhere to be found. Eventually, she sat back on her heels and admitted defeat.
"We're only a mile from the school," Giles said with a sigh. "We should walk back."
Faith nodded, her lips a thin line. Jennifer looked miserable.
They gathered up the bags and Giles gave Jennifer his coat as her clothes offered far less protection than his own did. Faith had her own since it had started raining before she left. They started off, trudging through the fast forming mud. They walked in silence, consumed with the task before them. Forget the paperwork, Giles thought savagely as he wrenched his foot out of a puddle of mud that slurped after it. The first thing I'm doing when I get back is taking a long, hot shower.
They passed a particularly thorny bush that Jennifer managed to get caught in, and Giles wondered if she wore distressed clothes so that when tragedy struck she didn't have to get a whole new outfit each time.
Finally, finally, they made it to the school. They piled in through the front door, and Giles breathed a sigh of relief. They'd made it. Whatever the cause of Jennifer's unluckiness was, it had never bothered her at the school. They were safe.
Faith wrung out her shirt, despite the fact that doing so completely exposed her midriff. Giles averted his eyes out of politeness, though he knew that she didn't care either way.
When she was done, she glanced over at Giles looking away and grinned. "You can look now," she purred with a cheshire grin. He turned and glared at her, but that just made her grin broader. She stretched. "I don't know about you guys, but I could really use a bite."
Jennifer perked up. "Oh, my, gosh, yes! I'm so hungry!"
Until they spoke, Giles hadn't realized just how hungry he was. Now, though, he felt his hunger strongly. He pursed his lips. Shower or food. Hmm.
Jennifer grabbed his arm. "Come on, let's go!" she squealed.
Giles relented. He wasn't that wet.
He followed Jennifer and Faith down the hall to the cafeteria. They passed Rona who looked up coolly at their arrival. She reached under the desk and handed over three towels without a word.
"Thanks, Rona," Jennifer said gratefully. "You're the best."
She smiled at them. "No problem," she said lightly.
They wrapped themselves in the towels and continued on to food.
As they walked, Giles wondered idly at the lack of noise. Usually there was a constant hum of voices from the cafeteria even in the wee hours of the night.
When they reached the doors into the cafeteria, Jennifer and Faith stepped back as one to allow him to go in first. That was… odd. Giles frowned at them, but shrugged mentally and pushed open the double doors.
Giles startled, and pulled back on instinct. Inside, the large room was filled with people. Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Dawn stood beaming in front, but as Giles scanned the room he realized that everyone who wasn't on active duty or in the hospital wing was there. He glanced behind him, and the huge grins on Faith and Jennifer's faces told him all he needed to know about their involvement. Turning back, he saw that above the Scoobies was a large banner that had obviously been hand-painted. It read "Happy Father's Day!" He swallowed hard as the implication of those words sank in. He pulled off his glasses and began to clean them as a knee-jerk way to hide the emotion welling up in him. Putting them back on, he cleared his throat as he approached the individuals that he had considered his children for quite some time.
"Ah, this is all, ahem, very nice. When did you start planning this?" he asked quietly, trying to keep the emotion from his voice.
"Oh, it's been in the works for months!" Dawn chirped happily.
"We were talking with one of the girls and they mentioned how you'd become sort of like a surrogate father to all of us who have crappy birth fathers, and with Father's Day coming up we thought we'd do something for you," Buffy explained.
"So, did we surprise you?" Willow asked excitedly.
"I was very surprised," Giles said dryly. "Considering Father's Day is next week."
There was a moment of stunned silence as they all tried to process that. Then the explosion happened.
Faith started laughing loudly as the rest of the Scoobies began bickering.
"Willow! I thought you looked up the date!" Buffy wailed.
"What?! No! I said I thought it was today but we'd need to check on that…" Willow corrected defensively, folding her arms over her chest.
"Well, maybe someone should have-" Xander started, but Giles cleared his throat.
They stopped on a dime and turned to face him, semi-guilty looks on all of their faces except, of course, for Faith who was still chuckling.
"Thank you," Giles said softly. "I'm very touched." They all beamed again. "So, I assume Jennifer's clothing needs were merely a ploy to get me away for long enough for you to prepare?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh, no!" Jennifer assured him quickly, rushing forward from where she'd been standing slightly apart from the group. "I totally needed the clothes. Xander overheard me talking about it with some of the other girls and thought having you take me would be a good way to kill two birds with one stone."
Giles nodded in acknowledgement. In truth, he was relieved. It had been a pretty terrible day, and he had not enjoyed the thought that Jennifer hadn't even needed the items they'd purchased.
"So, what did happen today?" Willow asked curiously. "Anything out of the ordinary for you?" The last question was directed towards Jennifer, and Giles looked at her curiously. Had all of the horrible events of the day been par for the course for her?
She tilted her head and considered for a moment. "Mr. Giles was grabbed by a gunman," she answered finally. "That hasn't happened to me before." She shrugged. "Other than that, not really."
