Author: Tim Knight

Title: Best Served Cold (or, How A Half-Elf Gets Christmas Presents)

Copyright: October 2001

Rating: G (Action, Humor, Soupy Sales-Type Pranks)

Spoilers:

Buffy:
Season 2 until Phases.

Highlander:
Season 5 until Season finale.
Richie Ryan lives and Season 6 does not take place.

Keywords: Buffy/ Highlander/ Gargoyles.

Summary: Have you ever wondered what a half-elven ranger from another dimension does for the holidays? She gets even with someone for her "big brother."

Legalese: All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties and copyrights are the property of their respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.

The characters Shaw Hunter, Ulric Johansen, and Brenna are mine. Anyone wishing to use them may contact me at doobytim@aol.com.

The character Steve St. Wolf is property of Steve Pantovich, as is the universe in which this story takes place. Steve can be contacted at steve711@concentric.net.

The character Robin Goodfellow is property of Mike Weyer. Mike can be contacted at SWERJ321@msn.com.

Author's Notes: This story takes place late December 1998, after Be Careful What You Wish For, and a day before the beginning of How The Big Bad Stole Christmas.

Dedications: First, to Steve, who lets us have our fun in his universe and gets to see winter hijinks.

Second, to Rebekah of the Red Ink, who switches to green pens in the spirit of the holidays.

Third, to Mike, for bringing in everyone’s favorite fairy.

Here are the changes from your normal shows that may play a part in this story:

Buffy:
1. Due to her drowning at the hands of the Master in Prophecy Girl, Buffy is Immortal.
2. Passion and Becoming never took place, so Jenny and Kendra are alive and well. Jenny is engaged to and living with Giles at this point. Kendra is attending UC Sunnydale and living in the Summers home.


Best Served Cold
(or, How A Half-Elf Gets Christmas Presents)

Part 1: We Wish You A Merry Christmas
(Why Can’t Those Of The Pointy-Eared Persuasion Just Get Their Stuff At The Mall Like Everyone Else?
Simple. It Means No Returns Or Exchanges)

St. Wolf Residence
Sunnydale, California
25 December 1998

"Hey, Spockette!"

Groaning at the unwanted nickname, Shaw turned around to see Robin coming up to her, Amy at his arm. As was the norm for him, the fairy had a smile on his face, which reached nearly from one ear to the other. He walked up to the Slayerette and said, "You didn’t get my present yet, Hunter."

"I am sorry, Robin," she sighed before breaking into a momentary chuckle. "I wanted to be sure that I gave everyone their presents first."

"Well, you could’ve warned us about the scream Cordy was going to let out," Amy said in mock admonishment. "Goddess, the look on her face when she opened up those earrings. ."

"How do you think my hearing felt?" Shaw said with a smile. She headed over to the refreshment table and started helping herself to some eggnog. As she replaced the container, she glanced at Amy and uncertainly said, "I know I do not have a ‘traditional’ present for you, Amy, but. ."

She glanced at the silver-and-onyx pin Amy had pinned to her sweater. Amy smiled at her and said, "Don’t worry about it. It meant a lot to me, cuz. Believe me, I know what it meant to you. I’ll take damn good care of it."

Shaw nodded. She was about to comment when Joyce Summers walked over and smiled at the three members of the Gang. "Hi, kids. Are you enjoying the party?"

"Sure are, kiddo," Robin said with a smile. He chuckled when Joyce stiffened him calling her"kiddo." "Sorry, force of habit."

Amy smacked him on the arm. "We’re having a great time, Joyce. How about you?"

"I’m having fun," Mrs. Summers said with a grin. She glanced at Shaw and said, "Shaw, if you don’t mind a question, how much did you pay for Steve and Buffy’s gift? Ivory is expensive, especially antique ivory."

Shaw smiled as the foursome looked over at the coffee table. Sitting there lay the antique ivory set that Shaw had bought the leaders of Section Seven for Christmas, consisting of two matched katanas, the scabbards, and a sword stand, all carved from ivory nearly three centuries ago. The ranger looked at Buffy’s Mom and shrugged.

"I did not pay as much as you might expect, Joyce Summers," Shaw said easily, ignoring the look of faint exasperation in Joyce’s face. A devilish smile crossed her face as she whispered, sotto voce, "Trust me, Connor was screaming loud and long about the ‘family’ discount I wheedled out of him. He seems to forget that I do have ‘some’ experience in bartering."

Amy giggled while Joyce nodded knowingly. Joyce said, "Well, I think it was sweet of you. Especially your ‘suggestion’ that it symbolized their ‘equal partnership.’"

"Well, I did not want a wakizashi to ‘suggest’ that one was less than the other," the half-elf grinned. "After all, there is enough discrepancy in their heights."

