Author: Tim Knight

Title: Dating Blues, the Sequel! (Or, The Half-Elven Guide To Dating)

Copyright: April 2001

Rating: R (fight scenes, language)

Spoilers: Buffy: Season 2 until Phases.

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

Chronicles of Wanderer: Hunter In Dark, Faith's Story, Another Run, Avatars of Sung.

Keywords: Buffy/ Highlander.

Summary: Just days after the events in Faith's Story and Another Run, Amy and Cordelia see Shaw talking to a guy at the Bronze. So, being Amy and Cordelia, they try to set their teammate up with the guy, who seems nice, and Shaw seems to like him. To help out, they arrange a date between a half-elf and a human. Hijinks ensue. You'll have to read the story to get anything else.

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, Jacob Devonshire, and Brenna are mine. Anyone wishing to use them may contact me at doobytim@aol.com.

The characters Steve St. Wolf, Randi Jessup, and Brian Jessup are 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.

Author's Notes: This story takes place in mid- to late-January of 1999, just after Faith's Story by Steve and Another Run by Hawk.

Dedications: To Steve, the Grand High Matchmaker of the Wandererverse who, with his sick and twisted sense of humor, loved the idea of this story.

To Rebekah, She of the Editorial Persuasion and Dripping Red Pen, who's going to be as surprised by this story as anyone since I didn't tell her it was coming. As for this story, thanks for the advice on clothing for winter in California, since she’s a California girl.

To Mike, for letting me bounce ideas off his head, and for introducing Robin to the Wandererverse.

Here are the changes from 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. Kendra has taken up residence in Sunnydale and is attending UC Sunnydale.
3. Amy Madison is a full time Slayerette.

Highander: 
1. Richie Ryan is alive.
2. No Highlander: the Raven continuity.


Dating Blues 2

Part 1: Never Talk To Strangers
(It Gives Amazons Nasty Ideas)

The Bronze
Sunnydale, California

"Look at that," Amy says, quietly nudging Cordelia.

Cordelia looks over, and nearly drops her Diet Coke. "I don't believe it!" she hisses under her breath. "Willow, look at the counter."

Willow follows Cordy's gaze, and shrugs. "What about it?"

"What about it?!?" Amy snaps a little too loud. "Shaw's talking to a GUY!"

"So?" Willow asks with a shrug. "She's talking to a guy."

"And smiling at him too," Cordelia points out.

"Isn't that a good thing?" the junior witch asks.

"Yeah, but. . ." Amy says before shaking her head to make sure she isn't hallucinating. "That's SHAW!"

Willow looks at her fellow Amazons, and realizes what they're thinking. "Oh no," she protests. "Count me out."

"Oh come on," Cordelia smiles, eyeing Shaw and the unknown man like a cat watching an oblivious mouse. "She's the only one who isn't in the same boat as us. Don't you think it's about time she 'joined' us in romantic bliss?"

"I'm not going there," Willow promises.

"What? You think we won't see what happens or if she likes him first?" Amy asks with a frown.

Willow pauses to consider her answer. Finally, she says, "Look, you two. This is Shaw we're talking about."

"Yeah, it'll be hard to get her on a date without her knowing we're setting her up," Cordelia smiles, relishing the challenge. "But..."

"Cordy, the ears? The eyes?" Willow reminds the dark-haired Amazon. "Miss Modesty and Honesty?"

Amy and Cordelia are deflated by that. "Oh."

"You two considered using the direct approach?" Willow asks.

"What?" Amy and Cordelia ask in surprise.

Willow rolls her eyes. "Try asking Shaw if she's *interested* in going on a date with the guy before setting her up. She did mention that if we set her up and the guy's good for her, she wouldn't object to our choice."

"I know," Cordelia grouses, "but that takes half the fun out of it."

Willow buries her head in defeat. "And how about what she pulled on us last month?"

"What?" Cordelia asks.

Amy sighs. "I think she means when she made Toby swear on the names of Kevin and Oberon not to talk to anyone of a female persuasion unless it involved the fight, racing engines or computers."

"Oh, but she doesn't have time to prepare for us this time," Cordelia grins.

"I'm doomed," Willow moans.

*****

Jacob Devonshire watches as a gorgeous black-haired woman walks up to the bar and orders an orange juice. Besides being attracted as any man would by her slim-hipped, well-toned figure, he's also intrigued by her taste in beverages. Another point in her favor is that she has an exotic accent he's never encountered before.

As the woman waits for her drink, he decides to strike up a conversation. "Excuse me, Miss?" he says in his cultured British voice.

The young woman turns and gives him a neutral look with almond-shaped hazel eyes only one or two shades darker than fine Oriental jade.

"Yes?" she asks cautiously. "Can I help you?"

"Uhm, well," he says hesitantly, looking nervous, "I couldn't help but notice your accent."

"What about it?" she asks with a glaring lack of tact.

<Direct. Well. > Jacob thinks before saying, "Well, I just find it surprising that another person from outside of the Colonies is in a town of this size."

"Ah, I see," the girl says, loosening up a bit. "You are British?"

"I'm originally from London, yes," Jacob admits. He rubs a hand through his well-groomed blonde hair and tells her, "But I just moved to Los Angeles. Might I ask where you're from? It's comforting to find someone else from Europe here."

"I was born in Glenfillen, Scotland," the woman answers. At his raised eyebrow, she chuckles. "Believe me, you are not the first to notice the accent. My father was in the SAS, so I traveled much in my youth."

Upon hearing those three letters, Jacob's surprise is evident. "An SAS brat?"

"Do you wish to make something of it?" is her quick, cool response.

Jacob doesn't take it seriously as the corner of her mouth cannot stop from twitching. He raises his hands and says, "No, I know better than that. Tomboys are notorious for fighting dirty."

"It is good that you remember that," she says. As the bartender hands her a glass of orange juice, she says, "If you will excuse me, I must rejoin my friends."

"Wait!" the Brit says quickly.

When the woman gives him an even glare at his seeming order, he quickly apologizes. "Sorry, but I was hoping to catch your name."

"Why?"

<Oh brother. . .> Jacob sighs and says, "Well, I'll be in town for a few days, I was hoping perhaps that we might encounter each other again while I'm here."

The woman continues to stare at him, looking somewhat amused. "Are you attempting to chat me up?'"

The look of mortification on Jacob's face is almost comical.

"No!" he protests a little too loudly, drawing some attention from the teenagers in the club. "It's just, well. . . you strike me as someone I would like to know. Perhaps even share a dance with?"

Hearing the question at the end of his last sentence, the woman blushes a bit. "I am not good at these. . . American styles of dancing. I prefer the more. . . traditional styles of Home and Eire, thank you."

Jacob watches her blushing, and is surprised that this woman's confidence could plummet at all, let alone at a simple question. "Well, you also have a surprisingly discriminating taste in beverages," he generously offers.

"I also have a caffeine allergy," she wryly adds. She looks up at him, seemingly surprised by her admission. She asks him, "Who are you?"

Not put off by her phrasing, he extends his right hand. "Jacob Devonshire, late of London, England, now a resident of Los Angeles."

This time, the woman responds without hesitation. She clasps his hand in a firm grip and smiles. "Shaw Hunter, late of Glenfillen, Scotland, now a resident of Sunnydale, California."

"Ah. Well, if I may be somewhat forward," Jacob says kindly, "might I see you here at all in the next few days?"

Shaw watches him, attempting to figure out if this man is actually asking her out. "If you are asking me if I will be here at the Bronze, then the answer is most likely to be yes. As for anything else, I am sorry. I am not sure about that."

Jacob graciously accepts the partially positive answer. "Of course, Miss Hunter. I apologize."

Shaw smiles a bit, and says, "That is all right, Jacob Devonshire. No offense is taken."

Jacob watches as the woman named Shaw turns and walks to a table populated by three other attractive teenagers, trying not to notice how the three are intently watching their friend's dialogue with him.

Quietly, Jacob finishes his Kahlua and Cream and walks out of the bar.

*****

Shaw walks over to the table and sits down. She takes a long sip of her orange juice before she looks up and sees her friends smiling at her.

Looking at them, she asks, "What?"

"Who's your friend?" Amy asks her cousin.

With a shrug, Shaw says, "He is an Englishman."

"Oooo." Cordelia adds with a grin.

Shaw looks between the two of them, and realizes she's under the proverbial microscope. "What do you mean by that, Cordelia?"

"Well," the Amazon warrior says with a shrug, "he's cute, for one thing."

"And you actually talked to a guy," Amy adds.

"He initiated the conversation," Shaw says defensively. Futilely shrinking a bit into her seat, she says, "He was attempting to gain a dance, perhaps a date. I cannot be completely sure."

Amy and Cordelia bury their faces in their hands, while Willow just giggles.

"Is something wrong?" the half-elf asks Willow.

"No, they're just disappointed in you not talking longer, maybe arranging to see the guy," the Wiccan explains.

Shaw thinks about adding anything else, but decides to add (somewhat reluctantly), "I did tell him that I might be here again while he is in Sunnydale. Beyond that, I made no commitments in any way."

Amy stares at Shaw in surprise. "Wait a minute, cuz," she says with a raised eyebrow, "you actually said 'maybe?' You didn't say 'no?'"

"That is correct, Amy," she answers.

Amy smiles at Shaw, as does Cordelia.

"Well, it's about time you made some progress on that," Cordelia declares happily. "You need to talk to guys, Shaw. How else will you find a boyfriend?"

Shaw moans lightly and closes her eyes. "Cordelia, I am only going to say this once; I can only go slowly on such matters. Especially with my unique nature."

"Hey, hey, I know," Cordelia objects. "We wouldn't expect you to go 'wham bam' in one night. But you only got two hundred years left, remember?"

"Don't wanna be an old maid, cuz," Amy teases.

"Too late," comes a voice from behind.

The Slayerettes turn to see Faith standing there, wearing a black micro mini dress with a plunging neckline that leaves more exposed than covered. Cordelia watches her with thinly veiled jealousy; the newest Slayer might be a Boston tomboy, but when it comes to dressing up, she's nearly Cordy's match in that regard.

"Sorry I'm late, but I was talking to Buffy," the New Englander says. "She and Steve didn't have any luck finding Spike. Dru's having a fit, but she says that she can sense Spike 'far away.' But enough work. What'd I miss?"

"Shaw talking to a guy without gagging," Cordelia smiles.

Faith smirks at the priestess and says, "Huh. Must be rubbing off on you, Hunter."

"You wish," Shaw laughs. The Slayerettes still feel some surprise that she and Faith are good friends so soon after Faith joined the team. "But do not think of moving in, Faith. He is not your type."

"Oh? Is he gay?"

"No, it did not seem so," Shaw adds, not seeing the point to the question.

"Then he's my type," the Slayer grins. "But I'll let you have first crack at him."

"Thank you so much," Shaw says. The fact that she blushes is not lost on the three Amazons.

"You like him," Willow says in a bit of surprise.

Shaw shrugs. "He seems polite."

"And the fact that he's cute?" Amy prods with a smile.

"I do not know what you are talking about," Shaw says in apparent confusion before taking another sip of her juice.

"Oh, don't try the false confusion act," Cordelia snaps. "Won't work this time."

"I cannot be a fair judge if he is 'cute' unless I compare him with my previous experiences in such matters," Shaw tells the quartet.

"Uh, you're a fifty-four year old virgin," Faith says.

Shaw drains her orange juice, still three-quarters full, in one quick draught. "Exactly," she says, just as she rises to head for the bar with her glass.

She quickly walks away before anyone can comment.

"Smooth retreat," Amy grumbles.

"Oh, don't worry," Cordelia says in wonder. "I've seen that look before. She wouldn't mind seeing Union Jack again."

"Should we be glad or feel sorry for the guy?" Faith asks in complete seriousness.

No one can answer that one.

*****

Part 2: A Match Made In The Hellmouth
(Amy and Cordelia Play Chuck Woolery)

The Bronze
Sunnydale, California
One day later

Shaw walks into the Bronze with Jessica, talking about their latest assignment for Comparative Literature.

"What's wrong with doing a fantasy story?" Jessica asks, knowing about Shaw's love of such novels.

Shaw hesitates before saying, "It smacks of David wanting to get even with me for when we trapped him into doing that romantic story."

"Hey, you didn't want to do it either, if I remember," the junior says in a pointed reminder. She tugs at the collar of her blue blouse and says, "But you went along with me since it was my turn. Now it's his, and he probably figures you'll jump on the bandwagon and do most of the research."

