It's a Kind of Magic

Author: Mac Xavier <mac_xavier[at]>

Disclaimer: Not mine, except Jacks and Kaina'tal. Vin Tanner belongs to MGM, CBS, or whoever currently owns the rights to The Magnificent Seven television series. All things Buffy:TVS belong to that crackhead Joss. All things Highlander belong to Rysher/Panzer and Davis. Other stuff belongs to other people. Journeyverse belongs to the All Powerful Tenhawk, long live Tenhawk!

Summary: There's a kind of magic that not even one of the fey can control, a magic so powerful that most witches dare not meddle with its natural workings. It can bring boundless joy and wrenching pain between one breath and the next. And when it hits, everything changes.

Rating: PG/PG-13

Time frame: Year One, Roughly concurrent

Archive: Journeyverse

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Chapter 1

****** Vin ******

It's strange. Having Snowbird back in my life after a bit more than a hundred years. Not that she's back, having not really ever been gone. I knew she'd never really die, not unless some outlaw got lucky with an iron knife. Not that iron was used much, short of nails and horse shoes, even back in those days when we first met. The strange part is how damned easy it was to fall back into old habits with her.

Pretending we're just friends.

Pretending that she's like a sister to me.

Pretending that she's the wife of one of my friends. One of my brothers.

Pretending that I didn't make the choice for her a long time ago.

Pretending that she never loved us both.

It was easy when we were all wrapped up in getting ready for our job protecting Harris' friend. It was even easier when Jacks was almost always in the form of a child, cause then I could look at her like a child. Like a little sister.

But then Harris called and used some word that meant something serious t'Jacks ... and when I woke her up, well, I was reminded that she ain't a kid and she sure as hell ain't my sister.

Anyway, off we went to help Harris and a bunch of other people save the world from some parasitic snakes.

And Jacks wasn't a little girl.

It was bad enough when she was wearing that silk shirt and leather pants ... I really should have thought it through before I helped her pick those out ... Then Merlin got her one of those uniforms like the Kine'Iende are supposed to wear. And it wasn't a damned thing like the one Harris was wearing. Jacks was a woman grown, even if she always was on the slight side.

She was a beautiful woman. Any idiot could see that. But she was the widow of one of the men I had called my brothers.

It was damned hard to remember that when I first saw her in her Kine uniform. The damned thing may have covered every inch of skin between her neck and her toes, but it looked like some one had stitched her into it. The way every muscle curved and flexed under whatever kind of material the uniforms are made out of ...

Still, I managed. Being in the middle of a war for the survival of Earth itself helped.

But then we moved from LA to Sunnydale. And she didn't have to be a kid anymore, at least not for a while. Harris, Giles, Tara and Mikki moved into that mansion on the edge of town with that Styles fella, Jacks and me moved into a small house near where Dawn had said the Summers would be living.

Then I made a run up to LA to check out that present Andy was helping me get for Jacks ... Matched set of Glocks, custom fitted to her hands ... with an Ace of Spades on one and the Ace of Hearts on the other.

On the way home I ran into one of my kind of Immortal. One who didn't know how to get while the getting was good.

I should have stayed in a hotel after I took that Quickening. I should have gotten drunk off my ass. I should have found a hooker ...

Instead I went home.

To Jacks.

****** Jacks ******

I had spent the day that Vin had gone into Los Angeles getting to know Tara, Mikki and Giles as I hadn't been able to during the war against the Go'auld. Tara and Mikki of course being safe on Avalon, while Giles had seemed hesitant to speak with me at the time.

I'm not sure why although Faith's Watcher seemed to be eyeing me cautiously as well.

In any case, I had returned to the house Vin and I shared to finish crafting the illusion that a child lived there. Once I was done I decided to shower. I took a rather long time as I wasn't expecting Vin back anytime soon, and didn't have to concern myself with using all of the hot water.

When he came home that night I had just gotten out of the shower, and my robe was sticking to me in wet patches.

"You look like something the cat dragged in, Vin," I said with a smile as I scrubbed a towel through my hair.

His eyes locked on me with a look in them I hadn't seen in a hundred and twenty years. So the kiss he laid on me wasn't exactly unexpected, but still came as somewhat of a shock.

My arms slid around his neck on reflex. Really, they did. If you had a simply gorgeous individual, that you already cared a great deal for, kiss you like you were their last hope of heaven wouldn't you? There, so it was a reflex.

Somewhere between the front hall and Vin's bedroom, my higher mental functions shut down. It was some place between "Yes, he's really that good" and "Yes, it's really been *that* long".

The next morning there wasn't a question in my mind about what had gone on the night before. I was a little sore in a *really* nice way in all the right places when I woke up with Vin's chest pressed up against my back and his arm curled around my waist.

//Oh, Jacqueline, what have you done?// Kaina'tal asked mournfully.

<Beg pardon?> I asked sleepily.

The annoyance poured through our bond. //You do remember what it was like the last time you fell in love?//

I shot an equal measure of annoyance back at her. <With a clarity that will stay with me through eternity. Why?>

//What are you going to do when Vin dies?//

<You do remember the conversation where he explained that he's Immortal, don't you, dear heart?> I retorted.

//Vividly, including the parts about the Game and the fact that you can't interfere if he's challenged,// Kaina'tal shot back.

<Shut up, Kaina.>

Around then is when Vin jumped out of bed like a scalded cat.

Vin tightened his arm around the warmth curled up against his chest as he took a deep breath. He froze when the scent of lavender and baby powder registered in his brain.

Then he jumped out of bed like a scalded cat.


She rolled over and sat up. "Yes, Vin?"

"But ... How ... I mean, what ... I ..." He broke off and scrubbed a hand over his face. "Aw, hell."

Jacks blinked sleepily at him. "What's wrong?"

"You ... me ... bed ... Aw, hell."

"Articulate this morning aren't you?"

Chapter 2

Jacks seethed as she and Mikki joined Dawn on the way into the building.

Mikki nudged Jacks shoulder, nearly knocking the smaller girl into Dawn. "Who's she?"

"Oh, sorry," Jacks mumbled. "Dawn Summers, this is Mikki Mirri. Mikki, this is Dawn. Make nice, you're both friends with Xander."

"What crawled up your butt and died?" Dawn whispered to her protector as she eyed the new girl.

"I'll tell you later," Jacks ground out. She studied the class listings, and was glad she'd had the foresight to ask Merlin to make certain that the three of them were in the same class. "We're in Miss Westwood's class. Room two oh four."

"No, seriously," Dawn bumped her shoulder against Jacks, almost knocking her into Mikki. "What's wrong? You look like you have a terminal case of scowls."

"No offense, dear heart," Jacks said in a low tone that wouldn't carry past their little trio, "but I can't wait until I can permanently ditch this kiddy form. Maybe then Vin will stop acting like an ass."

Mikki snorted and glared at a child who'd come too close to them. "You don't have to be here."