Robin laughed out loud; she had a point. Buffy stood a little less than five and a half feet tall, while Steve St. Wolf topped the measuring tape about two to three inches above the six-foot mark. "Yep. Any more inches between them and Buffy’d need a stepladder to. . OW!"

Amy glared at him. "Don’t talk like thatin front of Buffy’s Mom!"

Robin looked to Joyce, whose eyes had taken on a hard look. <Okay Goodfellow. You’re about three seconds away from facing the Wooden Spoon of Mommydom without any magic to bail you out. Think quickly.>

"Sorry, Joyce," Goodfellow hastily said, desperate to stay on the Den Mother of the Scooby Gang’s good side, "but you know me. My mouth sometimes goes faster than my brain."

"Sometimes?" Amy and Shaw echoed together with imitation innocence.

Robin glared at them. "You’re not helping here."

Joyce laughed under her breath at the banter; for someone who was hundreds of years old, Robin could be just as impulsive as a teenager. Though she sometimes wondered if that was a good thing. "So, Shaw, how are you enjoying your first Christmas?"

"It is enjoyable," she said with a shrug. She smiled over in Cordelia’s direction, where she kept making Xander admire her diamond earrings. "Except for Xander. I think he would rather be looking at something other than Cordelia’s new jewelry."

With the leopard-print miniskirt the Amazon was wearing, the statement rang true enough. As it was, Xander pointed a thumb over at the refreshment table and was rewarded with a grin at whatever he’d told his girlfriend. He trotted over to the table, a look of relief on his face.

"God, I thought I’d never get away!" he wheezed as he started picking up a plate and stacking cookies and candy onto it. "Thanks a lot, Shaw. I’ll never hear the end of how much those diamonds match her necklace."

Amy smiled sweetly and said, "Maybe you should tell her that you’d rather see parts of her body other than her ears, Xand."

"Amy!" Joyce said, scandalized.

"Hey, if it keeps him from getting smacked on the head. ."

"Very funny," Mother and fighter muttered.

Joyce smiled at Xander and said, "Are you having a good time, Xander?"

"Sort of," he said with a sigh directed at Cordy. "Steve decided to make handing the gifts out a ‘free for all,’ so of course Cordy’s getting all her stuff, and the only thing I got so far was the dress clothes Cordelia bought me to have dinner with her family tomorrow night."

The others gave him a look of compassion save for Shaw. She said, "Well, let us start correcting that imbalance right now."

"Excuse me?"

Shaw took him by the arm and led him over to the where she’d placed her gifts for the others upon arrival, so that they would be out of the way. Other than a very large box with Xander’s name on it, the only ones remaining were small boxes with Willow and Giles’ names on it.

The teenager’s eyes went wide at the size of the box, and watched as Shaw lifted it. He could tell it had some weight to it, since it took a bit of effort for her to pick it up. She brought it over to the coffee table and set it down while the others were handing out gifts to each other, as opposed to making everyone wait while presents were handed out one at a time (the more to get the party rolling earlier). Shaw stepped aside to let her friend open the box, and he eagerly began ripping the wrapping paper off of it.

He looked inside and his mouth dropped. "You didn’t."

"I did," Shaw grinned at him, putting her arms behind her back.

"Shaw. ." he said before pulling out a large box. He read the title. "Forgotten Realms." He glared at her. "I don’t believe you!"

"You have expressed an interest in my background, yes?" she asked. When Xander nodded, she pointed at the box. "You have also expressed interest in the history of the Tel’Quessir. I found what sources of information I could, including some texts involving ancient Cormanthyr and Myth Drannor. Granted, I did not look through them to be sure of their accuracy, but I assume they will give you some idea of elven culture, at least on my home world."

"But. ."

"There is more. Look inside, and pull out the binder you will find there," the half-elf ordered him. He glanced at her suspiciously, so she inclined her head and folded her arms.

The empowered warrior reached in with a sigh and pulled out a thick three ring binder often used for offices or school. He felt the impressive weight and looked at the number of sheets contained in the binder. "God, Shaw! There must be a hundred pages here!"

"Over two hundred and fifty, actually," the priestess countered happily. She leaned in close and told him, "Some of the books involve the Harpers as opposed to the Tel’Quessir."

"What does that have to do with this?" he asked, indicating the folder in his hands.

Shaw’s eyes danced with laughter. "I thought you might like the stories of some Harper missions that did not come from the writings of fantasy authors that had been parceled out by Elminster."

Xander’s eyes blinked several times before he got the point. "YOUR missions?"

"Four, to be exact, in chronological order," she confirmed with a smile. "They are not of the caliber of saving the world or slaying dragons, but more akin to sword and sorcery versions of your own James Bond or police stakeout movies."

"Would that thing with the pleasure hall in Waterdeep be in there?" Xander asked with a silly smile, trying to needle Shaw.

"Pages forty-seven through one hundred fifty-one."

His jaw dropped as he realized she had included a mission she’d only alluded to. "You. . . you. . ."