There was another moment of stunned silence before the Scoobies as a whole turned to Giles with concern.
"You were grabbed by a gunman?!" Buffy sputtered. "Are you okay?"
"Perfectly fine," Giles answered calmly. "I disarmed him before he could try anything."
They didn't look any happier, but they accepted that.
"Hey, Giles!" Andrew chirped as he joined them. He was carrying a plate of pizza and a red solo cup filled with a clear liquid. "Aren't you going to eat something?"
Giles' eyes narrowed. He shot Buffy a wary look. "That isn't alcoholic is it?" he asked, nodded his head towards the cup.
She scoffed. "Yeah, because there's nothing I'd rather deal with than over a thousand drunk teenagers. Even if that wasn't totally illegal, we're not crazy."
Giles relaxed slightly. "I apologize, I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions." He turned back to Andrew and offered him a tight smile. "I would love some refreshments. Lead the way."
The party lasted for several hours. At midnight, however, Giles insisted it was time for bed.
He showered and changed into his pajamas, and as he lay down and closed his eyes to sleep he couldn't stop a smile from forming on his lips. He'd thought of the Scoobies as his children for many years, but it was nice to see that they felt the same way. Still smiling, he drifted off to sleep. Despite all of the chaos, it had been a good day.
The next morning, Xander pulled up behind the car that Giles, Faith, and Jennifer had abandoned the night before. He and Chris, a watcher-in-training, stepped out of their car and walked over to the other one.
Chis was 18 and had his driver's license, which was why he was with Xander today. They were going to change the car's tires then both drive a car back to the school. Once they'd done that, he and Xander were going to go to town and pick up the other car.
This wasn't the first time Chris had helped him, so they worked quickly together. Xander had brought another spare tire with him for one of the tires, and they were going to use the other car's spare to replace the other. They had no problems switching out the first tire, and Chris went to get out the other spare.
Xander leaned against the car as he waited.
"Uh, Xander?" Chris asked hesitantly. Xander turned around and saw him holding out three cell phones. "I just found these?"
Xander smiled at him. "That'll be Giles, Faith, and Jen's missing phones. They'll be glad to get them back. Just put them in the car."
He moved to look away, but Chris's next words stopped him cold.
"But… Xander. They were in the spare tire compartment."
Xander whirled around and looked at him shocked. "What? Are you sure?"
Chris nodded. "Yeah. They were right on top."
Xander's mind whirled as he processed this. "But… Faith said they never bothered opening the compartment. They couldn't have accidentally left the phones in there."
Chris looked down at the phones in his hands then back up at Xander.
"What are you saying?" he asked quietly.
Xander met his eyes grimly. "This wasn't bad luck. It was sabotage."
Izzy: I don't own anyone from Buffy or Harry Potter. Jennifer, Chris, and all of the people from town are mine.
Izzy: Hey, Sweet. Why don't you just start in the author's note from now on? I mean, we all know you'll join anyway.
Sweet *sits and shrugs*: Sure, why not? So, this story was a Father's Day gift to you dad, right?
Izzy *nods*: Yeah, when I originally thought up the idea on Thursday, it was going to be a surprise birthday party for Giles, but then I realized that if I changed it for Father's Day, I could make it an extra gift for Dad, since his other present will be 8 weeks late. *looks at audience and whispers* Sorry.
Izzy: *looks at Sweet and opens mouth, then pauses and tilts head*
Sweet: What? Why are you looking at me like that?
Izzy: You're not a dad, are you?
Sweet: What? No, I'm still trying to find a bride. *give Izzy meaningful look*
Izzy *glares and casually puts hands on table between them, holding a knife*: Try it, Buddy. I'm the one with the power here.
Sweet *holds hands up in protest*: I wasn't going to do anything. *coughs in an obvious attempt to divert attention and change the subject* So, uh, Jennifer. You mentioned her in What Could Go Wrong too, yes?
Izzy *nods*: Yeah, she first appeared there. As soon as I came up with the concept for her I knew she needed her own story. When I thought up the idea for this one, I realized I could use it to set up a larger story that tells her life story and reveals why these things happen to her.
Sweet: So, you're definitely writing another story from her point of view?
Izzy: Uh huh, but I don't know when that will be. I wasn't planning on setting that up yet. I have several other stories in this series that I had planned first. I have at least 4 I've been thinking about for awhile, and I may do other things first too. But when I do put up Jennifer's tale it will be longer than the other stuff in the series have been so far. Like, it will have multiple chapters and cover a large period of time. We might get flash-backs as well, though I haven't actually worked out the details yet.
Sweet: Sounds like it will be good. I don't suppose you can give us a hint about what's going on with her…
Izzy *glares*: NO.
Izzy *rolls eyes*: Well, anyway, that's all I had to say. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Stay safe, and have a good day. Bye!