"Oh, yes I do. I've got orders, same as you," the half-fey told the young were-jaguar. "I'm even supposed to -behave-."

Dawn shook her head. "To quote Oz, our lives are different from other people."

"I don't recall that being in the books," Jacks said sounding confused. "I thought I'd read the entire series."

"Not the Land of Oz, the musician," corrected the youngest Summers.

Jacks and Mikki looked at each other and shrugged. Humans could be quite strange.

Fifth grade sucked, Dawn decided. Especially the second time around when you'd already made it up to Junior High School. It didn't help that Jacks seemed to have tuned out Miss Westwood's lecture on the Civil War. Mikki was paying more attention to their teacher, and she was drawing a jungle with cats' eyes glaring out from the leaves in her notebook. But it was probably okay, because Vin had fought in the Civil War, and Jacks had been alive then ...

Dawn tried to pay attention to the lesson but her mind kept drifting. There she was, sitting in class at Sunnydale Elementary, between a three hundred fifteen year old half fey warrior-witch and a ... well, what ever Mikki was. All Dawn could tell for sure was that the quiet girl wasn't human, and Dawn had the strangest urge to pet her.

She glanced over to see what Jacks was doing, but it looked like all her notes were written in something that wasn't English. And Dawn was pretty sure that it wasn't French either. Maybe she could find out what was wrong with Jacks during lunch.

Mikki cut through the crowd on her way to join the only person she was even slightly familiar with in the school. It was the time the grown up humans had scheduled for lunch, which seemed strange to the young were-jaguar as she was used to simply eating when she was hungry. But if she was going to live with them, like Xander said she'd have to do for now at least, then she'd have to adapt. Mikki was sure she could manage.

At least Jacks didn't mind when Mikki sprawled across her legs. And Jacks could shape shift too, which was also nice.

"Mikki! Over here!" Dawn called, waving her over to the small table she and Jacks had claimed.

Jacks flashed her a smile when Mikki took the empty seat next to her. "Hey, cub. Get your lunch without any problems."

Mikki frowned down at her tray. "Not enough meat."

"I think I might be able to fix that," Jacks whispered. She glanced around to make sure no one was paying any attention to their group before she made a gesture over Mikki's lunch and muttered, "This isn't what my friend wants to eat, for her tastes let's make this meat."

"Thanks," Mikki said with a wide grin before she dug into her meal. She rolled her eyes happily as the taste of raw meat burst over her tongue even though it appeared to be cooked.

"You're not supposed to do magic in school," Dawn hissed.

Jacks rolled her eyes. "No one saw me. No one will."

"What is with you today?" Dawn wondered out loud. "You've been acting weird all day."

"I am weird," Jacks protested. "It's endemic to my nature."

Dawn snorted. "I meant weird -even- for you."

"I think I'm insulted," Jacks said. She glanced over at Mikki. "Do you think I should be insulted?"

"Not sure, then probably," Mikki observed.

"Good point."

"Stop dodging the question, Jacks," Dawn demanded. "What's up, and it's got to be more than Xander teasing you about being a kid."

Jacks rubbed tiredly at her forehead. "It isn't that. Well, it mostly isn't that. I fully intend to get Xander for that little joke of his, but ... I can't discuss it at school, Dawn. It's vastly private and not something I wish to speak of where outsiders could overhear us."

"Fine, we're going to my house after school then," decided the Key-made-flesh. "Call Vin. You want to come, Mikki?"

The were-jaguar shrugged. "Okay."

"Cool. Call Xander, too," Dawn said, poking Jacks' shoulder.

Jacks arched her eyebrows. "You'll have to ask your mother."

"Right. Got your cell phone?"

"Here. Now that I think of it, it would be good if you had one of your own," Jacks muttered as she handed over her phone.

Joyce smiled when she got home from her new gallery to find her youngest daughter sprawling in the livingroom with two friends as they did their homework. "Hello, girls. Would you like a snack?"

"No thanks, Mom," called Dawn without looking up from her math book.

"No, thank you, Ms. Summers," said Jacks. She looked up and gave the blonde woman a bright smile.

"No, thanks," finished the third child.

Joyce concluded that the last little girl was Mikki. "Alright, tell me if you change your minds."

"We will, Mom," Dawn assured her with a quick smile.

"Okay," Joyce said before she went into the kitchen to start dinner.

Dawn shifted around and lowered her voice. "So are you going to tell me what's wrong or what?"

Jacks explained after a moment in which she took the chance to cast a minor obscuring spell. "Vin and I had sex. He seems to have panicked."

Mikki rolled her eyes and turned to sprawl out on her back. "Why?"

Jacks shrugged. "Vin had me safely assigned to an untouchable category. That has now changed."

"You and Vin ..." Dawn's voice gave out at that point.

"I'm not *really* his niece, Dawn," Jacks snickered. "Nor am I truly a child. I certainly wasn't in this form when he returned from L.A."

Dawn blinked. "Well, that's a point. But ... I thought you two were just well, friends."

Jacks laughed quietly. "We've never just been 'friends'. It's difficult to explain, but there's always been more there. We just ... Never did anything about it."

"Because of Ezra,"Dawn concluded.

"Because of Ezra," sighed Jacks. Her eyes drifted to look at something only she could see.

Four Corners, May 15, 1870

Jacqueline stripped her fighting clothes from her body with a disgusted look on her face. The Volgra demon had managed to spray some of it's poisonous mucus at JD, and she'd had to teleport between them. Her half-fey blood spared her any of the agonies that the young man would have suffered had it been allowed to come into contact with him. All in all they were lucky that they had arrived before the Volgra could coat the child, Billy Travis, with the disgusting stuff. Jacqueline had sent the seven men who'd assisted her back to town with the boy and stopped at a spring near by to clean up.

In any case, Jacqueline's outfit was beyond salvaging. She said a quiet word in Greek that caused the clothes to catch fire without lighting the surroundings ablaze. Then she waded into the spring, ducking under the shallow water enough to soak her hair.

She came back up, flinging her hair back out of her face, to find Vin staring at her in surprise.

Jacqueline squeaked and covered her chest by folding her arms around herself. "Mr. Tanner!"

"Sorry!" Vin said as he turned sharply on his heel so that his back was too her. "Chris sent me back to make sure you were alright."

"You may assure Mr. Larabee that I am quite well and more than able to take care of myself," Jacqueline managed to get out past her embarrassment.

"Right," Vin blurted. "I'll go do that. Uh. Did ya know your clothes are on fire?"

"Yes. I'm afraid it is the only way to make sure the Volgra's poison is destroyed without risking harm to innocents."

Vin nodded without turning around and slipped his buffalo coat off, then set it on a large rock. "Well, ya can borrow this for a while until ya can get to the clothes in your room, Miz Jacqueline. I'll just go tell the boys that you're alright."

"Thank you, Vin," Jacqueline said softly as the sharpshooter started to leave.

He waved. "No trouble, ma'am."

Jacqueline watched him continue to walk away without trying to sneak another look at her.


