Spring Break

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

Series: Road Trip

Disclaimer: Journeyverse is the Playground of He Who is Tenhawk. Jacks is mine. Kaina'tal is mine. Vin belongs to the Magnificent 7, MGM and Hallmark. Charmed and all characters belong to someone else and the WB. All things Buffy belong to the Crackhead known as Joss.

Summary: Jacks and Vin go in search of family. San Francisco, here they come!

Rating: PG-13-ish

Warning: None

Archive: Journeyverse!

Genre: X-overs B:TVS, Charmed, Magnificent 7, and Gargoyles.

Latest addition

Chapter One
or How to Pack For a Motorcycle Trip For Two.

Dawn and Mikki sat cross-legged on one side of the large bed while Jacks directed items of clothing into two large suit cases that were open on the other side of the bed. Jacks herself was hovering, cross-legged, in the air above the suit cases.

"How does she think she's going to take all of that stuff with them?" Dawn whispered to Mikki. "Vin said they were taking the bike, not the jeep or the SUV."

Mikki leaned against the taller girl and yawned. "Magic. Duh."

"Hey, Jacks, isn't this kind of a waste of magic? I mean, do you really need all of this stuff?"

Mikki nodded her agreement. "Only going a week."

"A week in which I intend to meet my sister's descendants," Jacks pointed out. "Vin and I must make the right impression."

"Then why are you packing jeans and tee-shirts for him ... And are those leather pants?" Dawn demanded as said pants flew over her head, folding themselves neatly.

Jacks offered up a wicked grin. "So I want to show off my man a bit. It's only natural, and Vin looks very nice in those pants."

"Match his hair," Mikki observed calmly. "Nice."

Dawn giggled. She figured there were just some things you didn't have to be human to appreciate. Vin Tanner's butt in leather had to be one of those things. "So what's the impression you're going for?"

"That balance between power and normalcy," the half-fey said as she waved her few cosmetics into a small bag then into the suit case with her clothes.

"And all the leather you have is normal?" Dawn retorted with a wide grin.

Jacks blinked then checked her suitcase. "That's not all the leather I have. The stuff under it is my body armor. Same as in Vin's."

Dawn stared at her friend and protector. "What do you think you're going to need body armor for in San Francisco? There's not a Hellmouth or anything under it."

"You know as well as the rest of us that not all evil in the world centers around Sunnydale," Jacks said bluntly. "Considering the tendency demons have of hunting down witches and trying to kill them or turn them to black magic I'm erring on the side of caution."

"Smart," Mikki allowed. "Hunt them first."

Jacks frowned then locked eyes with the young were. "Only if I have too." She tilted her head and waved the now packed cases shut. "If I kill all the demons that they must have faced over the years between the Hitch and the time before the Hitch, then they will not learn and grow as they should. After all, without the Hitch I would still be Dreaming away my life under a mountain."

Mikki processed this information quickly. "I'd be dead."

Dawn wrapped her arms around the were. "Then I'm glad the Hitch happened. Besides the whole world not ending thing, I got two new really great friends that I'd never have met otherwise."

"Group hug!" Jacks announced before pouncing on the two girls.

The three of them tumbled off the bed into a giggling mass of tangled arms and legs.

After they calmed down again, Dawn raised her head from the thick carpet. "You know, Jacks, for a three hundred and fifteen year old, you really do act like a kid."

"There are several reasons for that," Jacks drawled without bothering to move. She was comfortable in the sprawling tangle, with her legs thrown across Dawn's and Mikki mostly across her chest. "One, as far as the Fey are concerned, I am a child. Hardly out of diapers. Two, there is no point in my acting like a mature adult when the best friends I have had in nearly a century are a twelve year old were-jaguar and a sixteen year old in a twelve year old body. And, three, I never really got to be a mortal kid, even when I was a kid. Mortal or otherwise. So now I get to pick all the good parts and only have to put up with a few of the bad ones."

"Like school," Mikki rumbled.

"Precisely, my dear kitty," Jacks agreed. She stroked her hand through Mikki's thick hair. "But I get to play, too. The swing set is fun, and you know you like the monkey bars, Mikki. I'm learning how to Double Dutch ... They didn't even have that when I was a child. There are millions of books that I've never read, and in my child form no one will look at me strangely for reading them. I especially like the Pern series by that Anne McCaffrey woman. Not that real dragons are at all like that, of course."

"Of course," Dawn echoed. She rested her weight on her elbows as they continued their conversation. "But you can't be making smoochies with Vin in public, at least not here in Sunnydale. No hand holding, or romantic dinners at nice restaurants. You can't even go to the Bronze together."

"We can hold hands, and no one will notice because he's supposed to be my 'uncle'," Jacks pointed out. "And LA is only a few hours away on the Highway, and that's where all the really nice restaurants are anyway." The half-fey grinned. "Besides, the Bronze isn't really our kind of place to hang out, and Vin isn't much for public displays of affection."

"Necking at Xander's Christmas party wasn't a public display of affection?" Dawn teased.

Jacks arched an eyebrow. "No, it wasn't. We were in the privacy of a friend's home."

"Told ya. Mates," Mikki observed.

"That you did, my dear, that you did indeed," Jacks chuckled.

"I still don't get how you're going to get those two huge suit cases on Vin's motorcycle," the Key turned human said after a moment of silent gloating from the were.

Mikki snorted. "Magic."

Dawn frowned. "Isn't that ... I don't know, cheating?"

"If I were a Witch, yes it would be," Jacks admitted.

"You are a Witch," Dawn said as she squirmed out of the pile.

Jacks flopped back and raised her finger to point at the ceiling. "Correction, sunrise, I'm half-witch. As a half-fey shrinking those cases until they fit into the saddle bags of the motorcycle is not 'cheating'. It's convenient."

"Then why are you teaching Tara spells?" she had to ask.

"I'm not so much teaching Tara spells as I'm giving her new ones to learn," Jacks explained. "It's more of a magical version of study hall if you will. Tara is already well grounded in the basics of magic. Everything after that is ... well, rather trial and error. I'm simply guiding her on the path she has already chosen. Supervising her even. But what for me is as simple as breathing is for Tara a religion."

"Tara's Wicca," Mikki said, packing a wealth of meaning into the two simple words.

"Exactly," Jacks agreed. She elaborated at Dawn's confused look. "There are rules and guide lines to the use of Wiccan magic, Dawn. The only rules the Fey have is the ones imposed on them by their own natures and by Lord Oberon. I also have my mother's teachings from my childhood." She smiled slightly and recite, "An ye harm none, do what ye will."

Dawn leaned back against the side of the bed. "You know ... that sound like a pretty good idea for stuff besides magic."

"You're right, it is," Jacks chuckled softly as she scratched a rumbling/purring Mikki behind her ears.

"How did you get in here?" Angel demanded when he found the half-fey, who he was convinced was completely insane, sitting idly on his couch rolling a small glass ball from one hand to the other. "How did you find this place anyway?"

"I teleported, and that is a very stupid question to be asking me, Angelus," Jacks answered coldly. "Especially in light of what I am. But on to other business. Vin and I are leaving tomorrow morning. This is leaving the Commander short two experienced fighters and one magic user. I fully expect you to take up what ever slack there may be. Although I understand that business is slow during Spring Break."

"And if I don't feel like it?" he asked quietly as his eyes narrowed.

"Let me put it to you this way," Jacks said in a low voice as her eyes locked with his, glowing a steady neon green, "if the Slayer's younger sister, or any of my other friends, come to harm while I'm gone I will spend weeks making you scream before I let you finally rest in peace."

"I've done some research on you, Puck's Child," Angel told her once she was finished. "You can't kill with magic."

Jacks tossed the glass ball into the air where it blinked out of existence. "Luckily for me you're already dead." She rolled to her feet and stalked toward him until she was glaring up at him with only inches between them. "And you might be surprised at what I can do to someone without killing them. You will guard Dawn Summers with your unlife or I will make you wish that the body you're in had never been born. You are not to speak to her or allow her to see you. You are not to speak to her mother. You will not allow harm to come to Joyce Summers. If either of them are hurt and you could have prevented it even at the cost of your sorry hide, I will peel your skin off an inch at a time and rub blessed sea salts into the wounds. Do we understand each other, Angelus?"

Angel swallowed hard, his native accent coming through under the stress. "Aye, Lady. I understand."

"Good boy," Jacks said lightly as she stepped back and let the glow of her power fade from her eyes. She grinned cheerfully at him. "I'd hate to have to call in a favor from Banshee over this. She hates coming to the Colonies."

If vampires could go pale, Angel would have as a bolt of fear shot through him. The thought that Banshee could owe the Puck's Child a favor didn't help matters at all.

Vin was settling the saddle bags across the back of his Harley when Jacks slithered into the garage through a small crack in the form of a small snake. "Thought you hated taking a cold blooded form."

"Yeah, but you're here to warm me up," Jacks said as she shifted back into her natural form.

"We're leaving early in the morning, darlin'," Vin warned even as he wrapped his arms around her waist.

"It won't hurt us to start a little late," she purred against his throat as she peppered the skin before her with small biting kisses. "We could ... sleep in."

Vin swatted her rear. "We can 'sleep in' at the Mixer tomorrow night. Dragan says he knows a team that could use another freelance bounty hunter."

Jacks leaned back in his arms and gave him a mild glare. "You're combining business with family on this trip?"

"Just a little," he admitted. "You know I don't like living off Xander or anybody else for that matter. I've got some investments going, doing pretty well with 'em, too, but we still need money of our own."