"Do not mention the attire I wear on page ninety-four through one-ten," Shaw said teasingly. She turned to head back to Robin and Amy, and said over her shoulder, "I do not think Cordelia would approve of your imagining me in nothing but a full bodysuit made of the equivalent of the softest, sheerest, tightest Chinese silk you can buy."

Xander just stood there, holding Shaw’s present to him, his jaw jabbering at the image that she’d just placed in his imagination.

Shaw walked back over to Amy and Robin at the table. She picked up her glass of nog, smiling to herself.

"Goddess, he looks shocked to Heck, cuz," Amy noted, looking at the stunned look on Xander’s face. "What did you give him?"

"That is for him to tell you, Amy," Shaw said with a shake of her head. She then told her, "It involves the Harpers, and let us leave it at that."

"Okay, Hunter, let’s see if I can get a reaction out of you," the sprite said with a note of challenge in his voice. He held out a batch of folded up papers tied with a blue ribbon and held it out to her. "It’s not a bunch of Realms fiction like Xander gave you to get you up to speed over the last decade or so, Realmstime, but I think it’ll hold its own."

Looking suspicious, as this was Robin who was talking, Shaw took the batch of papers and looked the bottom over, possibly checking for some kind of joke behind the gift. <Perhaps disappearing ink or something of the like,> she joked to herself.

"Shaw, no joke. I wouldn’t do something like that for Christmas, would I?" Robin asked, knowing what she was thinking. When she let one corner of her mouth twitch and arched and eyebrow, he sighed. "Not this time. My word as a guy working for Obe."

Mollified (and relieved beyond measure), Shaw turned to look at the top of the bundle, where the ribbon had been tied in a standard bow. She read the writing on the top letter and froze once recognition kicked in. Her mouth dropped just a bit as the shock of the handwriting that spelled out her name flashed in her memories.

She choked out, "This. . this can’t be. . it’s. ."

"It is," Robin said with a smile. "The gen-u-ine article, done up by the ol’ Bard herself."

Shaw’s eyes rose to stare at the friend who was dating her cousin. "How. ."

"Don’t forget, oh pointy-eared one," Robin chuckled good-naturedly, "I’ve been known to visit your fair continent once in a while. Let’s just say I’ve made a few contacts over the centuries, and I pulled in a few favors to let certain people you’ve known in the past that you’re alive and well, and enjoying life with family."

Shaw just stared at the paper for a few more seconds before choking out, "Excuse me."

She turned and headed for Steve’s computer room, weaving through the others while leaving the shocked Robin and Amy behind.

"Robin, what did you do?" Amy demanded once she’d overcome the confusion.

Robin said, "I thought she’d be happy."

"About what?" Amy asked, her voice becoming gentle once she recognized the concern in his voice.

"Do you remember what Xander said about her few regrets about staying here, during the whole Ares thing?"

Amy bit her lip as she flashed back to the previous month. She nodded and said, "Yeah, he said she hoped to find out how some of her friends and teachers were. . ."

She stumbled over the sentence once she recollected what Robin had said about his contacts on Toril. She gazed at him in wonder and said, "You told them. You found a way to get in touch with the people she wanted to know about."

"And got letters from those I could find in time," the fairy finished. Feeling proud of himself, he puffed out his chest. "I just wanted to give her some peace of mind."

"Goddess, Robin," the witch said, folding herself into him, "you really care about her, don’t you?"

"Yeah, I do, honey," he said. He reluctantly eased away from the yellow-haired Amazon and said, "Mind if I talk to her for a sec?"

"I think you’d better," she admitted. She gave Robin a peck on the cheek and patted him on the butt. "Make it quick. It’ll be lonely without you."

"Ditto," he smiled.

Robin took off for the room Shaw had fled into, hoping to clear up any misunderstandings between him and Shaw over the intent of his present to her.

He found Shaw leaning over the computer, confusion and hope fighting a silent war in her eyes. Robin walked over and said, "Shaw, I can explain."

"Please do, because I cannot figure out. . ."

"The regrets you’re feeling over not going back to the Dales, compared to how you’ve fallen in love with Earth?"

Shaw raised her tear-rimmed eyes to look at the fairy that truly considered her to be as a sister to him. "Yes."

"Shaw, I didn’t mean to upset you," Robin promised her. He walked over and put a gentle arm around her shoulder and touched the letters he’d given her. "I just knew what you’d told the Xandman about how you felt about not knowing how some of your friends were, so I contacted a contact to call some of my contacts. ."

"Robin, in plain Chondathan, please," the Slayerette pleaded, substituting English for her native tongue, more often referred to as Common.