Shaw sighs in agreement. "Yes, I know you both find it most advantageous that I work in the library," she says before a smile touches her lips. "I simply do not approve of his idea of, as he puts it, 'reworking a classic.' It seems like plagiarism to me. Our work should be original."

"I told him the same thing," the redhead tells Shaw. "I think you should just choose a subject and we'll do it that way."

Shaw nods noncommittally, and looks around the Bronze.

"Looking for the seniors?" Jessica teasingly asks.

Shaw shakes her head, remembering her initial clashes with her classmate David Abhrams, over his belief that she associated with the Slayerettes to be 'cool' by becoming friends with seniors. Jessica, David's girlfriend, had come to her defense, reminding him that not only had it been the Slayerettes (though neither junior knew about that aspect of their friend) who had welcomed Shaw to Sunnydale High, and that most of them were considered as far from popular as one could be, but Shaw had a more personal reason for associating with them; Amy was her cousin, and thus family. That defense had led Shaw to thank her, and the three have since become friendly towards each other, working on many assignments as a team.

"So who are you looking for?" Jessica asks in confusion.

"A person I met last night," comes the gingerly phrased reply.

The fact hits Jessica like a bullet between the eyes. "Shaw Hunter!" she blurts in amazement. "You met a guy?!?"

"Please do not announce it to the whole planet, Jessica," Shaw pleads. "I only spoke with him for a few moments. Nothing more happened."

Jessica looks at her with a smile, thinking differently. "Then why the jeans that are tight to the second power?"

Shaw stiffens, and looks at the *very* form-fitting pair of red jeans she had selected for coming to the Bronze tonight. The black sheer shirt she wore was just as tight, and left no room for imagination as to her figure.

"Jessica, please," she begs her friend. "I listened to enough teasing from Amy and Cordelia last night. I told Jacob that I might see him here tonight. That is all."

"Please," comes a British-accented voice from behind the two women. "Call me Jack."

Jessica jumps in surprise, but Shaw quickly turns around out of habit, nearly putting herself into a martial arts stance before recognition sets in.

Shaw slowly relaxes, and Jacob makes no comment as to whether or not he sees her guard going up.

"Jacob," she says in greeting.

Jessica turns around and whistles in appreciation. Jacob looks about twenty-two and stands around five-eight, and is obviously attractive. His blonde hair is immaculately groomed, and his baby blue eyes are very noticeable. He's wearing a pair of casual slacks, a conservative long-sleeve shirt and loafers. He's not muscular like a bodybuilder, but it's obvious he takes care of his body.

<I wouldn't mind taking care of it either, > she thinks gleefully. She remembers that this is the man that her companion just mentioned, and she sees the look in his eyes. <Well, looks like our Lit talk is waiting 'til tomorrow. Glad David's coming in a few. >

"Pardon me," Jessica says, her blue eyes smiling at her quick planning, "Jack, I'm Jessica Smithson. Pleased to meet you."

"Charmed," he says, his accent melting Jessica in her heels. "Are you a friend of Miss Hunter's?"

"Uh, yeah," Jessica says before remembering that Shaw was looking for him when they walked in. "We're in Literature class together."

"Oh?" Jacob asks, lifting an eyebrow at the two juniors. "A literature buff?"

"Actually, my first love is music," Shaw answers carefully, not knowing why she's telling him this about herself. "I play the songhorn."

Jacob smiles at the name. "Haven't heard of someone playing that for a long time."

"Excuse me," Jessica says, looking at Shaw. "I'll leave you two alone."

"What?" Shaw asks in confusion over Jessica's seeming abandonment. "Jessica, what are---"

"Three's a crowd, Hunter," the young woman tells her. "And four? David's not going to get involved with this."

"What 'this?'" Shaw asks, completely baffled.

Jessica doesn't answer, but just smiles and heads off with Shaw watching her back.

Jacob smiles at such consideration from the teenager. He turns to Shaw and asks, "Might I join you, Miss Hunter?"

Shaw turns her head back and forth, caught by this course of events. Finally, she shrugs. "If you wish. I seem to have been abandoned."

<Thrown to the wolves is more like it, > Jacob chuckles to himself at Jessica's leaving the two alone. "Well, can I buy you a drink?"

Not knowing what to make of the offer, Shaw decides it's okay this once. "Orange juice?"

"Of course," the Englishman says politely.

He walks off, letting Shaw choose a table that's not occupied. The Slayerette looks around as if she's caught in a dark alley, but wishes she were when she sees Cordelia and Xander in the entryway, both watching her with goofy smiles on their faces.

<Oh, Goddess, NO! > Shaw thinks in despair. She sends them a pleading look that begs them not to embarrass her.

Xander is about to walk forward, but Cordelia smacks him on the back of the head, then uses one finger to cross her heart before leading him to a secluded corner of the club.

Shaw lets out a massive sigh of relief, not knowing about the plan being enacted by somebody else.

*****

Jacob walks over to the bar and orders a Pepsi and an orange juice, both with ice. As he waits for the order, someone calls to him.

"Excuse me?"

He looks over and sees a young woman, about seventeen or eighteen, with shoulder-length blonde hair and dark blue eyes watching him. She's very attractive, but something about her strikes him as familiar.

"Yes, Miss? May I be of assistance?" he asks.

"I just wanted to know if I could buy you a drink," the woman offers with a brilliant smile.

Jacob is flattered by the offer, but politely says, "I'm sorry, Miss, I truly am. But I'm already buying a drink for somebody else that I'm spending the night with."

"Spending the night? Oh, sorry," she says.

"I did not mean it that way, Miss," Jacob icily replies. "I meant here at this establishment. I am very much a gentleman."

The way he says it seems to convince the girl that he's sincere.

She shrugs and sadly says, "I'm sorry. My own bad luck to be late, I guess."

"I'm sorry, as well," Jacob says gently. "Perhaps another time, if I'm not with company."

"Sure," she replies. She holds out a hand and says, "If that's the case, I'm Amy."

"Jacob," the Brit says, shaking her hand rather than kissing it in the manner she seemed to expect. "But I prefer Jack."

Amy nods and leaves Jacob to his company.

*****

Jacob goes to the table selected by Shaw and places her drink on the table with a napkin beneath it. He sips at his Pepsi.

"Would you believe that a girl asked to buy me a drink while I was waiting for ours?" he asks.

Shaw lifts an eyebrow. "What happened?"

"I politely told her that I already had company for the evening," he says firmly. "Unless of course you choose otherwise."

"I have no objections," Shaw carefully replies.

<Tough nut to crack. She wouldn't be worth knowing otherwise, > Jacob thinks. "Yes, Amy seemed quite forward. It must be an American trait."

Shaw freezes in bringing her glass up to her mouth. "Amy?"

"Yes," he replies. "You know her?"

"You might say that," Shaw growls. She looks around but sees no trace of the woman. "I do not think her desire was to buy you a drink, Jacob."

"Please, call me Jack," he requests. "What was her desire, then?"

Shaw sighs in embarrassment. "I believe it was a test."

"How so?" Jacob asks in confusion, but with amused curiosity.

"Do you remember when I told you that I had cousins here in America?" the priestess reluctantly asks.

"Yes," Jacob answers before putting two and two together. Looking at her blushing face, he asks, "Did I pass?"

"I do not know," Shaw confesses. "The fact that she has not come to our table telling me she needs me is a good sign, I would assume."

Jacob laughs and says, "Protective, is she?"

"We are protective of each other," Shaw counters. She smiles and tells him, "And as for her forwardness, it is not an American trait. She might be American, but she comes from Irish and Scottish stock."

Jacob laughs at her irreverent comment. "I see your point."

"You can relax, Jacob," Shaw assures him. "I do not think we will be bothered."

"If that is truly the case," Jacob says, setting down his soda, "would you care to dance?"

Shaw stares at him, and says, "You cannot be serious."

"I promise, only slow songs," Jacob grins, going so far as to raise his right hand.

Shaw is somewhat reluctant to dance in front of her friends, despite the lessons they've given her. However, she is relaxed by Jacob's gentlemanly manner.

"Very well," she nods, not able to hide a blush that turns her cheekbones a deeper blue. "But only upon the condition that you will not file a lawsuit against me if I break your toes by stepping on them."

Jacob starts laughing, but Shaw adds, "I am being serious. I move better with a sword in my hand."

Jacob stops laughing and asks, "A sword, did you say?"

Shaw quickly masks her reaction. "Yes, a tai chi sword."

Jacob gives her an "Aaaah" of understanding. "Yes, I see. Tai chi is very relaxing I hear."

Shaw nods in silent agreement as she stands up to join Jacob on the dance floor.

*****

Xander is snickering at Shaw's hesitance as Amy joins them at the table.

"Well?" Cordelia asks in interest.

Amy says, "Brit turned me down flat. Don't know whether I should be glad for Shaw or insulted."

"You guys playing matchmaker?" Xander asks in mock horror. "Oh, poor, poor Shaw."

"Shut up, Xander," Cordelia orders her boyfriend. "Or I'm going to cut it off."

"Ma'am, yes ma'am," Xander mocks her. His mocking is quickly followed up by an, "OW!"

"That's for being stupid," Cordelia snaps. "Now shut up before I give you one for warning her about our matchmaking back in November."

Xander cringes and mutters, "Sorry, Hunter. You're on your own."

Amy and Cordelia glare at him before turning their attention to the dance. After three minutes of slow dancing, they begin to be hopeful when she doesn't step on his feet at all.

The Amazons breathe a sigh of relief as Shaw and Jacob head back to the table and their drinks.

Amy leans into Cordy and asks, "Think she dressed up for him or is it just a coincidence?"

"She likes him," Cordelia reasoned. "Let's see what happens, and maybe we'll con her into calling him to set up a date."

Xander just remains silent, to preserve his health. <Hail, Caesar. We who are about to die, salute you. . .>

When Amy sees Shaw excuse herself from the table and head for the bathroom, she says, "Okay, I'm going to talk to her and see how it's going."

"Amy, leave the poor kid alone," Xander tells her. "She's actually enjoying herself, don't you think she's capable of handling things on her own?"

"Yeah, but what are cousins for if not to lend a helping hand?" Amy asks with malicious glee.

"Setting their cousins up with boyfriends which is a pain in the butt," Xander replies.

Seconds later, he adds to that statement.

"OW!"

"Go get her," Cordelia says in encouragement.

*****

As Shaw reties her braid to gather up loose hair, she sees Amy in the mirror as the witch walks into the women's' restroom.

With a sigh, Shaw turns around and folds her arms imperiously.

"What did you think you were doing?" she acidly asks.

Amy stops, taken aback by the emotion in Shaw's voice. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, Hunter," she pleads, raising both hands in her defense. "I was just checking him out for you."

"Which part of his anatomy were you checking out?" Shaw asks with a bark.

Amy's jaw drops at the question. She demands, "What's gotten INTO you?!?"

"Displeasure at your interference," the half-elf responds with a touch of anger. "I do not appreciate your involvement in something that did not require your intervention."

Amy's own anger fades as she gets the point. She puts her hands in her pockets and sheepishly admits, "Okay, you're right. But like you said last night, you don't have any experience with this stuff. I just want to be sure you handle it okay."

"Are you saying you have no confidence in my ability to judge people?"

"Of course not!" Amy blurts out. Looking around hastily, she says, "Geez, Hunter! I was just trying to make sure the guy was worth your time.

I. . . I was just looking out for you, okay? Family does that."

Shaw considers her answer, then her face falls. "I'm sorry, Amy."

"Sure you are," Amy says. When Shaw's eyes snap to her, she adds, "When you use contractions, it means you're nervous about something. That something wouldn't happen to be tall, blonde and British, would it?"

Shaw's nervousness disappears, and Amy can't help but notice the contrast in her face. Her face is flushed, but her eyes are hard.

"That is not your affair," she replies.

Amy grins and says, "You like him."

"Amy. . ."

"Whoa, hold the phone," the younger cousin orders Shaw. "Look, I just want to help if you'll let me."

"You mean match me up if I let you," Shaw grumbles in disgust.

Amy sighs. "Look, don't back away from him because of us. I'm being serious here, I want you to be happy. You know that." Amy waits a few seconds before asking, "Do you like him?"

"What if I do?" Shaw says through closed eyes.

"Then ask him out," the Amazon orders in seriousness.

Shaw's eyes open, filled with doubt. "What?!?"

