A/N: Just quickly, this story was written for the 2013 Easter Exchange I organised and is for River_song but given their late entry and the subsequent reshuffling of wishlists that went on, I actually started writing this for GoddessofOlympia. So there's a little something in here for both of you. It sort of starts off more along the lines of person Goddess' wishlist and then gets into River_song's.
This is also my first story for the Jack West Junior series (and my first completely het story!) so hopefully it's not too bad. I really hope that I've remembered which characters died in 7AW… This story is set post then and sort of works on the assumption that Jack and Zoe had something going between them long before it was made official in 5GW.
Since I really can't write anything het of an even vaguely sexual nature (I swear I tried for you. You wouldn't want to read the results.) I've focussed more on the 'alone,' aspect of the wishlist and left the sexual content heavily implied. Hope that's okay.
The dusty, sprawling farmhouse was too empty for Jack's liking.
At first it had started with the arrival of Max 'Wizard' Epper and Zoe 'Princess Zoe' Kissane, led by a small but intrepid girl by the name of Lily. Two of the brightest minds Jack had ever met and they had been led to his isolated farmhouse hidden in the Great Sandy Desert of central Australia by a ten year old girl with a better than most knowledge of ancient history and a passion for ballet.
And once they arrived, they never really left.
After that, it didn't take the rest of the team to filter through and the farmhouse to fill up.
The large, bearded pilot with a grin larger than his belly, affectionately known as Sky Monster, was the next person to track them down. As it turned out, a ghost town in an almost deserted Australian desert was the perfect place to hide a plane that may possibly have been misappropriated from Suddam Hussein himself – not that any of them were admitting to that any time soon.
Aided and abetted by satellite navigation and more flyovers than he cared to count, Sky Monster had eventually discovered the farmhouse after he spotted evidence of a recent landslide, conveniently covering the entrance to a large abandoned mine.
Benjamin 'Stretch' Cohen politely waited a full three months before turning up on their doorstep in a sharp three piece suit and carrying little more than a long, thin black case.
Nobody needed to ask how he knew where to find them.
The Mossad knows everything.
And the second son of the Sheik of the United Arab Emirates, Zahir al Anzar al Abbas – better known as Pooh Bear – would have been terribly upset if he hadn't been invited.
So naturally Stretch had brought him along too.
After that, Jack had simply smiled and given into Lily's pleading that the Jamaican Fuzzy couldn't be the only member of the team who didn't know the location of the farmhouse. He had tried to look reluctant to pass out the secret of their location but both his newly adopted daughter and the woman that one day he hoped would be his wife knew better. What other possible reason could he have for buying a deserted property that just happened to have as many bedrooms as they had teammates?
(And a few more, just in case.)
Jack knew better than to try and argue with the two women in his life – not that he would have wanted to anyway – and three days later, V.J. 'Fuzzy' Weatherly arrived on the first plane from Jamaica, clutching a battered suitcase and pissed off that he was the last person invited to the party.
Each one came and went as they pleased – Max often had scholarly duties to attend to that took him out of the country and to varying prestigious universities around the world; Pooh Bear couldn't entirely shake the burden of his duties to the Emirates and Stretch had to check in regularly with the Mossad. As for Sky Monster, well, he had a plane and his parents lived just over the Tasman, what was he supposed to do?
The farmhouse became a bustle of activity. There was always someone training and the acres of empty desert was perfect for playing around with high explosives and sniper rifles. There were lessons for Lily and tea parties and impromptu ballet concerts. Wizard often brought delicate pieces of papyri or unusual objects he had discovered, much to the interest of all members of the team. People were always coming and going, accompanied by the once unusual roar of a 747 across the Nullarbor.
And so the team once again made themselves a home and a family in the baking heat of the Australian desert.
But not today.
Today, the farmhouse was deserted.
The absence of Pooh Bear, Stretch and Sky Monster had been accounted for. Pooh Bear had been called away by his father for a matter of 'extreme urgency' and Stretch had decided to accompany him as 'protection.'
Both men knew that an Israeli acting as a bodyguard for the second son of the Sheik of the United Arab Emirates was likely to cause more trouble than it was worth.
They also knew that if it were discovered that Stretch was in fact a Mossad agent, they would be lucky to escape with their lives.
They did it anyway.
Pooh Bear had all the committed energy and Stretch, the laid back assurance that made them a formidable trolling duo. Jack had once overheard them assuring Lily fervently that Justin Beiber did not in fact, exist and was an entity created by the major corporations to both economically exploit and brainwash teenage girls.
Lily a) knew better than to believe a word out of their mouths and b) didn't like Justin Beiber anyway.
Others, like Sky Monster, fell for it with monotonous regularity. Only last week, they had convinced Monster that like sailors who have sailed around cape horn – one of the most notorious shipwreck sites on earth – pilots who have successfully flown through the Bermuda triangle wore an ear piercing in their right ear as a badge of pride.
It would also counteract motion sickness.