"If you say so, but you're not going to be hunting bounties the entire trip, are you?" Jacks asked as they started into the house. "I'll be very annoyed with you if you do."

Vin hugged her against his side. "No, darlin' I ain't gonna be hunting bounties the entire trip."

Chapter Two
(An Immortal and a Half-fey walk into a bar ....)

"You two ready to go already?" Xander asked as Vin slid the garage door shut behind the motorcycle.

The Immortal nodded. "Yep."

Jacks glanced up and smiled as she affixed her fold com along the curve of her cheek. "Here to see us off, Commander?"

"Something like that," Xander said with a grin. "Actually there are some people I want you to make contact with on your trip. Just a few this time, but a lot more over the summer."

"You want me to make this a business trip?" the half-fey sighed.

Xander shrugged. "Just a little business. Pass a few of our cards out to specific people. Merlin has the list."

"Shouldn't be a problem," drawled Vin.

Jacks leveled a glare at him. "Says the man who wants to make a new bounty hunting contact."

"It's a living."

"What happened to your old contact?" Xander asked.

"The business just got to be too much for him," Vin said with a touch of mock sadness in his voice. "Ya could say the poor bastard burned out."

Xander shot the Immortal a sharp look, but Vin's expression never changed. "Right."

"Our mission is threefold," Jacks said seriously as she tossed Vin his helmet. "Contact possible recruits for the Knighthood, find Vin a new bail bonds man to hunt for, and most importantly, contact my nieces."

Xander blinked, then glanced at Vin. "That's the order she puts things in?"

Vin smiled. "Yep. Better than it used to be."

"What did it used to be?"

"Sing, play poker and sleep all day," drawled the Texan.

"Someone is going to be sleeping alone tonight," Jacks observed.

"Story of my life," Xander said mournfully.

Vin winked at her.

Her eyes narrowed. "There's a reason I kept turning the seven of you boys into turtles, Tanner."

"Love ya, too."

Jacks handed the motorcycle's saddlebags to the young woman collecting the cover charge at the cage. "There's a room reserved for us, could you please have these take up?"

"Certainly, ma'am," the young woman said. "Name please?"

"We're the Tanners," Vin supplied. "And could ya have somebody let Dragan know we're here? He's expecting us."

"Yes, sir," she answered blinking in surprise.

The kitsune guards moved to tap them on the shoulders but were stopped with a glowing eyed glare from the petite white haired woman. She snapped out a few sharp words in Japanese that had them backing away quickly and bowing.

"I didn't know ya spoke Japanese," Vin said as they continued into the club.

Jacks shot him a grin over her shoulder before the door closed behind them. "I don't. And I didn't think we were married."

"Planning on seeing if ya wanna change that some time."

Jacks' laughter was heard through the door.

"Was that who I think it was?" one of the kitsune asked.

"Only if you think they're the sharpshooter who took out a shark, and the sorceress that kept finding the downed pilots," said the other kitsune.


"Wonder why they're here."

"I don't want to know."

Jacks stared down another demon as he started toward their table.

"Now, darlin', there's no call to be rude," Vin murmured.

She slanted him a look that would have melted steel. "I have no wish to be propositioned by someone who's spine I may have to rip out under other circumstances." There was a pause to let that sink in before she continued. "And I don't share."

"Good point," he conceded with a small smile. "If he'd been the sort of demon ya prob'ly won't have to fight?"

"Lorne hasn't asked, and I still don't share," Jacks teased.

Chyra landed on their table and shot Jacks a dirty look. "Would you stop scaring the regulars, Standish? It's bad for business!"

"Only if I intend to become a regular myself," Jacks retorted. "Which I assure you, Chyra, I don't. I prefer singing to swinging."

"Dragan busy?" Vin asked.

"No, he just doesn't want to get dragged into whatever trouble you two are heading for."

Jacks raised her eyebrows. "We are not heading for trouble."

Vin nodded. "We're on vacation."

"Then what's with all the hardware? You're packing enough fire power to start a war. Again," Chyra protested.

"Have you ever heard the phrase 'prepare for the worst and all surprises will be pleasant'?" Jacks asked with a smirk twisting her lips.

"That's the first thing I've heard you say that makes sense," Chyra retorted cheerfully.

Vin clamped his hand over Jacks mouth before she could say anything else. "Dragan said he had a bounty hunting team I could make contact with?"

"Oh, sure. I'll get their card."

As Chyra flew off toward the office upstairs, Vin turned to Jacks with raised eyebrows. "You ever gonna tell me how you and Dragan met?"

"Well ... if you want," Jacks said with a shrug. "You were out after a bounty ..."

January 1996

Jacks twitched in her sleep, the movement waking her. She frowned before opening her eyes. The air felt ... charged. Glutted with mystical energies, all being pulled into a single direction. A discordant screech cutting across the natural symphony.

The feeling came from the outskirts of Los Angeles, nearer than the bloody red haze of the Hellmouth.

Jacks rolled out of her sleeping bag and off the inflatable mattress Joyce had bought when it became apparent that Jacks was going to be a frequent and long term guest.

A whispered spell would keep everyone in the house asleep until morning, or just to be on the safe side, one of the alarms went off. Jacks had no intention of leaving the Summers family as sitting ducks ... Well, not the females at least.

With that done, insuring that unless something major occurred while she was gone her disappearance wouldn't be discovered, Jacks teleported just outside Dawn's bedroom window. Once there she flew into the air and turned toward the disturbance in the Force ... so to speak. Dawn had a lot to answer for after making her watch the Star Wars movies.

After a few minutes flight Jacks found herself hovering over an elaborate shield construct, scowling darkly at it. She hadn't tried probing it, yet. But the energies expended in creating it made the half-fey wary of the reasons such a thing might have been built. Studying it from a distance wasn't telling her anything, so she shifted her form as she dropped from the sky.

A small white and pale grey gargoyle landed in a crouch, her bat-like wings snapped close to her body as she stood. Jacks smirked slightly as she walked closer to the shields. Her current form would explain her being drawn to this place while hiding her true nature from anyone that might question her.

Vin held up his hand. "Hold on there, Snowbird, you telling me ya met Dragan as a gargoyle?"

A finely drawn white brow arched. "Why else wouldn't he recognize me during our little spat with the Go'Auld?"

"Good point."

"Shall I proceed?" she asked, annoyance creeping into her tone.

Vin grinned at her. "Please do."

Jacks pushed her wild mass of curls out of her face with a taloned hand, shoving the tangle behind a small set of horns. She glanced down at the dots of red light on her chest then back up with a snort. "You don't need those," she called out. Her lips quirked as she recalled a line common to any number of bad alien contact movies that Vin liked to watch. "I come in peace, take me to your leader."

A man with green hair stood up and scowled at her. "Don't you have anything better to do than watch bad B movies?"

"Yes, but my partner forgot to record my soap operas," Jacks retorted cheerfully. "On the other hand I can investigate this mystical energy surge and make certain it isn't a threat."

Eyes narrowed at her as more lazer sights painted red spots on Jacks. "You're not a Gargoyle."

"And you're not human," she snapped in return. "I am here for a simple reason and will take my leave with a simple, honest answer."

"And if you don't get that simple answer?" the green haired man asked.

Jacks' eyes flashed green light. "Then I'll get cranky. Answering is easier."

"We're the ones with the guns," he pointed out.

"Do I look worried to you?" Jacks demanded, spreading her arms and wings wide to make a better target.

The man studied her for a moment. "No, you don't. That could just mean you're insane."

"Bit of both actually," Jacks said with a grin that flashed fangs in the faint light.

"What's your questions?" he asked after a moment.

"Is whatever you're doing out here a threat to the world or the local area?" Jacks asked sweetly.

He blinked. "You don't expect someone who *is* a threat to actually tell you 'yes', do you?"

"Of course not," Jacks snorted. "But you haven't started shooting at me, yet, so I'll work under the chance that you're not a villian."

"I'm Dragan."

Jacks blinked rapidly then scowled. "You couldn't have said that fifteen minutes ago? I could be half way home by now."

"What does who I am have to do with anything?" Dragan demanded.

Taloned hands planted themselves on slender hips. "Everything! You're on the list of people to call when the world's about to go to Hell!"

Dragan glared at the creature in gargoyle form. "Who the hell are you?"

"A Knight of the First Order," Jacks said with a bow that launched her into the air as she began to shift her form again.

A white Great Horned Owl swept away into the night.

"That was you?" Chyra demanded as she landed on the chair across from Jacks. "Do you have any idea how many people we've had looking for a shape shifter? And it was just you using a glamor?"

Jacks arched her eyebrows. "It wasn't a glamor, Chyra."

"You're a shape shifter?"

Jacks rolled her eyes. "Among other things. All fey can shift shapes to some extent."

Chyra blinked rapidly at her. "You're fey?"

"Half," Vin corrected from behind his glass of whiskey.

"But ..."

Jack sighed and shook her hair away from her ears even as she released the glamor, flicking each pointed ear independently of the other. "Half-fey. My mother was a Witch."

Chyra glared at her. "That makes you ..."

"Don't say it," Jacks said softly. "Everyone says it. And it doesn't make a damned bit of difference."

Chyra's jaw snapped shut. "Does Harris know?"

"Of course he knows," Jacks huffed. "I wouldn't keep something like that from him."

Vin eyed the small dragon warily. "Anything else ya want to poke your snout into?"

Jacks put her hand over his and shook her head softly. "Don't. This is little more than gossip, and not worth becoming angry over."