"Shaw," Amy says, gripping Shaw's arm, "it's simple. Step one, you ask him if he wants to go on a date. ONE DATE. Not commitment, just you and him going out one time. If it doesn't work out, then it's one night, no problem. Other fish in the sea and all that. But if you like him, and you two agree that you'd like to see each other again, you think about it. You got time, you can take it slow. I figure that's your way anyway, am I right?"

Reluctantly, Shaw agrees.

"Good," Amy says with a smile. "No pressure from us, go out and ask him out. But only if you want to, not just to date him but to see if there's a spark between the two of you. Got it?"

"Yes, Amy," Shaw says with great hesitation.

Amy sighs. "Look, Shaw. You can't be nervous when you ask him, 'cause he'll know you're hesitant. You have to really want to do this."

Shaw takes several deep breaths, and says, "And of course you and Cordelia will be watching every single move I make, won't you."

"Yep," Amy grins sadistically. "If he says yes, Cordy and I will help you get ready for the date."

Shaw's eyes widen in horror at that possibility, and Amy digs the knife deeper. "And watch those contractions. Dead giveaway for nerves."

Amy turns and leaves her cousin in the restroom, wondering what she's just agreed to get herself into.

*****

Amy rejoins Cordelia and Xander, who look at her expectantly.

"Well?" Cordelia asks.

"I think she's going to go for it," Amy answers. "She was NOT happy about testing Jacob."

"Color me stunned," Xander replies. When Cordelia glares at him, he asks, "You think she'd like the stakeout on her?"

Cordelia can't argue with that, so she turns to Amy. "What happens if he says yes?"

"I think Shaw'll faint," Amy grins.

"No, she'll faint when we help her get dressed," Cordelia grins even more.

"Uh, guys, just an idea here," Xander says as he raises his hand, "but would you consider that this Jacob guy is British, and went for Miss Modesty rather than anyone in minis or mega-minis? He might go for the British reserved, Mary Poppins look more than the Slutty Slayerette look."

"Hey!" Amy and Cordelia protest.

Xander sighs and says, "Plus, this is Shaw we're talking about."

Amy and Cordelia star at him for some time, then at each other.

"We've got our work cut out for us," they say in unison.

"Duh," Xander laments.

*****

Shaw walks over to Jacob, who is patiently waiting for her.

"Are you all right, Miss Hunter?" the Englishman politely asks her.

"Please, call me Shaw," the elven warrior says. "And yes, I am all right."

"Only if you call me Jack," her companion says once again. When she looks hesitant, he adds, "It's simpler, less formal."

Put somewhat at ease by his manners, Shaw nods. She looks at him, and asks, "Jack, you said that you would be in town for a few days?"

"Yes, for about a week, perhaps two," he tells her. "Why do you ask?"

"I. ." Shaw tries again, looking him in the eyes to convey her intentions. "I wanted to know if you would be free to spend some time together tomorrow night. If you have no prior obligations, that is."

Jacob looks slightly surprised, but he smiles kindly. "As it so happens, I don't have any plans for tomorrow. I would gladly accept. Perhaps you would like to show me around the town?"

Shaw considers her options and hits on an idea. "Have you been to the Boardwalk here in Sunnydale?"

"No, I haven't had the time," he confesses. "Interesting choice."

"I like to watch the sun set over the ocean," Shaw confesses, her face flushing. "Watching the reflection of the sun rise while the actual item descends can be most fascinating."

"Well, I never thought of that," he admits. Taking her hand and kissing it gently, he tells her, "I shall see you tomorrow, then?"

"Would you meet me here at five o'clock?"

Jacob nods and says, "Of course."

*****

Watching from their table, Amy and Cordelia are still stunned when they figure out that Jacob has accepted Shaw's proposal.

"Oh my Goddess, she did it!" Amy hisses in happiness. She looks at Cordelia, a bright smile on her face. "Shaw asked him out!"

Cordelia is smiling too. "Shaw Hunter on a date. 'Bout time."

Xander asks, "You realize that she has never been on a date in her life, right?"

"We're going to help," Cordelia protests.

"I know," Xander mutters. With a sigh, he says, "Shaw is so dead."

Cordelia smacks him.

*****

Shaw watches Jacob leave and considers what just happened. When it finally sinks in that she's agreed to a date with a human Earthman, she feels a cold dread in her stomach as she realizes she'll have to ask Cordelia and Amy for help in her preparations.

There's only one thing Shaw can think of to say to that.

"I am so dead."

*****

Part 3: Setting Shaw Up For Setting Shaw Up
(Also, Half-Elven Methods Of Enforcing The Constitutional Amendment Regarding Invasion Of Privacy)

Sunnydale Mall
Sunnydale, California

Shaw tries not to run for the nearest exit as Amy and Cordelia talk about her upcoming date with Jacob, talking as if she were not there.

Cordelia leads Shaw towards a department store, and says, "Okay, are you ready?"

"What do you think?" Shaw sighs. "Why do I think that you trapped me into this?"

"Because you've got good instincts," Amy smiles at her. Waggling a finger, she tells Shaw, "But I said it was your choice, Hunter. You asked him out, so you can't chicken out. And Cordelia and I will drop you off at the Bronze for meeting him."

Shaw looks at Amy through hooded eyes. "You are not going to, how do you say, 'tag along?'"

Giggling at her suspicion, Cordelia says, "Shaw, as far as how the date goes, you're on your own. Well, at least as far as women go. The guy has to be there for the date to work."

Shaw snarls at the Amazon dangerously. "Cordy, please don't make fun about this."

Shaw turns and storms into the department store, heedless of Amy and Cordelia staring at her with wicked grins.

"She called me Cordy," Cordelia says in surprise. "She's nervous."

"Try scared shitless," Amy counters. With a feigned sigh, she dreamily says, "Ah, to be on a first date with a gentleman."

The two Amazons share some more laughs before hightailing it into the store after their teammate.

*****

Jacob Devonshire's Flat
Near the Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Jacob Devonshire steps out of the shower, a dignified smile on his face at the thought of his encounter tonight. He walks into his bedroom and proceeds over to the window. He throws open the curtains, allowing sunlight to flood in and light up the room without running up his electric bill.

Clad only in a towel, Jacob walks over to his closet and begins to look through his wardrobe, trying to decide what he'll wear for his date with the young Scotswoman.

<Hmmm. She was dressed in American clothing last night, quite revealing about her figure, but not scandalous in the least,> he thinks to himself. He rubs his chin, and thinks, <That may simply to be fitting in with her new home. She isn't the typical army brat. No, she's actually quite formal. Lass could be a tad more tactful, but it's honesty, not harmful in the least. So. . . she'll probably wear something more dressy, but quite conservative. Modest, but nice. . . oh yes, and if I read her right, appropriate for the wintry weather. Shaw seems to possess a great deal of common sense. Something lacking in many young ones these days.>

Jacob nods as he begins to go through his clothing.

*****

Sunnydale Mall
Sunnydale, California

Shaw makes it nearly fifty feet into the department store before realizing that she needs to follow Cordelia's lead.

<A dangerous proposition at the best of times,> Shaw ruminates. <But hardly avoidable in this instance.>

She turns and waits for Cordelia and Amy to catch up, but they're taking their sweet time. Shaw folds her arms and taps her foot on the ground, a habit she's unconsciously picked up from Buffy.

"You're in a rush," Amy says jokingly. When the joke falls flat, the witch adds, "Look, Shaw. We're here to help. You asked us, and quite frankly, you need it. But this trip's actually going to be kept simple. We'll take it easy on you."

"I remember hearing that before," Shaw mutters. "Please humor me and define 'simple.'"

"Okay," Cordelia gushes at Shaw's being trapped. "We figured, knowing you and seeing that this Jack guy's English, you'd go for the innocent virgin look."

Shaw raises an eyebrow. "I might be a maiden, Cordelia, but I could hardly be classified as 'innocent.' I have too much combat experience for that."

"The LOOK, Shaw, not the fact," Amy moans. "And ixnay on the ombat-cay. Don't mention stuff outside of the date or fashion while we're here."

Shaw nods, properly reminded of her secret. "Your point?" she asks not anger but in interest.

Cordelia smiles and says, "It's simple. You were planning on wearing your white dress, right?"

Shaw stares at her for a second. "Yes. How did you know that?"

"You're modest, but sensible enough that you'd dress up for Jack," Cordelia mentions. She puts a supportive hand on Shaw's shoulder and says, "And we're not really here to get a wardrobe for you, but just some stuff to compliment your dress. It's really going to be quick and easy, Shaw. And we won't do anything to mess with you, you're nervous enough as it is."

Shaw fumes at how much Amy and Cordelia are enjoying themselves over her predicament. Finally, she says, "Very well. What is our first stop?"

"First, we're going to get you some nylons and tights to wear," Amy informs her.

Shaw nods in understanding. "I see. Something appropriate for this outing?"

"Stop thinking of it as an 'outing,' Hunter," Cordelia advises her teammate. "Start thinking of it as a DATE. Or if you want to put it like you would on your world, a social outing or social gathering or whatever term you use."

"Perhaps I used the wrong word, but I am not using the wrong image, Cordelia," the ranger promises. "But why both hose and tights?"

"For a simple reason," Cordelia smiles, glad that Shaw isn't fighting tooth and nail against her. Ticking off on her fingers, she says, "It's January, girl. You really plan on going to the Boardwalk and freezing your legs off in the middle of winter? This is California, sure. But you still want to dress warm. That’s what the tights are for, they’re warmer."

Shaw considers Cordelia's advice and nods. "Rather than casting a spell to resist the cold and possibly revealing myself at this stage."

"That's another reason, Shaw," Amy says in approval. "Good thinking. And we're going to get you some different colors, since you need to match colors with the appropriate clothing you have. Since you've stopped fighting us all the time on Mall outings, we'll take the next step."

"If you mean miniskirts, you are wasting your time," Shaw snaps softly. "At least at this time."

Cordelia waves her hands around. "Look, we're getting off track here. Let's just get the stuff to start her off and go from there."

The three quickly agree and head for the hosiery racks.

After quickly determining Shaw's size for hose, Amy and Cordelia pick out five pairs; nude, white, black, navy and hunter green. Amy explains to Shaw that they don't have the ability to try them on at the store to see how they feel, Shaw grumbles over how much she’s buying for just one date.

"Look, you can't seem to make up your mind, cuz," Amy says testily. "First you think we're setting you up, then you're thinking we're trying to ruin it for you. Make up your mind."

"Amy, lay off," Cordelia orders the witch. "She's just nervous about this." She looks at Shaw, and says, "Unless it's that time again?"

"No, it is not," Shaw wearily says. "Why do you always think that?"

"Typical Earth thing. When a woman acts abnormal, blame it on PMS," Amy grins despite her irritation. "Welcome to the ranks of Earth women."

Shaw sighs and says, "I am so glad you two are enjoying yourselves at my expense."

"Well, we gotta get our shots in where we can," Cordelia replies. Waving for Shaw to follow, she says, "Next, to the shoe department to get you some heels."

Shaw stops dead in her tracks. "Please tell me you are joking."

"Nope," Amy tells her. "You can't wear black or blue tennis shoes, and the sandals you normally wear with the dress won't keep your feet dry if there's rain on the ground. We were thinking along the lines of some nice Capizeo ballet flats or leather espadrilles with a one-inch heel. "

Cordelia also says, "And what's the big deal? We've seen the way you walk; you walk on the balls of your feet ALL the time. What's the difference here?"

"The heels will put me off balance," Shaw answers. "It was hard enough to concentrate on dancing in my running shoes without consciously watching my steps, now you expect me to wear heels?"

"Low heels, Shaw," Amy promises. "Something close to the ground. Sheesh. It's like you expect us to squeeze you into six inch stiletto heels."

"I saw enough of those in Waterdeep," the half-elf mutters, referring to a long-ago Harper mission. Seeing the sick looks on Amy and Cordelia's face, she sighs. "Fine. But I prefer comfort and function."

"Which is why we're getting you low heels," Cordelia promises. "Six inch stilettos go with leather and I don't mean ranger armor."

Looking at Cordelia's grin and not amused by it, Shaw adds something else about her mission in the pleasure hall. "I will not go into a store with you if it sells whips and other such devices. What you and Xander do in private is none of my affair, and my standards are far too high for something of THAT nature."

Shaw walks by, leaving Cordelia and Amy stammering.

Amy finally looks at Cordelia, and asks, "Is it just me, or is it really easy to forget she's had no social life before?"

"It's easy," Cordelia replies with a shudder.