Sky Monster was less than impressed when he found out what the small gold stud he now wore actually meant but he still volunteered to fly the trouble makers to the emirates.
And dammit, it hurt to get that piercing, so he wasn't just going to chuck it away.
Without that pair and the Harlicarnassus, the farmhouse seemed very quiet indeed.
Fuzzy had been assigned guard duty that week – they each took it in turns to stand watch over the collapsed mine that hid the wonders they had been able to recover as well as the capstone itself – and would sleep in the small hut they had purposely stationed beside the mine. On the absolute other end of the farm, it was too far away to journey back and forth each day. Zoe had volunteered to drive food and other supplies over to the guard house but had found the all-terrain vehicle had been damaged in a few rounds of over-enthusiastic mock pod-races from last weekend.
Jack had consented on the theory that the desert landscape did look rather like Tatooine.
Sky Monster and the Harlicarnassus were not allowed to take part.
Zoe was left fixing the mess.
That only left Wizard and Lily unaccounted for in the sprawling farmhouse and Jack had a sneaking suspicion he knew where he would find them. As a small child, Lily had spent every moment she could in Jack's office. As a young woman, she was increasingly drawn to Wizard's and the vast array of obscure knowledge hidden in its corners. Wizard, being an uncommonly patient man, was always more than happy to share his knowledge with any member of the team regardless of their educational history and background information (or lack thereof) but he couldn't suppress his delight at having found such an enthusiastic and dedicated protégé.
The pair of them were often to be found cloistered away in Wizard's cramped dusty office, surrounded on every wall by books and sure enough, when Jack peered through the sliver of just opened door, there they were. Lily, already a master of Latin, Greek and Cuneiform, had decided she wanted to understand more about her own history. Having been able to read Egyptian hieroglyphs since she was eight years old, she had stumbled upon the language of Coptic – a blend of Egyptian language written in Greek characters and the final stage of the indigenous Egyptian language – and immediately decided she needed to know it. Coptic not being one of the languages Wizard had tucked under his belt, they took it up themselves to learn it together.
Jack pushed the door open just enough to hear Lily gently correct Wizard.
"It's NЄOOϒ, the glory, not NЄCOOϒ, the sheep," she said, pointing at the document they were both scanning.
Creases of confusion appeared across Wizard's brow for a moment before both of them dived for one of the many reference books strewn across the table.
Flicking through it, Wizard found what they were looking for first and laughed a rich laugh.
"Right you are, little one," he said, looking at Lily with pride.
It was then Jack's turn to jump as a pair of long slender arms wrapped around his waist from behind, startling him.
"Spying are we?" Zoe Kissane teased in her lilting Irish accent.
With her delicate features, blonde hair and wide blue eyes of the Irish, people readily assumed that Zoe Kissane was as sweet and innocent as she looked.
They assumed wrong.
Today, her blonde hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail. The overalls she had been wearing to repair the ATV were rolled down to her waist, revealing a plain white singlet that clung to the graceful lines of her body. Her pale freckled skin was streaked liberally with grease.
"Not spying," Jack replied, turning around in her embrace so he was facing her. "Observing."
Zoe snorted a laugh and leaned in to kiss him. Her body, pressed against Jack's, was still hot from the beating sun outside and thrummed with energy. She twisted her arms around his neck sinuously, drawing him closer and Jack couldn't stop his own hands from coming up to cup her waist. His thumbs gently traced the curve of her waist, feeling the hard muscle beneath the soft cotton. With every breath, her breasts rose against his chest.
Zoe pulled back just long enough to whisper into Jack's ear, her breath tickling the back of his neck, "We're alone."
"Not quite alone," Jack replied, wiping a smudge of grease off Zoe's cheek with the broad pad of one thumb before jerking his hand in the direction of the study, where Lily and Max were still happily ensconced.
Zoe hooked her thumbs into the belt loops of Jack's dusty cargo pants and pulled him back flush against her with a quick nip of his bottom lip that drew blood. Her tongue darted out, drawing the dark offending bead away and sending the remaining blood in Jack's body rapidly south. Zoe closed her lips tantalizingly around her tongue and smirked wickedly.
"They'll be busy for hours yet," She said, blue eyes sparkling, "And you have ten bedrooms."
The sight of her with flushed lips and red tinted cheeks filled Jack with a thousand and one nameless emotions. Beyond her pretty features lay a razor sharp mind, determination to rise to every challenge and a happiness that bubbled out of her constantly and infectiously.
Jack knew he was in trouble.
Whatever this was that was developing between them, Jack knew there were still immense challenges in their future – challenges that even Wizard had only begun to discover. It wasn't time yet to bring his relationship with Zoe into the public eye. He couldn't put her in danger like that and he couldn't tempt Lily with the notion of a (legally) real and complete family if it wasn't yet sure. In a few hours' time they'd have to master themselves again; be soldiers with the very real fate of the world in their hands; put thoughts of themselves aside but for right now, Zoe was beside him and they were alone.
Maybe an empty house wasn't so bad a thing after all.