"Why pick Ezra?" Mikki wondered.

Jacks pushed aside her homework. "I didn't get the chance to pick. I wanted both of them, as greedy as that sounds. Vin ... he isn't a man given to openly displaying his feelings. I knew he cared for me. I had no idea how much. I still have no idea as to the extent of his feelings."

"But you knew Ezra loved you, that he was -in- love with you?" Dawn asked.

Jacks smiled slightly. "Yes. While Ezra was no more prone to showing his true feelings than Vin is, he managed to make the situation clear."

Four Corners, September 26, 1870

"Jacqueline? If I might have a word with you?" Ezra requested, his Southern drawl as thick as honey.

"Certainly, Ezra," she said, leaving the piano with a smile. She paused to stretch in relief after a long evening of dodging grasping hands. "Is everything alright?"

"I'm not sure," the gambler admitted. "I was wondering if there was something keeping you in our delightful little metropolis?"

Jacqueline tilted her head to one side, making her carefully styled white ringlets slide across one bare shoulder. "I like it here. You're here. There is no great threat that I'm waiting to make itself known if that is what you're wondering."

"No, not at all," Ezra assured her. "I was ... That is to say, my dear, I am hoping that you'll agree to make your home here on a more permanent basis."

"You know I shall have to move on eventually," Jacqueline reminded him. "I'm not entirely mortal and cannot keep up the charade indefinitely."

"Then for as long as I live?" he asked quietly as he offered her a small carved wooden box.


He smiled faintly. "I'm asking you to marry me, my dear Jacqueline."

Jacqueline opened the box without taking it from Ezra's hand. "Oh my."

The ring was a fairly simple silver band with a small emerald flat set into it.


She took a deep breath and looked up at him. For once the man's professional mask was cast aside and he looked back at her with hope and worry clearly on his face.

"Yes, Ezra."

Vin walked away from the batwing doors as silently as he had approached them. He paused at the end of the boardwalk and looked up at the expanse of stars with a slight smile. Jacqueline might not be his, but she wasn't leaving either.

That would be enough.


"Girls, dinner's ready," Joyce called into the strangely silent living room.

Mikki looked up, blinking sleepily, from where she'd apparently fallen asleep in a patch of sunlight that streamed through the window. Dawn flipped her reading book shut with a grin and Jacks snapped back from whatever daydream she'd been having to blink almost as sleepily as Mikki had.

"Thanks, Mom. We'll be right there," Dawn called back as she started piling textbooks into a heap on the coffee table.

Mikki and Jacks quickly hurried to help Dawn before all three of them scrambled for the bathroom to wash their hands.

Dawn slammed the bathroom door in Buffy's face before the Slayer could push in and kick them out.

"Hey!" shouted the older Summers daughter.

"Wait your turn!" Dawn shouted back. Then she turned to Jacks and whispered. "You can't keep blanking out like that. Mom'll think something's wrong."

Jacks smiled faintly. "Something -is- wrong, Dawn. It simply isn't something that you, or your Mother, can help me with."

"Vin's an idiot," Mikki surmised. "You're Mates."

"Pardon?" Jacks asked blankly.

Mikki snorted. "You're both ever living. You fit. So you're Mates."

"I see," the half-fey said slowly. "You do realize that if he doesn't love me the way I love him then this entire situation is going to end very messily."

"Yep," Mikki said. "Still Mates."

Chapter 3

Jacks sprawled across the bed in her room as she thought over both what Mikki had told her a few days earlier, in the young were's typically blunt manner, and how Vin had always reacted around her. She let her head dangle off the side of the bed, thick white curls brushing the carpet as she rocked slightly from side to side as she forcibly brought up every memory of one Vin Tanner.

Bright blue eyes and a shy grin when Ezra had introduced him and JD that first day. His eyes that followed her a little more often than the rest had, short of Ezra. Holding her a little longer when they hugged, a little tighter than he needed too just to say hello. Fingers that lingered on her cheek when he brushed her hair away from her face. Avoiding Ezra for three days after the gambler had asked her to marry him. Leaving town for almost a month after the wedding, but still close enough to be there if they'd needed him. Getting a shaman from the Indian village to come out and bless the ground their house was built on. Backing her up when she insisted that each miscarried child be properly named and buried. Singing lullabies to Colleen on the front porch. Teaching a five year old Colleen how to ride the little bay pony Chris had just shown up with one day, for no reason whatsoever. (The black clad leader of the Magnificent Seven seemed as dead set on spoiling their 'niece' as any of the rest.) But Vin had called Colleen something in Apache.

What had it been?

Daughter of my Heart.

And the way Vin had tortured that Vampire they'd captured when Colleen had been kidnaped ... Well, Josiah had regretted blessing the water ... Almost. It had helped steal their Colleen ... And she had six very protective uncles. Especially Vin.

The half-fey sat up, her eyes narrowing as her mind started to churn at a furious pace.

//Jacqueline?// Kaina'tal called. //Jacqueline? What's wrong?//

"Nothing," Jacks whispered. "But I think something might be about to go very right."

The rune weapon was silent for a long moment. //Jacks ... Are you certain of your path?//

Jacks only answer was a near feral grin. After all, she didn't have time to answer if she wanted to have time to get ready before Vin returned from his sweep of the town. He was still finding all the high places where he could play sniper against the vampires and demons of the Hellmouth.

Let's see, Jacks mussed to herself. She'd need a shower, especially after training with Dawn after school ... There was something that Faith had mentioned while they were at the estate Xander had claimed, something about wearing a man's shirt? One of Vin's white button down shirts would do nicely ... And her hair left unbound. He liked her hair loose and curly.

Sixteen years of sexual tension, with a hundred twenty year break between the last two years, was about to be resolved if she had to tie Vin Tanner to the bed.


Actually, that thought had merit. Perhaps another time if her plan went well.

It felt good to be hunting again. Not as good as it had been to ride as one of the Seven, but there was still something weirdly satisfying about going after vampires. That likely had something to do with the fact that Immortals and blood suckers just seemed to hate each other naturally. Like it was some kind of ancient instinct.

The challenge was getting the undead bastards before the sense of his Quickening drove them into avoiding him.

Or even better, catch them as they were rising as fledglings. Just a quick swipe of his sword before they were all the way out of their grave took care of the problem before it was one.

Vin swung his saber in passing, taking a fledgling's head off while it's legs were still trapped in the dirt. Pity, the girl had probably been a right pretty little gal while she was alive. His mind wasn't really on the hunt, although he had made note of some really good places to take out vamps from a distance. Vin was too busy trying to figure out what was going on between those pointy ears of Jacks'.

Before she had joined Xander at the Bronze to threaten Angel and then patrol disguised as Faith, Jacks had turned all of his underwear bright orange. Vin figured he shouldn't have added to Xander's line of 'little' comments. He was probably going to be paying by inches for a long time to come, but it made him wonder exactly what the green eyed trouble maker was planing for her Knight Commander.