*****

Jacob Devonshire's Flat
Near the Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Jacob looks at his reflection in the mirror to check out his chosen attire. He's wearing gray slacks over black socks and casual shoes, with a white t-shirt that will be covered by a black turtleneck sweater when he leaves for the date. Satisfied that this is appropriate clothing for what will be a very chaste (in every sense of the word) date, he checks his watch.

Seeing that the time is only 2:45, he realizes he's got two hours to kill before leaving for the teen club called the Bronze.

<Well, I suppose I could prepare the other items in the room,> he thinks to himself. <After all, the room is in a state of disarray from unpacking, and I am not Oscar from the Odd Couple. In fact, I put Felix to shame. And I do need to make sure everything is arranged for my stay here. I do hate to rush things. After all, patience is a virtue.>

With a grin, Jacob proceeds to do a little light cleaning to pass the time until he meets Shaw.

*****

Sunnydale Mall
Sunnydale, California

Shaw gingerly walks towards Cordelia, clad in low heeled closed toed pumps of a dark green color. Seeing her hesitation, Amy walks up to her quietly.

"Shaw, stop thinking about the heels," Amy instructs her. "Think of it this way; think about the weight being evenly distributed on the front and heel of the shoes. The heel only touches the ground for a second, and if you balance your foot so that you walk normally, the weight will fall on the front like when you're normally walking. I know it's hard the first time, but you catch on quick. Now try it."

Shaw looks at Cordelia, who nods at Amy's methods of explaining things. Shaw takes a deep breath, and slowly makes her way towards the Amazon. While it's quickly obvious to all three that it'll take time and work for Shaw to master the art of walking in heels, Amy's method of helping seems to have done part of the trick as Shaw does seem more proficient if using Amy's stratagem.

"Well, I suppose that'll do for now, Shaw," Cordelia tells her. "Do you want to wear them out for practice or wear your tennies?"

Shaw quickly sits down and pulls the heels off.

"Sheesh, you don't have to be pissy about it," Cordelia offers. When Shaw glares at her, she says, "Just kidding, just kidding. You did good your first time."

When Shaw stops tying her gym shoes, Amy quickly adds, "That was a compliment, Hunter."

Shaw doesn't look convinced, but finally nods to her. "Might I ask what happens next?"

"You sure you want to hear our advice?" Amy asks, only half-joking.

"Is it as relevant as your other advice has been?"

<She just THANKED us!> Cordelia realizes in shock. She nods and smiles. "Yep. You usually wear a duster or trenchcoat for hiding swords and stuff, right?" After Shaw nods, the warrior tells the half-elf, "Well, you need something for wet weather and stuff. Something like a gabardine raincoat with zip-in lining or just a wool coat. ‘Course, I’ll make sure you get something fashionable."

Shaw seems less hesitant over a coat, and smiles at Cordelia’s pledge at the end. "I can see your point, Cordelia. You are right on those counts, so what would you suggest?"

"Follow me," she grins.

*****

Jacob Devonshire's Flat
Near the Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Jacob throws his turtleneck sweater on, and looks in the mirror once again. Seeing his hair has come out of place, he quickly takes out his pocket comb and professionally puts it back in place. When it's done, he puts the comb back in the pocket of his slacks and goes over to the room.

Walking in, the Englishman makes sure everything is tidy and in place for when he comes home tonight. He rearranges a couple of items to make sure they're properly put in place and accessible, then picks up a couple of items he's likely to need, should trouble arise.

<Seeing what I've seen in this town, that's likely. I just hope it doesn't ruin our evening,> he prays.

Satisfied that he has everything, he checks his wallet and both counts his cash and checks for his credit cards.

Shaw strikes him as the type of person to prefer, no demand, that both parties pay equal shares of whatever costs are incurred during the evening, by his estimation.

<Sorry, oh noble lass,> he thinks, folding his wallet and putting it in the pocket of his coat. <But you won't pay for anything this evening. My father always said that gentlemen always act like gentlemen. And I most certainly AM a gentleman.>

With that final thought, Jacob throws on his coat and walks out to enjoy the evening in the company of a woman that seems to be a combination of beautiful, formal, and principled.

<Far too few of those these days,> he thinks.

*****

Johansen/Hunter Residence
Sunnydale, California

Amy sits on Shaw's bed while her cousin prepares for her date with Jacob. Cordelia had begged to be dropped off at her home to dress up for her date with Xander, and Shaw could hardly object with all the help she'd received over the course of the day.

"What do you think?" Shaw asks as she looks at herself in the mirror.

"It's good for a start," Amy says as she looks the nerve-wracked priestess up and down.

Shaw is wearing her white dress, which falls to her calves. Under that she's wearing dark green tights that she had bought only hours before, remarking how they feel very comfortable and much like the silk full body suits she wore on her Waterdeep mission.

<Shaw in a silk catsuit?> Amy had thought at the time. <Great. Another unbelievable image courtesy of one Shaw Madison Hunter. Of course, Xander probably read about it in the story Shaw wrote him for Christmas, so I'm glad he didn't bring it up in front of the girls.>

Shaw is now looking in the mirror, brushing her hair out. Currently unbound, the thick black mass falls to the midway point of her back. Amy still is in amazement that it was Alison Madison, and not her elven mother, that Shaw inherited the trait from. She wouldn't have believed it if she hadn't seen old pictures of Alison and Lydia, who both had that trait.

<I guess I got the shallow end of the gene pool,> Amy thinks. <I mean, my hair's good and all, but damn. Then again, it's a monster to take care of and brush out every day.>

Shaw finishes combing her hair out, and looks in the mirror. "Amy, what do you think?"

Before Amy can answer, another voice adds its two cents worth.

//I think that you look too much like Arial,// Brenna, Shaw's telepathic Guardian Spirit answers. //You look too much like that stuck-up Persian, rather than a pragmatic and dignified Siamese. You should cut it short.//

Shaw gives Brenna a dirty look, but the cat just lies on Shaw's bed, her eyes peered but emanating amused satisfaction.

"Next you will be asking me to change my eyes to blue," the half-elf says tiredly.

"What did she say, cuz?" Amy asks in good humor while reaching over towards Brenna. As Brenna senses Amy's intent and rolls over so Amy can rub her belly, the witch adds, "Although I hesitate to ask."

Shaw relays Brenna's answer, and Amy laughs.

"She also mentions that you are a good person, even if your smell is not pleasing to her senses," Shaw adds.

Amy quickly jerks her hand away from the purring cat, who yowls in protest. "What does she think I smell like?"

"A dog," Shaw replies with a smirk.

Amy gets the joke at her expense, and says, "Very funny."

//Thank you,// Brenna replies to the oblivious Amy.

"But anyway, you look good," Amy says. She taps her finger on her chin, then says, "It's supposed to be a tad windy tonight, so I'd suggest doing up your hair."

Shaw nods in agreement, and moves her hand to the right. Sitting near her statue of Mielikki is her Celtic hair clasp, a birthday gift from her adoptive cousin, Duncan MacLeod. She takes it up, and starts to put it on.

"You think that's appropriate for this date?" the Amazon asks with a raised eyebrow.

Shaw stops and looks at Amy through the mirror. "He is British, I am supposedly Scottish. . . well, you know the truth, I am partially Scottish through our grandmothers. It is Scottish, so how could it not be appropriate? If you think one of those simple cloth. . . scrunchies, you call them? If that would be more appropriate for this attire, please tell me. I look to your advice, Amy."

Amy thinks about it for a few seconds, but shakes her head. "Nope. This time you're right. And being silver, it won't shine like gold does and have some pickpocket trying to rip it off your head."

Shaw smiles at Amy's praise, but Amy quickly continues.

"But, at the same time, you want to have some jewelry on. I know you don't like it, but maybe you should leave the pendant here tonight. I know it matches the dress, but the chain's a little longer than most girls would wear. Definitely keep that sword guard on the thong here. You do NOT want to have to explain that to your date."

Shaw sighs in defeat. "Rings?"

"Now those you *should* wear, Shaw," Amy grins at Shaw's attempts to consider everything. "The gold is nice, even if it's magical. The ivory is a nice touch, it has the 'antique' look that your clasp has. I know it's new, but most people will think you've got taste in antiques. At least for jewelry."

Shaw nods and slips her rings onto her fingers. On her right she places her ring of regeneration, which to most people seems like a normal gold band set with a black star sapphire with miniature diamonds on either side. On the left hand goes the ring she received from Mielikki Herself, made of ivory and set with a diamond. Despite not being magical, Shaw finds it infinitely more valuable then the powerful healing item.

"What else?" Shaw asks while going back to preparing her hair.

"Shoes, coat, and maybe a dagger in the coat pocket," Amy advises. At Shaw's surprised reflection, the witch states, "Hey, you're not carrying a sword on your date, but this is still the Hellmouth."

"That is what flame blade spells are for," Shaw replies.

Amy shakes her head. "But it takes a few seconds to cast the spell, and a split second to take effect. This way, you got a weapon handy. This thing isn't advice from a friend, Shaw; it's an order from me. Your cousin."

Shaw thinks about the concern in Amy's voice, and smiles at her through the mirror. "Thank you, Amy."

"Thank me when the date's over," the witch grins.

//Of course Shawukay doesn't thank me for my advice.// Brenna relays.

Shaw sends the cat a glare.

*****

The Bronze
Sunnydale, California

Amy pulls her father's Ford Taurus up to the front of the Bronze and turns the car off. She looks at Shaw in the back seat and asks, "Ready, Shaw?"

To her surprise, Shaw answers, "Yes, Amy. I am as ready as I can be, thanks to your help as well as Cordelia's."

"Okay, go ahead and get out, and head on in. And don't worry, just concentrate on having a nice time and you'll have no problems with the heels."

"That is easy for you to say," the half-elf grumbles good-naturedly.

"Yeah it is," Amy agrees with equal humor.

Shaw opens the car door, slowly steps out, and gently closes the door.

Shaw walks around to the driver's door, prompting Amy to roll down the window.

"What is it?" Amy asks.

Shaw reaches into her purse and pulls out forty dollars. "This is for you."

Amy's face falls and the witch says, "You don't pay me for helping you, girl. I was glad to do it."

"Amy, I insist."

Knowing that Shaw's idea of insisting was much more forceful than true insisting, Amy reluctantly takes the money.

"What am I supposed to do with it?" she asks as she stuffs the two twenties in her pocket.

"You will know," Shaw replies. Shaw looks up and sees Jack enter the Bronze without seeing her standing there, so she utters a quick prayer.

"Stop that, it's going to go fine," Amy chides her.

Shaw nods and starts walking towards the Bronze.

Once she walks in the door, Amy pulls out her cell phone, quickly dialing a number. She says, "Okay, she's meeting him. Come on."

Ten seconds later, Xander and Cordelia walk out of the alley, climbing into the Taurus. Settling themselves on the back seat, they look at Amy expectantly.

"What's the plan?" Xander asks.

"Simple," Amy tells the fighter. "We follow at a discreet distance, we keep an eye on them, and if it becomes necessary, we bail them out if any vamps attack them."

"Good plan," Xander admits while looking at the witch. "But you know that if she sees us, we're going to be in deep ca-ca with her over invading her privacy."

"Yeah," Cordelia says sourly. "We'll set back our progress on teaching her Earth culture for months if we blow this."

"Don't worry," Amy assures the lovers. She turns the car on and says, "We're going to go around the block for about ten minutes and I've cast a tracing spell on Shaw's coat. So wherever she goes, we can follow her as long as we're inside a quarter mile."

Xander and Cordelia nod in approval of Amy's plan. The witch smiles as she pulls out from the curb where Shaw was dropped off.

Seconds later, the three are startled to hear a dull repeating sound.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Amy says, "What the heck is that?"

"Pull over," Xander moans.

Amy quickly does so and parks the car.

Xander jumps out of the passenger side door, walks around to the back of the driver side, and moans.

"Amy, come here," he tells her.

Both Amazons quickly jump out and look at the flat back tire of the Taurus.

Amy is stunned. "What the Hell, these were just put on last week!"

"It wasn't a nail, Amy," Xander said. "We would've heard it if it was a quick puncture."

Amy's mind flashes back to Shaw handing over the money, and quickly shifts her perceptions into the magical. Seconds later, she's pounding her hips with her fists.

"Oooooooooooooo! That pointy-eared ranger is SO DEAD!!!" she shouts.

"What?" Cordelia asks. "This is her fault?"

"Cordy, she called up one of those stupid mini-air elementals INSIDE the tire! She turned the air in the tire into a dust devil and it came out the nozzle and left me with a flat tire!" Amy screeches.

