Author: Mac Xavier <mac.xavier[at]>

Disclaimer: Joyce belongs to Joss. Jacks is mine. Journeyverse is Tenhawk's. (checks wallet) Nope, still empty, so I made no money from this.

Summary: Joyce and Jacks talk, mother to mother.

Rating: FRT

Chapter 1

Joyce had been understandably surprised when she had recieved an invitation from Jacks Standish to go out for lunch. The mother of the Slayer was doubtful about Jacks' reasons, but never the less locked up her store to wait. Mostly Joyce just wondered what the girl ... the woman ... whatever she was. Joyce just wondered what Jacks wanted to talk to her about.

A jeep pulled up outside. The rattle trap one that Joyce recognized as Vin's and had forbidden Dawn to ride in. Only, when Joyce looked Vin Tanner wasn't driving. A woman who looked very much like Jacks in what Joyce had learned was her normal adult form was stepping out of the driver side door. Slightly taller, with small rounded ears made clear by her wildly curling white hair being pulled back sharply from her face in a neat braid.

When the woman turned toward the front window and pulled off her dark sunglasses to reveal impossible green eyes that Joyce was always startled by, it was confirmed beyond anything like doubt. It was a very human, very mature, Jacks Standish walking toward the door.

Joyce sighed and grabbed her purse before joining the centuries older woman. "I thought you said you couldn't take your adult form around here in case people noticed?"

"Mostly that only applies to when I'm with Vin or Dawn," Jacks explained as she slipped her shades back on. "At the mall, not so much. People see what they want to see."

"What do you mean?"

Jacks sighed and waved Joyce down the street as she started walking toward one of the trendy cafes aimed at the adults in Sunnydale. "Joyce, you -know-what I am. You've seen a small fraction of what I can do."

"Only a small fraction?" Joyce shook her head. "Jacks ..."

Jacks interrupted, "Yes, only a small fraction. If I had access to my full powers I'd be what gives minor gods nightmares. But that isn't what we need to talk about."

"Then what do we need to talk about, Jacks?" Joyce asked just a bit peevishly.

"You're attempts to keep Dawn from learning magic," Jacks told her flatly. "Flushing her components is not only potentially expensive and frankly unsafe, but it also isn't going to stop her from doing it."

Joyce's eyes narrowed. "It was blood."

"I know. I provided all of those vials personally," Jacks retorted as she continued walking.


Jacks snorted. "Don't shout, you'll call unwanted attention to us."

"You're telling me that you got vials of blood for my daughter from God only knows where," Joyce hissed in full motherly outrage being carefully suppressed.

"Since it was my blood and Vin's, we all know exactly where it came from." Jacks glanced at her best friend's mother and kept calm. "Those are extremely powerful components, more so for being willingly given. And I, -we- trust Dawn."

"If you had a daughter," Joyce started only to be cut off by a glacially cold glare from the suddenly motionless Jacks.

"A daughter," Jacks took a deep controlling breath. "If I had a daughter .... I -had- a daughter, Joyce. And I thank all the Gods and Fates that she had as much interest in magic as a toaster does. But Colleen lived and died decades ago."

Joyce stammered for several moments before Jacks felt pity for her and continued walking, jerking the taller woman along by a hand on her arm rather than with magic.

"Her father was my husband, Ezra Standish," Jacks said quietly. "He was a remarkable man, but that was from force of personality as much as destiny meddling to get seven such men in one place."

"What happened to her?"

Jacks sighed. "She grew up, got married, moved far away and died a grandmother. A very normal, very mortal life."

"As much interest in magic as a toaster?" Joyce asked. The turn of phrase striking her as absurd. Jacks was some kind of magical being. Didn't that mean a child of hers would have to have magic of their own?

"Colleen was mostly human," Jacks pointed out as they approached the cafe. "She had no interest in magic, so while she carried the potential for true power, it was never developed. Although she was very clever at learning her father's slight of hand tricks, and could play poker better than many professional gamblers by the time she was ten."

Joyce stared as Jacks effortlessly guided them through the routine of getting a table and ordering a light lunch. "Poker?" she finally managed.

"Ezra was a professional gambler, Joyce," Jacks said softly. She poked lightly at her salad with one tine of her fork, wondering distractedly if any of the vegetables were demonic. "He was also part of a team of Peacekeepers in a little frontier town. You may have heard of them."

"Oh?" The blonde woman looked doubtful.

The disguised half fey nodded without looking up. "Ezra Standish the Gambler, Josiah Sanchez the Preacher, Nathan Jackson the Healer, JD Dunne the Easterner, Buck Wilmington the Lady's Man, Vin Tanner the Shooter, and Chris Larabee the Gunfighter. The Magnificent .."

"Seven. From Four Corners," Joyce said disbelievingly. "They're just a legend!"

"Such an odd thing to hear from someone who looks so much like Chris' daughter with Mary," Jacks mused. "I suppose it makes sense, even then they were called legends. Although you certainly have Mary's self righteous streak on occasion."

Joyce put her fork down very carefully as she stared hard at her youngest daughter's friend and teacher. "I am not self righteous, Jacks. I'm just concerned about Dawn's safety."

"As am I, Joyce," Jacks told her firmly. "Do I honestly have to point out that which, especially as her mother, you should already know? If Dawn is not taught by someone who knows how and what to teach her, don't you think she will simply go out and find a way to learn on her own? Which do you think would be best for Dawn's safety?"

"I think it would have been best if we'd never heard of any of this."