A smile tugged at Vin's lips. Whatever Jacks was cooking up was bound to be a spectacular one shot only deal.

"Well, well, well. Don't you just love delivery?"

Vin glanced up from his contemplation to regard the trio of vampires grinning at him. "Guess you boys ain't heard yet."

"Heard what, blood bag?" demanded the smallest of the three.

"Ya blood suckers just dropped ta the bottom of the food chain," Vin drawled as he pulled his saber from under his coat with one hand and palmed his snub-nosed .32 Chief's Special with the other hand.

"Get him!" yelled the largest of the three.

The kind of dumb looking one hesitated. "Uh .. Mike? He's got a sword."

Mike shoved the dumb looking one and the small one forward. "So what? It's not wood!"

"No, it ain't," Vin agreed as he stepped forward and thrust the sword through the small one's chest and into his heart. "But it's got blessed silver on the sides."

The little guy looked down, then up into wolf's grin on his killer's face ... and exploded into dust.

"Fuck!" screamed the dumb looking one, who was probably the smartest of the three, as he turned to run.

Vin brought up the .32 and shot Mike who had been too busy staring at him in shock, then shot the runner.

"Mr. Tanner? When did you start hunting Vampires?"

Vin sighed and lowered the pistol to his side. "Hey, Buffy," he said quietly.

"What's going on? I mean, I knew Jacks was some kind of freak but ..."

"Buffy, you call Jacks that again where I can hear you and girl or not ... Slayer or not, I -will- hurt you," Vin said as he turned around, in the same quiet voice he'd greeted her with but an icy look in his blue eyes. "Jacks ain't a freak anymore than you are, and you ain't exactly normal yourself. You hear me?"

Buffy's eyes narrowed at him. "How do you know I'm the Slayer?"

"I know just about everything Jacks does. That's how partners work."

"I thought she was your niece?" Buffy asked frowning in confusion.

Vin snorted. "Mebbe iffen I was two hundred years older and fey. Get on with your patrol, Buffy. I ain't no worry of yours."

"And I'm supposed to believe that?" Buffy demanded.

"Girl, I don't care what ya believe, cause ya ain't no worry of mine," Vin snapped. "My job is to back up Jacks and provide her cover, not pat ya on the head and tell ya yer a good girl!"

Buffy stared at him wide eyed and backed away. "And what's Jacks' job?"

"Protect yer sister, like she told ya after ya became the Slayer," Vin sighed. He holstered his gun and sheathed his sword. "Come on, gal. We'll talk while we patrol, alright?"

The blonde Slayer nodded slowly and stepped forward. This was Vin Tanner, even if he'd just killed three vampires like they weren't anything. "So ... What were you and Jacks really doing when you guys just vanished from LA?"

"Pulling folks out of the water," Vin said with a slight grin.

Vin yawned as he came in from his patrol. Sunnydale was a lot larger than Four Corners had been. He froze in the door to his bedroom. He stared for a moment. Then he swallowed. Hard.

Jacks was asleep on his bed, in her true shape, with the blankets kicked down toward the end, wearing one of his button down shirts. And not a stitch else.

Vin muttered a quick prayer in Comanche before he walked in. He carefully pulled the top sheet up to cover Jacks, then sat on the edge of the bed. He couldn't help but watch her sleep for a moment. She looked ... peaceful, as if she hadn't had any nightmares since she closed her eyes. Slowly he brushed a curl out of face, it felt like silk sliding across his finger tips. He squeezed his eyes shut against the memory of that silky mass of curls wrapped around his fist as he kissed the breath out of her while his thumb swept along the curve of one pointed ear.

God, how that had made her tremble and whimper in his arms ... squirming to get closer to him. Her legs wrapped around his waist.

He shouldn't have done it. She was Ezra's wife. His widow.

Inhuman green eyes were watching him, and he was stroking his hand through white curls.

"Hey," Jacks said softly. A smile curled her lips as she spoke.

"Hey. What are ya doing in here?" Vin asked, matching her quiet tone.

Jacks blinked up at him. "Where else would I be?"

He hesitated before answering. "You're room?"

"Our room is more comfortable," Jacks informed him.

"Our room?"

She yawned and stretched, then sat up. "Yes. You do want me in here don't you, Vin?"

"Jacks, you married Ezra ..."

"I couldn't have you both," she interrupted. "And you never asked. Vin, why didn't you *say* anything? I loved you both, and you just backed away when you found out Ezra was in love with me."

Vin shrugged slightly. "He could give you everything I couldn't."

Jacks twisted around grabbed a pillow and smacked Vin over the head with it. "If I wanted anything I could get it for myself! I wanted to love and -be- loved in return and you could have given me that as easily as Ezra did!"

"What kinda life could I have given you? I had a bounty on my head, ya know," Vin growled, snatching the pillow away and throwing it to the floor.

"You don't have one on your head now! Why didn't you come home after you became Immortal?" Jacks demanded. She kicked free of the sheet and knelt up on the bed. "Not even one visit in the twenty-five years between your disappearance and Ezra's death. Chris and Buck and Josiah and Nathan and Ezra all died still mourning for you! JD probably did to! We all needed you! I needed you!"

Vin caught her fists before they could strike him around the head and shoulders. "I couldn't. Watching you and Ez hurt. And it turns out he could give you something that I couldn't. That I'll never be able t'give ya. A baby. I can't give you a baby. Ever."

"I had a child, Vin. She grew up, got married, moved away, and probably had children of her own," Jacks said without trying to yank her hands out of Vin's grip. "I'd have liked more, but I don't have to have them. And there's always adoption. All I want ... all I need is you."

"Jacqueline ... you're Ezra's wife."

"No, I'm not. I haven't been Ezra's wife in almost ninety two years now," Jacks said softly. "He's gone. And we're still here ... And he wouldn't want us to be alone when we could be together."

Vin frowned. "What are ya talking about?"

"He knew you loved me, too," she whispered. "Knew that I loved you as much as I loved him. I can't imagine that the man I loved so much, the man who called you his brother, would want us to be alone."

"I shouldn'ta left," Vin said after a long moment of silence. "No matter what Connor told me, I shouldn'ta left. No one had a problem with you not being totally human, they wouldn't have had a problem with me being Immortal ..."

"No, they wouldn't have," Jacks said quietly. "We'd have all just been happy you were home."

Vin looked down, only just noticing that his thumbs had been rubbing back and forth across the pulse points at Jacks' wrists. "It's been a long time, Jacks. Things have changed."

"I know. But you still want me." She looked down then back up slowly. "You do still ... I mean ... Dammit."

"Yeah, Jacks, I do," Vin said. "But we can't just jump into this ..." He broke off under her incredulous glare. "Uh ... Guess we sort of jumped in that night huh?"

Jacks rolled her eyes. "Shut up and kiss me already."

Vin chuckled and was leaning in to do just that when the phone rang.

"Shit," they said together.