"I had my. . . acquaintances meet up with Stormy, Ashallia, and a few others," the sprite began, not commenting on how Shaw’s breath caught at the name of her old teacher from her home, "I gave them the basics, without going into details about Earth tech-type stuff, and told them you were alive and happy. Luckily, I got the responses a couple days ago, just in time to give them to you. I also told said acquaintances to be prepared for any response you wanted to send. Trust me, these aren’t people who play Mr. Postman every day. I had to call in a few favors to get a rush job on these." He tapped the ribbon-tied letters for emphasis. "I just wanted to give you a little piece of mind and maybe settle some of those regrets you mentioned."

Shaw gazed at him while he explained. "You wanted to ease the old pains I feel."

"Yeah," Robin said gently. "The last thing I wanted to do was bring up bad memories. Sometimes my heart gets priority, little sis."

"You are not the only one," Shaw muttered, turning away from Robin.

Wondering what she meant by that, he asked, "What’s wrong, kiddo? You’re not mad at me, are you?"

"It’s not that, Robin," she said, looking uneasy. She reached into the pocket of her white jeans and pulled something out. She clutched something in her closed fist and said, "I think I might have gone, to use Earth vernacular, overboard with your present."

Robin cocked an eyebrow. "I have got to hear this. What did you do, Shaw?"

Shaw hesitated, glancing at the ground and looking to Robin like some kid who’d been caught doing something naughty. Finally, she said, "You know what I did four days ago."

"You had Fourth Feast," Robin shrugged. "I know Millie well enough. But it’s none of my business if you don’t want to discuss it. But I’ll assume you at least loosened up like Millie’s kids are supposed to do four times a year."

Her eyes boring into Robin’s very big grin, Shaw couldn’t help but chuckle. "Believe me, Robin, I had. . I had a wonderful time. But that did not stop me from doing something long in coming."

Somehow, Robin wasn’t too thrilled to hear that. He nervously said, "Uh oh. Just what did you do, Hunter? Or more to the point, who did you do it to? Don’t tell me you pulled another Cordy on one of the team."

"No. . ." she trailed before opening her hand and holding it up. She showed Robin the carat-sized ruby sitting in her palm and said, "This will explain everything. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I will allow you to be the judge of the overall outcome."

"That’s a kiira," he noted. He glanced at her shining eyes and said, "Oh God, what did you record?"

"I am not going to spoil that for you," she said firmly, and with mock gravity. Her face brightened into a genuine smile. "Let us just say, I did something to ease an old pain of yours, if such is possible." She handed it out to him. "Merry Christmas, Robin."

Robin took the kiira and felt the magic pulsing inside of it. It had to have at least ten to twenty minutes worth of memories in it, judging by the amount of enchantments. Shrugging, he decided to get it over with. He held the kiira up to his forehead and closed his eyes.

*****

Part 2: Best Served Cold
(Doesn’t Necessarily Refer To Emotional States)

Yellowstone National Park
Wyoming
21 December 1998

//Now?//

<Now.>

Shaw steeled herself for the appearance of her target. She smiled an evil smile as she remembered one of the lessons taught to her by her mentor, Ashallia, so many years ago.

<The times of the equinox and solstice are times for quiet reflection,> Shaw thought, repeating the lessons given to her in her youth. <But, it is also a time of celebration, to celebrate the ongoing cycles of life, the turning of the seasons.>

This cycle, the winter solstice, was no exception. Shaw had formed a daring plan, with the help of three others, to right an old wrong. She felt a touch in her mind, and looked at her other ally in this endeavor. Both were ready.

<Do it!>

A flash appeared in the woods and, when it vanished, a young man, clad only in a nightshirt, fell four feet to the ground, landing in a soft cushion of snow in the park.

As the man, whose hair was as white as the snow he’d landed in, scrambled to fight his way to his feet, Shaw quietly urged her nearest ally forward, sending out a quiet thought. <Is it ready?>

A bubbling laugh answered. //Of course.//

<Then let us begin.>

As the man began to shiver, Shaw and her ally moved forward into the man’s field of vision.

Owen was completely stumped as to why he had suddenly been teleported into a snow-covered forest. As he wrapped his arms around himself, his teeth began to chatter while his eyes caught movement to his right. He whirled around and his breath caught in his throat.

Standing less than twenty feet away was a sight he’d never expected, despite his vast experience, to ever encounter here on Earth.

He began to speak, but the woman began chanting. In a few seconds, the chill overcoming Owen was barred off by a warm, magical feeling of heat at room temperature.

"Thank you, Miss," Owen said politely and with confidence, despite the impressive sight before him.

The sight before him was impressive; an elven maiden of Faerun, clad entirely in white clothing save for the shiny sword belt around her waist, and the long black hair flapping in the wind, was sitting astride an Earth-born unicorn. The elfwoman watched him sternly, her eyes shining red in the dark due to her infravision. The unicorn, a male by the beard under his chin, stamped his foot softly, sending a shower of flakes through the air. Apparently, the magical creature was not happy with Owen’s appearance in the forest.