Vin and Chyra watched as the half-fey warrior stood and walked over to the bar.

"What's she so upset about?"

"Shut up, Chyra."

Bobby SixKiller sighed into the phone. "Yeah, we're in LA again. Is there some place we can meet that *isn't* the Mixer?" .... "Caritas?" ... "Yeah, got it." .... "Why do you want to know how I feel about karioke?"

He glared in disgust at his cell phone when the only reply was the dial tone. "I can not believe this shit. Hey! Chey, we've got a meeting! Dig up what you can for me on a Vin Tanner."

His blonde stepsister leaned against the door to her joined room and rolled her eyes at him. "Come on, Bobby, I know you pay better attention to our competition than that. Up until about two years ago he got to more bounties than we did per month. And that was with Reno working with us."

"And now he wants to work *with* us? Something's weird about this," Bobby grumbled.

"Not really, Tanner's last contact was killed," Cheyenne said with a shrug. "Rumor is that he screwed Tanner over and he killed him, but no one can even prove he was in town the day it happened."

Bobby frowned. "Is he wanted for anything?"

"Not really. The cops aren't too interested in figuring out who really killed Carter," she supplied. "He was a scumbag that made the bounties look like nice guys. Not that they could positively identify the body after the fire."

"Hey there, Miss Magic. I heard you went and moved to the Hellmouth," Lorne said as he joined Jacks and Vin at their table near the back. "I tried to get over here as soon as I saw all those white curls of yours, but I had to finish up with that last singer."

The too wide to be human grin split the half-fey's features. "I did move to the Hellmouth, Lorne. That's where duty sent me. I hope you don't mind, but Vin and I set up a business meeting here. Neutral ground and all that."

"Honey, tell me that you're not introducing people to the Night Life in my club," the green skin demon pleaded.

"I'm not introducing people to the Night Life in your club," Jacks assured him. "They just didn't want to meet at the Mixer."

Lorne choked on his Sea Breeze. He grabbed a napkin and wiped his mouth. "Miss Magic, please don't say things like that to me. My poor heart can't take it."

"Lorne, you sit on your heart, I don't think my telling you that our contact doesn't want to meet at the Mixer will do much to it," Jacks drawled out with a smirk tugging at her lips.

Chapter Three
A Team Building Exercise ... Or not.

Jacks waited outside Caritas for the people matching the descriptions given to her by Chyra, at least once the dragon had managed to talk her out of her snit. Mostly by apologizing profusely. She startled a bit when she saw the one that could only be Bobby SixKiller. For a moment she had thought he was one of Coyote's forms but ...

Coyote usually took the appearance of a younger man than Bobby SixKiller. But there was enough of a resemblance to trigger a brief flood of memory.

Somewhere in what is now Arizona, May 1687, Apache Territory

Seven year old Jacqueline Warren played with the tattered hem of her skirt as she watched the dark haired, dark eyed, copper skinned little girls play with dolls fashioned from leather strips ... much like the one made from cloth scraps that she cradled against her chest. Behind her she could hear her father and her uncle speaking with the tribe's medicine man, his mortal magics tugged and rippled across her mystical senses. She didn't really understand what they were saying, she didn't know the language the mortals here used, but she knew her father was leaving ... and she wasn't.

A hand touched her shoulder, making Jacqueline look behind her. Uncle Coyote and the shaman stood there, and her father was gone without saying goodbye. She didn't even have the energy to cry. Not yet.

Coyote squeezed her shoulder lightly. "We'll go home soon, little one."

Dull, pale green eyes gazed blankly at him before Jacqueline answered. "I have no home."

"Avalon ..." Coyote started gently.

"Mother and Prudence are not there," she pointed out.

Coyote sighed and crouched beside the strange half-human girl Puck had talked him into taking care of. "I know this can't be easy for you, little one, but you and I need to get along. Do you think you could tell me your name?"

"Father didn't even tell you that much?" she asked pitifully.

Coyote started at that. "*Puck* is your father?"

"He didn't tell you." She shook her head slowly. "I am not surprised."

"The Puck's Child," Coyote sighed. "This is just wonderful."

"My name is Jacqueline Patience Warren," the child said. "My mother is Melinda Warren, and we live ... lived in Salem."

"Alright, Jacqueline ... We'll need to get you some new clothes," the trickster explained. "Have you learned to change shape yet?"

Jacqueline blurred and was replaced by a snow white fox, with brilliant green eyes.

Present, outside Caritas, LA

"Mister SixKiller?" Jacks called softly as she shook off the memory of a time long past.

Bobby blinked down at the slight, white haired woman he'd never met. "Uh. Yeah, that's me."

She nodded. "I'm Standish. Tanner is this way."

"The woman I spoke with on the phone didn't mention you," Bobby said slowly as he, Cheyenne and Reno followed her.

Standish snorted softly. "She and I were a bit miffed at each other when she made the call. Chyra doesn't like that I haven't blatantly informed everyone around me as to who and what I am."

"So what's your connection to Vin Tanner?" Reno asked as she lead them toward an empty lot.

She flashed a grin over her shoulder at him. "Many, but I prefer the silk ropes."

Cheyenne let out a laugh as Reno started to blush and Bobby choked.

"Hey ... I thought we were going to a club called Caritas?" Bobby managed as Standish stopped by the empty lot.

"The protections around Caritas are a bit more ... arcane than the ones around the Mixer," Standish explained. "Just follow me through."

With that she took a step and vanished before their eyes. Cheyenne shrugged and walked after her. Bobby and Reno looked at each other then quickly followed.

"What the f-"

"Please watch your language, Mr. SixKiller," Standish snapped.

Bobby glared at her. "Another demon bar? Are you and Tanner demons or something?"

"Not hardly," said a slightly raspy voice with a Texan accent. "Jacks here is 'or something', but she's no demon. I ain't one either."

"Not that there's anything wrong with being a demon," Jacks Standish said cheerfully. "Is there, Lorne?"

"Not always, Miss Magic," chuckled the green skinned demon in the jewel toned suit. He winced when the demon on stage hit a sour note, apparently with a sledge hammer. "You kids go have a seat, I'll deal with the musical wonder up there." He turned pleading red eyes on Jacks. "You're singing tonight, right? Please?"

Jacks nodded with a laugh. "I've already signed up to do three songs, Lorne. And you don't even have to give me a reading when I'm done."

"You are an angel when you're not being a little devil," Lorne chuckled as he headed for the bar to get a refresh on his Sea Breeze.

Tanner, the Texan, lead the way over to a reserved table. Jacks waved over a waiter as they sat down. She smiled brightly up at the nervous looking demon. "I'll have another Sex On The Beach, Vin wants another beer." She looked at the three bounty hunters joining them. "What would you three like? We're buying."

Cheyenne answered absently as she looked around, "Rum and coke."

"Beer," Bobby and Reno said together.

The waiter nodded before almost scrambling off with another wary look at the small white haired woman.

"What was that about?" Reno muttered.

Jacks grinned at him. "I make people nervous sometimes. Nothing important."

"She turned a guy into a turtle," Tanner explained while his partner smiled sweetly.

"Uh ... How?" Cheyenne managed to ask.

Jacks looked toward the ceiling. "Just a little magic."

"Okay," Bobby muttered. "Why?"

"He called me an elf," Jacks said flatly. "I'm not an elf. I'm half fey."

The set of her face warned anyone paying attention not to make any more comments.

"Right, and I'm the tooth-fairy," Bobby snorted.

Jacks narrowed her eyes. "No, he's taller than you are."

Once Cheyenne, Reno and Vin managed to stop Jacks and Bobby from verbally ripping into each other, they worked out the details of Tanner's partnership in their business. With Cheyenne handling things the newest branch of SixKiller Enterprises was ready to take on all comers, at least the ones in the bounty hunting business.

"I think it'll be easier all around if you two deal with me instead of with Bobby," Cheyenne decided, kicking her brother in the shin under the table when it looked like he might protest.

"Actually, you'll just be dealing with Vin," Jacks said cheerfully. "While I assist him whenever he likes, my first duty lay elsewhere."

"Too good to be a bounty hunter?" Bobby snarked.

Jacks batted her eyelashes at him. "Nothing of the kind. It is an admirable profession in fact. But I am under orders to protect someone, that requires that I remain in one location or at least easily accessible should I be needed.'

"Who are you protecting?" Reno asked, just loudly enough to be heard at the table.

"The Slayer's younger sister," answered Jacks as she stood up. She smirked as she walked away.

Vin ordered another round of drinks for the table as Jacks took the stage.

The bar fell silent when the music for her first song started and Jacks' voice rose high and sweet over the crowd. The wording for John Denver's 'Country Road' may have been a bit off for what she had been feeling all day, but the sentiment behind the music was dead on. The combination turned the song into a haunting ballad.

Lorne took Jacks' seat at the table. "She's in a mood tonight isn't she?"

"Chyra brought up her father last night," Vin explained, keeping his voice low. "Then asked if Xander knew 'bout it."

The brightly colored demon winced. "Ouch. Two sore points in a row? She didn't hurt Chyra, did she?"

The Immortal shook his head as their conversation continued to confuse the trio of bounty hunters he was now partnered with. "She ordered a drink strong enough t'knock her on her ass is all."

"Could Jacks hurt Chyra?" Cheyenne asked. "I mean ... Chyra's made from metal and ... well, she's a dragon."

"Ain't rightly sure," Vin admitted. "Jacks has a lot of power, only she's wary bout using it full on."