Jacks giggled then picked up the phone, altering her voice to little girl pitch. "Hello, Tanner residence, Jacks speaking. What can I do for you? ... Sure, just a second while I get Uncle Vin."

She covered the mouth piece for a moment then handed the phone to Vin.

He moved his hand to cover it quickly and shot a glare at her. "Don't call me 'Uncle Vin' when you're in our bed dressed like that. Ain't right."

Jacks gave him a wicked grin and winked. "Our bed?" she mouthed.

"Brat," Vin muttered before he put the phone to his ear. "Tanner ... Yeah ... Now look, we've been over this ... I can't be off on long hunts any more ... I don't like leaving Jacks behind ... No, I can't take her with me, she has school ... You say that again and I'll slit your throat."

Jacks frowned when Vin fell silent, listening to the man on the other end of the phone.

"I'll be there in two days, I have to find someone that can look after Jacks." Vin paused again. "I'm not joking, you keep talking about her like that and I'm not going to slit your throat, I'll let her do it and she'll start around your balls."

Then he slammed down the phone.

"Problem with work?" Jacks asked quietly.

"Fucking pedophile sonofabitch," Vin growled.

She arched her eyebrows at him. "I'm not a child."

"He don't know that," Vin snapped.

"What did he say?"

Vin snorted. "He offered to 'further the pretty little girl's education' the way he thinks all girls should be educated."

"Huh. Remind me to kill him slowly as soon as you find a new contact," Jacks grumbled. "Maybe Andy knows someone who could use a good bounty hunter and won't ask questions." She smirked. "You really told him I'd start slitting his throat around his balls?"

"Wouldn't you?"

Jacks nodded. "Yeah, but it's been a long time since I've done that." She tilted her head and looked at Vin with a small frown. "Talking about disemboweling people, no matter how richly deserved, ruins the mood."

"How about we talk about you stealing my shirt?" Vin asked with a slow smirk as he let his eyes drift over her.

"I didn't steal it," she protested. "I didn't even take it out of the room."

"Too bad," he growled against her lips. He started to kiss his way down her throat as he pushed her back against the pillows. "Ya look damned fine in it."

Then Vin set about getting Jacks to make those little breathy whimpers she'd made before.

It looked like they weren't going to pretend anymore, at least not past the bedroom door.

Chapter 4

(In which Vin and Jacks show a bit of their Dark Sides ...
Hey, everyone has one ... Right?)

Wesley dropped the book he was reading when Xander came into the library with a white haired child trotting obediently at his side. Large sharp looking eyes, an improbable shade of neon green raked over the room before she continued to walk without Xander by her side until she was dead center of the room.

"It's right under here, isn't it?" the girl said, pushing a lock of curly white hair behind her ear.

Xander nodded as he picked up Wesley's dropped book and handed it to him, only for it to hit the floor again. "That's the Hellmouth. Oh, and you've freaked out the Watcher enough, Jacks."

"No, I haven't," she replied in a sugary sing-song tone of voice.

"Who's the kid?" Jesse asked while Willow and Jonothan looked nervously at the floor.

The girl turned and planted her fists on her hips. "I assure you, Jesse, I am no 'kid'."

"Uh, Jacks, you might want to shift before you say things like that," Xander said sounding amused.

"Oh. Right," she said as she glanced down her body. "I must be spending too much time around mortals to forget such things."

Willow finally looked over when the little girl started to spin in place. She whirled faster and faster ... to a speed that Willow was sure even a professional dancer couldn't reach.

Then she stopped abruptly in a flash of white light ...

And the kid wasn't a kid anymore. A full twelve inches taller than she had been before, the girl was still slightly shorter than Willow, and slender with slight curves, but curves nevertheless.

Of course, what really caught the attention of everyone in the room was the little fact that her ears were now pointed and extended to just past the top of her head through the wild mop of curls.

"You're an Elf!" Jonothan yelped.

She frowned. "I am not. Elves are extinct in this dimension"

"Then ... What are you?" Willow managed to ask.

Wesley made a choking sound.

"I get the feeling that Wesley here knows," Xander chuckled.

"And I've told Buffy even if she didn't understand or appreciate the answer," Jacks drawled out. "So, Wesley? What am I?"

"Y-you ... Dear god, I thought you were just a myth!"

Jacks crossed her arms over her chest and raised her eyebrows. "I'm only three hundred and fifteen. That's a bit young to be a myth. Vin told me about a guy who's supposed to be somewhere around five thousand years old, now that's someone who could be a myth."

"But you're the Puck's Child! There are prophesies about you dating back for ..."

"Four thousand years," Jacks interrupted. She rolled her eyes. "I know, I know. Heir to Avalon's Misty Shores and all that crap. I don't *want* Oberon's job. The Fey can be -such- annoyances." She bowed dramatically. "Jacqueline Warren Standish, at your service."

Vin slammed through the bail bonds' office door and dropped his paperwork on his connection's desk. "This is my last job for you, Carter. All wrapped up neat in a bow."

"You can't be serious, Tanner," Carter said as he leaned back in his over padded chair. A slimy smirk curled his lips as he studied his best skip tracer. "Don't you know what I can do to you? Sic child welfare on you for starters. I of all people know damn good and well that you don't have a sister, dead or otherwise. Personally I don't care where you got the kid or what you do with her. But I do know she's no family of yours. And even if she was, there's no way the state would let a man like you keep her."

"Oh, Jacks is family alright," Vin said a smirk of his own curling his lips. "But child welfare can't do shit to me, seeing how Jacks ain't a kid."

Carter blinked. "Pardon?"

"She's over three hundred years old," the Texan's smirk grew into an unpleasant grin. "And she ain't an Immortal."

"Uh ... What are you going on about, Tanner?" Carter stammered.

Vin's hand shot across Carter's desk, locking an iron grip around the mortal's wrist before yanking him forward. Vin twisted his hand until Carter's wrist was exposed, along with the tattoo there. "You Watcher Society boys ain't as slick as you think you are. Tell yer boss that I'm gonna need a new Watcher. Cause if I see you again, if I so much as catch a whiff of your stinking cologne on a passing breeze, I'll kill ya."

"How ... How did you find out?"

"I had an idea that you were keeping tabs on me, Carter. But I never told you that I ain't got a sister or anything about my family 'sept my Ma died when I was a kid." Vin tightened his grip on the mortal's wrist, making the small bones grind together before letting go. "I oughta shoot ya on principle, but I got better things to do with my time. You might want to take a close look at those papers, before I go."

Carter looked down and paled when he opened the file. The first page was a photo of him passing a very similar folder to the Immortal who's head Vin took not more than a week ago. "Where did you get this?"

"Never mind that," Vin growled. "I'm quitting you." With that, he turned and started for the door. "Actually," he paused on his way out of Carter's office, "I don't. Never mind 'bout tellin' yer boss to get me a new Watcher. I'm sure they'll get the idea."

With that the Texan turned and fired. Carter never saw his former assignment draw the silenced .9mm and only had a second to register the gun before he slammed back into his chair with a hole between his eyes. Vin made sure he picked up the single brass shell and then wiped clean the inside and outside door knobs.