Gazing down at him, the woman said, "Owen Burnett, you have been brought here to answer for things you have done in the past. The time has come for justice and revenge to be served."

Puzzled by the warrior’s outburst, Owen calmly asked, "I don’t understand. Can you explain, please?"

"Owen Burnett," the elf said mockingly, "let us dispense with this nonsense. We both know why it has come to this. You simply refuse to give credit where credit is due."

"Miss, you would seem to have me at a disadvantage. May I ask your name?"

{Shawukay Redarrow,} the rider announced in a clear, measured Elvish dialect. {Daughter of Trocar Flamingarrow, son of Myokar and Mishaya Flamingarrow, son and daughter-in-law of Verrokash Flamingarrow of Deepingdale and Alison Madison of New Salem; and Miyana Redstar of Evereska, daughter to the House of Nightstar of the Tel’Quessir; ranger and priestess of Mielikki, student of Storm Silverhand, and a member of Those Who Harp.}

Owen raised an eyebrow at the Espruar; he hadn’t heard that dialect of the elven tongue in *quite* some time. When she identified herself as a Tel’Quessir and then as one of Millie’s kids, he began to become concerned; Millie had always been cold towards him for unknown reasons. But once she claimed Harper membership, a cold feeling of dread formed in his gut. The best political smear tactic and rumor spreading experts in American politics could take lessons from this one.

"May I ask what this is about?" Owen asked, unable to completely hide the worry in his voice.

"You are to be given a choice," Shawukay said coldly. "You can either admit to your crime, or face justice appropriate to the crime. Hurting one’s reputation unfairly for centuries is a serious offense."

"I’m afraid I don’t understand," Owen said.

"Assume your true form, or face Brenna," Shawukay ordered, drawing the wavy-bladed flamberge at her hip and pointing it at him. "Now."

"Brenna is an unusual name for a sword."

Her eyes narrowing, the elfmaid hissed, "Fete."

The sword blossomed into flames, fire dancing along the blade.

Recognizing the faerie fire for what it was, Owen asked, "Then what is she?"

Owen nearly leapt out of his skin at the deafening roar that sounded through the woods. He turned around and what he saw chilled him to the bone.

A massive, two hundred fifty pound sabertooth tiger, crouching and stomping her rear feet in preparation to pounce onto her prey.

Him.

"Uh, easy now," Owen said, feeling very queasy.

"Change. NOW!" Shawukay ordered.

"But. . ."

The cat leaped.

"AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!" Puck screamed as the large predator thudded into him, driving him into the snow-covered forest floor.

Shaw’s mount trotted forward, slowing to a casual canter and circling around Brenna and Puck. Once Shaw was facing the prone fairy, she settled her gaze on his terrified face.

"Now, we are making progress," Shaw said to the sprite with a dry smile. "Brenna."

The Guardian Spirit licked the snow off of Puck’s face and nuzzled him gently before bounding off to the side. Puck regained control of his breathing, and slowly stood up, brushing frozen water off of his clothing.

"Can I ask what this is about?" Puck demanded.

Shaw sheathed her sword and reached behind her. She pulled out a box tied with a red ribbon. She threw the box to the puzzled fairy, who just examined the package.

"Is this going to blow up in my face?" he asked her with a raised eyebrow.

Shaw looked confused. "Blow up?"

"Never mind," he told her as he remembered her origins. "What’s this for?"

"The true reason for bringing you here, Puck of the Fairy Kingdom," the half-elf replied. "One such as I could hardly go through your employer, given my planar origins."

Nodding in agreement with that assessment, Puck said, "Okay. What is this, anyway?"

Shaw held a straight face and said, "Essentially, it is what the people of this plane call a ‘Christmas present.’"

The sprite’s face brightened considerably. Wondering who would go through so much trouble of making an end run to give him a gift, Puck eagerly untied the ribbon. He threw the ribbon aside, took the lid off, and peeked inside. . .

. . . and got a face full of custard cream pie for his trouble.

As he dropped the box in shock, Shaw mentally screamed, <NOW!>

With extreme agitation, Puck wiped pie out of his wrath-filled eyes. When he cleared his vision, his jaw dropped.

There was no sight of anyone in the area; the half-elf, the tiger, or the unicorn. Puck scratched his head and sent out a scrying spell meant to detect the traces of any magic in the area. He detected the unicorn three miles to the north. Clenching his teeth at having been made a fool of, the fairy teleported to that location.

*****

As he materialized, his hands lit up in arcane power, and his eyes flashed.

"Oh, I’m going to teach you a lesson!" he shouted. "NO ONE gets one over on me!"

The unicorn lazily lifted his head from his grazing and silently regarded the dumbfounded fairy.

Puck was scratching his head again, trying to figure out what in Oberon’s name was going on, when a deep, imperious voice spoke out.

"Puck."

Puck felt the dread once again, and slowly turned to face. . .