"That's why she left you the forty bucks," Xander put forth.

"Xander, these tires cost seventy bucks!"

"But a tow truck doesn't," he counters.

Amy looks at Xander. "Hey, I know how to change a tire, Xander."

"Yeah, but what are the chances that Shaw left any air in THAT one?" Xander asks her.

Amy and Cordy stare at him, then each other. The two women then express their feelings on the matter.

"AAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!"

*****

The Bronze
Sunnydale, California

Shaw walks into the Bronze and takes off her coat. Seeing Jacob near the bar, she slowly walks over, taking care not to trip in her heels.

<Goddess please let my elven genes take over,> she silently pleads to Mielikki. She walks up and quietly says, "Jacob?"

Jacob turns around and stares at the young woman standing before him. Instead of whistling or making what some would consider rude gestures, even in approval, he simply says, "Shaw, you look nice."

Shaw blushes a bit, but says, "You are too kind."

"Actually, I'm considered somewhat of a master of understatement, but I truly mean it," he tells her.

He looks at Shaw's white dress and thin turtleneck sweater she is wearing, the sweater’s green color matching tights and heels. He also sees that the tights and heels must be fresh off the counter, and he greatly appreciates that she obviously went to a great deal of trouble to look this way.

He then looks at the simplicity with which she arranges her hair and asks, "Might I see how you've managed to contain such a fine amount of hair?"

Shaw is embarrassed by the attention, but slowly turns so that Jacob can see the antique clasp that she's wearing.

Now Jacob does whistle in appreciation, but Shaw likes it since it's about her taste rather than her figure.

"Eighteenth century," he says, looking at the filigree worked into the design of the clasp.

"Seventeenth," Shaw quickly counters. She quickly kicks herself over her correction. She turns back to Jacob and says, "I apologize, Jacob. I did not mean to be so rude."

"No, it's all right," Jacob kindly says. He reaches up to stroke her cheek, but stops when he thinks it might be too forward for her. Instead, he respectfully says, "You have most excellent taste in accessories, Shaw."

"It helps that I have cousins with experience in the antiques business," Shaw offers to downplay her own training in the antiques field.

"Well, then they have excellent taste in enhancing the natural beauty of their cousin," Jacob counters. "But I insist you call me Jack. Please."

Feeling her cheekbones turning blue from embarrassment, but wanting the date to go well because she does like this man so far, Shaw manages to look him in the eyes.

"Very well, Jack," the half-elf says. "Shall we proceed to the Boardwalk?"

"Of course," he agrees. "I hope you don't using my transportation, unless you’d rather walk?"

Quickly wondering what the walk to the Boardwalk will do to her feet, Shaw accepts his offer.

"I would like that," she says.

Jacob stands up and extends his elbow in a gentlemanly manner. Knowing that it's considered a sign of consideration, Shaw wraps her left arm around his elbow, despite her normal independent nature.

With that, Jacob and Shaw walk out of the Bronze, Shaw's only concern being what will happen if Amy finds them before the night is over.

<She told me she would not tag along, so she has no complaint,> Shaw reasons to herself. <Besides, as I told Willow; they may be setting me up, but it will be MY choice how the set up goes.>

Setting course for the Boardwalk and the Pacific coast, Shaw and Jacob casually walk out of the Bronze.

*****

Part 4: The Date
(As Gomer Would Say: Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-PRISE!)

Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Shaw and Jacob take a slow, leisurely pace to the Boardwalk, talking about the sites in Sunnydale. They walk along the sidewalk leading to the Boardwalk, ignoring the noise and screams from the rides and other attractions as Shaw tells him of what things to do he can find in this town. While not many, Shaw does inform him about such normal features such as the Bronze, the Mall, and the beach, but she also tells him about her favorite places, Weatherly and Hammersmith Park.

Jacob looks at her in surprise. "You prefer the parks to the Mall? That's hardly the behavior for a teenaged woman."

Shaw glances at him and says, "Jack, I may be an Army brat, and a teenager, but I am a daughter of the Highlands, and also a woman who will always prefer nature to the noise of large metropolitan areas. Sunnydale's population was hard enough to get used to. I will not even mention New York."

"You've been to New York?" Jacob asks with surprise.

Shaw nods. "I passed through the city on my way here. When I arrived at the airport, I took ground transportation the rest of the way here."

Jacob smiles at this. "Tell me," he asks, "What do you think of America?"

"If you mean the country, there is so much beauty here that most people take for granted," Shaw tells him. She smiles at some of the memories. "For example, consider Pennsylvania. From my perspective, other than the cities and homes, that state seems to be nothing but tree-covered hills and mountains. I daresay that it is close to the most beautiful country I have ever laid eyes upon."

"Any others?" Jacob asks her as he looks at her wistful eyes.

"I mentioned watching the sun set over the ocean," she reminds him. "Another beautiful sight is watching the sunrise as it colors the mountains of the Rockies. You can see so many shades of pink and gold just by watching the mountain. You need not watch the sun itself."

Jacob drinks in the passion with which Shaw speaks of nature, and asks, "And the people?"

"They are still taking some getting used to," Shaw laughs. "Of course, my cousin and other friends take great pleasure in teaching me what they call 'pop culture.' They see it as an addition to my education."

"How are your 'lessons' progressing?" Jacob asks with a smile.

"I once used a wooden kendo stick to imitate Zorro during a sparring match," Shaw admits with a chuckle. "Of course, Xander eventually returned the favor."

Jacob says, "As is only right, after showing off like that."

Shaw thinks about that before saying, "He called it learning my lessons too well."

Jacob laughs at her comeback, putting his hand to his mouth to cover his smile. After regaining control of himself, he says, "I can see your point. Tell me, where have you been in your travels?"

Shaw's smile dies a bit and Jacob picks up on it.

"I didn't mean to pry," he tells her.

"No, it is all right, Jack," Shaw sighs. "It is just that many times it seemed my travels would never end, but now I have a home here and I am happy. But, some of the memories are painful."

"Why?" Jacob softly asks.

Shaw surprises herself by telling him. "I told you about my father. He was more than a soldier; he was a warrior, and a leader, a Lieutenant. My mother died when I was only two, and I spent much time traveling as my father's duties dictated. As a result, I hardly know as much about my father as I should."

"I see. Was he killed in combat?"

Shaw nods slightly. The ranger says, "In Africa. At the time, he had already decided that I should be with my grandparents, as grandfather had retired from the SAS."

Jacob stares in surprise. "Your grandfather?"

"Yes, he was a master sergeant," Shaw replies. When Jacob starts chuckling at her, she arches an eyebrow. "Why do you find that so amusing?"

"Well, it does explain a lot of the dichotomy of your nature," the Englishman says through his wide smile.

Shaw stops walking and folds her arms. She glares at him and says, "Jacob, I adored my grandparents. One might I say worshipped them. I do not appreciate jokes about them. It is not polite to make humor on the departed."

Jacob's face goes pale at the thought of offending Shaw. He says, "Shaw, I meant no offense! I meant that the different ranks your father and grandfather held explain much about you."

Still not amused, Shaw orders him, "Explain."

"As an officer, your father would have been responsible for his subordinates," Jacob explains. "And I'm sure you've heard the term, 'an officer and a gentleman.' I see that part in your upbringing, the formality, the politeness, and your respect for others. At the same time, your grandfather was a noncommissioned officer. He surely had a more, shall we say, 'personal' role with his subordinates. He was responsible for hands on training, and he surely knew how to put his desires known in, shall we say, colorful terms?"

Knowing what he means by colorful, Shaw blushes. "When I lose my temper, I have been told that I could make a Navy SEAL blush."

"Who said that?" Jacob asks with a crooked grin.

"My martial arts instructor," Shaw tells him. Returning his smile, she adds, "He is a former Green Beret."

Jacob looks at her with even greater respect. "How good are you at martial arts?"

Shaw shrugs and says, "We do not hold formal ranks in our group, but my instructor estimates my skill level at karate and judo at brown belt level, slightly lower in tae kwan do."

"You are good, then," her date observes. "I've taken fencing in my time, but I'm sure you're much better at such matters than I. Tell me, what does your cousin think of your taking such classes?"

Shaw shrugs. "Amy. . has some training," she says hesitantly. "It is one of the ways we spend time together."

Jacob looks at her in surprise. "Don’t you live with her?"

Shaw laughs under her breath and tells him, "Oh, no! Jacob, the story about our relationship is stranger than fiction."

"Try me," Jacob says with a grin. "I’ve heard some strange things in my time."

Shaw says, "Do not say I did not warn you." When he raises an eyebrow, the ranger sighs. "Very well. I came to Sunnydale to attend high school. I live with my guardian, Father Ulric. . ."

"Your guardian is a priest?" Jacob asks in shock. He recovers and smiles at her. "I come from a strict upbringing myself. Is the good Father Catholic?"

"Yes, Jacob. I myself am very religious," Shaw assures him. "As for Amy, we met within two weeks of the beginning of the school year. We discussed our ancestral backgrounds, and learned that we shared some of the same common ancestors, around one hundred years ago."

"When your cousin’s ancestor immigrated to America," Jacob reasons, thinking of the logical answer.

"No, when MY ancestor immigrated to Scotland," Shaw counters. Jacob’s eyes widen a bit, and Shaw smiles even more. "My twice-great grandmother was an American, descended from Irish and Scottish stock, who returned to her ancestral homeland."

"That does sound a bit harder to believe," the Englishman tells her.

"We checked the birth records in both nations, Jack," Shaw replies easily. She then adds, "They cannot both be wrong. And DNA does not lie. Immigration handled that test, and the results led to them granting me permanent residence here." She pauses and says in a soft voice, "You cannot imagine how important having family again is to me."

Jacob nods his head in agreement. "Perhaps not. But your story is amazing."

Shaw looks at him, a strange look in her eyes. "Jacob. . ."

"Jack," he counters.

"Jack," the half-elf sighs, still not sure why she’s so open with someone she barely knows. "Why are you asking me these things?"

"Because I've met more than a few women in my years, but never one who seems to have so many facets to her being," Jacob tells her with no sign of deceit. "Consider what I do know about you; you're a military brat, you're a Highland lass without a Highland accent, you are a fighter, a musician, a lover of literature, and you've a blend of passion, experience and innocence that I've never encountered before. And now, I find out you have a spiritual side as well. It's intriguing, to say the very least, Shaw."

Shaw's breath catches. She softly says, "I am hardly innocent, Jacob."

"I see it differently, Shaw," he tells her. "How are you not innocent?"

Shaw looks the ground rather than Jacob. "For one thing, my grandparents were murdered. I tried to. . . I attempted to *kill* the person who killed them, but I was unsuccessful. All of my training, all of my experience, as you call it, amounted to too little. And it took me several years to get over the failure, as well as the loss, and the anger. In that, my innocence was lost, Jacob."

"I see," Jacob apologizes. He walks up to her, and lifts her chin so that she can see his eyes. "But in a way, you are innocent, Shaw. Your feminine side is innocent. You haven't allowed yourself to truly be a young woman, and I can see it starting to open up. And I might sound as if I'm being kind, but I'm not. I'm trying to be honest when I say that this femininity that you're so unfamiliar with, and that unfamiliarity itself, is much like innocence. And I find it very refreshing."

Shaw listens to him, feeling her face flush as he goes on. She finally lowers her head, and he chuckles.

"You see, you're not comfortable or familiar with being complimented for your beauty or spirit. It's part of the charm I find in you," he tells her. "But I don't wish to bring up painful memories for you. Let's move on, both in topic and on foot."

Shaw nods quietly and the two start to walk again.

"So, which ride do you want to go on first?"

Shaw looks at him, not understanding. "What?"

"I wanted to know which ride you wanted to go on," he says once again. "You have been here before, haven't you?"

"A couple of times," Shaw admits. She then sheepishly says, "I have not been on the rides, though. There seemed little point in doing such things."

Jacob stares at her. "You've never ridden on a Ferris Wheel? Or a roller coaster?"

Shaw shakes her head. "It seems pointless. Why go on a ride that ends mere moments later."

"For the thrill, Shaw," Jacob firmly says. His smile grows and he tells the young woman, "Shaw, it's for enjoyment. The thrill of moving about at such speeds, letting yourself fly about on a roller coaster, or the fast random spins of other rides, it's about letting yourself go."

"There seems to be an element of risk involved," Shaw tells him. "For such a short period of 'letting yourself go,' it seems that the potential gains do not outweigh the risks."