"'Wary' isn't the word I'd use," Lorne said with a snort. "She may use magic like it's going out of style, but she mostly limits it to little things. She's terrified of losing control of it."

Bobby waved slightly. "I'm lost."

"You know Jacks is part fey, right?" Lorne asked. He continued as they nodded. "What you probably don't know is that her mother wasn't a normal human. She was a Witch, one of the most powerful witches in thousands of years. Add that kind of power to the power of a Fey..."

"Right," Bobby snorted. "Look, I'll believe in Vampires, demons and even dragons and Immortals, but magic? Real magic? Not hardly. I don't care what she says her parents are."

"Were." Vin aimed a deadly glare at Bobby that had the larger man flinching back. "Jacks' ma was burned at the stake in Salem during the Witch Trials."

Lorne nodded as he too glared at Bobby in annoyance. "Jacks was there when it happened. She was just a little moppet back then."

"If elf-girl's mom was such a powerful witch why didn't she get away?" Bobby demanded.

Cheyenne swatted Bobby across the back of his head. "She was protecting Jacks," the blonde concluded.

"How did you figure that?" Lorne asked softly.

Two sets of sky blue eyes locked. "Because it's what I'd have done. They would have killed Jacks, too, right?"

Vin nodded. "They'd have tried." He turned his attention to the blonde woman's brother. "As for you not believing in magic, I don't much care, SixKiller, but if you piss Jacks off don't expect me to help you out."

Lorne grinned. "Turtle?"

"Turtle," Vin agreed with a grin of his own.

"She did warn Sims about annoying her," Lorne chuckled.

Reno raised his eyebrows. "Do I want to know what you two are talking about?"

"Just Miss Magic's favorite way of dealing with people who annoy her," Lorne chuckled.

On stage Jacks moved into her second song, Stand By Your Man.

Vin chuckled at when the words registered with him. Yeah, Jacks knew how to stand by her man alright. Which occasionally got her into trouble.


Jacqueline snarled silently as the bandit tightened his arm across her neck as he pressed the barrel of his gun against her temple. From the places they had taken cover each of the seven smirked. Their half-pint, half-fey had just reached her boiling point.

The bandit vanished in a flash of light, leaving behind his guns and his clothes .... a turtle slowly crawled out from behind the still seething Jacqueline. Even Buck managed to refrain from asking her how exactly she ended up being the hostage during the stage coach robbery.

"That is the absolute last time I agree to play bait for you," she huffed. "Mortal outlaws are well within your jurisdiction."

They all just grinned at her a bit sheepishly. They knew she'd do it again.

"You cheating piece a ..." the card player's voice cut off abruptly when he felt the edge of a blade pressed along the inside leg of his trousers. His eyes shifted to the side and his jaw dropped.

The saloon girl that had been singing a moment before was now glaring up at him coldly. The wicked looking knife in her hand flickered, and his gun belt dropped to the floor, along with the pistol he'd been reaching for as he stood up. Then she returned the edge to his groin. "My husband did not cheat. If you sit down to a game of poker with a professional gambler you can not help but expect to lose, especially if one is as mediocre a player as yourself."

"Jacqueline, really," Ezra sighed. "I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself."

Vin grinned from beside the gambler of the group. "Sides, we'd a had 'em for he cleared leather."

"True, Mr. Tanner, but my way he gets the chance to walk out of here alive," Jacqueline pointed out with a grin. "Unless of course he persists in his claim."

"Senora Standish, you will be the one cleaning up the mess if you gut him on my floor," Inez called from behind the bar. "I hate cleaning up after you when you play."

"Ezra, my love, remind me again why I can't turn your mother into something along the lines of a small yapping dog?" Jacqueline whispered as Josiah and Nathan lugged Maude Standish's luggage up to one of the rooms above the saloon.

Ezra sighed softly. "Because she'll try and blackmail you into using your abilities for *her* gain?"

"Not if I leave her as a canine," Jacqueline suggested.

Ezra sighed again. His mother's first visit since he married Jacqueline was going to seem longer than any other. And that was *if* his wife didn't turn his mother into something with four legs, and either fur or a shell.

The gambler shared a look with the tracker and the sheriff, both of them only grinned their amusement at his predicament. The two Standish women were an Irresistible Force about to collide with an Unmoveable Object.

"Really, my darling boy, you could do so much better than a simple chanteuse," Maude started as she rejoined them ... entirely ignoring said chanteuse.

Even Josiah had to bite back the urge to point out how much more than a simple saloon singer Jacqueline really was.


Vin smiled at the memories as he settled back with his beer to listen to Jacks sing. He had missed it, Jacqueline up on a stage, singing her heart and soul out. Now all that was missing was friends to share the moment and a beer or six with him.

Not that Lorne and the other three bounty hunters weren't good company. But it wasn't the same. They weren't his family. The group that had crewed the 597 with him and Jacks during the air and sea battle against the Go'auld, well, they had come close. Some of them closer than others, but still, Vin hadn't found anything like that instant and silent connection he'd had with Larabee.

For her last song Jacks had apparently decided to keep the mood low key, if not in the exact same tone with The Eagles' 'Desperado'. Her eyes glowed softly as they landed on Vin, and stayed there throughout the song.

"Damn, she's good," Reno muttered.

Lorne nodded. "Of course she is, she's a professional."

Bobby frowned." I've never heard of her."

"You've never heard of a lot of people," Cheyenne teased. She turned to Vin. "But Bobby's right, I've never heard of a professional singer called Jacks, either."

"Course not," Vin chuckled. "She hasn't done this professionally in a hundred years."

It was a fitting enough ending to their evening at Caritas. Vin and Jacks would be heading for San Francisco in the morning ... From the look in Jacks' eyes it would be *late* in the morning.

"So you two are out of here without so much as a goodbye?" Chyra demanded as she flew along behind the immortal and the half-fey.

Jacks looked over her shoulder. "Goodbye, Chyra."

"That's not what I meant!" the little dragon snarled.

"Then say what ya mean," Vin suggested as he handed Jacks her helmet and her fold com.

Chyra huffed, a bit of flame licking from the end of her snout. "You two are being intentionally difficult, aren't you?"

"Not really," Vin started to explain as Jacks double checked their gear and fixed her fold com along her jaw. "Jacks is just in a hurry to get to San Francisco."

"What could possibly be there that she has to see *now*?"

Vin glared at her. "That's not really your business."

"Hey! We've got business interests there! Are you going to blow anything up?"

Jacks snorted. "You've got business interests everywhere, Chyra, but no, we aren't planning on blowing anything up."

"So what's in San Francisco?" Chyra continued to push.

"Personal business. My family," Jacks said flatly. "And they are *none* of your concern, savvy?"

Chyra huffed out a breath. "If the fey are in San Francisco ..."

"My *mortal* family," Jacks corrected. "And I swear by all I hold holy, if I catch the slightest whiff of your people poking around them I will make you regret your existence for the rest of eternity."

Chyra gaped at her.

"Jacks, it ain't nice to threaten our allies," Vin reminded her quietly as he curved his arms around her waist.

She relaxed back into his chest. "I simply don't want my family dragged into this war against the darkness. At least not for as long as possible."

"What makes you think Dragan would drag them into it?" Chyra demanded.

"Because it's the nature of the beast," the half-fey sighed. "Not Dragan specifically ... All of us really. I'm not even certain that I'll approach them."

Chyra nodded slowly. "I guess I can see that. Don't worry, I'll keep Dragan off your back about this. I'll even keep quiet about who you really are."

"This *is* who I really am, Chyra," Jacks chuckled. "The Puck's Child is just an accident of birth that has very little to do with who I am now."

"But it has everything to do with who you can become."

Jacks shook her head. "It won't come to that." She abruptly ended the conversation with a valid point. "It's time for us to go. Give our regards to Cles and Dragan."

"Uh, sure," Chyra said as the pair settled onto Vin's Harley. "Look, are you sure you guys aren't going to get into trouble up there?"

"Probably will," Vin admitted as Jacks pulled her helmet on and handed him his. "But we'll handle it."

"We usually manage to," Jacks added although her voice was muffled by the helmet she didn't really need. The joys of blending in.

Chyra was left watching them ride off into the faint light of false dawn. "Shit, shit, shit, shit," she muttered.

They rode into San Francisco with the sun still on the morning side of noon, the light striking the waters of the bay at just the right angle to make it look like countless diamonds scattered across a field of blue silk.

".... San Francisco is much, much larger than I recall," Jacks said quietly.

"And Los Angeles wasn't?" Vin teased.

"I'd never been to Los Angeles before," she retorted cheerfully. "But San Francisco ... I remember when it was all gambling houses, brothels, hotels and laundries." Her head tilted to one side as she was briefly lost to memories of a thriving boomtown built on shipping and trade with the Orient. Which probably explained the initial abundance of demons and spirits from Japan and China. She had wondered at the time what sort of demon that man called Ishmael had been.

Kaina'tal -thought- he might be an alien rather than a demon, but he also felt connected to the Earth ... if still strangely displaced. As if he were of the place, but ... not. Ah well, he had been a hell of a chess player. Pity she couldn't break her cover long enough to challenge him to a game, but there had been something that was *certainly* a demon stalking the working girls in the area and that had been the priority at the time. The very fact that he was so displaced yet in exactly the right place had called to her as a kindred spirit. He might have become a friend ...

"Gold Eagle for your thoughts," Vin said, drawing her back to the present.

Jacks idly stroked her hands down his chest to his belt. "I doubt they're worth quite that much."

