Someone to Watch Over

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

Disclaimer: All things Journeyverse belong to Tenhawk, long live Tenhawk. All other things belong to other people. Except Jacks and Kaina'tal, who're still arguing over who belongs to who and if either belongs to me or if I belong to them.

Summary: Xander gives someone a helping hand. If only things were ever that easy.

Warning: Cross Overs Ahead!

Rating: No worse than any other Journeyverse story.

Author's Notes: I will never again try and second guess how the great and mighty Tenhawk will end a story.

Chapter 1
Broken and Mended

Jan, 02, 1996

Xander grit his teeth as he continued to dig, even as the sun set behind him. This was not how he had been planning to spend the day, not that a hike through the lower end of the United States Rocky Mountains followed by digging through a collapsed cave mouth wasn't fun... Actually, it wasn't. But someone in this cave was in a lot of pain, and had been for a long time.

And that someone was Kine'Iende.

The night before

Xander opened his eyes in the Dreaming, and found that he and Elan had company. "Hey. Who's your friend, Elan?"

"Xander, this is Kaina'tal, a rune weapon like myself," Elan said as the smaller woman bowed.

Kaina'tal looked faintly Asian, only her hair was a rich royal blue and her eyes were solid white. And she seemed to look past Xander although he was standing right in front of her. "Not exactly like Lady Elanthielle, while we are both pole weapons, I am a double bladed pole arm."

"And very proud of it," Elan added dryly.

Kaina's eyes seemed to twinkle with amusement at her elder's comment, but only for a moment before she became serious. "I have come to petition for your aid, Lord Alexander. My bearer is ... in great danger."

"What kind of great danger?" Xander asked when he sensed that she wasn't telling him something.

"Jacqueline is being consumed by her grief over the loss of her beloved. She has willfully trapped herself in the Dreaming and tries over and over again to recreate the one time she has been truly happy in her life." Kaina'tal bit her lip as her sightless eyes seemed to focus briefly on Xander. He shivered although the Dreaming had no temperature. "She has been so for the last ninety-one years."

"Ninety-one ... years?" Xander stammered. "But, she's human right?"

"Not entirely," Kaina'tal admitted slowly. "She is half-fey."

Xander scrubbed his hands over his face. "Okay, let me get this right. Your bearer, Jacqueline, went to sleep and has been Dreaming for the last century trying to recapture happiness? Are you sure she's sane?"

"Lord, I would ask you to imagine finding that one perfect person, that one person who makes your personal world a better place, just by being in it." Kaina'tal kept her voice even with effort, but her fists trembled at her sides. "Now, imagine that person loves you as much as you love them. Imagine having them for the blink of an eye, and then having them ripped from you, unable to save them. Imagine a grief so powerful that you wish only for death. Only you're virtually Immortal. And that eye blink lasted for thirty years."

Xander paled.

"Exactly," Kaina'tal whispered. "Never in all of my thousands of years have I ever seen a love like that between Jacqueline and Ezra. And I hope never to again. His loss has left her mind grief shattered, divided between her human self and her fey self. She needs a ... a mission, a quest, anything to shake her from the bazaar half life she exists in now.

"Can you take us to her?" Xander asked. A plan started to form in the very back of his mind.

"I cannot," Kaina'tal told them. "Not in the Dreaming. I am the only one she allows in her mind, and only so long as I do not attempt to wake her human half. But it is close enough for Elanthielle to find it, otherwise I would not have been able to contact you. Then Elanthielle should be powerful enough to overcome her mental shields, so long as you are in physical contact with her body."

"Alright, Kaina'tal," Xander finally said. "We'll help. Only..."

"Only what, Lord?"

"Stop calling me Lord."

Kaina'tal bowed again as she had when they met. "As you wish, Commander."

Elan's silvery laughter filled the air as Kaina'tal faded away.


Xander tapped Elan's power, just enough to move one last boulder as the last of the setting sun's rays faded into nothing. Then he was through. The cave opening was hardly large enough for him to crawl through once he had it clear, but he managed and it opened into a wide cavern that probably wasn't on any government survey map. Elan had told him that it was warded with powerful fey magics. Only the fact that he was Kine'Iende allowed him through.

"Which way?" he asked out loud after he amped up his vision enough to see in the pitch black.

//Forward,// Elanthielle directed him. //Kaina'tal's energy is directly ahead of us.//

Xander caught sight of a faint glow after what felt like at least fifteen minutes of walking. As he drew closer to the glow he could tell that it came from a girl laying on a raised rock platform. She didn't seem to be breathing.

He frowned and studied her for a while before he shrugged. Then he reached out and touched her hands where they were clasped around a long dagger.

//Kaina'tal, in her more portable form,// Elan confirmed. //Now, tap my powers and reach. As you did when you healed Naomi Osaka. Only instead of putting her to sleep, join her in the Dreaming.//

The Dreaming

Jacks hung up-side-down in mid-air as she studied the latest incarnation of Four Corners. The dusty little town was almost done, all she had left to do were the people. Most of them were easy because they didn't matter. They were background like the trees and the mountains. Then came the kids, little Billy Travis and the two Potter children. A teenaged boy and a teenaged girl. Next were their widowed mothers, Mary Travis and Mrs. Potter. Jacks never had learned the store owner's first name, but then the woman hadn't liked her all that much. Inez was next, in the Saloon with her long swirling skirts and dark Mexican beauty. Then Nettie and Casey Wells, so realistic that Jacks half expected Casey to tease her about her green tunic and Nettie to scold her for letting Ezra stay up all hours playing cards. Another thought and Yosemity was at the livery with all the right horses. It wouldn't do for the Seven not to have the right horses.

Which left the really important work. The Seven themselves. These were the details that could make or break the illusion.


Slowly, carefully, she crafted them one at a time.

Nathan in his clinic over the livery. Warm eyes, gentle hands, dark skin and hair like black lamb's wool. A soft deep voice that could be raised to unbelieveable volumes when trying to make one of the others stay in bed when they were hurt. A protector and healer.

JD at his desk in the jail, all ideals and youthful exuberance. Truly Black Irish with hair like black silk falling in his hazel eyes and across pale cheeks. His voice still light and boyish although he was as quick with his matching Colts as any of his older friends. And so very, very proud of that piece of polished tin pinned to his vest.

At the church, Josiah appeared. A gizzled bear of a defrocked priest, he continued making repairs on the near ruined building. As unwilling to give up on it as he was to give up on his 'brothers'. He had a great booming laugh and a voice that rumbled like distant thunder when he spoke.

There was Vin, so closely attuned to the wilderness that surrounded their town that Jacks sometimes wondered if he were of the Fey himself. He was as wary as any wild animal and uncanny both as a tracker and as a sharpshooter. With his wide brimmed hat and buffalo hide coat, leaning against the porch rail outside the Saloon.

Carefully, carefully, as it only grew more difficult as she continued.

Buck with his bushy mustasch and wide kid-in-the-candy-store smile, only women were his candy and he loved them all.

Grim, black clad, glaring, Chris sitting outside the Saloon, acting like he wasn't watching anything while he was watching everything.

Jacks paused, studied her handywork and nodded slowly. Everything was just right. It just needed that last thing to be perfect. Ezra P. Standish.

From his compact frame to the card deck in his hands and the flat plantation style hat on his head...

"Nice," commented a voice that had no place in Four Corners. "I've never tried to create people in the Dreaming."

And it all shattered.

Jacks screamed as everything whirled away in fragments. "I had it that time! You fucking bastard! I had it right!"

"No, you didn't," Kaina'tal said quietly. "It will never be right because it will never be real."

"Go away!" Jacks yelled. Thunder rumbled overhead in reply.

The two strangers looked around calmly while Kaina'tal sighed at the tantrum. The young man who had distracted Jacks at just the right moment to ruin everything followed the gold and silver cord that linked Jacks to the sleeping, dreamless, Jackie.

"Leave her alone," Jacks snarled, moving to block him from her human self. "She's hurt. Leave her alone."

"I'm just here to help. It's time for you to wake up."

"No! Not until I have it fixed. then we can be happy again," Jacks said stubbornly.

"It won't work, Jacks," the young man said gently. "This place, these people, it's just the ghosts of a memory. You have to let them rest in peace. You have to let yourself wake up."

"Why should I? Nothing I love is left out there in the Waking World."

"Because you are Kine'Iende. And you are needed," the woman like Kaina'tal told her firmly.

Jacks flinched. "No. Ezra, our friends, Colleen ... They're gone. No one needs me."

"Jacqueline Warren Standish, I need you!" Kaina'tal snapped. "Do you think Ezra wanted this for you? You're going to send yourself into madness if you don't rejoin the real world."

"I need you," the young man said calmly. "I have a friend, her name is Dawn. I need you to protect her and her family."

"You protect her," Jacks grumbled.

He nodded. "I have. But I have other responsibilities, too. I need someone I can trust to look out for her. Who better than another Kine'Iende?" Then he grinned at her. "I could make it an order. Elan says I'd out rank you."

"Bastard," Jacks muttered even as the cord tying her to her mortal self tightened and began to pull her back into Jackie.

"Hey, my parents are married. Worthless, but married," the boy joked.

There was a flash of light that swept over the young man and the two ancient weapons and left the landscape a flat, crystaline plane.

A blended form of the human and the fey floated in front of them. White haired, green eyed, pointed eared, with pale smooth skin and an ageless look about ther, the half-fey wore tattered green leathers with her bare feet crossed under her.

"Fine, I'm awake," she said coolly. "Now, who the hell are you?"

"I'm Xander Harris," the young man said calmly.

Jacqueline shook her head. "You can't even be as old as JD was."

"I'm older than I look," Xander told her. It had the air of something he'd said often. "The point is that I need you to do a job."

"You do need something to do," Kaina'tal pointed out, tapping her boot on the crystal ground. "It has been slightly more than ninety years after all."

Jacqueline froze in midmotion, halfway through crossing her arms over her less than impressive chest. "What?"

"The current year is nineteen ninety six, Mrs. Standish," Elanthielle offered after an uncomfortable silence.

Jacqueline fell out of the air. She gasped as if the breath had been knocked out of her. "Ninety ... Ninety five?"

"You've been here for nearly a hundred years," Kaina'tal explained, "constantly grasping at illusions."

"I..." Jacqueline stared around at the crystalized landscape. "I almost had it, Kaina'tal. Just a few moments more ..."

"And you would never have woken up," Elanthielle said quietly.

Jacqueline gestured to the cold barren wasteland she'd created in her rage. "But this can't be good either."