"Have your friends ever explained that this is part of the attraction?" Jacob asks. When Shaw shakes her head in surprise, he sighs. "I thought not. Shaw, yes, there is some risk involved, but these machines are as safe as they can be made. There are numerous elements of security involved for the riders. Also, as I said, the risk is part of the thrill. Yes, you're giving up some of your control over your own fate. But as you said, it's only for a short time. And to allow yourself to go with such wild abandon can allow you to express yourself, and whether or not you're having fun. Also, despite the short amount of time, it shows that you're willing to allow yourself to take risks, however small the risk is. Many times, the fact that the rides are short is a source of irritation to the riders, since they want to spend more time on them. Mostly, it's to share the experience of taking risks with their dates or romantic partners. It's a way to bond by putting both your fates in the hands of another. Sometimes, people need to let someone hold their fates in their hands so they can forget about having control every second. An experience of giving yourself to someone else, if you will."

Shaw listens to his explanation and truly considers, for the first time, the disappointment she has seen before in her friends' eyes when she declines to join any of them on the rides. She realizes that this is part of the bonding process she's undergone since joining the team, and decides, then and there, that she will join them the next time. But, it will not be her first time on them.

Shaw looks around, eyeing the various rides. Still somewhat reluctant, Shaw asks Jacob, "Jack, which one would you suggest then? For someone who has never thought of your reasons to partake in such a ride."

"Oh, let's throw you in the deep end of the pool, so to speak," the man cheerfully offers the game young woman. "The roller coaster."

Shaw looks at the ride, with its loops and rises and falls, and the screaming people. She feels a cold lump in her stomach.

"If this is enjoyable, why are the people screaming?"

Jacob smiles at her naïveté. "Shaw, listen to their screams. Are those the screams of people who are terrified?"

Shaw listens for a few seconds, not wanting to let her date know that she's heard the screams of terrified people too many times to suit her taste. But, the experience allows her to tell the difference between fear, and the enjoyment these people are feeling.

"No, they are not," Shaw says with a wan smile. "I suppose we will wait until we are done to have dinner?"

Jacob laughs and says, "I wouldn't want to add various odd colors to your coat and dress, so yes. We'll wait until the rides are done. Unless you want to redecorate your wardrobe."

Shaw breaks out into laughter over that image, not her typical chuckles that she normally shares with her friends, but the true laughter of a woman enjoying herself. She manages to keep her eyes from tearing up, but it's an effort.

"You have a beautiful laugh," Jacob says in admiration. "You must have a beautiful singing voice, too."

Shaw stops laughing, and she's shakes her head in denial. "Only if you think a female cat in heat is beautiful."

Jacob holds his hand over his heart in faux shock. "What?!? A limitation from the maiden?" he exclaims with humor dancing in his eyes. "Say it is not so!"

"It is so," Shaw says, her cheeks growing deep blue as she can feel the amusement other park goers are getting over her embarrassment. "That is why I stick to music."

"I see," Jacob laughs. Seconds later, Shaw joins in. After they cease, he holds out his hand and goes into a short bow. "But enough of that. My dear, shall we ascend to the ride?"

Shaw smiles and says, "After you, Jacob. I will not go through this alone."

*****

Shaw and Jacob take one ride on the roller coaster, and Shaw sees, for the first time, that she has indeed been missing out on the attractions. She feels the wind sending her hair flying, and the feeling of freedom she feels at the speed, even greater than that of riding, make her feel exhilarated for the first time in a long time.

When the ride ends, Jacob allows Shaw to talk him into going on a second time. This time, he makes her sit with him in the front row, and this time she is smiling as widely as she ever has. When the second round ends, they disembark from the coaster. Shaw nearly stumbles, but rather than be embarrassed by her lack of grace, she and Jack share a laugh at the unfamiliar buzz and dizziness brought on by the ride.

Jacob guides her along until she regains her sense of balance, then asks her, "Does this ride still seem like it has little point to it?"

"No," Shaw says with a small smile. "It was very fun. And confusing."

"Why?" Jacob asks.

Shaw pauses, trying to seek out an understandable answer. "Jacob, part of me was feeling the fear of going on the ride, to move in such ways on those tracks. But also, the feeling of adrenaline overrode that fear, and I saw how much fun it can be to be racing at those speeds, and the unexpected turns even though you know they are there."

"In other words," Jacob smiles, "you got the point."

Shaw nods to him. She then asks, "What should we do now?"

"How about that one?" he says, pointing at what appears to be an oval bowl rising out of the ground.

"What does that one do?" she asks. She's never seen it before, so it must be new.

"I've seen them before," Jacob explains to her. "You stand against the wall, which is lined with a material which, when combined with the speed at which the ride circles, makes you 'stick' to the wall by centrifugal force. Then, to make matters interesting, the floor drops about five or ten feet into the ground, leaving you suspended in midair, only the speed of the ride and the material of the walls keeping you from falling."

Shaw listens to the explanation before saying, "Perhaps I should just take your word and not ask for explanations. It seems to ruin the mystery."

"You're catching on," Jacob laughs. Taking her hand in a gentle squeeze, he says, "Shall we?"

Shaw looks uncertain, but decides not to let caution ruin her night. The half-elf is having fun, and for one of the few times, it is on her own, apart from her teammates.

<Which is why Amy is going to be mad at me,> she thinks gleefully, not caring about Amy's wrath when next they meet. "Let us go, Jack."

"That's a girl," he says with a grin.

*****

By the time they end their riding on several different rides, it's nearly 7:30 in the evening. Shaw is drawn into the whirlwind pace of the rides, and is reluctant to end such fun with someone she barely knows. But, as it was once said, all good things must come to an end.

"I cannot believe that my friends never forced me to go on the rides," she admits to her date. "I never would have imagined how they could allow me to miss out on what they were right about."

"That's part of it, Shaw," Jacob offers as they walk towards the edge of the Boardwalk facing the ocean. "I think that you wouldn't have enjoyed it if they had indeed forced you. They want you to experience such thrills on your own initiative. And it seems they are very knowledgeable."

"Yes, they are," Shaw says with a smile. "But we are not here to talk about them. I have experienced what you wanted me to experience, now it is time for me to return the favor."

Shaw takes Jacob's hand and leads him to the railing facing due west and nods her head for him to watch the horizon. When Jacob smiles and begins to watch the descending sun, Shaw does the same. Together, they watch as the sun falls, while its reflection rises towards the top of the water at the edge of their range of vision.

It seems to start slowly, but quickly picks up speed as the two suns close in on each other. Eventually, the two combine into what looks like an infinity symbol, then it seems as if the suns have merged into perfect equals, one sun being halfway above and below water at the same time. And, finally, the suns seem to melt into each other as they fall below (and for the reflection, above) the horizon until tomorrow.

Shaw wistfully watches the vanishing orb of light. When it fades, she quietly asks, "Is it not beautiful, Jacob?"

"Yes, it most certainly is," he says as if in a daze.

Shaw smiles at his wonder until she turns and sees that he's not looking at the sky. Instead, he's looking at her profile. Realizing what he meant in his answer, she lowers her head and blushes, leading Jacob to laugh lightly.

"Come, before it gets too late," he says, backing up from the rail. "We should get something to eat. Do you want to walk back to town for dinner, or would you like to stay here and keep it simple?"

Shaw thinks about it and smiles. "I prefer simplicity, Jack. So, let us find something here as it will allow us to stay here longer."

Part of the consideration in her answer is that the Boardwalk is, for the most part, well lit. This will allow her to keep her eyes in the visible spectrum and not force her to hide the effect of her elven blood that manifests itself at night. It's a small deception, but a necessary one.

Jacob doesn't seem to mind at all. "Very good. Shall we see what's available, then?"

"Of course," Shaw readily agrees. She then adds one caveat. "You must remember, I cannot have anything with caffeine, either soda drinks or chocolate. Other than that, I have no restrictions."

"Of course," he says, looking at the bracelet on her left wrist. He's surprised he hadn't noticed it before, but he recognizes it as a Medic Alert bracelet, something he's seen many times in his profession. "I shall keep that in mind."

As they walk, Jacob asks Shaw, "Shaw, are you enjoying yourself? Truthfully?"

Shaw looks at him evenly. "Where did you get the idea that I am not having fun?"

"There is a difference between having fun and enjoying yourself," he says, seeming nervous as to her answer.

Shaw stops walking, forcing Jacob to turn and face her. With a surprisingly gentle voice, she says, "Jacob, there is a difference, and because of tonight, I know that difference. I *am* enjoying myself in a way I have only done a few times in my life. But it is different."

"How so?" he asks with uncertain eyes.

"Are you familiar with RenFaires?" she asks. When he smiles and nods, she smiles back. "I went to one last month, on Christmas weekend. It was like. . . stepping back into a simpler time. I enjoyed myself then, because for the first time, I met much of my American family. It was the combination of the period emulated by the Faire and taking part in that emulation, the fact that it was my twelve-year-old cousins who convinced me to go so that I could bond with them, and being part of a family unit for the first time since my grandparents died that I enjoyed. But this, this date with you, is. . . simpler. I am by myself with someone, spending time with someone outside of my friends, someone who has shown me things in one night that I have been missing out on. But also, it is that you are a person whose company I enjoy, not only for the activities, but because. . . I like you, Jacob."

"Jack," he says quickly.

Shaw chuckles at his insistence. "That is another thing, Jack. You do not judge me or pry. You are willing to allow me to reveal details in my own time. Even if we were not flying around like bats whose senses had been scrambled on these rides, I would have enjoyed your company tonight, simply for the company itself."

Jacob nods and smiles at her answer. "I have enjoyed your company too, Shaw," he assures the woman. He says, "Thank you for your honesty. Now, shall we go partake of the dining facilities of this Boardwalk?"

"Of course," Shaw smiles.

*****

Jacob leads Shaw to a concession stand, where he orders both of them a hot dog, an order of fries, and a large pretzel each. He orders a Pepsi for himself, but gets a cup of ice water for Shaw.

Jacob walks over and sets the order down at the bench that Shaw is sitting at. She's taken off her coat and is watching some children watching their parents attempting to win stuffed animals at one of the booths.

He sees what she's watching and asks, "You like children?"

"Oh, yes," Shaw nods to him. She takes the hot dog and fries he holds out to her and says, "I have always loved children, Jack. Their energy, their passion, their innocence. . ."

"Much like yourself," he says. When Shaw snorts with a smile, he tells her, "No, I mean it. You have many of those traits, Shaw. I envy the fact that you have managed to hold onto them for so long."

"What about you?" she asks, looking at the young Brit.

He smiles, but there's some sadness in it. "I'm not innocent, not by any stretch of the imagination. I've seen to much blood in my time, too much death."

"In London?" she asks.

He nods and adds, "And here in America. In the cities. That's why I have a flat here in Sunnydale. I can work in Los Angeles, but I need some place that I can get away from it. Where I can be by myself and follow my passions."

"Which are?" Shaw asks. She quickly adds with mischief, "You know some of mine, so now it is your turn."

"Medicine," he answers. She seems slightly surprised, so he tells her, "You have a love of the wonders of nature. I, on the other hand, have a love of the wonders of the human body. As people have said before, it's the most complex and amazing machine in the universe. And my passion is discovering the myriad ways that the body works. How different people can have so many different similarities, yet also the differences."

"You are a doctor?" she asks, seeing that he appears to be too young to be a physician.

"I was a medical student, thanks to the Church," Jacob tells her with a nod. "Now, I work at a hospital in Los Angeles, where I am one of the lowest men on the so-called totem pole."

Shaw searches her mind for the answer. "You are an intern."

"Yes," he says, surprised by her realization. "You know about medicine, too?"

"Hardly," Shaw admits. Sheepishly, she says, "I will confess that I do watch an occasional soap opera, which often has medical scenes in it."

"Now that's something I expect from a young woman," he says. When she cocks an eyebrow, he pleads, "Yes, I'm poking fun at you, but I myself watch some of them. A side effect of working nights. Luckily, I'm on a three-week vacation so as to handle the unpacking at my new flat here in town. I can relax, and celebrate the anniversary of my departure from London and going out into the wide, wide world."

Shaw smiles as she can read the true emotion in his voice despite the normal inflections of his speech. "I am glad that you have your passions, Jack," she tells him.

"Thank you," he graciously says.

"But tell me; how much of the wide, wide world have you seen?" she teases him.

Jacob sighs and quietly says, "Sometimes, I think too much."

Her smile dies at the sadness she senses. The half-elf reaches out and squeezes his hand. "Sometimes, I feel the same way."

"You?" he asks in surprise. He then says, "Someone as young as you are?"