Vin grabbed one of her hands and brought it to his lips to place a kiss on the palm. "They are t'me, snowbird."

"Just thinking about the last time I was here," she explained. "Only a few months before I arrived in Four Corners."

"Good memory?"

Jacks shrugged behind his back, but he still felt it with her pressed so closely to his back. "Just an odd one. Let's find the hotel Merlin booked for us."

"The honeymoon suite?" Jacks chuckled. "Think Merlin's trying to tell us something, Vin?"

"Could be," Vin said with a soft laugh of his own. "This ain't what I had in mind when I asked him to make sure it was some place romantic."

The half-fey paused in the middle of a yawn and stretch combination to stare at her lover.

"Ya gonna get stuck that way, snowbird," he teased.

"You asked Merlin to get us a romantic room?" she asked slowly as her arms fell to her sides.

Vin blushed slightly. "Yeah ... I just thought that ..."

He found himself with his arms full of laughing fey. "Have I mentioned that I love you?"

"A time or two," Vin said slowly.

Jacks grinned at him from behind a few loose white curls. "Well, I do. Love you that is. Now take me over to that rather large bed and figure out how to keep me there for the next six hours or so."

"Only six?"

"You care to break your current record, Texas?" Jacks challenged.

Vin grinned ferally at her. "I might at that, snowbird."

Fortunately the couple didn't have neighbors.

Chapter Four
Thicker than Water

Vin settled in, watching over Jacks as she cast a more complicated version of the spell that had brought them to San Francisco. He'd jokingly called it the Family Finder v2.0. If it worked, the pocket watch sized crystal that was serving as the spell's focus would glow when a member of Jacks' family was near. If it didn't work ... then Vin would be spending the evening removing crystal fragments from Jacks with tweezers.

"Well, it hasn't exploded," Jacks muttered when she finished the spell.

"Maybe it's glowing because you're a member of your family?" the Immortal suggested. As often as he'd seen Jacks use magic and cast spells, well, he understood some of it but not much.

Jacks frowned and reached for her spell book. "That can't be right."

Someone knocked lightly on the suite's door. Vin glanced at Jacks already lost in her attempt to find out what went wrong. He chuckled as he stood up. "I'll get it."

Jacks nodded and swept her spell components back into their various packets with a wave of one hand while the other palmed the crystal. All without taking her eyes off the book.

"Miss Mathews? What can I do for ya?" Vin asked in surprise.

"Xander called and mentioned that you two were in town on vacation," Paige said with a wide smile. "I told him I'd like to play tour guide since we didn't really get a chance to really get to know each other the last time we met. And please, call me Paige."

Jacks blinked, then looked from the dark haired young woman to the glowing crystal in her hand, to the spell book she'd been studying, back to Paige. "Perhaps I didn't fail to perform the spell correctly after all."

"What spell?"Paige asked curiously.

"A variation of a tracing spell," Jacks explained. "This one makes a crystal glow when a member of my bloodline is near by."

"But it's glowing now," Paige pointed out.

A smile tilted Jacks lips. "Yes, it is."

"So ... you mean we're related?" Paige whispered.

"Through my older sister Prudence," Jacks said with a nod. "I'm a rather distantly related aunt."

"Think Xander knows?" Vin asked as he made sure the door was locked. "Might be why he called you, Paige."

"If he knows why didn't he say something when we met the first time?" Paige wondered as she dropped into an over stuffed chair.

Jacks shrugged. "Things were rather hectic just then, Paige." She grinned. "As I recall, Xander didn't have time to officially introduce us in the first place."

Realization dawned in two sets of eyes.

"You mean we're related?" Paige whispered.

Jacks nodded. "Through my older sister, Prudence. I'm a rather distant aunt." She sighed and scrubbed her free hand through her mane of white curls. "And here I wasn't sure I was going to contact any of you. To try and keep you out of the fight against the darkness ... and here you are, already involved before I even knew you."

Paige blinked, then blinked again. "Hey, wait a minute. You want to keep me out of the fight? But I'm a Witch! Being one of the good guys is my job!"

"Before you met Xander did you even know you were a Witch?" Jacks asked quietly. She frowned slightly. "How did you and Xander meet in the first place?"

"I was ah ... watching my family," Paige muttered. "They, don't know who I am." She dropped into one of the suite's overstuffed chairs. "Xander was watching them too. They were friends before the whole time travel thing."

"Just a thought," Vin said slowly. "But wouldn't that white lighter fella have known? Back when he healed Jacks up I mean."

"Leon wasn't it?" Jacks asked frowning again.

"Leo," Paige corrected. She sat up and glared at the ceiling. "LEO!"

The blonde white lighter orbed in at his charge's bellow, worried about who he would be revealed to -this- time. "What's wrong, Paige?"

"Did you know?" the 'spare' Charmed One demanded, pushing herself to her feet.

"Know what?" Leo asked in confusion as he looked from her to Jacks and Vin then back. At least everyone here already knew what he was.

"Did you know that Jacks and I are related?" Paige clarified.

"You're what?" Leo yelped. A manly yelp.

Jacks nodded. "I don't think we've been properly introduced, Leo. I am Jacqueline Patience Warren Standish."

"And why we're at it, why don't Jacks have a White Lighter?" Vin grumbled.

Leo frowned. "I'll have to check. I'll be back as soon as I can."

He orbed out wondering why he always got the weird shit when Paige was involved.

Jacks snorted softly. "I wonder if I should have told him I'm the Puck's Child? People tend to get rather over excited about that."

"The what?" Paige asked in confusion.

"Let's go see some sights," Vin suggested through his snickering. The explanation would take too long.

"Sounds like a plan to me," Paige sighed. "I can tell you a little about my sisters and their grandmother, and you can explain that Puck's Child thing. I thought Shakespeare made all of that up."

"Actually, he was drunk when he heard that story," Jacks said with a grin. "He got Father mixed up with Robin Goodfellow. Father had nothing to do with it, although he enjoys taking the credit and placing blame on Robin."

"Does this mean I'm part fey?" Paige asked as they left the hotel room.

"I'm afraid not," Jacks told her, shaking her head slightly. "Prudence's father was mortal."

"Oh well," Paige chuckled as she looped and arm though one of Jacks'. "At least now I have family that knows I'm family. So, how did you and Xander meet anyway?"

Jacks gave her that inhumanly wide grin. "Well you know how White Knights like to save damsels locked away in towers, right? In my case it was a cave, and I'd locked myself in."

Vin just shook his head and grinned.

Jacks took the time during their sight-seeing tour to explain to Paige what the title 'Puck's Child' meant. They were having a picnic lunch in Golden Gate Park while Paige turned over everything she had learned in her mind.

"Let me see if I've got this straight," Paige said slowly as she tossed a grape back and forth between her hands. "You, being the Puck's Child, are the living heir -of- Avalon, not -to- Avalon. But doesn't Puck have other kids?"

"Most likely," Jacks allowed. "But not with Melinda Warren in any other reality. I am unique. Trust me, I looked. Uncle Coyote and I searched every dimension Father spent time in, we found nothing."

Leo approached them looking irritated at Jacks. "And I thought the Powers didn't like Xander. Most of the Elders looked terrified when I mentioned your name, Jacks."

"Should I be worried about them trying to have me killed?" Jacks asked, sounding bored.

"No. Orders from Above are that they're supposed to keep their hands off," Leo explained. "Those have been the orders since you were born, Puck's Child."

Jacks waved off the title. "Call me Jacks. So that's why I don't have a whitelighter. Huh. I hadn't figured you for a rule breaker."

Vin grinned at Leo's thunderstruck expression. "When Jacks teleported the two of us to the 579, you healed her nose bleed."

"I thought she was a practitioner witch," Leo muttered. "A very powerful one. Or a Sorceress." He paused, frowning at Vin. "Besides, I couldn't just let her bleed like that."

Paige handed Leo a bottle of soda. "That's why I'm glad you're my Whitelighter."

Leo took the soda and rolled it between his hands while he gave Jacks a nervous look. "Uh, while I was up there I was told to give you a message, Jacks."

"What kind of message?"

"Metatron told me to have you ask Xander why you can't contact the Halliwell sisters."

Jacks' eyes narrowed. "And why exactly would he tell you to pass that message along to me?"

Leo swallowed reflexively. "I don't know. Really, I don't. He just said to have you ask Xander."

"Later," Vin said firmly. "Now we're having family time with Paige."

Paige, Leo and Vin watched in silence as Jacks contacted Xander. The half-fey Kine paced back and forth while Merlin put her call through to the Commander. Her steps were fluid, graceful, predatory, and basically telegraphed her annoyance to the world.

Leo glanced at Vin. "Should we be worried that her eyes are glowing?"

"No. Cause it ain't us she's ticked at," Vin pointed out as he relaxed on Paige's couch.

"Why is she angry with Xander?" Paige whispered. "I mean, he couldn't have known ... right?"

When Jacks spoke her words were sharp, knife edged with pain. "Did you know who I was, Harris?

"You weren't sure? How could you not tell me it was at least a possibility?

"Fine. You had a suspicion, but no facts. Lovely. Now tell me why Metatron informed Leo that I was to ask you why I cannot contact the Halliwell sisters? Not the Halliwells in general you understand, but the sisters *specifically*?"

Jacks was silent for a long time as Xander did his best to explain things. The Knight Commander was grateful for two important things just then, San Francisco to Sunnydale was -way- out of Jacks' teleportation range, and no matter how angry she became her first loyalty was to the Kine'Iende.