"So change it," Xander told her.

Kaina'tal sighed when Jacqueline only blinked. "You never did let me teach you to heal yourself."

"And probably not some of the really fun tricks, like enhancing your senses," Xander offered.

The half-fey moaned and hugged herself. "I'm an idiot, aren't I? Kaina, is there anything I could have ..."

"No," her partner told her firmly. "The life he lived long before you ever met is what killed Ezra. There was nothing you could have done, even with my help."

Jacqueline nodded as she started to hover in the air again. "If I can fix this then I should get to work."

"I think that's our cue to leave, Elan."

Elanthielle nodded. "I believe you're right."

"I'll see you when you wake up," Xander told Jacqueline before he and Elan faded away from her Dream.

"Then let us get to work," Kaina'tal said as she clapped her hands. "As you know, here and here alone, your power is without limits, not even those imposed on you by Oberon. So, work thy will."

"Yes," Jacqueline whispered as her eyes began to flicker between the green and silver glows. Power exploded from her again.

The dreamscape quaked, shattered and went dark. Except for the two glowing points of bright greeen that were Jacqueline's eyes. "Let there be light!"

"Obviously you have your father's sense of humor."

"Oh, shut up."


Xander sat back on his heels, waiting for Jacqueline to wake up. The faint green glow around her had faded away, but she still hadn't woken up. He was about to ask Elan what was taking so long when Jacqueline's eyes snapped open, glowing neon green.

"Good morning."

The glowing eyes locked on him and blinked. "Morning?" Jacqueline rasped. She stopped and coughed.

Xander helped her to her feet. "Take it easy. You've been asleep for a long time."

That earned him a dirty look as Jacqueline pushed him away. She shoved her wildly curling hair behind her ears. Xander couldn't help but stare as one twitched independently of the other, and he followed when Jacqueline moved slowly deeper into the cave. She ran her finger tips along the wall until she came to a narrow cleft and turned into it.

"Hey! Where are you going?" Xander called as he lost sight of her. He hurried to catch up, and found Jacqueline up to her knees in water.

And nothing else.

He silently thanked Faith once again for making him get over anything that vaguely resembled modesty.

Jacqueline shook the water from her hair, and waded out of the shallow spring. Her eyes turned toward the ceiling of the cave. "Thank you, Mr. Tanner."

"Who?" Xander asked in confusion.

"He was my friend," Jacqueline said sadly. She shook off the grief and scrubbed roughly across her eyes with the heel of her hand. She tugged her ragged clothing back on. "So, you have a mission for me, sir?"

"First we get out of here," Xander started. His voice broke off as reality warped around them, and then they were outside with the chill morning breeze lifting their hair. Xander whirled to face Jacqueline. "How did you do that?"

She shrugged as she sat down, looking pretty dizzy from Xander's point of view. "You said we needed to get outside. So I got us outside. Would you rather have walked?"

"Don't you have to cast a spell to do that or something?"

"No, but it does tire me. Especially when I move more than just myself." She sniffed at the air and her nose wrinkled up. "What is that stench?"

"Polution," Xander explained. "Welcome to the end of the twentith century."

Jacqueline goaned. "Let me go back to sleep, even insanity is better than this stench." She yelped. "Kaina'tal!"

Xander chuckled. "Let's get down to the car and I'll explain everything."

"Car?" Jacqueline frowned as she followed Xander down hill.

"This might be harder than I though," he muttered.

Jan, 04, 1996

Xander shook his head as he watched Jacqueline work her way through a plate of french fries. "You learn fast."

"I hope I learned fast enough," she said before licking a daub of ketchup of her finger. "This time is ... wiggy?"

"Wiggy is a good way to put it," he chuckled. "But you'll blend it. Besides, people are willing to overlook a lot. Especially when they don't want to see it."

"Do I have to protect her in human form? It would be easier if I were a cat or some other ubiquitious creature," Jacqueline suggested.

"Dawn needs a friend as much as she needs a protector," Xander said as he thought it out. "Remember, she's living through a hard time, and for her it's pretty much reruns. Then there's the whole teenager in a ten-year-old body thing."

"The 'Hitch' you mentioned. It occures to me that had it not happened I would have remained in the Dreaming and gone mad," she mussed. She shook that thought off and turned her attention back to her "commanding officer". "I belive that I can fit into her class at school."

"You'll need to ease up on your vocabulary," Xander told her with a grin.

"Not a chance in hell," Jacqueline retorted cheerfully. "If I'm going to suffer through school then I have every intention of driving the teachers to discraction at every opportunity."

"Maybe you should stay in the background for a little while?" Xander asked. "At least until you're more familiar with the modern world."

"Don't make me turn you into a turtle."

Xander wasn't sure if she was serious or not.

Chapter 2
Adaptations and Reunions

Jan, 05, 1996

Xander found her sitting on the trunk of the Charger, her legs folded under her as she stared out toward the stars in the west. Toward California and LA. The wind stirred her white curls around her shoulders, left bare by the Tinkerbell dress she was wearing. He knew he shouldn't have let her watch Walt Disney's Peter Pan that afternoon. "Aren't you cold?"

"You don't actually think I'm wearing this do you?" she asked with a grin. Jacqueline let the minor glamor go. She was dressed in the blue jeans, tee-shirt, and denim jacket that Xander had bought her.

"You're nuts, you know that?" he asked in amusement.

Jacqueline snorted. "I'm the Puck's Child. My sanity has always been suspect. Even more so for traveling this area as a Saloon Singer, then marrying a gambler."

"Tell me about him?" Xander offered.

"Puck or Ezra?" she asked.

Xander frowned. "Your father is really Puck?"

"Yes, and I'd rather not speak of him."

"Okay. I can understand that." Xander leaned against the Charger next to her. "So, what was Ezra like?"

Jacqueline looked up at the sky. "I'm not ready to talk about him. Maybe to someone who knew him, but ... Just not yet."

"Sorry, Jacqueline. We need to talk about what's up in LA, anyway," Xander said with a sigh.

"You mean who the major players are?" she asked. She turned toward him and tilted her head curiously.

Xander nodded. "And who you can go to when you need help. Especially weapons. Which reminds me, I'm going to have to call Andy so he won't just try and kick you out of the shop."

"What does this Andy person do?" Jacqueline wondered out loud.

The answer was a grin from the dark haired boy who reminded her so much of her friends. "He makes my toys."

Jacqueline shook her head. She would question Xander's sanity, but as she said, hers was already suspect. So who was she to talk of anyone else's madness? "Oh, and Xander?"


"Could you not call me Jacqueline?" she asked quietly. "Jacqueline ... was Ezra's. I need to let that life go."

"It's okay to miss him, to remember that life," Xander said just as softly.

"I'm not going to let it go completely," she assured him. "Only ... Mother and Ezra were the only people who've ever called me that. But, I can't be Jacqueline anymore."

Xander nodded. "Okay. So what do you want to be called?"

"Jacks Standish," she said offering her hand. "Pleased to meet you."

"Xander Harris, the pleasure is mine," he said as he shook her hand firmly. They resumed staring toward the horizon. "Do you think you're ready for this?"

"I'll have to be won't I?"

Xander nodded. "Are you going to try and find your daughter?"

"I don't know," Jacks said slowly. "Colleen is probably dead by now ... One quarter fey isn't enough to have made her an eternal. Perhaps I could find her children or grandchildren. Someday."

"Okay. For now we should get some sleep," Xander suggested. "Tomorrow we can go to the mall and get you more clothes."

"Very well," she sighed as she slid off the Charger. She stifled a yawn behind her hand then followed Xander back into their hotel room.

Xander's eyes snapped open at the sound of a low moan from the next bed.

Jacks had kicked off her blankets and curled onto her side whimpering. Her hair clung to her face and neck in a sweaty tangle.

Xander frowned as he sat on the edge of her bed. The quiet sounds she made weren't nearly loud enough to have woken him up, but Jacks was obviously having a nightmare. Her body curled more tightly into itself as she whimpered again.

"Hey, Jacks," Xander called. "Wake up. You're having a bad dream. Jacks?"

"Mother," Jacks sobbed. "No. Please..."

"Come on, Jacks, wake up," Xander said again, laying his hand on her shoulder.

That turned out to be a singularly bad idea as Xander went flying across the room. He stared at Jacks as he slid down the wall with a breathless grunt. She stared back at him, panting for breath and her hand still out flung.

"What the hell was that?" Xander managed to gasp out.

Jacks blinked and dropped her hand to clutch at the sheets. "The ... the power from my witch-half."

"Your mother was a witch?" Xander climbed to his feet slowly, clutching his ribs even as they healed. "What happened to her?"

"She let them b-burn her," Jacks whispered. "Father wouldn't save her. Then ... he left Prudence behind. He let Mother die and he left Prudence."

"Is that what your nightmare was about?" he asked as he sat beside her again.

Jacks nodded jerkily.

"How long ago was it?"

"Three hundred and ten years," she answered as her knuckles went white from the pressure of her fingers clenched in the sheets.

Xander carefully forced her small hands open, then pulled her into his lap. "It's okay to have bad dreams about that. It's normal even."

"They didn't come when I ... when Ezra was alive," Jacks whispered against his chest.

<Elan? Are you and Kaina'tal sure Jacks can handle this?> Xander asked silently as he rocked the tiny half-fey.

//Kaina'tal says once Jacks is doing her job she'll be fine. I'm inclined to believe her.// Elan told him after a moment.


//But, don't you find that particular power familiar?// Elan asked.

Xander frowned, still rocking Jacks. <She has the same power as Prue.>

//And her sister's name was Prudence.//

<So you think she's related to the Halliwells?>

Elan was silent for a long moment. //Powers like this do run in family lines, and her mother was a witch.//

<We can't tell her, not until the girls have their powers.> Xander concluded. <If they didn't freak out then their grandmother would. She's a nice lady, but I don't think she'd react well to a half-fey ancestor showing up for a family reunion.>

//You have a good point.// Elan sounded slightly amused. //I also think she's asleep.//

<I think you're right,> Xander told her. <But I also think she'll have another nightmare if I let go.>

//White Knight.//

<Oh, knock it off.>

Jan. 06, 1996

Jacks woke to a feeling that she hadn't had in ninety-one years. She felt safe. Her eyes opened slowly to focus on a bare chest. For an irrational moment she thought it had all been a nightmare ... but as nice a chest as it was, it was too narrow and too long to be Ezra's compact muscled form.