"Jack, believe me when I say that I have seen a great deal of both good and evil in my time," Shaw softly answers. "I am not so naïve."

"What kinds of evil have you seen?" Jacob asks in sincere sympathy.

With a great deal of reluctance, the woman says, "Slavery of others, killers who think themselves above the law, the. . . thing that killed my grandparents."

Jacob stiffens a bit at her answer. He softly says, "Thing?"

Shaw doesn’t want to tell him the whole story, so she settles with, "He was more dangerous than you could possibly imagine, Jack."

Jacob leaves it at that. "I’ve seen my share of evil, too. Killers, war, drug dealers, prostitutes. The things they do. . ."

"Why do you call prostitutes evil?" Shaw asks him in confusion.

"Because they sell their bodies for money and tempt good men into sin," he replies with a cold voice. "Do you think differently?"

Shaw is caught off guard by the question, but honestly answers it. "Jack, I have seen what I consider to be evil. While I agree with your opinions on killers and those who deal in narcotics, prostitution is a different story."

"How can you say that?"

"I try to take people on a case-by-case basis," she answers. She looks around at the patrons and says, "One prostitute might have chosen her lifestyle, which while illegal in itself is not inherently evil. Another prostitute might have been trapped into the life against her will and not have any way to escape it, no matter how much she tries. I think it depends on the person. And, as I said, I have seen true evil in my time."

Jacob simply says, "Perhaps it’s a matter of opinion, then. I suppose we can’t agree on everything, eh?"

Shaw says, "I would never expect to agree with somebody on everything we talk about, Jacob. Perhaps it is the dichotomy of my nature."

Jacob starts and looks at her, seeing the smile tugging at her lips. He simply nods and says, "Perhaps it is."

The couple eats their improvised dinner, then disposes of the resulting garbage. As Shaw prepares to put her coat back on, Jack grasps it.

"Please, wait," he requests. When she cocks her head in confusion, he says, "Let me take in one last image of you like this, of how you look tonight. No coat, no food, just a lovely young woman I'm glad to have had the chance to get to know."

Shaw seems confused, but she is glad to grant his request. She sets the coat down and just stands there, looking at him.

Jacob takes in her face, the contrast of night-colored hair and cloud-colored skin, with the compromise of her hazel eyes, and the way her clothes echo those contrasts of light and dark. But mostly, he watches her eyes, with the many layers that those who didn't know what to look for might miss at first glance, or even a second. Finally, he says, "Thank you, Shaw."

Shaw gives him a demure smile out of embarrassment at his attention. "You are welcome, Jack."

"Here, let me help," he says as he picks up her coat. He slips it on, then waits as she buttons it up.

The two start to walk as many of the patrons of the Boardwalk begin to head home somewhat early on a Saturday night. Some obviously want to head to bed early, to spend time with their loved ones or to get sleep before heading to religious services in the morning. As they cross the end of the Boardwalk and onto a sidewalk near the terminal point of the stands, Jack looks around and sees that the two of them are completely by themselves in this area of the beach.

"Shaw, my flat is nearby," he tells her. "It is convenient for us. Would you like to stop there for a nightcap?"

Shaw stiffens a bit at his offer. She feels a conflict; she likes Jacob and hopes to see him again, but she feels a bit of reluctance to go to his home without somebody, mainly Ulric or Amy, knowing that she's doing so. Not wanting the date to end on a bad note, she reluctantly says, "I do not think so, Jack. I am sorry."

With a sigh of sadness, Jacob says, "I'm sorry as well, Shaw."

She turns to see what's wrong with her date, and sees him pull out what appears to be a small knife. She recognizes it as a surgeon's scalpel.

"Jack, what is that for?" she demands of him.

He looks sorrowful as he says, "I wanted you to come to my flat of your own will, but since that's not possible, I truly regret doing it this way."

Shaw begins to back up from him hastily, attempting to put some room between her and Jacob. Whereas most women confronted with such a situation would turn to run, Shaw isn't stupid enough to turn her back on her date-turned-assailant. She's attempting to gain room to take up a fighting stance before he can strike.

However, the women who would turn and run wouldn't have to deal with unfamiliar footwear. Shaw steps back on her right foot, as she turns sideways to take her stance. However, with the heel rather than a flat sole, she stumbles and begins to fall backward. She hears a crack as she descends, but takes comfort that it's her shoe and not an ankle.

Instincts take over and Shaw quickly rolls backward, using the momentum of her fall to come back up into her stance. She focuses her attention on Jacob, who pulls out a gun of some sort. Her surprise robs her of the split second it would take her to react, and enables Jacob to pull the trigger.

A small dart shoots into Shaw's neck, barely piercing the skin. After the brief stinging sensation, Shaw's relief is palpable as she sees it's not a serious wound.

<Great. The Earth version of a drow crossbow.> she wryly thinks. <But not as effective.>

Shaw starts to move forward, but something slows her down. Her steps aren't as sure, and she feels a wave of dizziness coming over her. She quickly realizes she's been poisoned or drugged. She opens her mouth to cast a spell to neutralize the poison, but she's too late. She realizes that Jacob's shot was expertly placed, nicking her jugular vein, which spreads the drug to her brain that much faster.

Shaw feels herself begin to fall, but to her surprise she sees Jacob drop the gun and scalpel to rush forward to catch her before she hits the ground. He gently guides her downward, her head spinning as she fades into unconsciousness. He wraps his arms around her torso, not only to keep her from falling, but also to keep her from struggling as she feels her muscles begin to lose their tenseness. Slowly, her muscles become relaxed and unable to respond to her mental commands.

Jacob slowly lowers himself to his knees, keeping Shaw from jerking as the drug takes effect. Her mouth tries to speak, but no words come out; it's an effect of the drug to delay impulses from the brain in addition to its main purpose as a quick-acting muscle depressant. Jacob slowly brushes Shaw's hair out of her face, and sees her bleary, confused eyes looking at him.

"It's all right, my dear," he says tenderly, in the same gentlemanly voice he's always used. "You allowed me to know of your passions, now it is my turn to show you mine. And you should be honored, for you will the first woman other than a whore who is told my story before I demonstrate it to you."

Shaw tries to fight, but her muscles are completely relaxed and unable to coordinate. The twin effects of the drug have made her completely limp and unable to act. She feels Jacob tenderly stroking her chin, a look of affection for her spirit in his eyes. She once again tries to speak, but he touches his finger to her lips.

"Shhhhhh. All in good time, Shaw," he whispers, his voice sounding like a soft wind to Shaw's confused senses. "Shhhhh. Sleep, my dear. Just let go and sleep."

Unable to resist any further, Shaw falls into the sweet oblivion of sleep.

*****

Part 5: Explanations Under Wraps
(Seems Shaw's Librarian And Shaw's Date Share The Same Nickname. And I Don't Mean G-Man)

Jacob Devonshire's Flat
Near the Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Awareness slowly returns to Shaw as she attempts to fight off the drugs in her system. Her senses don't want to respond and it takes a lot of sheer willpower to shake off even part of her drowsiness. She allows herself to reach a certain level of awareness before trying to go further, as an attempt at trying to do everything at once will likely fail, leaving her too exhausted to try again, or even make her succumb to sleep a second time, a time that might be her last.

Still feeling sleepy and sluggish, Shaw still knows that she can at least stay awake while she tries to gather information on her predicament. To her dismay, it quickly becomes clear that her situation is not good.

She tries to move her arms, but the option isn't available. Neither is moving her legs. In fact, she can barely feel her limbs; she can tell that something is touching them, but her sense of touch can't pick up anything else. She tries again to move her arms, but to no avail; she slowly figures out that her arms are bound to her sides, but not with rope. Her legs are similarly bound together, but she succeeds in bending them a bit at the knees. As she moves, she feels the surface she's on moving in reaction to her movements. Oddly enough, the uneven bouncing reminds her of traveling over water.

<A. . . waterbed,> she concludes. Against her will, she's forced to admit it's a good deterrent to movement. <No. . . firm surface. . . for me to push against.>

She bends her knees, but even that movement is limited. She sets her feet on the bed, arches her back, and pushes. As soon as her head clears six inches, the fog in her mind explodes into a full-blown wave of dizziness. Unable to stop herself, Shaw falls back, her head crashing onto the pillow.

<Pillow?> she asks silently. <What in. . . Mielikki's name. . . is going on here? He drugs me, kidnaps me, binds me. . . however he has done it, but rather than. . . a dungeon. . . he lays me on a waterbed?>

Again, Shaw's reminded of the ingenious use of the bed as she sloshes around when attempting to move. She not only has to fight the drugs that delay her thoughts and actions, but also the relaxing motion of the bed that hinders her attempts to move as well as increasing her drowsiness. Shaw tries once again to swing herself up, but again she fails.

She gives up that idea, sliding her feet back, leaving her prone once again. Another realization; her shoes are gone, but her feet aren't bound like the rest of her body.

<If I could stand. . .> Shaw quickly discounts the idea; she realizes some type of mask, which only adds to her disorientation, has blindfolded her. She slowly opens her eyes, but her vision is blocked.

Having no physical option immediately open to her, Shaw considers mystical options. But upon feeling the tape gag over her mouth, she despairs of that.

A rising fear, her claustrophobic problem, tries to manifest itself, but her drugged state is a benefit in this case, as it keeps all of her mental faculties somewhat blurred.

<He wants me. . . alive, for whatever reason,> she drowsily thinks. <So. . . I have a chance.>

Shaw decides to attempt to move again, but her still dulled senses, as well as the amorphous surface she lies on, simply make it impossible.

"You shouldn't exert yourself, Shaw," Jacob's gentle voice says from outside the darkness of Shaw's world. "The drug will wear of fairly soon, but you're still virtually immobile and unable to take advantage of what little movement you do have. You'll only exhaust yourself, so please try to relax."

When Shaw snarls something quietly under her gag, Jacob sighs. "I'm going to remove the gag. You don't seem the type to scream in terror, so I'll ask you instead to keep your language somewhat reasonable. Then I'll remove the night mask. I do advise you to open your eyes slowly, so that they can adjust to the light."

Shaw's helpless to do anything to prevent it, so she just waits until she feels Jacob gripping one end of the tape that covers her mouth.

"This may sting a little," he advises in that honey-laden British voice. He slowly removes the tape, which does sting as it separates from Shaw's face, but she doesn't react. Jacob smiles approvingly and says, "Very good."

Shaw tries to mumble something, but it's unintelligible. She jerks as Jacob gently strokes her cheek with the back of his hand.

"Relax, my dear," Jacob says softly. He reaches towards Shaw's forehead and slowly slides her improvised blindfold off of her head. "Open your eyes, but do it slowly."

Despite her furor, Shaw does as she's bid, slowly blinking several times. She looks at her captor with bleary, unfocused eyes, an indication that she's still drugged. She manages to croak, "Why?"

Jacob gently strokes Shaw's hair. He smiles and says, "In a bit. But you need to relax, because---"

"Can't. . . feel. . . arms," the weary half-elf mumbles.

"Ah. It's partially the drug, my dear. A muscle depressant, but it will wear off in a short while," Jacob promises. "But mostly, it's the bandages."

Shaw focuses a bit on the last word. "Bandages?" she asks with blurred worry.

Jacob sits on the edge of the bed, reaching towards Shaw, who unsuccessfully tries to scoot away. Jacob reaches under Shaw's shoulders and gently raises her torso to show her what he's talking about.

"You aren't injured, Shaw," Jacob promises as he supports Shaw's upper body. "But the bandages are the cause of most of your confusion."

Shaw tries to focus her vision on what she sees, but her foggy mind isn't quite able to assimilate what her eyes are peering at. Virtually her entire body, from the tops of her arms and chest, to below her ankles, is wrapped in flesh-colored bandages. The only skin not covered with the multiple layers of wrapping are the very tops of her arms, shoulders, neck, head, and her feet. She tries to budge any part of her cocooned body, but her muscles barely respond to her futile attempts.

Shaw looks at Jacob in confusion, trying to comprehend this type of restraint. "Let me go," the elf says in a dry whisper.

Jacob knows it's not a plea, but a demand. Jacob says, "No, if you are to escape, it will be your doing, my dear. There are several reasons why I used the Ace bandages. First, rope can burn and cause abrasions, not to mention that it can be broken. Ace bandages have several advantages; they can breathe, which means they allow air to pass through them; they're elastic, which allows you to struggle all you want, but they'll just move with you and not give you any progress; also, as a medical professional, I can get all I need. As small as you are, I didn't need as much as I anticipated. As for the sensory deprivation you're experiencing, it's from how I bound you. I wrapped your arms and legs separately. . ."