"L-L-L-L-Lord Oberon!" Puck stammered.

"What are you doing here, Puck?" the High King of the Fairy Kingdom demanded.

"M-m-m-m-my L-L-L-Lord, I c-c-c-c-can explain," Puck promised, his knees shaking.

"I don’t need to hear a word," Oberon said, his eyes glowing with dark promises.

"First, you leave behind your charges. Second, you leave behind your human form, against my express orders. Third, you use magic for your own purposes, against my express orders. Now, I hear you threatening one of the few unicorns left in the mortal realms?"

"B-b-b-b-b-but Oberon!" Puck sputtered, seeing a deep punishment coming his way.

Oberon’s eyes sparked even more. "LORD Oberon."

Puck’s eyes grew very wide as he babbled, "I-I-I-I’m sorry, my Lord! I’m sorry!"

"And to think, I actually told Goodfellow that you might be a good example for him," the Fairy Lord sighed. "He has done *extremely* well on the Hellmouth. He’s even found a romantic interest in that town."

"A mortal?" Puck asked distastefully.

"A witch of Hecate," Oberon confirmed with a smile. "Also, she is an Amazon given a personal blessing by Arty Herself. A formidable young woman, for a human."

When Puck started to think about that, Oberon tightened the noose around Puck’s neck. "NOW. As for your disobedience of my orders. . ."

Puck gulped and fell to his knees. "MY LORD!!!"

*****

Part 3: Conflicting Stories
(Or, How To Get A 50,000 Year Old Fairy In Trouble With His Girlfriend, The Amazon Witch)

St. Wolf Residence
Sunnydale, California
25 December 1998

The image faded from Robin’s mind, but he didn’t notice, so hard was he laughing. He pocketed the kiira and clutched at his side, as it was hurting so much from a lack of breath.

"I am going to assume that you like your Christmas present?" Shaw asked with a devilish grin.

Tears streaming from his face, Goodfellow nodded enthusiastically.

"Gods, I LOVE it!" he exclaimed, once he’d drawn enough breath to speak. "Oh, Gods, the look on his face! But how’d you get Obe to help you?"

"She didn’t get Obe to help," Artemis said, appearing in the computer room with a flash of light. "She asked me."

Robin blinked and said, "You, Arty?"

"I teleported Puck to Yellowstone, and Oberon only knows that Puck violated his ‘probation,’ as I took several steps to hide my, Shaw, and Brenna’s involvement. That cat of hers has a nasty streak to match your own, Goodfellow," the Olympian said with a demure grin. "That’s why I teleported Shaw and Brenna back to Sunnydale, and the unicorn a few miles away, so that Puck would have to use magic to find it."

"So what happened to the little puke?"

"Nothing harmful," Shaw said certainly. "All the Lord Oberon did was going to do was put the fear of. . . well, Oberon into Puck." Off his look, she sheepishly said, "I wanted to be sure that it was sufficient to make you happy. Not that I take pleasure in another’s fear."

Laughing out loud, Robin threw his arms over Shaw’s shoulders and kissed each cheek in French fashion. He gazed at her with pride and said, "You are learning well, young Skywalker."

"Thank you, Oh Obi-Wan," Shaw impishly replied. When Robin’s eyes popped upward, she confessed, "Xander has been teaching me pop culture again."

The fairy smiled and turned to embrace Artemis. "Arty. ." he said, but stopped at the fire in her eyes. So, instead he put out a hand. "Thanks. This was truly inspired, on all your parts. Almost worthy of me."

"You’re welcome, Robin," the Goddess of the Hunt said, just before vanishing.

"Shaw, I have to show this to the others. This is one present best shared with everyone," the sprite decided, clenching his fist around the elven memory gem. "But I’ve got to know; why Yellowstone?"

"Aside from it being the closest location with a unicorn to ride," Shaw said, her eyes misty at something every ranger dreamed of doing, "there is an old Earth saying. About revenge being a dish. ."

"Best served cold," Robin finished with a smirk. "Clever. Very clever."

The two laughed as they walked out of the room to share the prank with the Slayerettes.

*****

Shaw and Robin walked into the living room, where Amy glanced over and saw the two sharing the same grins that usually indicated that they were up to something. She felt equal parts anxiousness and gladness that Shaw wasn’t upset anymore, and went over to them to check up on the pair.

"You okay?" she asked Shaw with concerned eyes.

"I am, Amy," her cousin assured her, going so far as to give Amy a light hug. "Robin explained everything, and I gave him his present in return."

"Oh?" the Amazon asked with a smirk. "I can’t wait to see it."

"Funny you should mention ‘seeing’ it," Robin said with a confident smile.

"Excuse me," came a hard, commanding voice that startled the trio. They turned to see Steve St. Wolf standing there, a hard look on his face. "Shaw, I just received the most interesting phone call from New York."