She slipped out of bed, leaving Xander still asleep as she walked to the bathroom. Obviously they hadn't had sex, she never put her nightclothes back on after, so she must have really had a nightmare. It had been very kind of him to hold her.

//Especially after you threw him across the room,// Kaina'tal said sharply.

Jacks' hand froze halfway to the shower door. "I what?"

//Threw him like a rag-doll. You have to focus. They think you were awake, Jacqueline.//

The half-fey trembled. <Do they know about what Oberon did to me?>

//No, only that your mother allowed herself to be burned at the stake and your father didn't save her, and then left Prudence behind," Kaina'tal assured her wielder. //They don't know about the bindings.//

<The bindings can't be removed,> Jacks muttered mentally. <Not yet. I can't be like that again.>

//I know, child. But when your full potential is needed ... //

<It will be too late to worry about what I might do.>

Jacks sensed Kaina'tal's nod. //And that terrifies you.//

<Shouldn't it?> Jacks wondered as she started the shower, absently noting that Ezra would have loved the luxury of such an indoor bathroom. <I nearly killed Raven before Oberon bound my powers.>

//As if that would have been a great loss,// Kaina'tal grumbled.

Jacks snorted as she stripped out of her nightshirt and panties. <True, but what if I had attacked Coyote? I like him. Or worse, what if I had attacked mortals?>

//That is a point,// Kaina'tal admitted. //But that is hardly the reason Oberon bound you.//

<I know. Now is not the time to go into it. Again,> Jacks pointed out as she wet her hair to scrub out the dried sweat.

//You never want to talk about it,// complained Kaina'tal.

Jacks double checked that she'd grabbed the shampoo and not the bottle of body wash. <Because I have good reason to be wary of myself.>

//And because you are wary, you are less likely to use your magic in a wonton manner. This fear of yours is a weakness.//

<Maybe, Kaina,> Jacks said slowly. She leaned her head back to rinse the shampoo out. <But it is the nature of the fey to use their powers for personal gain, and even a good witch can be tempted.>

A frustraited sigh echoed in her mind. //It was easier dealing with you while you were going insane.//

They were both silent as Jacks finished taking her shower.



<Thank you. For waking me up.>

//You're welcome.//

Xander woke up to the sound of the shower running in the bathroom. <Elan?>

//Jacqueline is talking to Kaina'tal, but I'm not sure what about,// Elanthielle reported.

<Is there a reason you're listening in?> Xander wondered as he sat up with a yawn.

//Jacqueline seems unaware of what happened last night ... and last night I sensed bindings placed on her powers.//

Xander frowned. <I sure couldn't feel any bindings on her.>

//You're not dead,// Elan pointed out.

<Good point. What kind of bindings?>

Elan seemed to fidget.

<Elan?> Xander prompted.

//One of the bindings prevents her from killing with magic.// She paused for a moment. //The other limits her level of magical power to one tenth.//

<How much power do you think she has?> Xander asked after a long moment of surprised silence.

//Full power? As I said, she is limited to one tenth of her current actual level. Which would put her equal to Prue Halliwell's level before the 'Hitch',// Elan concluded.

Xander nodded as he waited his turn in the bathroom. <Okay, so where did the bindings come from?>

//They are fey bindings. That they are aproximately three hundred years old indicates that they were placed on her by someone of great power.//

<Nothing we can do about it,> Xander summarized.

//I did not say that,// Elan protested. //It has still been three centuries. Her power has been growing behind the bindings for the entire time as all powers grow over time. They have weakened. So far so that I believe that Jacqueline herself is maintaining them.//

Xander's head tilted as the shower stopped. <Is she doing it intentionally?>

//That is a possibility,// Elan admitted. //But I think it is unlikely.//

<I still trust her,> Xander said slowly. <She's Kine'Iende. That means something, right?>

//It does. And you are no longer alone.//

"Yeah," Xander muttered.

"We have a nasty habit of talking to ourselves, don't we?" Jacks asked as she came out of the tiny bathroom. She was back in the oversized tee-shirt and was scrubbing her hair with one of the coarse motel towels.

"The hazzards of working with rune weapons," Xander told her lightly. "We hear voices in our heads."

Jacks peeked at him from under the towel. "They do make us insane."

"Sane people don't hunt demons."

"True," she mumbled as she resumed roughly drying her hair.

"Are you alright?" Xander asked once she tossed the towel aside in favor of a wide toothed comb.

"Quite," she said calmly as she carefully untangled her wild curls. "Thank you for holding me last night.

Xander nodded. "We're good."

"Ezra would be appalled at what has happened to the English language," Jacks muttered. "I'm fairly horrified myself. I supposed that means you have forgiven me?"

"Not that there was anything to forgive, but yeah," Xander said with a grin. "Giles is going to flip when he meets you."


"He says the same thing about the language, and you won't have to ask for a translation when he says something British."

Jacks snorted quietly. "If this Giles person and I are in agreement about the current state of English then perhaps we're correct."

"Elan, stop laughing at me," Xander complained.

Jacks giggled.

"Now don't you start," he muttered. "I have got to stop hanging out with beautiful powerful women." Xander blinked and thought back over what he'd just said. "Nah, then I wouldn't have any fun."

The half-fey only shook her head. The boy reminded her very much of Buck. The thought brought a small smile to her lips.

"What?" Xander asked.

"Nothing," Jacks said cheerfully.

"Nothing, right," he grumbled as he gathered up a change of clothes. "When I get done I'm going to introduce you to the modern woman's reason for being."

"What would that be?"

"The shopping mall."

Jacks ducked behind Xander to avoid a woman rapidly pushing a stroller toward a shoe sale. "People come here willingly?"

"I never thought I'd ever meet a woman who didn't like to shop," Xander chuckled.

"I do enjoy shopping," Jacks protested. "But I don't understand paying more for a pair of jeans than I have ever paid for a horse in a place this crowded."

"From what I understand horses cost more than they used to," he told her lightly. He took her hand as they wove through the crowd toward the food court.

Jacks sat down at the empty table Xander had left her as as he went to get them drinks and a snack. She pushed at their bags with her feet as she pulled a paper napkin to pieces as she tried to calm down and focus. But there were more people in this single building than there were in all of Four Corners.

"And I thought I was the one that hated crowds, Snowbird," a soft voice said that Jacks hadn't heard since before she went to sleep.

She stood up, clenching her fists so tightly that her nails nearly cut into her palms as she turned around.

//Jacks! Focus!// Kaina'tal yelled in her mind.

The half-fey snapped out of her shocked silence as something inside of her broke free.

Vin Tanner rocked back on his heels from the force of the tiny woman's slap.

"Where have you been?" she snarled. "Do you have any idea how much it killed all of us when you just vanished? How long the boys and I looked for you?"

Tanner reacted to her anger the same way he had a hundred years earlier. He yanked her into his arms and tucked her head against his chest. "I know, little bird. I'm sorry."

"Friend of yours, Jacks?" Xander asked as he put the food carefully down on the table.

"Mr. Tanner, let me go, right this instant," Jacks muttered.

"You going to slap me again?" Tanner asked as he eyed the young man watching them calmly.

"Not at the moment, but I'll offer no guarantees for the future," she said flatly.

Tanner chuckled as he opened his arms. "As good as you've ever given, Snowbird."

"You alright, Jacks?" Xander asked as she stepped slightly away from her friend.

"Better than I have a right to be, Xander. This is Vin Tanner. Vin, this is Xander Harris." Jacks looked back at Vin and started shaking her head. "I can not believe you cut your hair, Vin."

"It'll grow back," the tracker pointed out with his easy Texan drawl.

"Do you have any idea how much money I'd owe Inez and Mary if they had seen you with short hair?" Jacks demanded.

Vin grinned at her. "Got a good idea."

"So, Vin," Xander said slowly. "Jacks says you're a tracker and a sharp shooter?"

"Yep." Vin looked steadily at the young man, boy really. "So?"

Xander grinned widely. "So I think Jacks could use some back up on her assignment."

"What kind of assignment?" Vin asked, casting a suspicious look at Jacks' smiling face.

"Protecting a friend of mine from things that go bump in the night."

Xander watched, bemused, as Vin talked Jacks into several more outfits. And she let him. They some how managed to combine her sense of color, as in a preferance for green and black, with Vin's practical streak.

The results were something that even Cordelia couldn't have argued with as Jacks walked out of the last shop wearing one of the outfits. It was a pair of dark green leather pants, a black silk shirt, and a leather coat that matched the pants and fell half way down her thighs. A pair of black boots finished it all off and added a few inches to her height.

"The verdict, gentlemen?" she asked with a wide grin. Both Vin and Xander looked as if they'd been hit with a pair of two by fours. "I take it you like?"

"Wow," Xander managed. "I mean ... No, wow covers it. Wow."

"If Shakespeare had seen you he'd never have bothered writting a word about any other fey," Vin mumbled.

Jack's grin widened impossibly even as she blushed.

Xander shook his head and chuckled. "Why don't you two go catch up? I need to make a few calls before I go into the details about the LA job. Then I'll meet you at the motel."

"Jacks, you said you knew all you needed to about the job," Vin protested as Jacks started walking away.

Jacks grinned at him over her shoulder. "I do. Xander is Kine."

"What's that supposed to mean? Jacks? Hey!"

Vin growled under his breath and went after her, leaving a still chuckling Xander behind him. Xander pulled out his cell phone and dialed from memory. When the man on the other end picked up Xander's smile widened. "Hey, Andy! How's your head? ... Yeah, I know. It's what I do. ... Look, I've got a new friend and she has a friend and I'm sending them both to work out of LA for me. ... I'm telling you because they're going to need some of the things that you've made for me. Charge the standard stuff to my account. ... That would be up to them. They might want something special. Oh, and make sure they can get some IDs if they need them, okay? ... Thanks. ... Don't worry, I'll warn you before I hit town again. Later, Andy."

Xander tucked his cell phone back into his pocket as he continued to stroll toward the parking lot. Sometimes he really loved his life.

Jan. 08, 1996

"So you're sure you remember all of the contacts I gave you?" Xander asked for what had to be the thousandth time. "I can write them down for you..."

Vin just snorted from the driver's seat of his jeep. The vehical looked as if all that was holding it together was mud and rust, but Vin insisted that it ran just fine.

"I'm sure, Xander. You've drilled me in them for the twenty hours. We know them," Jacks said in exasperation. "Andy for weapons, don't let him shoot us. Gunn and his 'crew' for basic back up and information about the streets. Lorne at Caritas for the big information about major demons. Don't start trouble in the demon bar. Murtaugh and Riggs if we have trouble with the LAPD. Hercules if the crap is deep, and Dragan if the shit has really hit the fan. Is that good enough?"