Then he left, as calmly as he'd entered the small bail and bond's storefront office. The small explosives he'd set earlier would take care of any other evidence. The resulting fire would probably burn Carter's body past identification for that matter.

Vin straddled his motorcycle and pulled a thin black cigar out of a hidden pocked inside his coat. He rolled it between his fingers for a moment, remembering the scent of one just like it that was so much a part of his best friend. Chris Larabee had been a hell of a man, and he'd been proud to work with him. Vin smiled slightly, Chris would be proud of the work he was doing now ... and at least he hadn't shot Carter in the back. Even if the shit-eatin' snake woulda deserved it.

Jacks joined Buffy for patrol after checking the wards she'd placed around various houses in Sunnydale. It had been at the Knight Commander's request, and the half-fey was loath to refuse the young mortal anything much less something so easily done.

"Where's Mr. Tanner?" Buffy demanded when the tiny warrior fell wordlessly into step at her side.

Jacks shrugged. "Nevada, I think. Near Las Vegas the last time he called home."

The Slayer frowned. "I don't need your help you know."

"Of course not."

Buffy hated that the inhuman girl sounded amused. "I'm serious. I'm the Chosen One, this is my job not yours."

The white haired knight froze in her tracks and glared with twin points of green light at the Slayer. "I am Jacqueline Warren Standish, daughter of Melinda Warren and Puck, a Knight Lieutenant of the Kine'Iende. -You- do not get to tell me what to do just because you're a Slayer. If you die some other girl will be called. If I die it could take centuries if not millennia for Kaina'tal to choose another partner, and then there will be months if not years of training before the new Knight has even basic proficiencies with Kaina'tal's powers."

Buffy stopped and stared at Jacks while she ranted. And she wasn't done yet.

"You aren't the only one here with a destiny, arrogant child. Vin's could get him killed as easily as yours could kill you. Xander's is just as dangerous and even more thankless at times. And don't even get me started on mine!"

"Are you done?" Buffy asked calmly.

Jacks nodded sharply. "Quite."

"Good, because there's a big demon right behind you."

Jacks blinked. "Crap."

The roar from her back had the half-fey diving forward, reflexively summoning Kaina'tal to her hand. Buffy pulled one of the knives Xander had given her and a stake.

"One dagger and a stake?" Jacks snapped.

"Better than one dagger," Buffy retorted as the demon closed on them.

Jacks grinned, looking the unsafe side of insane. "But my dagger is magic."

"Explain later, slay now," Buffy quiped.

"Ah, it's so nice to have a plan."

Buffy's lips quirked slightly. She really didn't like the strange being, but she had to admit Jacks did have a wicked sense of humor.

They moved to flank the now confused demon. Buffy suppressing the predatory thrill while Jacks continued to grin like a lunatic. The demon sniffed, turning toward Jacks and hissing something in a raspy demonic language.

Jacks froze as Kaina'tal provided the translation. //He says that Elf-meat is a rare treat, and that he will feast well on your bones.//

The half-fey lost her wild, too wide grin in an instant. "I. Am. Not. An. Elf!"

Her witch-power lashed out, throwing the demon fifty feet through the air into the side of a crypt. The curling strands that had escaped the tight white braid writhed in an unnatural wind as Jacks started to hover. "So ... You think my cousins are tasty treats, do you?" she asked as her magic lifted the demon by its throat. "You'll find this Daughter of Avalon harder to swallow."

"Drow?" the demon croaked out.

Jacks sneered. "I said I wasn't an Elf, idiot."

"I thought you couldn't kill with magic," Buffy blurted as jagged slashes opened up across the demon's flesh.

"It's amazing how much I can do without actually -killing- something," Jacks said with what could only be called an evil grin. Bones started to pulverize under the force of her anger. When the demon screamed she simply made its mouth vanish.

Buffy stared in horror as the being charged with protecting her little sister gleefully tortured another creature ... Alright, so it was a demon, but still. She wasn't even questioning it.

Buffy's dagger flashed end over end from her hand to be embedded in the demon's forehead, putting it out of its misery.

Jacks let the body fall with an annoyed snarl. "I wasn't done with that."

"You were torturing it for no reason," Buffy yelled.

"It eats *ELVES*, Buffy!"

"You're not an Elf!"

"They are still creatures of the Fey! Just like me!" Jacks yelled back. "And the Elven race is extinct in this dimension, someone had to summon that beast and direct it here!"

Buffy pause, and when she spoke again her voice was softer and even a little concerned. "You think it was sent after you."

"That is a possibility that I must consider."

"So why didn't you question it?"

That earned a snort. "Someone out there is under the impression that I am an Elf. I have no intention of disabusing them of that particular error until I have a blade buried to the hilt in their guts."

"You're psycho."

"Matter of opinion."

//That was a bit overboard, Jacqueline,// Kaina'tal pointed out.

(It was going to -eat- me.)

// ... True.//

"Okay, what exactly are you doing?" Willow asked as the white haired ... creature, spread a map of the US over the library table.

Jacks glanced up briefly. "A rather generalized locator spell."

"Who are you looking for?" Jonothan wondered out loud. He was endlessly curious about the girl who claimed to be half-fey, especially as she tended to stay in her childlike form out of convenience.

"Anyone who shares my bloodline," she explained, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. She carefully checked the potion she had brewed earlier for use in this spell. "Any of my descendants will show up in green. Fey relatives will show up as blue, and my sister's decedents will be the white points."

Wesley frowned from where he was conducting his research. "I don't understand why you feel you must do that here."

Jacks set aside the small glass vial filled with the potion. "Because if I cast anywhere else on the Hellmouth the spell would likely explode, if not it would still skew the results badly. While if I cast it directly over the Hellmouth the interference will be centered and I'll be able to filter it out of the results." Her lips quirked into a smirk. "And if it simply backfires then I don't have to try and get the potion out of the carpet."

With that said, Jacks opened the vial and tipped it out over the map as she started to chant. "Born of Witches. Born of Fey. Show me how to find the way. Lost to time and lost to space, help me to the right place ..."

The potion boiled into a mist as it covered the map ... Five points of white light appeared over San Francisco. Two blue points glowed over Manhattan, two more appeared, one moving along a highway in Arizona and the other steady in Alaska. A single green point in Sunnydale under the thick grey haze of interference from the Hellmouth.

And a solitary green light held over Dallas, Texas.

"Only one," Jacks said mournfully. "Only one descendant after ninety two years."

"Who are they?" Jesse asked as he leaned over the map curiously. "And what's with the 'only one' bit? There are two green lights. One right here in Sunnydale."

"That isn't a descendant," Willow said. "That's Jacks."

"Exactly," confirmed the half-fey. "As for those ... I'm not sure about the two in Manhattan, although one is half-fey like myself. The one in Arizona is likely to be Coyote, and the one in Alaska is most probably Grandmother ... although it may be Raven. The lights over San Francisco are my sister's descendants."