"They don't know their legacy? ....Their powers are bound? .... WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY'RE THE CHARMED ONES?!?!"

There was more silence on Jacks end of the conversation. She cringed slightly then she sagged back into the air as if it were solid. "Right. I can speak with their grandmother but not the girls. Yet. Just one more question, did you even for the briefest instant think to tell me your speculations that I was related to Paige?

"With respect, Xander, it has been nearly a -year- since the battle with the Go'auld," Jacks pointed out. She paused, listening to his response. "It slipped your mind? Yes, I'd certainly believe that," she sniped. "Standish out."

Jacks yanked the fold com away from her jaw, folded it neatly and threw it across the room.

"Fold com!" Paige commanded right before it impacted with the wall. There was a brief glow, and the fold com vanished from it's flight toward destruction to reappear in the witch's hand.

"Nice," Vin murmured approvingly. Then he shook his head slightly. "Jacks, snowbird, darlin', this ain't the time for a temper tantrum."

"He should have told me, Vin," Jacks said in a voice so soft her companions had to strain to hear it.

Vin nodded. "I know, snowbird." He stood up and wrapped his arms around her. He could feel the tremors running through her as she tried to suppress her volatile temper. �"But he forgot and I'm sure he's sorry. Ya know now ..."

"And I can't communicate my existence to three of my nieces because they are going to be the Charmed Ones," Jacks said in that same soft voice, even more muffled against Vin's shoulder. "They're going to be in the direct line of fire and I can't do a damned thing about it."

Leo raised his eyebrows at Paige. She whispered, "She wanted to keep us out of the fighting."

The whitelighter mouthed a silent 'oh'.

"But I can't do that," Jacks whispered. "I can't protect them from the darkness, not Paige or her sisters. Destiny sucks."

Vin hugged her and chuckled. "Yep."

Jacks pulled away, blinking slightly as she thought back over what she'd just said. She moaned and buried her face against his chest again. "I spend too much time with teenagers."

Paige turned to Jacks after giving Vin a good-bye hug. "So what are you going to do now?"

"I'm not sure," the older Warren Witch admitted. "They said I couldn't talk to 'the Halliwell sisters'. Not that I couldn't speak with their Grandmother. Vin and I have two days before we have to head back toward Sunnydale ... I'd like to spend more time with you as well as discuss things with Penny."

"So I'll see you tomorrow?" Paige pressed.

Jacks smiled softly and tucked a lock of dark hair behind her niece's ear. "Yes, you'll see me tomorrow. And you're always welcome to orb over to our house and visit. Think of it as your home on the Hellmouth."

Paige returned the smile. "That's good to know. I'll see you tomorrow."

"You shouldn't be watching them," a soft voice said behind Jacks.

"I'm not," Jacks said just as softly. "I'm waiting for them to leave so I can talk with their grandmother."

Metatron moved to stand beside her watching Halliwell Manor as the three sisters left for the day. "I don't think I'd let you if not for that pesky free will clause." He glanced at her. "This would be more interesting if you'd at least be surprised I'm here."

"Then you shouldn't have had Leo pass along that little message. Or did you want me to pretend?" She didn't bother to look at him.

"That's the problem with you Fey, you're just so blase about standing in the presence of a higher being," Metatron complained.

Jacks shot him a side long glare. "Was there something you wanted or are you just here to be annoying?"

"I was just making sure that you weren't going to interfere with the Charmed Ones," he said firmly.

"I'm not. Not yet anyway," Jacks growled. "But once the bindings are off their powers all bets are off. They are my family."

Metatron scowled. "And if the All Mighty commands you other wise?"

Jacks was silent for a long moment before she answered. "Then we have a problem. Because as much as I love Her, I love my family more."

"And does this love of your family only apply to those descended from your human sister?"

"There's no need to be snarky about it, Voice, but no. It doesn't. I may hate some of the Fey with an unrivaled passion, but they -are- my family," she said quietly.

Metatron sighed softly. "Very well. But do be careful, Penny is quite powerful in her own right."

Jacks nodded slightly, then crossed the street. The manor door opened easily under her touch as the wards around the house welcomed her for what she was, a long lost member of the family. She stepped inside and carefully shut the door behind her even as the layout of the house filled her mind. The house was helpful that way.

"Prue? Did you for get something?" Penny called from the kitchen.

"It isn't Prue, Penelope," Jacks called back. She continued as she walked into the kitchen. "It's Patience."

The wave of raw power thrown at her didn't even phase the half-fey. Jacks tilted her head with a frown.

"That is no way to greet your Great-aunt," she scolded. "No matter how far removed."

"Patience Warren has been dead for more than three hundred years," Penny snapped.

"To start with, young lady, my given name is Jacqueline," Jacks said firmly. "Mother called me Patience to appease those who are not as we are. Next, I am Eternal. I was Eternal then, and I shall still be Eternal three thousand years from now. Finally, what in Her Name were you thinking when you bound the children's powers?"

Convincing Penny who Jacks really was, was fairly simple. Explaining exactly why Penny had bound her grand-daughter's powers wasn't.

"Shit," Jacks said succinctly as she set aside her tea. "Alright. I can see your point. But the girls powers will eventually be released."

"Not unless I die or undo the bindings," Penny argued.

Jacks shook her head. "You're not a young woman, niece. And the girls will have to be told who they are if not what."

"I take it you have a suggestion, *aunt*?" the older seeming woman grumbled.

Jacks nodded. "I am the Eldest of our line, if something happens to you before you remove their bindings have me at the top of the contact list. I won't replace the bindings, but I will make sure they know who they ... who *we* are."

"Do you really think they can be trusted with that kind of power? They're too old to learn," Penny argued.

"Do you really have that little faith in your girls?" Jacks asked softly. "Such little faith in our line? Think, Penny, how many Warren Witches have gone bad over the centuries?"

Penny snorted. "How many Warren Witches have had this kind of power?"

"Hello? Sitting right here," the half fey returned sharply. "I have more power than any other of our line, with the exception of the Charmed Ones. Possibly. I'd have to break the bindings Lord Oberon put on me to find out for certain."

"Is that why you're so angry with me binding the girls' powers? Because your's were bound?" Penny asked quietly.

Jacks sighed softly. "Not exactly. I haven't been completely cut off from my magic, unlike the girls that would have killed me and ... Oberon didn't dare do that once I'd been taken to Avalon." She locked eyes with her sister's oldest living descendant. "You have to understand what it feels like to have your powers locked up, even if only enough to limit them. It feels as if part of your soul has been cut out and the wound doesn't heal. It must be so much worse for the girls, they don't even know why they're hurting."

"What I did was for the best," Penny insisted.

"Perhaps," Jacks allowed. "In any case it's too late to argue about it now. Once their bindings are dissolved, they'll need guidance."

"Their Whitelighter ..."

"Is a very nice young man who'll take excellent care of them, but they will still need a family elder to explain things to them," Jacks cut her off.

Penny snorted. "And you'd be the only option once I'm gone."

"Something I hope doesn't happen for many years, Penny." Jacks picked her tea cup up again and swirled the now cold remains around in the bottom. "And I won't be the -only- option, just the older one."

"What are you talking about?" Penny asked slowly.

"I'm talking about ... " Jacks voice drifted off. Her head tilted at Penny's confounded expression. "You didn't know? Of course you didn't know, other wise she'd be here too instead of on her own. And her powers would be bound. Which means the Commander would be dead now. Never mind."

"There's another Halliwell out there?" Penny whispered.

"Yes, a strong one, a good one," Jacks assured her niece. "Nothing you need to worry about." Jacks stood up and waved the tea cups carefully onto the counter by the sink. "I should get going. I promised friends I'd meet them this evening."

Penny grabbed her arm as she started out of the kitchen. "It's Paige Mathews, isn't it?"

"You can't bind her powers, she knows she has them, she knows how to use them," Jacks said tiredly. "And if you try I'll simply unbind them. She's a good girl, Penny. Without any interference from us."

"What gives you the right to dictate what goes on in this family?" Penny demanded.

"I'm not dictating anything, niece," Jacks returned coldly as she plucked Penny's hand from her elbow. "That's not my job, nor is it yours."

Before Penny could say another word, be it apology or accusation, Jacks was gone in a flicker of green and silver light.

"I can see that went well," Metatron grumbled.

"Shut up," Jacks sighed as she walked away from the Manor House.

Metatron smirked. "It's true then. No one can push your buttons like family can."

"I know this is difficult for you, since you are the Voice of God," Jacks started sweetly. "But what part of Shut Up do you find difficult to understand? Don't you have other people to bother right now?"

She glanced to her side when the angel didn't answer. He was gone. Didn't that just figure?


Chapter Five

Vin sipped his beer while he watched his companions dance. No one watching them would even think that the two women were related. People would look at something obvious, hair color, skin tone, eye color, basic facial features. And height. Height was one of the major differences between the two. Not counting all those curls, Jacks topped out at only two inches over five feet tall... barely. Paige practically towered over her, even though she wasn't very tall herself.

But their basic builds, their grace, and the energy they danced with ... that was the same. They were darkness and light, two sides of the same coin.

Vin smiled slightly at his mental use of the cliches, of course if anyone heard him they'd have gotten who was who wrong. Paige was the light one, even if she did have the darker coloring. There was an aura of warmth and compassion surrounding the youngest of the Warren Witches that Jacks lacked. He hadn't believed her at first, but Jacks was right. She was part of the darkness they fought. Not evil ... just dark, and it clung to her like a second skin.