Xander chuckled. "Yeah, Jacks. That's perfect." He stepped away from the jeep. "You two take care of your selves. The people you're on the look out for aren't exactly push overs. Use those contacts, got it?"

"Yes, Commander," said Jacks with a sarcastic salute.

Vin chuckled. "See ya' round, kid."

Xander shook his head as they peeled out of the motel's parking lot. "I wonder how long he's been in love with her?" He shrugged. "Ah, well. Hopefully they'll figure it out on their own."

Whistling off key, Xander slipped into his car and drove away, toward New Mexico.

Chapter 3
Pleased to Meet You

Jan, 14, 1996,
Tanner Residence, LA

Jacks flexed her forearms, and grinned when both derringers slid smoothly into her hands. It was so good to have them back in her hands, so familiar. And such good memories came with them. Card games, singing, a smoke filled saloon ... good friends to watch her back. Ezra.

Vin's house helped. There were so many familiar things scattered around, which to anyone else would just look as if the decor was in the Southwest style. But that was the saddle blanket from Vin's horse, Peso, over the back of the couch. The sheriff's badge JD had been so proud of was mounted over the fireplace, framed with his twin Colts crossed under it. And mixed in with pictures of other people, other places, was a sepia toned photograph of the Seven.

It was almost home.

"Too bad Andy couldn't make demon killers for those," Vin said gesturing to the derringers.

The soft Texas drawl pulled the half-fey's attention back to the present. "True," she sighed as she carefully removed the small weapons and the rigs that held them under her sleeves. "But ... they're part of me. As much as anything else is."

Vin watched as Jacks traced the carved bone grips, they'd yellowed slightly over time but the cards carved into each one still showed clearly. The one that had first belonged to Ezra Standish had an Ace of Spades on it, while the one given to Jacks as a wedding present had the Ace of Hearts. Jacks sighed softly as she closed the lid of the gun case Vin had provided for the antique weapons. After whispering two spells over the case, one to prevent it from being opened without the counter spell being spoken and the other to make the eyes slide away from it, Jacks pushed it under the couch.

"What's the frown for, Snowbird?" Vin asked when she remained crouched at the end of the couch.

"We're going to the school tomorrow," Jacks said without raising her eyes. "I've never been to school before."

Vin raised his eyebrows.

"That finishing school doesn't count," she grumbled. "All they did was teach me to prance around like a pony." Her hands moved up to start braiding her white curls out of nervous habit, then unbraided her hair just as quickly. "I'm not sure I know how to act around children."

"But you're great with kids," Vin pointed out.

"Not when I have to be one. Prudence was my only friend as a child, and she was my sister. I don't know how to be a normal ten-year-old."

Vin tossed a pillow at her from the other end of the couch. "So don't be normal."

"Thank you ever so much 'Uncle' Vin," Jacks snickered. She folded up her legs and sat on nothing. "So I'll be the weird kid. I can do that."

"You should probably get used to looking like a kid," he suggested after a moment. "And don't float. That's too weird."

"Chris was right," Jacks said cheerfully as she dropped her feet back to the floor.

"Bout what?" Vin asked.

Jacks' grin was just to the wrong side of wolfish. "Shooting you is the best way to deal with that smart mouth."

"Chris never shot me and you won't either," Vin said shaking a finger at her. "Now shift."

Jacks laughed as she started to spin in place. Her spinning quickly turned into a white and green blur that seemed to collapse in on itself. The spinning slowed after a moment, a thick white curls tumbled down Jacks' back and over her shoulders. Wisps coiled around the ear pieces of black framed glasses that magnified her bright green eyes.

Vin's lips twitched.


"You look like a wood sprite," Vin told her. Then he snickered.

Jacks frowned and tiny fists planted themselves on flat hips. "I most certainly do not. Wood sprites are green and brown, and their skin is like tree-bark."

Vin doubled over laughing at the image of the undersized version of Jacks lecturing him on why she wasn't a wood sprite.

"Oh, shut up."

Jan, 15, 1996

Vin studied Jacks as they waited for the principal to see them. Her hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail. The flannel shirt she wore was untucked and too large, and there was a rip in the knee of her jeans. She drummed the heels of her cheap white canvas sneakers on the bottom of her chair.

"Mr. Tanner?" called the secretary. "Mr. Wilson will see you now."

Vin nodded as he stood to enter the office. Jacks slithered off the hard plastic chair to follow him.

"You'll have to wait out here, sweetie," said the secretary. She gave Vin a smile worthy of a toothpaste commercial. "Don't worry I'll keep an eye on her."

Vin looked at Jacks, searching for signs of an explosion in hopes that he could avert it. But Jacks had her temper firmly in hand. For the moment.

"Ma'am, I would be obliged if you would refrain from addressing me as 'sweetie'," Jacks said slowly. "My name is Jacks."

"Jacks," Vin said softly. He managed to make it sound like a warning when he really wanted to snicker. He silently wished Ezra were here. The smooth talking Southerner would have been much better at spinning out the cock and bull story he was going to have to tell the principal. Not to mention helping Jacks keep a grip on her temper.

Jacks frowned at him, but climbed back into the chair. To be accurate, she grabbed the armrests and yanked herself up. This time she pulled her knees up under her chin as she scowled around the main office.

"Is Jax short for something?" the secretary asked as the office door closed behind Vin.

"Jacqueline Standish," Jacks answered flatly. Her eyes remained locked on the door Vin had vanished through. She shifted slightly to feel the comforting presence of Kaina'tal slung between her shoulder blades. A simple spell kept anyone else from detecting the rune weapon, but she had felt obligated to tell Vin that morning, so he wouldn't worry about her being unarmed.

"That's a lovely name," cooed the secretary. "Why use such a boy-ish nickname?"

"I like being called Jacks," the white haired 'child' said tightly. "And it's J. A. C. K. S. Not J. A. X."

The woman wisely changed the subject. "Is Mr. Tanner your stepfather?"

"Vin is my uncle," Jacks answered absently. They'd gone over the story enough times for the lie to come easily from her lips. Besides, she was the Puck's Child. Before she'd met one bossy rune weapon and seven special men she had lied all the time.

"So you live with him and your aunt?"

The probing questions finally pulled Jacks' attention from the door. "I don't have an aunt. Is there some point to these questions or are you trying to find out if my uncle is unattached?"

"I was just being friendly," came the quick reply.

It was too quick and raised the hairs on the back of the half-fey's neck. Her eyes darted to the nameplate then back up to the overpainted face of the secretary. "Miss Bell, attempting to form an emotional bond with me is futile as it would have no relevance toward Uncle Vin's likely hood of dating you." Miss Ball turned an unattractive shade of maroon as Jacks looked on calmly. "For such a little girl you certainly know a lot of big words."

"I read the dictionary," Jacks said flatly.

The door opened and Vin motioned for Jacks to join him. She walked into the small office with her head high and ignoring Miss Bell's cold stare.

The principal, Mr. Wilson, was a pudgy little man, balding and with an air of overblown self importance. He frowned thoughtfully at Jacks as she stood in front of his desk. Jacks thought he looked rather like a toad. "Are you sure she's ten?"

Vin placed a hand on Jacks' shoulder to stop the scathing retort he just knew would be on the tip of her sharp tongue. "I'm sure," he said glaring hard at the smaller man.

Wilson nodded quickly. "Can you tell me what happened to your school records?"

"I was home school," Jacks said sharply. "Any records pertaining to my level of education doubtlessly ... doubtlessly burned in the fire." She let her voice drop, putting in only the smallest waver. It wouldn't do to be over-dramatic, not that the little toad would notice. "With my parents."

The miserable little cretin ate it up. "You'll have to take a series of placement tests before you can enroll. What language do you speak?"

"Father taught me Greek, Latin and French," Jacks answered honestly. "My Latin is better than my French. Uncle Vin has been teaching me Comanche."

Wilson blinked. "Comanche?"

"That gonna be a problem?" Vin asked slowly. His eyes narrowed.

"No, I suppose we can schedule her into French," Wilson squeaked.

Vin was quickly given directions on where to take Jacks to have the placement testing done and they left without so much as glancing at Miss Bell.

"Larabee glare?" Jacks asked as they walked through the halls.

"I've been practicing," Vin snickered.

Jan, 18, 1996

Dawn looked up from her math homework when the class door opened. Mr. Wilson was practially prancing as he hurried a small white haired girl ahead of him.

"Mr. Wilson, I must insist that you remove your hands from my person at once," the girl said when his urging nearly tripped her.

Mrs. Hudson's eyes dropped from the principal to her new student. "And you are?"

"This is Jacqueline Standish," Wilson announced as he patted the top of her head as if she were a prize winning show dog.

The girl fumed, the class giggled, and Dawn frowned. There hadn't been a new girl the last time she'd gone through fourth grade. Certainly not one like Jacqueline Standish.

"I prefer to be called Jacks," the small girl said as she twisted out from under Wilson's hands. She raked the students with a glare. Then she turned back to Mrs. Hudson. "I'm pleased to meet you, ma'am."

"Thank you, Jacks," Mrs. Hudson replied with a smile that was genuinely warm. "There's an empty seat next to Dawn. Dawn?"

"Over here," Dawn said, raising her hand to wave at Jacks.

The new girl flashed a smile at her, then walked down the row toward the desk. One of the boys stuck his foot out into the aisle as she passed him.

Jacks stumbled and her glasses slipped down her nose. She caught herself, sending the boy a glare that had him meekly looking back at his text book for all that she was a good eight inches shorter than he was. Jacks pushed her glasses back up her nose and continued to the desk. She slipped into it and flashed another grin at Dawn.

"Are all the guys dorks or just that one?" she whispered.

"Just him," Dawn whispered back as she eyed Jacks warily. The white haired girl was setting off her Hellmouthy alarms, but not in the 'something is going to eat me' way. Which was slightly more freaky.

Jacks copied down the multiplication problems from the blackboard, solving them as she went along and muttering imprecations on Wilson's parentage under her breath.

Jacks managed to stay fairly near Dawn throughout the morning. But at lunch the taller girl was swept out of reach by the girls that obviously made up the popular crowd. It was a crowd that Jacks wouldn't have fit into even if she'd wanted too.

The half-fey girl contented herself with tucking into a corner with her old cowboy lunch box and eating the Cheetoes Vin had packed while ignoring the ham and cheese sandwich for the moment. Jacks was amused by the fact that she was actually getting used to being a child again. The amusement faded away with the realization that she missed Prudence very much.