"And the one in Dallas is your daughter?" Jonothan guessed.

Jacks shook her head. "No ... Colleen would have shown up as red. It was her favorite color. She's dead. I didn't really expect to find her."

"Dawn'll be pissed if you just take off again," Buffy said from where she was practicing throwing stakes at a dummy.

"I've no intention of doing any such thing," Jacks retorted coolly, although her eyes didn't waver from the second green point of light. "I will inform her and Xander before I even attempt to contact any of my relations."

"Can't you just do that popping in and out thing?" Jonothan asked with a slight frown.

"No," she said, shaking her head. "It is too far. Such a distance would render me unconscious and unable to maintain my human appearance." She released the spell and began to clean up before she continued. "There will be several arrangements to make in regards to all of my relations so that I may make contact with them."

"So there are limits to the powers of the Puck's Child," Wesley intoned gravely.

Jacks studied him for a moment then rolled her eyes. "Duh!"

She vanished, leaving the 'Slayer Squad' staring at the empty place she had just occupied.

"Wesley, I want everything you know about the Puck's Child," Buffy said slowly. "If it turns on us I need to know how to kill it."

The young Watcher frowned at his Slayer. "To start with Miss Summers, the Puck's Child has never in all of *her* recorded history turned on any she has named friend or ally. She would never harm an innocent, and has nearly died on more than one occasion to protect a human."

"You didn't see her torturing that demon last night," Buffy argued.

"Perhaps not, but as you said, it -was- a demon," Wesley observed. "And the Puck's Child has been known to do so if the situation warrants."

"Well ... she said it was planning on eating her ..." Buffy's voice trailed off as her friends made gagging sounds.

"Buffy said you tortured a demon," Dawn said as they waited for class to start.

Jacks nodded. "It was an Aflardavor."

"Say that again. In English maybe," Dawn suggested sarcastically.

"Elf eater," Mikki supplied helpfully.

Dawn grimaced. "Ew. But why torture it?"

"It ate Elves, Dawn," Jacks explained patiently. "It was going to try to eat me."

Mikki frowned. "You're not an Elf."

"I'm close enough as far as an Aflardavor is concerned."

"Again, ew," Dawn said.


Chapter 5

Vin dropped a kiss on the top of Jacks' head as she sat studying a short list and a road map at the breakfast bar in the kitchen. "What's that, Snowbird?"

"Hey, Vin, I didn't hear you come in," she said as she turned around and smiled up at him. "It's a list of places where people I'm related to are here in the U.S."

"So ya cast that spell?" he asked looking around for potential splatter marks from a potion explosion.

Jacks swatted his arm lightly. "I didn't cast it here. I cast it in the High School Library. In any case, it worked. I've five of my sister's descendants in San Francisco, one of the Fey in Arizona, another Fey in Alaska, and two more in Manhattan."

"What about your descendants?" Vin asked softly as he ran his fingers through her hair.

"Descendant. There is only one, in Dallas, Texas," Jacks murmured. She sighed and leaned forward until her forehead came to rest on Vin's chest. "After a century, I only have a single descendant. If the child is of any power at all he or she must be terribly confused."

Vin nodded. "So, when are we leaving?"

"There is much to arrange before we even begin planning to search out my relatives, dearest," Jacks pointed out, without moving from her position. "I remain hopeful that we'll be able to begin contacting them over the school holidays."

"Hey, now, Snowbird," Vin said, cupping the back of her head with his hand. "It'll be alright. We'll go around and meet everyone, and your grandkid'll be just fine."

"You're right of course," Jacks said, pulling away from the comfort of his embrace.

Vin smiled down at her. "That didn't mean ya had to move."

Her arms went up and she laced her fingers behind his neck, toying with the soft strands of curly sable hair. "Oh really? Did you have something in mind?"

"Yep," was all Vin offered before his hands slid under her thighs and lifted her against him.

Jacks squealed then tightened her arms around his neck and found her legs locked around his hips. "Damn it, Tanner!"

"Well, ya asked what I had in mind, Snowbird," Vin drawled softly as he kissed along her jaw.

"Horny Texan," Jacks growled out as she tilted her head to give him better access.

Vin bit her earlobe then whispered. "I'll stop iffen ya say to."

"You stop and I'll shoot you," Jacks groaned, tightening her legs around him.

And they weren't even undressed yet.

On one side of the basement gym of the Harris Mansion Vin Tanner was gently coaching Tara through a more physical form of self-defense. On the next set of mats Jacks and Dawn had finished their warm up kata and were beginning what promised to be a very energetic sparring match. Just past them Faith was making Giles regret offering to hold the heavy bag for her.

Xander watched with a critical eye as Jacks and Dawn sparred. He had to admit that they were good. Jacks was more than just 'good', she was grace liquified and poured into a Jacks shaped container.

//Being half-fey and having nearly two hundred years of practice will do that,// Elan offered. //Although she should be better than this after that much time.//

<She's a magic-user first,> Xander pointed out silently. <Still, she does need to practice more than just sparing with Dawn.>

On the other hand Dawn was really, really good. Almost Slayer good, only without the mystical enhancements that came with being the Chosen One.

Jacks had just grinned wildly and pronounced Dawn a 'natural' when Xander had demanded to know what she thought she was doing teaching Dawn a variation on Kani'Maro. Then Xander had found out that Vin was teaching her every dirty trick he'd ever learned ... and Vin had learned a lot of dirty tricks in roughly one hundred and fifty years.

In short Dawn was holding her own in a fair fight against Jacks. Fair fight of course meaning that Jacks wasn't using magic.

Faith leaned up against the wall next to Xander and accepted a bottle of water from him. "Little D is getting fierce, boytoy."

"So, you think Dawn's fierce, huh?" Xander asked teasingly. "What about Jacks?"

"The pixie's good but ... she doesn't have that spark, y'know?" Faith said. She frowned slightly as Jacks slid out from under the grip Dawn had on her shoulder, and twisted around to sweep kick at the young girl's legs. Dawn jumped over the kick and lashed out at Jacks' head. "Her killer instinct ain't hooked up to the hand to hand stuff."

Xander nodded slowly. "You're right."

"That may perhaps be caused by the fact that the Puck's Child is a magical being first and foremost?"Giles suggested as he joined them. "As both one of the Fey and a Witch, her first response in battle is going to be magic. Even if it is only to throw back her opponent in order to gain distance for a more physical attack."

Tara laughed softly at something Vin had said as they walked over to join Xander and the others. "This is sort of fun."

"Tara could be real good," Vin informed Xander with a small smile. "Once she gets those moves down to reflex I'd put her up against some of the best I've known and she'd be able to hold her own."

"That's great," Xander said. He smiled at Tara. "I'm glad you're having fun with this."

"Yeah, and Jacks gave me one of her spell books," Tara said cheerfully. "It has so many spells I've never seen before."

Xander, Giles and Faith all blinked.