Paige Mathews was the sun, while Jacks was the moon. One warmth and light, the other cool and swathed in shadows. Vin chuckled, maybe he should start writing poetry again. He'd even taught poetry at a university in the early sixties. He'd been almost sad about giving up that job.

Not that he thought Jacks was in the least bit cold ... One thing he'd learned was that some times even faerie fire could burn for real. That woman could flip from ice water to an inferno and back again in seconds. A grin tugged at his lips. Of course that was half her appeal.

And god-damn if he didn't love to watch her move. He almost couldn't wait until Dawn and Mikki were old enough to go to the Bronze, just so he could watch Jacks dance more often.

Vin suppressed a grin at the thought of trying to get Jacks to sing and dance at the same time like in one of those music videos.

The grin fell away entirely as Vin caught sight of what else was going on as Jacks and Paige danced.

... Ah, hell, that idiot might be about to get himself killed. Or at least turned into a turtle.

Everything had been going well as far as Jacks was concerned. She and her niece were indulging in one of her four favorite ways of relieving stress. Dancing was right up there with killing things, flying and having sex, and it was more socially acceptable. At least in public.

Quite naturally it seemed, things went to shit.

Jacks froze mid-shimmy and glared down at the hands locked tightly on her hips. Hands that most certainly did not belong to her partner. Nor did the body rubbing crudely against her back.

Fortunately high-heeled boots had many uses.

The man yelled wordlessly as her spiked heel raked down his shin before slamming down on his instep. He loosened his grip on her hips and she twisted away, grabbing one of his hands and wrenching it around painfully.

He dropped to his knees, staring up at the tiny woman with the stark white curls and neon green eyes.

"You don't get to touch," she said coldly, her voice carrying in the sudden silence between one song and the next.

"Stupid bitch," the man hissed out.

Paige scowled as she looked around to see the man's friends coming over to help him. "Uh, Jacks ... I think we might have a problem."

"Damn right you've got a problem," snapped one of the men storming toward them.

The bouncers were heading over, but Vin would reach them first. Not in time, of course, but still well before the bouncers. The DJ was too shocked to restart the music.

"You have got to be joking," Jacks snarled. She yanked the man forward by his twisted arm, slamming her knee into the shoulder joint, then ducked down, whirling behind the now screaming man as one of his friends made a grab for her.

Paige stepped around for a short jab to the second man's kidney before she whirled away from two more men.

Vin reached the brawling girls in time to grab the last two men by a wrist each and pull back, and up, forcing the men to drop to their knees or have their shoulders ripped out of their sockets. At the same time Jacks struck the second man with a knee to the gut followed by a backhanded punch that was just hard enough to knock him cold.

Paige was warily watching the half dozen bouncers when Vin spoke up from behind her. "Damn it, Snowbird, can't you do anything by halves?"

"Please, I'm already half sized," Jacks retorted as she stepped up beside Paige. "What do you think, Firefly? Think I should do things by halves?"

"Do you even know how?" Paige asked with a snort.

Jacks grinned. "I can do subtle, does that count?"

"No," Vin said definitively without releasing the two tough guys he had in wrist locks.

"You three are going to have to leave," the smallest of the six bouncers said, sounding like he'd lost the coin toss on who had to speak to them.

Vin nodded. "What about these idiots?"

"They're going to have to leave, too," the small bouncer said. He frowned. "Apparently in ambulances."

"Then they should learn to keep their hands to themselves," Jacks said coldly.

A few minutes later the trio was standing outside the dance club. Paige was looking annoyed, Vin was looking halfway between irritated and bemused, while Jacks seemed to radiate amusement as she stretched her arms over her head until her back popped.

"Who wants pancakes?" the half-fey asked cheerfully as the paramedics carried out the men she'd hit, although Paige was the one responsible for bruising number two's kidney.

"Pancakes? She wants pancakes now?" Paige muttered under her breath.

"A good fight always did make her hungry," Vin chuckled. "What was it you asked Inez for after that first brawl in the Saloon?"

Jacks licked her lips. "Some of that venison stew she made. With the jalapeno peppers."

"And now she wants pancakes," Paige said shaking her head, but a smile was tugging at the corners of her mouth.

"Physical fighting always takes more out of me than a quick spell," Jacks explained with a shrug. "Especially when I can't use Kaina'tal or it's unsafe to draw on her resources. Say in like public, surrounded by those who don't know what lays in the darkness? Anyway, now I'm hungry."

Paige grinned. "Yeah, yeah. You're just out of shape."

"You wound me, really you do," Jacks teased in return.

Vin only chuckled as he followed him toward Paige's car. They bickered like sisters. It was kind of fun to watch. Reminded him of how Jacks got on with Dawn and Mikki actually.

"So how long have you known Jacks?" Paige asked shortly after the half-fey left to use the rest room.

"Bit over a hundred years," Vin said with a smile as he looked around in amusement. "Give or take a decade."

It figured with all the demon bars on that list Merlin had past them there would be something like this. A non-human diner. Not demon, at least not mainly, but there were nymphs, sprites, pixies, a smallish ogre, and a coven of witches seemed to have taken over a large corner table by the door. There was a Kre'stah demon sitting at the counter, but they were a non-violent species that lived off of cocoa and could pass for human if they wore sunglasses. And that was definitely a Succubus with her dinner in a shadowy back corner table.

Paige blinked. "You're an Immortal aren't you?"

"Yep," the Immortal bounty hunter admitted easily. "I'm about a hundred and fifty. I think."

"You're not sure?"

Vin shrugged. "Ain't sure when I was born, firefly. Guess I was somewhere round thirteen when the War started." He paused, recalling that there had been several wars between then and now. "The Civil War I mean."

"So you didn't know her sister or her mother?"

"Nope," he said. "Met her father though."

Paige leaned her elbows on the table and propped her chin up on the heels of her hands. "So what was he like? Meeting Puck must have been amazing."

"Not so much," Vin sighed. He ran his fingers in random patterns through the condensation on his water glass. "See, he and Jacks don't get along real well, and he didn't like the seven of us fellas."

"Why not? I think you're great," Paige said with a wide grin, "Uncle Vin."

He chuckled and let his gaze drift back into his memory. "Well, let's start with me since you think I'm so great. I was a scruffy, ignorant, illiterate wild man, with a five hundred dollar bounty on my head. Didn't matter that I didn't do it. Then there was JD, wet behind the ears kid who thought that Jacks' magic was just plain neat and didn't take a whole lot seriously outside a being one of the Seven and the sheriff. Josiah was an ex-preacher, I think how Jacks' ma died had a lot to do with why Puck never cottoned to him. Buck punched him in the face first time Puck showed up ... Buck couldn't stand a man who'd sit by and let a woman come to harm. Ain't exactly sure why he didn't get on with Nathan and Chris, except that neither of them would stand for the way he talked to Jacks, like she was some kid without a lick of sense."

"What about Ezra?" Paige asked when Vin paused thoughtfully.

"Hell, there are three good reason that Puck hated Ezra. First of ol' Ez could talk circles around him. Second, Ez beat him at cards, without even Puck being able to prove he'd cheated."

Paige nodded. "So what's the third reason?"

"He'd had the absolute gall to marry me without asking politely, not that Father would have given permission," Jacks said softly from where she'd walked up unnoticed. "And you may have been illiterate, Vin Tanner, but you composed some of the most beautiful poetry I'd ever heard. So you were far from ignorant."

Paige blinked. "You write poetry, Vin?"

Jacks smiled. "And he can still blush."

They lay together, comfortably entwined in an intimate pose. Jacks relished the weight of Vin's body holding hers to the bed, his head resting on her chest as he listened to her slowing heart rate. She slowly raked one hand through his sandy brown curls. His fingers wandered along the curve of her thigh where one of her legs was wrapped over one of his.

All in all it was a peaceful, lazy morning after.

Jacks sighed, loathe to break the warm stillness that cocooned them. "We should get up soon. Paige is expecting us for breakfast before we head back to Sunnydale."

"Marry me?"

"What brought this on?" she asked softly.

Vin smiled against her skin. "Love ya. Don't want another fella asking ya before I get around to it again."

"Oh, is that all?" Jacks chuckled softly. "In that case, yes."

Sometimes it helped to be a man of few words, Vin observed as he leaned up to exchange a soft kiss with his fiancee.

"I wish you two didn't have to go so soon," Paige said as she polished off her cappuccino.

Vin grabbed Jacks' hand and kissed off the last smear of cream cheese from her bagel. "Yeah, but we're only a couple of hours away driving, and even less if ya orb."

"I'd enjoy staying longer, Paige," Jacks said as she retrieved her fingers from Vin and wiped them on a napkin. "But school is starting again soon, and it will be suspicious if my child form isn't in class with Dawn and Mikki."

Paige grinned. "I still can't believe your cover is a little kid."

"One of the benefits of being able to change my shape," chuckled Jacks, pulling out her wallet and placing enough to cover the check and tip on the table with the bill.

"It was nice getting t'know ya without the fate of the world hangin' in the balance," Vin teased as he stood and offered Jacks a hand up.

Jacks rolled her eyes and let him pull her to her feet. "If you lick me again in public I will turn you into a turtle." She leaned over and kissed Paige's cheek. "We'll visit again soon, my dear girl. And maybe next time I'll leave the Texan at home."

"You'll have to learn to drive first," Vin muttered.

Jacks rolled her eyes and followed him off the patio of the outdoor café. "Why drive when you can fly? Oh, wait, you -can't- fly."