She crumbled up the bag and closed the lunch box. The fact that her elder sister was more than two hundred years dead had suddenly slammed home with a force than had been missing for her adult self.

Damn it. Her glasses were fogging up.

"What's the matter, runt?" demanded a snide voice as Jacks' lunch box was shoved off the table.

Jacks bit her tongue on the spell that would turn the annoying mortal boy into a turtle. She removed her glasses and put them carefully in the front pocket of her flannel shirt. "I suddenly realized that I am now trapped in this school with my intelectual inferiors."

"Look you little..."

"Finish that and you'll regret it," Jacks said coldly. Magic might have been a no-no in school, but there was nothing stopping her from pounding his head into the floor if he started calling her names.

The fifth grader backed up quickly as the much smaller girl stood up. But she seemed to be ignoring him as she crouched to pick up her lunch box and the food that had spilled out of it. His eyes narrowed and he stepped forward again, intentionally bringing his foot down on the chocolate milk box.

"I hate bullies," Jacks said as she wiped a hand down her face, getting off as much of the drink as she could. "They're always stupid and always think I'm an easy target."

That was the last thing anyone said for a while as Jacks launched herself from her crouch to tackle the eleven year old to the floor. The fight was over before any of the teachers on lunch duty could get there. They found the girl, who didn't look as if she weighted sixty pounds soaking wet, sitting on the chest of the biggest bully in the elementary and half way through peeling an orange.

She looked up at them, blinked behind thick black framed glasses and only said, "What?"

Which of course had both of them dragged into Mr. Wilson's office for fighting.

Vin was not amused when he arrived. "Jacks."

"I didn't start it," she said just as he spoke. He really was getting the Larabee glare down, she noted absently as she hugged her lunch box to her chest. "Well, I didn't. Jimmy called me a runt and knocked my lunch box off the table and then stomped on my drink box."

"She's lying!" the boy snapped. She didn't belong in his school. She was -poor- for crying out loud.

"Boy, I've known Jacks for a long time and she's never lied to me," Vin said as he shifted the glare. He studied the kid for a moment then looked back over at Jacks, obviously wanting an explaination.

Jacks shrugged. "I whooped him, but I didn't start it."

"Wait for me in the hall," Vin told her.

"Mr. Tanner," Wilson started.

"Shut up," the Texan growled. "Jacks."

"I'm going," she grumbled. She paused at the door to send a cold glare back at the boy who'd tried to bully her. "I know what you think of me, Jimmy. But you're so far wrong you're not even in the right solar system." Then the door slammed shut behind her.

Jacks leaned against the wall and let herself slide down to sit on the floor, staring blankly at the lockers across from her.

"I can't believe you got into a fight with Jimmy Reed," Dawn said as she sat down beside the new girl. "And you beat him up."

"He started it," Jacks repeated, her voice flat and mechanical. "I'm not a runt. I'm just petite. I'm not an albino, white hair just runs in my father's family. I'm not poor, I just don't see the point in spending a lot of money on clothes that aren't going to even fit in a few years."

Dawn hesitated for a moment, then put her arm around Jacks' shoulders. "What's really wrong?"

"I miss my family," Jacks whispered. "I miss my friends. All I have left is Vin."

"I'll be your friend," Dawn offered quietly.

Jacks sent a small smile up at the taller girl. "Thanks, Dawn, but I don't think your other friends will like me much."

Dawn nodded. "I don't think they will either. But I'm not sure I like them anymore. They thought it was funny when Jimmy started bothering you."

"Jimmy is an idiot," Jacks muttered absently. "Chris would have shot him on general principles."

Before Dawn could question that comment a tall, scruffy looking man came out of the office and smiled down at them.

"Jacks? You going to introduce your friend?" he asked as he crouched down to their level.

"Vin Tanner, this is Dawn Summers," Jacks said as she stood up. "Dawn, this is Vin."

"Pleased to meet you, Miss Summers."

Dawn nodded and shook his hand. "Nice to meet you too, Mr. Tanner."

"So, how much trouble am I in?" Jacks asked.

"Not much, not from me anyway," Vin told her. "But you do have a two day suspension for fighting."

Jacks blinked. "But I just started today. Is that a new record or something?"

Vin chuckled. "Could be, but that's the rule. You were fighting, started it or not."

"To put it in the current phrasing," Jacks drawled in a fair impression of Vin's accent, "this blows."

Dawn smiled. "Would you like me to get your homework for you?"

"Yes, please," Jacks said as she scrubbed a hand over her face. "I would hate to fall behind because of that ... that ..."

"Varmit?" Vin offered.

"I think brat might be more accurate," Dawn snickered.

Jacks grinned. "Oh, now I know I like you, Dawn. Jimmy Reed is a brat of the highest order."

Vin watched the two 'kids' giggle for a moment before shaking his head. "Come on, Jacks. Let's get home."

"Sure, Vin," she paused. "Wait a second. Dawn needs to know where we live if she's going to bring me my school work."

Dawn started to grin as Jacks carefully gave her the address. "Hey, I can walk there from my house. It's only two blocks away."

"Great," Jacks said with a grin in return. "So I'll see you this afternoon?"

"Yeah, I'll see you later, Jacks, I have to get back to class," Dawn called as she headed down the hall. "Bye!"

Jacks waved then turned to Vin. "I believe the term is 'contact'."

"She's a nice kid," Vin commented as they walked out of the elementary.

Jacks nodded. "Yes, and we are to make certain that she remains a nice, live, kid. To which end, I shall be remaining on school grounds until Dawn leaves for home."

"Sure that's a good idea?" he asked with a frown.

"I won't get caught if that's your concern."

Vin shook his head. "Ain't worried about that, Snowbird. You can't keep that over grown pocket knife of yours on you when you shift into something small."

"I'm not going to shift into anything small," she assured him. "I do know an invisiblity spell, you know."

"Yeah, I know," Vin said, narrowing his eyes at her. "That little trick almost got you shot when you used it last time."

Jacks narrowed her eyes in return. "Fine. I'll take a small form and hide. You can hold onto Kaina'tal. She'll come when I call."

"Jacks," Vin started. He paused under the glare of her glowing green eyes. She'd turned him into a turtle before, she'd do it again. "Fine, just don't turn into a dog, don't want to have to bail you outta the pound."

"I'm certain you'll explain what a 'pound' is later this evening," Jacks grumbled as she handed over Kaina'tal. "And do be careful, she's more than just a weapon."

"Hell, Snowbird, I know that," Vin grinned at her. "I've seen what you can do with her in hand."

Jacks snorted and started to whirl on her heel. As her form blurred, she rose slightly into the air. There was a brief flash of light and a small hawk shot upward. A white hawk with green eyes ... and around a third the size a hawk should be. Vin chuckled. Jacks was pretty good at shifting her form, but she never managed to be a full sized anything. The former peace keeper, and still occasional bounty hunter, climbed into his battered jeep to drive away. He paused, turning the rune weapon slowly in his hands.

"I sure hope she stays out of trouble, Kaina," he said quietly. "Nathan ain't here to patch her up."

Kaina'tal couldn't have agreed more, and for once wished that she could communicate with Vin at even the smallest level. The man just didn't have the well of magical power that was needed for anyone to even be able to hear her.

Jacks kept her perch on the telephone pole as she watched Dawn climb into a car with her mother and elder sister. She shifted and flexed her wings before she swooped to catch an air current. The plan was to keep an eye on Dawn until she reached her home, and then get to Vin's house before Dawn could arrive at the house with her assignments for the next two days.

As the family car pulled into a driveway, Jacks shifted to circle around. If Dawn didn't show up at the house by sunset Jacks would check up on her.

But she was going to have the reaction headache from Hell after holding a shape so different from her own for so long.

Dawn glared over her shoulder at her sister as Joyce rang the door bell to the older ranch style home. The door opened and a young man in ripped jeans and a slightly damp tee-shirt stood there with a friendly smile on his face. "Hi. Can I help you?"

"Hi, Mr. Tanner," Dawn called cheerfully as Buffy gawked behind her. "I was going to bring Jacks her homework and Mom and my sister decided that I was too small to walk around the block by myself."

"Well, now," Vin said as he stepped aside and gestured for them to enter, "I'm sure your mom is just looking out for you. She don't know me after all."

"What about her sister?" Jacks asked as she stepped out of the kitchen.

"She's just nosey," Dawn explained. "Oh, and I told her Vin was cute."

Jacks grinned widely, although it was edged with pain. "He blushes rather well, too."

"Jacqueline," Vin growled quietly. She only laughed quietly.

"I thought you said she got in a fight?" Buffy hissed in Dawn's ear.

The youngest of the Summers' women shook her head. "No. I said she beat up Jimmy Reed."

Joyce studied the pair in surprise. When Dawn had mentioned her new friend had gotten suspended for being in a fight ... Well. She hadn't expected to meet a girl that looked more like a china doll in hand-me-downs than an elementary school brawler. But Dawn had been startlingly accurate talking about Vin Tanner. Total babe had never fit anyone quite so well. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Tanner. I'm glad you understand why I felt the need to meet you and your niece before I allowed Dawn to come over here by herself."

"I do understand, Mrs. Summers," Vin said politely. "I'd do the same if it were Jacks. Would you like something to drink? We've got soda, juice, and bottled water."

"No that's alright," said Joyce as she waved off the offer. "Dawn's just dropping of Jacks' classwork. But I think it's safe to say that I'm alright with Dawn spending time here."

Buffy's nose scrunched up. She didn't get why her little sister would want to come over here. The new girl was strange and Dawn way too young to admire the hottie factor of the kid's uncle.

"Can Dawn stay for dinner, Mrs. Summers?" Jacks asked, putting as much hopeful innocence into her tone as she could manage without sliding into syrupy sweetness.

"Well," Joyce let her eyes drift from Jacks to Vin, to Dawn and back to Jacks. "What are you having for dinner?"

"Tamales and chilli," Vin said. "We've got plenty to share." He grinned slightly. "I can cook for one or a dozen, never quite got the hang of just two."

"If you can call it cooking," Jacks drawled.

Vin shot her a glare. "I can cook."

"And your idea of coffee could be used to tar the road," Jacks fired back.

"You aren't supposed to be drinking it anyhow." Vin grinned at her. "There ain't nothing wrong with my tamales. Inez taught me how to make them."

Jacks grinned. "Well, why didn't you say that in the first place."

"You two are so weird," Dawn concluded.