"Somethings of the past can not be changed Joyce. Buffy was Called. Dawn has the Talent. They both need to be trained properly or it will end in disaster for ... well, frankly, everyone." Jacks put down her fork and ripped a slice of garlic toast into bits. "You're so concerned about my giving Dawn vials of my own and Vin's blood that you haven't even thought of Dawn's own blood."

Joyce frowned. "What about her blood?" She couldn't believe they were having a conversation that careened from magic to legends of the Wild West and back to magic.

"The first time a bloodmage finds their power it is through their own blood," Jacks started, then paused thoughtfully. "Well, unless they grow up in a culture where blood sacrifice is still practiced. But for the most part, it starts with their own blood. Dawn held off an older, experienced bloodmage who had managed to take both Faith and myself down through trickery. She even managed to free me by destroying the sigals keeping me unconscious." She smiled grimly at Joyce's stunned and slightly horrified expression.

After a long moment the older woman continued, her voice softer. "Joyce, even without this new tangle in the skein you couldn't have kept Dawn out of this. She's already told you as much. So has Xander for that matter. When we look at her, each of us sees someone quite different. You see a child, your child, that you need to protect. Buffy and Beth both see their baby sister, although Buffy is more intent on sheilding her from the things that we fight. Xander sees a friend and an ally with great potential, while he wants to protect her as well, he has a very different way of doing so than you Summers girls do. Did you know he isn't happy with me teaching her either?"

"Yes. He made that quite clear," said Joyce, her voice weak but steady. "What do you see when you look at Dawn?"

Jacks held Joyce's gaze for a moment as she sorted out how to explain her view of Dawn. "I see a girl older than her years, so much stronger than her fears. I see a young woman I would be proud to claim as a sister. I want to help her become the woman I know she can be. I see my best friend. I can see her leading as I cannot. If I fall ... I see my weapon in her hands. They would be a powerful match. Perhaps even a better one than Kaina'tal and I."

Joyce swallowed hard at the pain that filled the impossible green eyes that stared into her own. It was raw and struck an echoing cord deep within the other mother's soul.

"In a way perhaps I see one of my children that never lived to draw breath when I look at your youngest daughter," Jacks whispered. "Perhaps I see the child that was taken from me before that, though I was little more than a babe myself when I had him."

"She isn't your child," Joyce hissed, suddenly fury at the thought of this strange inhuman woman laying any such claim to one of her girls.

"No. She isn't. Dawn is wonderfully, perfectly, powerfully human," Jacks said calmly, although the pain flared brighter in her eyes. "But she's a natural bloodmage and I am the best person currently available to teach her what she needs. You've already taught her those things that will keep her from becoming what she fears."

"What could I have possibly taught her that would have anything to do with," Joyce started only to be cut off by Jacks.

"Love. You taught her how to *love*, Joyce. So long as she loves and is loved in return Dawn will not fall into the monster she fears becoming." Jacks smiled slightly. "You remind me of my mother that way. She would have liked you a great deal."

Joyce found herself staring blankly at the woman across from her again. Their food forgotten between them. "Your mother ... was she the ..."

"Mother was a witch," Jacks said softly. "The most powerful one for centuries before and since. My father is the fey known as Puck."

"From *A Midsummer Night's Dream*?"

There was a quiet unladylike snort. "No. That was Robin, and Shakespeare was drunk when he was told that story. He made many mistakes when he turned it into his play. Although that was probably for the best."

Joyce put her head in her hands and laughed a bit hysterically. "I'm sitting across the table from the daughter of a fictional character."

"It was Robin Goodfellow in the play," Jacks pointed out. "And I don't date fictional characters any more than I have one for a father."

"This is too much, Jacks," Joyce said sharply. "All of this is too much."

"Joyce, it was too much the second you found out about the things that go bump in the night," the half-fey smiled slightly as she spoke. "At least you should be able to take comfort in knowing there are people who are willing and able to bump back as it were."

Joyce glared. "Not when two ... not when three of those people are my children."

"They aren't exactly on the front lines, Joyce. Well, Buffy and Dawn aren't. Not yet," Jacks observed carefully. "Not for a long time. They aren't ready yet. And they certainly won't be alone."

"Can you promise that?" Joyce demanded.

Jacks pinned the divorced mother with a steady gaze that showed every one of her more than three hundred years and all the potential millions waiting ahead of her. "Yes. I can. I fully intend to have Dawn on any team I form for the Knighthood once she's of age. I'd ask for Beth as well, but she's likely to be leading her own. And Buffy already has a team training up right along side her. Wesley, Jesse, Willow and Jonothan are as devoted to her as Vin and the rest of the Seven were to Larabee."

"Jacks," Joyce started only to be cut off by a flare of light in the white haired woman's eyes.

"Joyce Summers, I swear on the souls of my lost children, I will be blasted from creation before I allow lasting harm to come to Dawn," Jacks said, her voice low and forceful as she stared neon green eyes into summer sky blue. "She's my best friend for God's Sake."

Joyce found herself meeting the older woman's gaze with a steadiness that surprised even her. "I believe you. But that doesn't mean I'm happy about any of this."

There was a twitch around the half-fey's lips as her eyes softened. "You don't have to be. In fact, keep being unhappy about it. Just stop flushing any little vials of whatnot down the toilet. Some componients can react badly with others outside a carefully controled environment." The lips twitched again. "I'd hate to explain to the plummer how your pipes exploded from the walls."

Joyce found her lips quirking up as well. "You could have told me that first."

"I'm old, let me have my fun where I find it, darling."



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