"Oh? From who?" Shaw asked, seemingly confused as to the Wanderer’s ire.

"David Xanatos," the antiques dealer answered, awaiting a reaction. When she merely raised an eyebrow in inquiry, while Robin smiled and Amy looked between the two in confusion, he said, "Seems that his butler was kidnapped right out of David’s penthouse four days ago. He mentioned a woman from another dimension, a unicorn, and a saber tooth tiger named Brenna, a wavy flaming sword, and something about a custard pie. That last part, I have no idea what David’s talking about, but the rest was very enlightening, to say the least. David wants me to quietly track down Owen’s kidnapper and ensure that they pay for this, however much I can get away with. Would you care to explain what happened?"

"What does this have to do with Shaw?" Amy asked, not believing what Steve was hinting at.

"Owen named his kidnapper by name. Shawukay Redarrow?" the demon hunter asked rhetorically.

Shaw met his gaze as Amy stared at her, and told him, "You seem to be forgetting several things, Steven."

"Please, inform me of what they are."

"First of all, four days ago, I was celebrating a religious holiday. Do you truly think me the type to abduct someone from his home at all, let alone on one of the most holy days of my faith?"

"Well, no. ."

"Secondly, how was this ‘Owen’ abducted from his home, wherever it is?"

"New York," Steve said uneasily. "And he was teleported to Yellowstone National Park."

"Which brings us to another point." Shaw folded her arms and told her leader, "Teleportation is a wizard’s trick. Now, aside from the fact that I have neither the talent, nor potential, for wizardry or witchcraft, the levels of magic I do have are below the level of power I would require to even cast such a spell. Now, beyond the fact that I cannot teleport myself, how do you think I could teleport someone from New York to. . where is Yellowstone again?"

"Wyoming," Steve said, thinking about how her argument compared to the exacting description David had received from his butler.

"Yes, thank you. So, I cannot teleport myself from your house to mine, let alone teleporting someone else, who I had never seen before, nearly three thousand miles, give or take a few hundred. And you think I did this?" the woman imperiously demanded.

"No kidding," Amy snapped at Steve’s assumptions. "Heck, Willow can’t teleport from Willy’s Alibi Room to your front yard without possibly keeling over. And you think Shaw teleported this Owen guy across the country? That’s whacked!"

Still uncertain, especially given Robin’s continuing smile, Steve looked to Shaw and asked, "So it wasn’t you?"

"I can not only swear by Mielikki that I did not teleport Owen in any way, shape or form," Shaw pledged, going so far as to grasp the ivory pendant dangling over her heart, "I will also swear by my Grandparents’ memories. I had nothing to do with the teleportation of Owen from New York City to Yellowstone, I swear it was by Artemis."

Amy blinked at Shaw swearing by two Goddesses, but Steve just nodded his head at her oath. He had just started to turn around when her wording caught up to him, and he stopped dead in his tracks.

As the Wanderer started turning around, not happy with the equal grins on those descended of the fairy races, Amy mumbled, "Uh oh. Why do I get the feeling you are in deep, deep trouble, cuz?"

"What in God’s name did you do, Shaw? What the Hell did you do to Owen?" the demon hunter demanded. "Out with it!"

"Wait a minute!" Amy snapped in defense of her own flesh and blood. "Just who the Hell is this Owen guy, anyway?"

"Puck," Robin and Shaw gleefully answered.

"Fine. Then. ." Amy said before she realized what they’d said. She slowly turned to the two closest to her and started shaking her head. "You didn’t." When they didn’t answer except with their grins, she groaned out loud. "You DIDN’T!"

"Wanna see for yourself?" Robin innocently asked, holding out the memory gem. When she frowned at it, he said, "Elven DVD. Simplest explanation."

"Give it over," Steve said, holding out his hand.

"Now wait a minute, Wanderer," Goodfellow said with irony, "since it’s MY Christmas present, I think I have the choice of who gets to see it first. Here honey."

By now, the gang had overheard much of the discussion and was figuring out that someone in their group had pulled something on someone else connected to Steve. Amy held the gem up to her head and closed her eyes to better get the image from the kiira. Within five minutes, she opened her eyes, not believing what she’d seen. "I cannot believe you pulled this off, Hunter."

I KNEW you’d love it!" Robin gushed, wanting his sweetheart to share in the revenge that had been arranged for his benefit. "Come on, honey! It’s the best Christmas present I’ve ever had!"

"Oh, it is, is it?" Amy asked, arching an eyebrow.

"Hell yes," the Merry Wanderer grinned.

"Funny," she said, glancing at the gem and back to Robin, "that’s what you said about ME last night."

Giles sprayed a bit of eggnog at the comment, while the girls of the team all gasped in astonishment over Amy’s confession.

Robin, on the other hand, was stammering at the evil grin that plastered itself over the seventeen-year-old’s lips as he realized that he had just dropped himself up to his proverbial chin in metaphorical kimchee.