"Normal is highly over-rated," Jacks explained.

"So can I stay, Mom? Please?" Dawn asked, turning to Joyce.

Vin nodded. "Won't be any trouble and I'll bring her home."

"Well, I don't see why not," Joyce said slowly. "Alright, but I want you home by eight, Dawn."

"Thanks, Mom, you're the best!" Dawn hugged her then ran off into the house with Jacks.

"Everything'll be fine," Vin assured the pretty blonde woman.

"It's been nice meeting you, Mr. Tanner," Joyce said. "Good evening."

"See ya," Vin called as Joyce herded her other daughter down the walkway. He shook his head slowly. "I can't believe that little gal's going to be a Slayer."

"How do you know that?" Dawn demanded.

Vin turned around slowly and sighed. The girls were standing behind him. Dawn looked worried and angry. Jacks just rolled her eyes.

"I can explain."

Dawn looked at Jacks in surprise. "You can explain?"

"Xander sent us," Jacks said. "Well, he sent me. Vin's just a bonus."

Vin only snorted.

Chapter 4
Duty and other important things.

Jan. 18, 1996 (still)

Dawn stared at Jacks and Vin for a long moment after the white haired girl's announcement that Xander had sent them to protect her. She folded her arms over her chest with a scowl. "I don't believe you."

Vin grinned. "Suspicious little thing, ain't she?"

"Oh, for ..." Jacks scrubbed a hand over her face before glaring at Vin. "Will you shut up, Tanner?"


"You want to be turned into a turtle don't you?" Jacks grumbled before turning her attention back to Dawn. "Xander gave you that cross you're wearing."

"So? You've been spying on me," Dawn snapped. "Whatever you want you can't have it."

"Spying on you?" Jacks sputtered. "When Xander gave you that I was half a mile underground!" Dawn blinked. Jacks continued her rant. "I'd still be there, happily driving myself insane, but -no-, Kaina'tal had to butt in and ask Elanthielle for help and she and Xander woke me up! And now here I am following Xander's orders to be -subtle- and that ... that *Texan* has to open his yap! You used to be the quiet one, Tanner!"

"Ya wanted to tell her," Vin reminded her.

"Well, yes," Jacks said quietly. She stopped pacing to sit in the air. "Sorry, Dawn, Vin."

Dawn backed up until her back hit the wall. "What are you?"

Jacks laughed softly. "What am I? Half the time I don't even know."

"Yeah, you do," Vin said with a lopsided grin. "You're Kine."

"What's Kine?" Dawn asked.

Vin's grin widened. "Jacks here is what you call a White Knight."

"One of these days I'm going to turn you into a turtle and the boys aren't here to talk me into turning you back," Jacks grumbled.

Vin just winked when Dawn shot him a worried look.

"Okay, say I believe you," Dawn offered. "Why do I need to be protected?"

Jacks' mouth opened and closed a few times. "That ... there's not a word in any language I know rude enough for what he is. But whatever it is, Xander Harris is one. He didn't tell me -why-." She propped her chin on her fist. "All he told me was that you had to be protected from things that go bump in the night. He called on my honor as Kine'Iende."

"Her life was easier when she could ignore things like that," Vin explained to Dawn in a stage whisper. The girl giggled.

Jacks started to tell them to shut up, but her nose twitched. "Shit! The chili!"

White hair whirled and swirled behind her as Jacks rushed into the kitchen.

"Is she always like this?" Dawn wondered.

"Yep," Vin said cheerfully.

Jacks sat across from Vin and Dawn as the one time bounty hunter showed the mortal girl pictures and mementoes of a life nearly a century gone. Dawn looked up and studied the half-fey Kine.

"What?" Jacks asked as she curled her legs under her on the chair.

"Can I see? What you really look like, I mean," Dawn asked after a moment.

Jacks shrugged. "I look pretty much like this."


Vin just nodded slightly when Jacks shot him a look. She sighed and stood up. The tiny form Jacks was wearing started to spin, faster and faster until it blurred. Then the blur began to grow. The whirling figure stopped suddenly, and there stood Jacks in her natural form. Still small, but a full foot and a half taller than she had been as a child, with widely spaced large neon green eyes, wildly curling white hair that tumbled around her shoulders, and knife sharp pointed ears that stuck up through the curls.

"You're a half-elf," Dawn said with a grin.

Jacks did a very good impression of a landed fish for a full minute befoe she managed a coherent reply. "I. Am. Not. An. Elf!"

"Well, you're too short to be a Vulcan," Dawn snickered.

"What does the Roman God of Fire and the Forge have to do with how I look?" Jacks asked in confusion.

Vin gave a wide slow grin and promised himself that he'd explain it to her later. He glanced at the clock and shook his head. "Sorry to break this up, girls, but it's time to take Dawn home."

"It's nearly eight already?" Dawn looked at the clock on the VCR.


"Language, young lady," Jacks chided. Although there was an inhumanly wide smile on her face when she said it.

Dawn rolled her eyes. "Yes, ma'am."

January 23, 1996

"So, you have to go?" Jacks asked as Vin packed a few things into what looked like saddlebags to her.

Vin nodded. "Yep. Can't expect Xander to pay Andy for all those toys you want. And even if we could, ain't right to."

"Very well," Jacks said after a moment. "As you found me fairly quickly after my ... resurection, I presume you still have it?"

Vin sighed and held up his wrist, pulling back his sleeve so she could inspect the silver and turquoise band around his wrist. "I've got it, Snowbird."

"Good, if you get into trouble I -do- expect you to contact me," Jacks said sternly although her expression was more of a pout.

"Aw, pull that lip in, Jacks, ain't gonna do you any good."

Her eyes narrowed and glowed dangeriously. "You asked Mrs. Summers to *babysit* me."

Vin grinned. "She don't know that you're three hundred fourteen. Sides, everyone thinks you're just a kid. I'd get in trouble if I just left ya by yourself. Sides, you'll be able to protect Dawn real well living in the same room." He studied her for a moment. "Just don't turn Buffy into a turtle."

"Don't be silly," Jacks said cheerfully. "I'd turn her into a poodle."

"Jacks, you can't turn a girl who is gonna be a Slayer into a dog."

Jacks pouted again. "I'd turn her back."

"Were you this much trouble when you really were ten?" Vin asked, scrubbing a hand over his face.

"You'd have to ask Coyote," Jacks told him with a shrug. "But I was rather relieved when Colleen didn't display any signs of a high aptitude or interest in magic at a young age."

Vin snorted. "Look, Jacks, I'm gonna sound like I'm really your uncle for a second. Behave for Mrs. Summers."

"You are aware that you don't have quite the right tone of voice for that sort of ..."

"Jacqueline," Vin snapped.

She blinked. "On the other hand ... I didn't think anyone other than Kaina'tal could get quite that much annoyance into my name. I'll be on my best behavior, I assure you, Vin."

January 24, 1996

Vin watched as Jacks and Dawn carried the two small duffle bags and a sleeping bag upstairs to Dawn's room in the Summers' home. "Thanks for doing this, Joyce. I didn't think I'd have to go out of town this soon, and I've been trying to get settled into the house with Jacks ... I just haven't had time to even look into hiring a nanny."

"Well, she does get along well with Dawn," Joyce said slowly.

"Althought ... Vin, does Jacks have any medical conditions I should know about?"

"Other than a temper that on occasion leaves others in need of medical attention, nope. Why?"

"Well, she's just so ... frail looking. It's difficult for me to believe that she actually beat up that boy in school." Joyce looked sharply at Vin when he started to snicker.

Vin waved off her annoyance. "Sorry, it's just ... she ain't as frail as she looks. It takes a lot to put Jacks down and I ain't seen anything that can keep her down for long."

"If you say so, you'd know her best after all," Joyce said after a moment.

"Don't worry, I made her promise to behave. That's one she usually keeps."

Febuary 5, 1996

Jacks stared pensively out Dawn's window. Unfortunately, the window didn't look out over anything but the backyard and the backyards of the neighbors.

Something was out there, and had been out there for the last several days.

The question was: Who was it after?

"Jacks?" Dawn called as she climbed onto her bed and noticed that her friend hadn't moved an inch from when Dawn had gone to take her bath.

"Earth to Jacks ... Okay, at least LA to Jacks."

"Sorry, Dawnie," Jacks said as she moved away from the window without exactly turning her back on it.

"What's wrong?"

The half-fey looked eerie in the dim light as she looked back toward the window. "There is something out there, Dawn. Something ... unnatural."

"Can you get it a little more clear than that?" Dawn asked rolling her eyes.

"Precognition isn't one of my powers," Jacks muttered as she turned back to the window. "But something out there is making my skin crawl."

"Any ideas?" Dawn fidgeted with the trim on her pillow case. Jacks tilted her head as she stared out into the night. "I think it's after something magical in the house. More likely someone." She frowned. "You remember the world before what Xander calls the 'Hitch', don't you, Dawn?"

"Yeah, I do. Why?"

"Did something ever try and get to Buffy before she became the Slayer?" Jacks asked as she finally focused on Dawn.

The future Slayer's sister shook her head. "Nope. I don't think she's even started having the nightmares yet."

Jacks nodded slowly. "Then it's either after me or you."

"Can it get past those wards you put up?" Dawn asked as she peeked out the window over Jacks' head.

"I'm ... not certain," the half-fey admitted. She tucked a lock of white hair behind her ear.

Dawn studied Jacks for a few minutes before shaking her head. "You're going to go find out. That's nuts. You shouldn't face something if you don't know what it is or what it wants."

"Dawn, I'm Kine," Jacks said quietly. "I have been ordered by my Commander to protect you. I can't do that if I'm waiting for that thing out there to come to us."

"You have no idea how freaky it is to hear Xander refered to as anyone's Commander," Dawn muttered.

Jacks smiled slightly. "If it makes you feel better the creature is more likely to be after me than it is to be after you."

"Um, nope, not better at all," Dawn said after she thought about it for a while. "Besides, if it eats you who's going to protect me?"

"Go to sleep, Dawn," Jacks chuckled. "I'll be back soon."

"How are you going to ... " Dawn's voice trailed off when Jacks simply winked at her, and flashed out of existance. Dawn hurried to the window just in time to see Jacks whirl into a small white cat and run off between the bushes. Her breath hissed out in concern. "Damn it, Jacks, you'd better be back before Mom comes to check on us."

Jacks ran quickly, the feline form was one that she truly enjoyed although she did prefer the snow leopard to the house cat. If only because the larger form was less costly to maintain. The reaction headache was hardly worth it, but a snow leopard would be too noticable.