"Spell book?" Xander asked slowly as his attention turned back to Jacks' sparing match with Dawn. "Jacks? What did you give Tara?"

Jacks turned slightly to answer, leaving Dawn an opening to take down the older 'girl'. The half-fey yelped as she impacted with the training mat and was forced to roll out of the way as Dawn brought her foot down where Jacks had been just a moment before.

"Time out!" Jacks shouted. "No fair attacking when Xander asks a question."

Dawn rolled her eyes as only a teenager can, even a teenager in a twelve year old body. "You're the one who told me that there's no such thing as a fair fight."

"Yeah, but I'm not trying to kill you," Jacks protested.

"Excuse me, I asked you a question, Lieutenant," Xander growled out. "What did you give Tara?"

Jacks kipped to her feet and put her hands on her hips. "I gave Tara a book of defensive, combative, and healing spells. With as much potential as the dear girl has leaving her training at it's current level would be criminal negligence of the highest level." She smirked. "Besides, you didn't tell me I *couldn't* give her a spell book."

Xander groaned. "Jacks, you're only supposed to be pretending that you're a kid. Not acting like one."

"I'm not acting like a child on this matter," Jacks retorted. She turned to Tara with a wide smile. "You have an extraordinary talent, and the potential for so much power ... and the heart and soul to do so much good with that power. Keep the book, and when you've mastered the spells in it I'll give you a new one."

"Thank you," Tara offered with a soft smile. It warmed something inside her to know that Jacks believed that she had something extraordinary.

"I checked with Merlin," Vin offered quietly. "There ain't anything in that book that Tara can't handle. He agrees that Jacks knows what she's doing. At least with this."

"And I thought I was supposed to be in charge," Xander muttered.

"You are," Jacks assured him. "But you must admit that I do know far more about magic than you do."

Dawn nodded. "Yeah, you're the one who keeps saying that mixing you and magic is a bad idea."

"So you don't even ask Giles?" Xander demanded of his lieutenant.

"Actually, the thought didn't occur to me," drawled the half-fey. She folded her legs under her, which left her floating in mid-air. "Giles is quite powerful, but his youthful dabbles in the darker side of the arts has left a mark on his magic. No offense intended."

Giles glared at her for a moment. "You are implying that I might taint Tara's magic."

"Forgive me, I didn't mean to imply anything of the sort." Jacks meant his glare with a chilling look of her own. "I thought I'd said it outright. Your magic has it's place and it's use. As does your experience with dark magic. That place and use is not in the instruction of a witch like Tara.."

"Now see here, young lady ..." Giles started. He broke off when he realized the absurdity of that statement. Jacks simply raised her eyebrows at him as if daring him to continue. Giles took a deep breath before he tried again. "How could you think that wouldn't offend me?"

"I was fair to certain it would, Giles," Jacks said firmly. "But it is also a fact."

"Are you denying that you've used magic for your own amusement?" the former Watcher snapped, pointedly waving to her hovering form.

Jacks smiled brightly. "Not at all. But even in my darkest days I never summoned demons for fun."

"No, you just torture them."

"Everyone needs a hobby."

Xander groaned. Jacks was for some reason feeling bitchy, and Giles seemed perfectly willing to oblige her in an argument. "Standish! Stand down! Giles, don't!" He stepped between them, pushing Jacks' floating form back a few feet. "I don't know what the hell's wrong with you two ..."

"Xander," Jacks interrupted softly as she started to smile. "Gotcha."

The younger Kine'Iende blinked slowly. "What?"

"She said, got you," Giles said pleasantly. "I believe in retaliation for some ... little comment or another you made."

"Damn, boytoy, Pixie's got a -long- memory," Faith laughed. "But how'd you rope Jeeves into helping you out with this?"

"Bribery," Jacks said cheerily as she crossed her arms over her chest. "But my main point holds true. I am the most competent judge of Tara's readiness and ability to handle more advanced spells at each stage of her development. And it will take a full year at the very least before she's ready to move up to the next book I intend to give her."

"And you're planning on judging that how?" Xander asked as he started resigning himself to Jacks teaching Tara everything the half-fey knew about magic.

"By testing her of course," Jacks explained dryly. "Tara will be asked to cast several spells in rapid succession as if under battle conditions. Points will be given for creative combinations, but her style, and very nature, is more suited to defense than offense."

Xander crossed his arms over his chest. "And how exactly is she going to learn to do that?"

"She has the magic, she'll know," the half-fey said airily.

"Damn it, Jacks!"

Jacks' eyes narrowed. "She'll *know*, Xander. She's a Witch, one with a flair for art that is second to none I've ever seen. It's that flair for art that is so important. That is what she has to join to her magic to move onto the next level."

"I ... I think I can do this, Xander," Tara said softly. "None of the spells Jacks gave me are black magic."

"You sure you want this?" he asked softly.

Tara nodded. "Yes. I am."

"Then who am I to stop you?" Xander asked with a smile. "Just be careful." His smile turned to a not-very-nice grin. "So how about going a few rounds with me, Jacks? Hand-to-hand only, no magic."

Jacks shook her head. "Fine. But otherwise no holds barred."


"Does this sound like a very bad idea to anyone else?" Vin wondered out loud.

Faith rolled her eyes. "Don't worry, Xander won't hurt her."

"Who said I was worried about Jacks?"

"You dislocated your shoulder," Dawn said slowly.

Jacks grimaced as Vin helped her replace the joint. "I'm aware of that, thank you."

"You dislocated your shoulder on purpose," Dawn rephrased.

"But I won," Jacks pointed out. "Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!"

"That was a damned fool stunt, Jacks," Vin grumbled as he checked her pulse to make sure nothing was getting pinched.

"It was," Xander agreed as he crouched in front of his lieutenant, "but it did work. The question is was there a point to it?"

Jacks rolled her eyes. "Xander, had we been engaged in a real battle where you were trying to kill me or harm Dawn, and I did not have the use of my magic ..."

"I'd be dead and you'd still have a dislocated shoulder."


Xander shook his head. "And if there had been others in this hypothetical real battle of yours?"

"I would have been armed and dislocating my shoulder would not have been required of me," Jacks retorted.

"She also really hates to loose," Vin drawled.

Xander nodded, rubbing a rapidly fading bruise on his jaw. "I've noticed. Okay, so we still need to talk about the little road trip you're planning. What do you have in mind?"

"We were thinking of taking off for Spring Break and going to San Francisco," Jacks said. "The highest concentration of my family members seems to be there, my sister's descendants actually."

Xander nodded slowly. "Yeah, I think I can put you in contact with someone who can help you find them. So, what about the rest?"

"We're gonna see about them this summer, loop down through Arizona and Texas, up to New York, then over through Canada to Alaska, then back down through Washington," Vin explained with a shrug. "Nothing firm yet, just an idea."

"Sounds good," Xander said.

Jacks smiled. "Yes, it does. Oh, and Xander?"


"Thanks for the work out."

"You're welcome."



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