"Uh. . . uh. . ."

"Shall we step out of the room to discuss things, honey?" Amy Madison asked in a honey-sweet voice. "Unless you want to watch elven reruns from now on. . ."

Robin quickly trotted with Amy to "discuss" just which "Christmas present" meant more to him.

"Shaw," Steve growled in disbelief over what she’d managed to pull off, "would you mind telling me exactly what I’m supposed to tell David Xanatos?"

"Tell him," Shaw said with a grin, "that his butler should be more careful about whose credit he steals in Shakespeare’s plays. It will get the message across."

"You go girl!" Cordelia giggled, as did Jenny and Buffy.

"Shaw Hunter. . ."

"Ah, ah, honey," Buffy said, taking Steve’s arm and cuddling against him, "you wouldn’t want to be in the same boat as Robin, would you?"

"But. ."

"Shall we discuss just how comfortable your couch can be, if I want it to be like that?"

Steve choked down his snappy reply and just glared at the Slayer and the Amazons, who were taking the side of a certain jokester. "Fine! But don’t think I won’t find a way to discipline you for this!"

"Of course," Shaw said with a grin shared by the female Slayerettes. She turned to head over to Robin and Amy. "But I have more important matters to attend to."

She walked off, leaving Steve stifling a scream of frustration. Buffy leaned into his ear and said, "That sounds like you when I. . ."

"Not here!" Steve begged his lover. "Not in front of your mother!"

Buffy grinned sadistically at him and said, "Then drop it, buster, or you’re in for couch life."

"It’s my house," Steve reminded her.

"I have a key," Buffy reminded him.

As the others laughed at his predicament, Xander chuckled, "Welcome to the 20th century, Steve. It’s the woman’s era."

"Shut up, Xander!"

Shaw walked over to the loving couple that consisted of her cousin and adoptive brother, smiling at Robin’s predicament.

Amy saw Shaw coming up and said, "You realize you got him into trouble, right?"

"Unless you would be willing to forgive him," the ranger offered, leading to a hopeful look in Robin’s eyes.

"I don’t know. . ." the Madison girl said. She pursed her lips and said, "I think he should be punished somehow."

"I can think of a way, at least in a ‘traditional’ method used by Earth women," Shaw suggested.

"What?" Amy asked, interested.

"What?" Robin asked, fearfully.

Shaw turned her head towards the party, where several of the girls were staring at Amy with predatory looks. She turned back to Amy and said, "I believe you teenagers call it, girl talk?"

Amy’s eyes flashed. She let a smile curve her face as she looked to Robin, who realized just what it was that Shaw had suggested.

"Amy, honey, sweetheart," the sprite begged, "you wouldn’t tell them. . ."

"Everything? Maybe, maybe not." The witch posed her body seductively and said, "Although I couldn’t let the girls tell me everything and keep my own fun a secret." She helplessly shrugged and said, "It just wouldn’t be fair."

"B-b-b-b-b-but. . ."

"Don’t worry, we’ll come up with more stuff for them to gossip about tonight, Fairy Boy O’ Mine," Amy promised. She gave him a passionate kiss on the lips and started to head for her fellow Amazons. "Think about what you might be missing."

Robin glared at the grinning Shaw and offhandedly said, "How about Shaw’s little jaunt through that pleasure hall, sweetie? I’m sure she has plenty of juicy details, considering she was there for three whole months."

Amy stopped and turned to face her cousin, whose face had gone paler than usual. As her cheeks started flushing azure, the Amazon smiled and said, "You know, you’re right. It’s not fair you gave the dirt to Xander, and not to us girls."

"But Amy. ." the panicking elf woman blathered.

"Oh no, cuz," the witch told the priestess, taking her by the arm with her enhanced grip. "We’re having a dish session for the record books." She looked at Robin. "Enjoy yourself, honey. I’ll have stuff on hand that you could only dream of when he head for your place."

As Amy, thinking she was punishing Robin by spilling the romantic details of their first time together, dragged her sputtering, protesting cousin into an involuntary holiday gossip session, the Merry Wanderer of the Night just smiled to himself.

<Amy, you couldn’t handle my dreams, especially the ones with you in them,> he said as he gazed with pure adoration at his lover. A smile tugged at his lips as he thought of getting one over on Shaw, who’d attempted to get him into an embarrassing situation. <I love the present, Shaw, really. But you seemed to forget two things; one, you’re only fifty-four, so you’ve got a long way to go before you top my gags, although your heart was so much in the right place with this. But you shouldn’t have suggested Amy tell the others; they’ll only tucker their boys out trying to match what we shared last night.>

As he fingered the kiira he knew he would treasure for a long time to come, he smiled as he mentally brought up his second point.

<But no one, and I mean no one, gets one over on Robin Goodfellow.>

The End

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