She shook herself out of her mussings quickly as the sense of wrongness flared up along her nerves.

Where ... where .... ah. There it was. Jacks kept out of the creature's line of sight as she shifted back into her natural form. She summoned Kaina'tal to her hand silently as she stalked up behind it.

<Any idea what this is, Kaina?> Jacks asked.

//It's a P'rathan,// Kaina'tal supplied. //It would be best to kill it quickly. Such demons feed off of the flesh of magical beings.//

<Okay, and may I just add 'eeew' to that?>

//I am begining to believe you spend too much time with children.// Jacks gave a mental shrug as she commaned Kaina'tal to extend to her full lenght. <Tell it to Xander and Elanthielle, prehaps they'll assign me a mission where I deal with more adults.>

"Pardon me," Jacks said outloud as she moved to float lightly in the air behind the P'rathan demon. "But did you order take out?"

Chapter 5
Honor has a sense of humor.

The P'rathan turned toward the second, slightly weaker, source of living magical energy with the acidic tone of voice coming from behind it. The demon blinked slowly.

Jacks' nose wrinkled up at the stench of carrion the came off the monster. "Well, obviously we have personal hygene issues. Or maybe it's the fact that you seem to favor eating your meals raw."

Apparently the P'rathan didn't appriciate the half-fey's admittedly twisted sense of humor and replied with a very loud snarl and a swipe of very large claws at the floating Kine's midsection. Jacks muffled a yelp as she used her power to shove herself away from it.

"Well, if you want to be rude about it," she huffed. Neon green eyes glowed brightly as she cast her spells. "Oscuro." A fog snaked up from the ground coiling around the two forms and blanketing the neighborhood. "Silenzio." And nothing more was heard.

Jacks dropped to the ground when she was charged again. This time she ducked under the swipe and answered with slash from first one then the other of Kaina'tal's blades. The small half-fey twisted and whirled out of the way, using her telekinetic gift to enhance her agility by pushing off of the objects around her.

Again and again the Kine darted in and out of the P'rathan's reach, laying open its flesh, avoiding the claws Kaina'tal had warned carried a poison that would cripple her magics, and eventually kill her.

In the end, the battle was quick and dirty with Jacks throwning loose rocks and trash at the demon every chance she got as she systemactically struck at every vulnerable point Kaina'tal knew of. It quickly weakened enough for her to shatter the bone plate protecting its neck and beheaded the demon.

Jacks' nose wrinkled up again as she ended the effects of her two spells and swayed slightly before shaking off the brief flash of dizziness.

"I repeat, ew," she said softly as the P'rathan started to bubble and melt into a goopy puddle of blueish slime. "You know that Valgra demon that brought us west was much less disgusting, Kaina."

//True, but not so easily defeated,// the ancient weapon pointed out. //You should return, and quickly.// <Right. Quickly,> Jacks grumbled mentally as she again reached for her power, this time that of her fey blood, and moved herself through space. She couldn't quite make it as far as she had though, and found herself clinging to the outside of Dawn's windowsil. "Crap," she mumbled. Dawn stared out her window at Jacks as the half-fey clung to the windowsil. "Jacks? What happened?"

"Magic eater," the white haired warrior grunted as she rolled in the window to drop onto the floor. She sprawled with a sigh. Neon green eyes blinked up at Dawn. "Had to use two spells to fight after I'd shape-changed. Question? Do I still look fey?"

"Um, sort of. You look like a ten-year-old fey," Dawn explained. "You have pointy ears and your nose is bleeding."

Jacks grunted again and cast a small glamour to hide her ears. "I'll need a rag."

"I'll get Mom," Dawn said as she stood up.

"I'm fine, Dawn."

Dawn favored Jacks with a look that didn't belong on a ten-year-old's face. "Fine? No, you're not. Besides, you're staining the carpet."

"I'm fine," Jacks repeated as she pinched the bridge of her nose in an effort to stop the bleeding.

"Right," Dawn muttered. She went to find a rag, and her mother.

Four Corners, Southwest Territories, May 10, 1870

Jacqueline Warren stepped lightly down from the stage coach. She brushed at the thin layer of dust covering her dark green traveling dress. While she affected total concentration on that small task, her bright green eyes took in everything on the street.

Her head whipped around when her trunk crashed to the boardwalk and she fought the urge to transform the careless driver and guard into something slimy. Snails, perhaps.

"Sir, I suggest you be more cautions with the young lady's belongings," order a man that Jacqueline guessed was the local gambler. His Southern accented voice was smooth and smoky, like good bourbon, and it sent warmth racing along Jacqueline's limbs.

The Southerner took Jacqueline's carpet bag from the driver before he turned to her, a smile dimpling his cheeks. "Welcome to Four Corners, Miss."

"Thank you, sir," Jacqueline said with a smile of her own. "I'm Jacqueline Warren," she told him as fey-green eyes met warm emerald green eyes.

"Ezra Standish, at your service, my dear," he replied after brushing a kiss across the back of her hand. He gestured toward two younger men. "And these are two of my associates, Mr. Vin Tanner, and Mr. JD Dunne."

"Delighted to meet you, gentelmen," Jacqueline announced with a wide grin. "I was hoping someone would be on hand to assist me with my luggage."

Summers' Home, LA. Febuary 06, 1996

"Does your head still hurt, Jacks?" Joyce asked as their guest joined the Summers women in the kitchen for breakfast.

Jacks gave her a watery smile. "Just a little, I'll be fine."

"Who's Ezra?" Buffy asked.

"I'll tell you when you're older," Jacks said with a smirk.

Dawn snickered. "Come on, Jacks. Mom said we can go to the park after we finish eating."

"Cool," Jacks said brightly. Her idea of finishing breakfast was to slide a sausage and a fried egg between two pancakes and eating it on the way out the door.

Joyce shook her head as her youngest and the very strange white haired girl left the house for the morning.

"I think that weirdo is contaminating Dawn," Buffy grumbled.


Febuary 07, 1996

Jacks ignored the demons in the bar, and for the most part they returned the favor. The ones who weren't ignoring her were quickly moving away from the slight woman in green leather. It undoubtedly helped that she was in her true form and radiating power like a blast furnace. She hopped up onto a stool, offering the bartender a bright smile when he finally got up the nerve to approach.

"Can I help you?" he asked cautionsly.

"I'd like a beer, please," she answered. "And to speak with Lorne when he has a moment."

The demon gulped. "Sure. Who - who should I say is asking for him?"

"A friend of Xander's," Jacks said calmly.

He blinked. "The Seraphim?"

Jacks smirked. "You know, I'm fair to certain he hates that particular epithet."

"Ye-yes, ma'am," the demon bartender said before he slid a bottle of beer to her and scrambled away as fast as was polite. Which, considering the green glow in her eyes, was pretty fast.

The half-fey chuckled as she turned to study the singer currently on stage. She flinched when the b'Toct demon hit a sour note, but then it had to be difficult to sing teen pop with a beak.

"Well now, we don't get your kindin her much, Miss Magic," the Host said pleasently as he joined Jacks at the bar.

Jacks smiled at the part-owner and manager of Caritas as he sat beside her. "Only one other that I know of. He told me you could tell me if there wer any trouble makers in town."

"I know Xander sent you, Miss Magic," Lorne said slowly, "but he's not a member of the pointy-ear set."

"Xander and I are both Kine'Iende."

Lorne blinked. "I thought baby-face was the only one."

"No, I've been Kine for ... a long time." Jacks offered a small smile. "I simply forgot for a while. Xander reminded me."

"Not to offend somebody who could easily blast through the wards of my place, but ... I didn't know the fey could ..."

"I'm half-fey, and I don't know if a full fey could be Kine," Jacks interupted. "Lorne, please. Can you tell me if there is anyone or anything in town?"

Lorne shook his head. "Just a magic eater ... and with the power you're putting out ..."

"We've met," Jacks said, pinching her nose in reflex at the memory of blood gushing from it and the headache caused by casing spells in rapid sucession.

"So ... it's dead?"

Jacks nodded. "It was going to eat a friend of mine."

"It didn't come after you, Miss Magic?" Lorne asked in surprise.

"I'm harder to swallow," Jacks told him with a smirk. The half-fey shook off the moment of humor. "Are there any other nasties around that Gunn and the children can't handle?"

"Who you calling children?" snapped a young hispanic man behind Jacks. She sighed. "Simms?"

Lorne nodded. "Simms."

Jacks twisted her stool around to lock eyes with the young mortal demon fighter. "I'm calling you and your friends children. I call Xander a child. I could, most likely, call Lorne here a child."

"I'm not a kid," Simms growled.

"See these?" Jacks asked as she pointed to her ears, left clearly displayed by the sides of her hair being pulled back into a braid.

"So you ain't human, big deal," Simms sneered.

"The 'big deal', child, is that I am half-fey. That means I am the next best thing to immortal," Jacks snarled in return. "Put into words you -might- understand, I have been alive for a *very* long time. Now, sit down and shut up before you start to annoy me."

"Now, now, Miss Magic, there's no violence in here," Lorne said soothingly.

Jacks glanced back at him with brightly glowing green eyes. "Turning him into a turtle is not violence. Or maybe a small dog. I haven't decided yet."

Lorne blinked. Then he blinked again. "You're the Puck's Child. I thought you settled in New Mexico. Heck nobody's even seen or heard of you in a little more than ninety years."

"The name is Jacks," she said quietly. Then she smiled. "But you can keep calling me Miss Magic if you like, Lorne."

"Now you look here, elf ..."

Jacks' attention snapped back to Simms violently. "I. Am. Not. An. Elf!" The glow in her eyes flared brightly for an instant.

Simms the box turtle had no smart assed comment ready to reply with. The rest of the street hunters reacted badly.

"Back off, children," Jacks said calmly. "The spell will wear off in a few hours, and maybe he'll have learned a lesson about insulting people."

"You turned him into a turtle," Gunn said flatly.

Jacks shrugged. "He was annoying me, I told him not to annoy me."

"You were calling him a child, dollface," Lorne pointed out.

"From where I'm sitting, he is a child."

Gunn shook his head as he picked up Simms the Turtle and glared down at the transformed fighter. "I hope she's right about you learning something, man. You keep pissing off the women Harris hangs out with and one of them is really going to hurt you."

"He's done this before?" Jacks asked in surprise.

One of the girls with Gunn nodded. "To a lady with a sword. I'm Alonna."

"Jacks Standish," the half-fey said as they shook hands.