Paige chuckled as they continued to mock-argue while they settled onto Vin's motorcycle. She waved to them one last time as Vin revved the engine. Jacks waved back, and Paige had the impression that her aunt was grinning at her behind the face shield.

"We don't let the elf-witch and her minion back into Sunnydale," the oldest Vampire said firmly. He was only two months risen, but that was longer than most fledglings lasted in Sunnydale lately. "They've been killing too many of us, so tonight they die."

"Here they come," shouted another fledgling from where she had been ordered to keep watch.

"Hey, Bart, when we kill 'em, who gets the bike?" laughed another of the fifteen fledglings.

Bart, the leader, smiled slowly. "I do, idiot."

Vin's voice filtered through the fold com pressed along Jacks' jaw line. "We got ourselves a welcoming committee, Snowbird."

"My, how quaint, Texan," Jacks replied as her eyes shifted out of normal vision. "Vampires. Every damn blasted one of them." He could practically feel the grin that had to be on her face as she spoke again. "Let's show them how happy we are to be home."

"Sounds like my kind of party," Vin chuckled. "Think we can pull off that trick you and Chris did with Pony?"

Jacks grin only widened. Vin knew her so well. "Vin, we did that on horse back as speeds no where near as fast as we're going now."

"Is that a no?"

"Open her up, Mr. Tanner," Jacks laughed as she started to shift her weight. "And don't lay us out, I like these pants."

Come to think of it, Vin liked those pants of hers, too. He opened the throttle all the way, pushing the Harley to limits the manufacturer never really intended, as Jacks lifted herself into a slightly crouched position behind him.

As Vin blasted through the crowd of vampires, crushing one under the heavy bike's tires, Jacks took to the air, flipping end over end while she drew Kaina'tal from her sheath.

The polearm extended while Jacks was still in vertical rotation. For others gravity was an iron clad law, for some it was a very strong suggestion. For Jacks it was simply a politely worded request from the Natural Order.

She wasn't taking requests at the moment.

Kaina'tal went into rotation over Jacks' head, while Jacks herself was still spinning.

Vampires dusted in a full circle around them as Jacks' boots hit the pavement.

Fifteen was down to nine, counting the one Vin had rundown with the bike.

Jacks feral inhumanly wide smile was masked by the reflective face shield of her helmet, but menace radiated from her as clearly as the silver glow from the double bladed weapon in her hands.

The nine still standing stared as the half-fey warrior-witch drew an arching line in the dust at her feet before making a 'come get some' gesture.

Vin brought his motorcycle around and stopped, drawing his sword as he dismounted. "Planing on saving me any?" He asked lightly as he threw his helmet to the roadside.

Jacks tossed off her helmet and grinned. "Hey, I let you have one it isn't my fault he didn't have the common courtesy to dust. You want the rest?"

"Nah, we can share."

First rule of vampire and demon hunting is "Don't Die". Somewhere between the first rule and the last one is "Fledglings Are Stupid", minions more so than childer. Six of the minions charged Jacks while four went after Vin. The group of four thought they were better off, the man's weapon only had one blade while the female was whirling death.

They were wrong. Vin's .38 came out of the shoulder holster and barked twice before the four vampires got with in arms reach, the other two skid to a halt.

After all, who the hell used weapons from two different centuries at once?

Their confusion gave Vin enough time to decapitate one and slam his sword through the heart of the other.

"It's a sword," the Vampire said in confusion.

Vin ignored him as he exploded into dust. The Immortal brought his pistol back up and shot one of the two vampires still fighting Jacks just as she slammed Kaina'tal's dagger form into the other's heart.

That left the one that Vin had run over as the last one undead. They both turned their attention to him as he tried to crawl away from them.

"Gee, I don't think one of the guests is having fun at this party," Jacks said in a disturbingly chipper voice.

"Yeah, we should mention it to the host," Vin agreed as he walked slowly toward the last vampire.

Jacks grinned, a green light slowly rising in her eyes as she matched her steps with her fiancee's. "First we should discover who decided to throw us a welcome home party, then we can mention it."

Magic reached out and pinned the vampire in place.

Jacks didn't have any think like the ability to freeze, but she had learned that if she could put an object into motion then she could cause an object to stop its motion. That made it so much easier to keep people from running away when she wanted to question them.

Xander frowned as Jacks and Vin reported on their battle as they re-entered town. "Okay, I get that the two of you can take down fifteen vampires on your own. You're a hell of a team. But what I don't get is why fifteen vampires would attack two people on a motorcycle."

"Orders," Vin said with a shrug.

Jacks nodded. "They knew who we were. Not our names, but who we are." Her eyes darted over to Vin as she smirked. "More or less."

Vin swatted lazily at her. "I ain't yer minion, Snowbird."

"In any case, when we questioned the survivor all he would tell us was that his master demanded the deaths of the 'elf-witch' and her human 'minion'," Jacks explained. She tossed a small green crystal onto Xander's desk. "The survivor was the leader of that little farce, and he had that on him. It appears that it only turns green when one of fey blood is with in a certain range. I can only speculate that who ever gave it to him is under the mistaken impression that fey is another word for elf, or faerie."

"You're sure that's why it turns green?" Xander asked as he poked at the crystal with a pen.

"Yep," Vin agreed. "Tested it. Jacks flew off a ways and it turned clear."

Xander nodded as he continued to study the crystal. "So we have someone in Sunnydale that wants to kill elves, and can order Vampires around. We didn't run into this problem before the Hitch."

"Well, before the Hitch I wasn't in Sunnydale," Jacks pointed out.

"Yeah," Xander said slowly. "I think we have a problem."

"Especially if this individual is after me for what I think he or she is after me for."

Xander looked at Vin and asked, "Did you follow that?"

"She's talking about the spells that require elf-bits and pieces," the Immortal translated. "Some serious black magic."

Jacks started counting off on her fingers. "Most spells for the return of youth, one that extends the life span when certain parts of other magical beings are used, one that grants unlimited immunity from magic without losing the ability to cast spells yourself, the creation of several dark magic items, numerous poisons for otherwise immortal creatures, a spell to raise one from the mostly dead ..."

"I get the point, and I don't even want to know what you mean by mostly dead," Xander interrupted. "What happens if these 'bits and pieces' are fey and not elven?"

"The spells actually work the way they're supposed to," Jacks said flatly. "And all of them require the 'donor' to be dead."

"We definitely have a problem," Xander concluded. "You being dead isn't anywhere in my plans."

"Nor are they in mine," Jacks told him with a tight smile. "Being dead would absolutely ruin the wedding."

Vin grinned easily and caught Jacks' hand to bring it to his lips.

Xander blinked. "Wedding?"

"Well, we're holding off on the actual date for a few years," Jacks explained as she leaned against Vin.

Vin nodded. "Five at the earliest, seven or eight maybe. We don't want to blow Jacks' cover while she still needs it."

Xander's head thunked onto his desk. They were making five year plans .... with the possibility of a two or three year delay.

It was strange, but he'd never really worked long term with anyone who had protracted plans that they actually expected to be able to follow up on with such certainty.

Xander hit his head on the desk again.

"I think we broke him," Vin snickered.

Jacks snorted. "He's a demon hunter, he was cracked when he started."

"Like you aren't?" Xander offered without lifting his head from the desk top.

"I'm Puck's Child, I was born cracked."

Xander lifted his head from his desk as Vin and Jacks left. He sighed softly. An Immortal and a half-fey ... Well, at least some one had a solid shot at that Happily Ever After thing.

Paige orbed in and looked around. "Damn, missed them. Hey, Xander. Where'd Aunt Jacks and Uncle Vin go?"

His head dropped to the desktop again as he pointed out the door.

"Thanks, Xander," Paige called as she went after them. "Hey, Aunt Jacks, about those bride's maids you're thinking about, who's Natalie?"

Xander banged his head on the desk repeatedly, maybe he'd get lucky and knock himself out. Elanthielle just laughed in his mind.

Faith caught the question as she walked out of the kitchen. "Natalie is Xander's girltoy. Now what's this about bride's maids?"

"Vin and I are engaged, Faith," Jacks said with a small smile. "I was thinking that Natalie might like to be part of the wedding party if she's still associating with our group in five or so years."

"Five years?" Faith asked with a grin. "Damn, girl, you go for the long term don't you?"

"Why shouldn't I? I'm planing on spending several million years with Vin, our wedding will require careful planning," Jacks explained. "Especially all the particulars concerning getting a few members of my fey family here."

"So tell me about Natalie," Paige urged as she dragged Jacks and Faith into the living room.

Jacks mouthed, 'help!' at Vin, but he only chuckled and shook his head. No way was he saving her from the feared girl talk.

Faith laughed. "She's an Angel."

"You mean like Leo?" Paige asked with a frown.

Jacks rolled her eyes. "No, she's very much a living mortal. She's the blonde you healed, the one who was shot in the throat?"

Paige nodded. "Yeah, I remember her now. You like her enough to want her to be a bride's maid?"

"With Vin planning on asking Giles, Xander, Andy, Wesley, Major McQueen, and General Grey to be groom's men," Jacks said with a shrug, "I'll need the bodies. And she's a nice young woman."

"Good thing the wedding ain't happening any time soon," Faith laughed. "It'll take most of that time to explain who you really are."

"Huh?" Paige asked eloquently.

Jacks shook her head. "When Natalie and I meant, I was posing as a ... Faith-alike."

Paige tried to picture that, then burst out laughing.

The End


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