"Nice to meet you," Alonna said with a grin. "So, when did you get into LA?"

"Nearly a month ago," Jacks explained as Alonna took Simms' seat.

"After a magic eating demon came after a friend I felt the need to gather more informaton on potential threats in the area."

"Come on, pumpkin, let's leave the girls to chat," Lorne said as he pulled Gunn away.

Gunn frowned back at the two women as he followed the Host. "So long as she doesn't turn Alonna into anything."

"So, you gonna turn Simms back?" Alonna asked.

"He'll turn back," Jacks assured her. "I used the limited duration variant on that tranformation spell."


Eventually Alonna talked her new friend into getting on stage and singing. Not that it took much more than a few demons butchering "All for One" from the Three Musketeers sound track. Jacks decided on the part of the ironic and belted out Cher's "Half Breed".

"At least she's not bitter," Lorne muttered.

Alonna rolled her eyes at the sarcasm.\ Jacks bowed deeply to the applause before she rejoined Alonna at the table they'd claimed. There was an impossibly wide smile on her face and her steps were lighter than when she'd arrived at the bar. She dropped into a chair, accepting a fresh beer from the green demon.

"Saints and Angels, that felt *good*."

"Always nice to hear a pro up there," Lorne said cheerfully.

"So, what's her destiny?" Alonna asked as she swirled her drink.

"Sorry, sweetness, but she already knows it," Lorne told her. "She's known it since she was a little pointy-eared tyke."

Jacks raised her beer bottle in salute. "In the grand tradition of the Warren witches and as a Kine' Iende, I am a protector of the innocent."

"So you were chosen," Alonna concluded.

Jacks shook her head with a faint smile. "No. I chose. I don't have to do this ... Well, I have to now, but I was my choice to follow my mother's teachings, to become Kine. No higher power told me to do this, and if they had I'd have told them to screw off." The half-fey stood up and dropped a few bills on the table. "I have to go. School in the morning."

"You're in college?" Alonna guessed.

"No," Jacks chuckled. "Elementary."

Febuary 23, 1996

"So, you behaved for Joyce?" Vin asked as Jacks threw herself face down on the couch in their livingroom.

Jacks rolled over to glare at him. "I was the perfect little lady for this day and age. I even refrained from turning Buffy into anything small and yappy."

"But you did do something," Vin said slowly. "Ya got that smug look on your face, like when ya turned Buck into a tomcat."

"Oh, as if that was a significant change," Jacks muttered.

"Jacks? What did you do?"

The half-fey smiled and relayed the story of her trip to Caritas.

Vin shook his head slowly. "What is it with you and turtles?"

"Oh, shut up."

Chapter 6

Buffy shoved past Jacks into the Tanner household and glared at the tiny white haired girl. "Stay away from my sister."

"And why would I stay away from my best friend?"

"Because," Buffy said as she grabbed Jacks by her shirt front and slammed her bodily into the wall, "I know you're not human. I don't know what kind of demon you are ..."

"Arrogant child," Jacks snarled as she flung the Slayer away from her. "I am no danger to Dawn! I am NOT a demon! I can't believe that a Slayer can't *feel* the difference between a Half Fey and a Demon!" Buffy pushed back to her feet to stare at the now floating child.


"I'm half Fey," Jacks spat. "My father was one of Oberon's Children. He who is called Puck. For the love of ... Don't you mortals read *Shakespeare* any more?"

"But ... you vanished and then I was called and then ..." Buffy babbled for several minutes while Jacks managed to rein in her temper. "And now you're back, but you're not just this weird girl Dawn's friends with, you're not human ..."

The half-fey sighed softly. "Buffy, I'm a friend. And I am truly sorry about your Watcher. But I was sent to protect your sister, not to aid you directly in your battle." She paused. "At least not yet."

"Protect Dawn? From what? She's just a kid."

"And what will happen to her once the vampires and the demons find out you have a little sister?" Jacks asked coolly.

Buffy paled then flushed. "So where were you?"

"I was ordered to help with another mission. I'm sorry, I can't tell you what it was."

"I could make you," Buffy threatened.

Jacks rolled her eyes. "Yes, and that worked out so well for you the last time you threatened me. Ten minutes ago wasn't it?"

Buffy's eyes narrowed. "You're still just a kid."

"I'm over three hundred years old, Buffy," Jacks sighed. "Not everything is as it seems. The sooner you learn that the better off you'll be. I can tell you this much, we were helping save the entire world."

".... and you just come back like you haven't been anywhere!" Dawn finished yelling.

Jacks raked her hands through her her white curls as Dawn continued to glare at her. "I told you, and Xander told me to tell you, End of The World comes first. I didn't have a choice, you know. He orders, I *do*. That's pretty much the point of having ranks at all."

"But did Vin have to go to? With his rifle and the vamp killer ammo ... Maybe Buffy wouldn't have had to burn down the gym," Dawn said, grasping for reasons to stay mad at her half-fey friend. "And ... and maybe Merrick wouldn't be ..."

"Dawn, darlin'," Vin said softly as he crouched in front of her, "iffin' we'd stayed, or I'd stayed, and none of that bad stuff happened ... Ya wouldn't be moving to Sunnydale. Ya wanna meet up with Xander and those friends ya been tellin' us about, don't ya?"

"Well, yeah, but," Dawn started.

"Then us staying behind wouldn't have made a lot of difference," Jacks told her gently. "And we'll be going to Sunnydale, too. Xander hasn't ordered me to stop watching your back."

Dawn stared at both the Immortal and the Eternal. "You know, when you guys just ... just vanished like that ... I didn't know if you were coming back."

"Hey, now, none of that, mi luz," drawled the Texan. "Jacks here may have to go off and do other things now and again, but there ain't nothing says I have to go with her all the time. And so long as we're both around, well then, she'll just have to get her skinny little self back to us, won't she?"

Jacks glared at him. "I am *not* skinny, Vin Tanner." She turned her attention back to Dawn as she gestured for something to fly into her hand. "And this will allow you to know whether one of us is harmed, or allow us to know if you have been harmed. It will also permit you to call on us for assistance in case of emergency."

"Wow, is that ..."

"Silver and white jade," Jacks said as she slipped the bangle around Dawn's right wrist. "It is linked to Vin's wrist band." He helpfully held up his arm, showing the wide silver and turquoise cuff. "And to my ring."

Dawn's eyes dropped to the simple silver band around the ring finger of Jacks' right hand. "That's your wedding ring isn't it? Shouldn't it be on the other hand?"

"It is, and it's on the correct hand for a widdow," Jacks murmured. She tapped the bangle on Dawn and whispered, "Sia conforme."

The mortal girl bit back a yelp as the band slithered and tightened around her wrist as if it were a live thing. "What the ..."

"Now it can't be taken off against your will," explained the half-fey. "One of the spells on it will keep people from paying attention to it." "You've done this before," Dawn said, nodding toward Vin.

Jacks smiled faintly as her eyes looked off into a memory. "Yes, for all of the Seven."

October 31, 1870

Mrs. Jacqueline Standish looked up at the full moon, then back at the seven men surrounding her. It felt like a life time ago that she had arrived in Four Corners alone and hunting a demon that had killed hundreds of young boys before she managed to destroy it. With the help of these seven men. One of whom she'd married not long ago.

A smile lit her face as they all watched her patiently. Each man had chosen a simple item, worn against the skin, for her to cast a spell that would join them as a family.

Ezra and Jacqueline had both chosen their wedding rings. Josiah had decided on the rosary beads his sister had given him. Vin had picked a wrist band given to him by a shaman from one of the native tribes he had lived with. Nathan and JD had, after much conversation, both chosen their wedding rings ... at least once their wives had pointed out that they were family and that was all that counted. Buck had settled on the locket his mother had given him before she died.

It had taken Chris the longest to chose what would bind him to the men he thought of as his brothers and the strange half-fey creature that had somehow managed to become like a sister to him. After a long talk with Mary, and Buck, Chris had put his first wife's wedding ring on a chain around his neck.

Chris slipped the chain over his head at the last moment, then nodded to Jacqueline, surprised that she had waited for his permision to begin. "Fratelli nel cuore e nello spirito, limite da anima rovesciata insieme. Da questo segno lasci ciascuno è conosciuto agli altri, lasci ciascuno sentire l'altri quando nel bisogno. Ciascuno all'altro a me. Astuzia, Saggezza, Libertà, Pietà, Speranza, Amore, Resistenza. Dalla scelta, sia una," Jacqueline chanted softly. "Gli alcoolici antichi gentili, non ne hanno lasciato nuoc l'altri, hanno lasciato le nostre famiglie essere una."

Each piece of jewelry glowed brightly for a moment, then with a flash, the glow faded away leaving the seven mortal men blinking in the middle of the desert.

Jacqueline managed to smile at them before her eyes rolled back and she collapsed.


"Bout scared the life out of all us when ya dropped like that, Snowbird," Vin complained.

"Hey, why didn't I get a big ritual like that?" Dawn teased.

Jacks rolled her eyes. "Because I already have protective spells on you, Dawn. The fact that you agreed to it is all that was needed to make it work."


Vin stood looking at his house for a long time before Jacks spoke, "Sad to be leaving it again?"

"I raised a son here," he said quietly. "Back when there wasn't another house here for miles. Not all that long ago really. Then the second World War rolled around. Thought they'd've all learned their lesson the first go round. Orrin wanted to join up ... I couldn't let him go alone, even if he was a grown man by then. He was my boy."

"My mind still boggles at the thought of war on such a scale," Jacks said quietly. "Even after ...."

Vin nodded. "Folks are just hard headed that way, I guess."

"What happened to Orrin?"

"He didn't make it up the beach at Normandy," Vin said after a moment. "I ain't ever been sure that the sniper I killed was the one that killed him."

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

Vin shook his head and wraped and arm around her shoulders.

"S'alright. He was doing what he thought was right."

"Must have taken after you," Jacks told him.

Vin smiled at her. "Get in the jeep. We've got to head for Sunnydale." "As if we're going to beat Xander there," Jacks huffed.

Vin's smile widened into a grin. "I just wanna met this fella he says has so much in common with ya, Snowbird."

Jacks sniffed. "I'll have you know, Mr. Tanner, I am one of a kind." "That ya are, Jacks, that ya are indeed."

Vin chuckled as he dropped the jeep into gear and turned toward the highway, Sunnydale, and the Hellmouth. Jacks had a kid to watch over, and he ... Well, he'd watch over Jacks. It was the least he could do for an old friend.

The End.


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