"You bastard. . ." Shaw starts, her tired eyes flaring a bit in anger.

Realizing what she's about to accuse him of, Jacob's face becomes grim. He icily tells her, "Shaw, I only moved your dress to the middle of your thighs, an NO higher. So, unlike the whores that you defended, I will not be accused of doing anything voyeuristic. Look at yourself, and you will see that you are still *fully* dressed. Yes, I removed your coat and jewelry, for separate reasons. Your shoes, however, were a lost cause. But to clear your anger, you are completely dressed. Now, after wrapping your arms and legs, I bound your arms to your sides from your shoulders to your wrists. Then I put the excess folds of your dress in between your legs to provide some cushioning between your knees and used a folded towel to keep your ankles from painfully rubbing against each other. Then I wrapped your legs together. Then, I began the final step, starting at your shoulders and wrapping downward, going slowly to use as much wrapping as was needed to keep you as immobilized as possible when finished."

Shaw struggles weakly in Jacob's grasp and feels some of her strength returning, but not enough. She looks into his eyes and softly asks, "Why this?"

Jacob slowly lowers Shaw back onto the bed. He strokes her hair as she watches him, still groggy. "Quite simply, if I had used the standard leather wrist restraints and two straps across your body, I don't doubt you'd have broken out in practically no time at all. I didn't do this to be cruel, Shaw, but out of a healthy respect for your abilities. I did it to prevent your early escape and, from what I know about you, a bloody fight you might well emerge victorious from." He smiles gently and tells Shaw, "I want you to relax, so that I can show you what you will be a part of. But. . ."

Shaw weakly growls, "Bound like this, you son of a whore?"

Jacob gives her a hard look and tells her, "If you wish to be angry with me, Shaw, I expect it. But as you yourself said, do not speak ill of the departed. Unlike a true whore, my mother was a good woman."

Shaw surprises herself and Jacob by nodding weakly.

Jacob loses his anger and regretfully says, "I apologize, but I will explain later. Now. . ."

Shaw starts to struggle again. She raises her torso once more, but falls back, moaning at the dizziness she still feels.

Jacob watches her bound form helplessly rock on his waterbed and realizes that Shaw will continue to struggle until she either exhausts her energy or passes out once again. He walks to the foot of the bed and slowly sits down on the end. He reaches over and slowly lifts Shaw's legs by the ankles. The added weight and movement alarm Shaw, who tries to kick herself loose of Jacob's grip. Jacob simply holds her, gently yet firmly, until the exertion finally stops.

"Let. . . go," the young woman demands, breathing hard from her efforts and unable to put any emotion into the words.

Jacob shakes his head, despite that fact her eyes are closed. "Shaw, I want you to relax, because if you struggle when I carry you, you'll likely make me drop you accidentally. I don't want you to be hurt. Now, I'm going to help you become relaxed, so please don't struggle or try to kick me."

Jacob doesn't wait for her to respond. He lays her feet across his lap and begins to massage them. When his thumbs touch Shaw's soles, the half-elf yelps lightly and jerks involuntarily. With the weakness caused by the drug, Jacob's gentle grip is more than able to keep her feet in his hands. The Englishman works on both feet to start, spending almost ten minutes working various nerves in her feet using techniques he's learned in his long life.

Then, he shifts himself, sitting Indian style on the waterbed and taking Shaw's left foot in both hands. Again, when both of his thumbs start on the bottom of her foot, she futilely tries to escape his touch. Jacob just smiles at her reaction, concentrating on maintaining his relaxation techniques. As he works on her massage, he can feel Shaw's body beginning to lose its tension. This is one benefit of her sensory disorientation he didn't mention; since the majority of her sense of touch is dulled or neutralized, any sensory input she *does* receive is intensified. So while the nerves in her arms and legs aren't picking up anything because of the multiple layers of bandages, her other nerves are receiving magnified signals through the gentle manipulations of Jacob's fingers.

Shaw tries to summon the energy to fight him, but despite the fading effects of the drugs, the combined immobility, lack of focus, and the effects of Jacob's excellent massaging skills are too much for her to overcome. She loses her battle to resist, and surrenders herself to what Jacob is doing to her body using nothing more than two hands, her mind starting to drift off as her body slowly becomes completely relaxed.

Jacob spends the same ten-minute span on Shaw's left foot, then moves to the right. This time, when he lightly grips the bound woman's digit, she doesn't react other than some minimal movement of her head while it rests on the pillow. He does a complete circuit of the foot, but Shaw doesn't react other than to let out an occasional dull "mmmm." After the man finishes with her foot, he decides to give her an additional twenty minutes on both feet at once to give her the most thorough foot massage he's ever given a woman, and to make sure she'll not struggle when he carries her into the other room. He gently and methodically prods and massages every nerve in her foot, starting at the toes, then moving downward to the balls, the arches, her soles and finally her heels.

When he finally finishes his work, Jacob can tell that Shaw is completely relaxed; in fact, she's all but asleep on his bed once again. He moves off the bed as quietly as he can, and gently lifts the sleepy priestess and cradles her light body in his arms. In reaction, Shaw only murmurs something under her breath. He quickly but quietly carries her towards his special room.

*****

Jacob walks into his large room, carrying the mummified Slayerette towards a specially modified hospital gurney. He gently lays her down on the gurney, which contains a surprising number of modifications. He moves slides on both sides and quickly prepares for Shaw to come to full alertness. Taking the first strap, he draws it over Shaw's chest.

Jacob has two sets of restraining straps on this gurney; the first is a set of four sewn into the gurney itself, made from the same elastic material as the Ace bandages enshrouding his captive. The difference is that these straps are six inches wide, which connect through strong plastic buckles that allow the doctor to tighten each strap until it leaves no room or gap between the strap and the part of the body being restrained. The purpose of these straps is to keep the captive party from bucking upward in an attempt to break the standard industrial gurney straps.

Jacob efficiently straps the restraints across Shaw's chest and hips, tightening them so that they're completely snug but not capable of causing her any pain. He then moves to the lower portion of her body.

By the time Shaw realizes she's no longer on the waterbed, it's too late for her to take advantage of the change. She focuses as much as she can, slowly lifting her head to observe what her captor is doing to her.

Jacob senses her awareness, but remains silent as he quickly tightens the strap around Shaw's knees. With three straps fastened, Shaw's arms are now doubly pinned at her biceps and wrists, while her legs are effectively unable to move since her knees are now bound to the table.

"Jacob, what are. . you doing?" Shaw asks as she tries to test the restraints while attempting to fight off another wave of dizziness.

Jacob allows her to make the attempt, then moves to the strap at her ankles. He tells the girl, "I'll explain in good time, my dear."

Shaw wiggles in a vain try at loosening her bonds, but simply lowers her head as Jacob ties her ankles to the gurney. She hears his footsteps coming towards her head, so she looks at him. "Why this much effort, Jacob? Tell me now."

Jacob smiles at her order. "I will tell you, Shaw, that I'm glad your passion if unaffected. Most would be pleading or crying at this point."

"Stop. . . complimenting me and. . . tell me why. . . you are doing this," Shaw snaps at him.

With a sigh at her attitude, Jacob says, "It's quite simple, Shaw. You are no doubt trying to think of a way to escape, and I must do everything in my power to prevent that. In a sense, it's much like our roller coaster ride." Shaw starts to comment, but Jacob places a single finger across her lips. "Shaw," he says, "right now, your fate is in my hands. But, at the same time, by bringing you here, my fate is in your hands should you escape. A small risk, but a risk just the same. As you must do everything in your power to escape your predicament, I must do everything to keep you bound. Thus, the efforts I am taking to eliminate any chance you have at freedom, which would lead to me losing mine, and thus the failure of a quest I undertook a long time ago. But now I need to finish the process."

Shaw can do nothing as Jacob takes a strap from the side of the gurney and draws the pieces across the middle of Shaw's torso. He puts one strap through the buckle and pulls it tight. He then does the same with the second strap, which lies across Shaw's calves.

Shaw is now bound by three stages of restraining methods and is only capable of moving her head and feet. She acidly asks, "Is this the point at which I mention the term, 'overkill?'"

Jacob laughs at her comment. He shakes his head in amusement before he gives Shaw a kind gaze. "You wanted to know what this is about, my dear. Now, I will give you your answer. It may sound insane to you, but I assure you I am quite sane."

"That might be. . . debatable at this point," Shaw dryly mumbles.

A crooked smile crosses Jacob's face. "I can see your point of view, Shaw. But, to my story. I was born in Bristol in 1649, moving to London with my parents when I was nine. After my schooling, I entered college to study medicine. But, in 1671, something happened. I freely admit I was a young man, foolish and full of hormonal energy. One night, I paid for the services of a prostitute, but something went wrong. The woman had a rather intoxicated employer who decided I needed neither my purse nor my life. He stabbed me fifteen times."

Shaw's eyes widen in understanding. "You are an Immortal." When his eyebrows widen in surprise, she quickly tells him, "I know the MacLeods. Connor and Duncan."

"How do you know them?" Jacob asks, forgetting his own story.

Shaw glares at him. "Hunting. . . vampires every night leaves your mind. . somewhat receptive to new ideas."

"Agreed, my dear," Jacob admits. "But don't think I waste my time with the Game, Shaw. I have been Immortal for over 320 years, and in that time I have taken only six heads, ALL in self-defense. I could care less about any Prize." Having said that, Jacob returns to his story. "Anyhow, once I regained my senses after awakening in the street, I grabbed my sword and promptly killed the pimp and his entire stable. Five whores died that night. Unfortunately for me, the lorries failed to see my point of view; I could hardly tell them I'd come back from the dead. So, I was forced to leave England. One thing about my father helped me in that regard; he was not only a fan of Shakespeare, but also of the classic Greek and Roman works. But to fully appreciate them, he made our family read them in the original language. So, having a command of both Greek and Latin, I migrated to Athens."

"What does. . this have to do. . with kidnapping me?" Shaw asks, not understanding.

"I enacted a tradition of sorts on the anniversary of my first death," Jacob answers. "I would search out five women, prostitutes or harlots, and ‘refine’ my surgical skills on them. When I finished the celebration, I would leave the bodies for the authorities to find. Thus the thrill. Shaw, think about it; for three weeks a year, I put their fate in my hands. After the anniversary of my Immortality, I put my fate in the hands of those women and, through their bodies, law enforcement agencies the world over. It's the thrill of the chase, Shaw; I live my life as a doctor the rest of the year, wondering if the hunters will win the chase. During the last century in London, I was living as a reverend named Barnett, and I actually gained some fame after giving police clues aid their case, as well as bring attention to my cause, wiping prostitution from the face of the Earth. Alas, they never found me. Instead, they began calling me the Ripper."

"You are. . . a butcher, Jacob," Shaw accuses in her whisper.

Jacob shakes his head sadly. "No, my dear. On more than one occasion, I've actually saved one of my prospective subjects from another assailant. In every case, I let her go as Fate told me it wasn't her time. But as for my subjects, I do everything I can to make them comfortable despite their evil. If they manage to find a way out, that's part of letting my fate rest in their hands."

Shaw can't believe what she's hearing. As she fights to lower her delayed reactions, she asks, "And has anyone. . . ever. . found a way out?"

"No, but you would have changed that had I not taken these excessive measures with you," the doctor says with a touch of pride. "Shaw, I do not perform surgery on conscious subjects, nor do I force those who are yet to be operated on to watch. Ten hours before I begin operating, I sedate all five of my subjects. None have ever awoken before or during those surgeries. By using these subjects, I learn more about human anatomy with every operation. I then return to my normal life, applying my augmented knowledge, as well as waiting to see if the police can finish the hunt, or perhaps give me more recognition."

"Why Sunnydale? With all the vampires?"

"I read about the death rate by hacking into area computers," Jacob replies. He walks towards the other end of Shaw's body, trailing a hand along her right side. Through the bandages, she only feels the dullest of sensations. "I found out about the lowering death rate two months ago, but decided my activities were less likely to be noticed."

"The police are not responsible," Shaw tiredly tells him.

"So I've gathered from talking with you," the Immortal admits. He slowly runs a hand along the top of Shaw's right foot. He turns to face her and says, "But now, it's time to give you the grand sight."

Jacob walks to the side of Shaw's gurney and presses a button. Shaw feels the gurney that serves as her prison begin to raise at the end her head is at. Jacob holds the button until the gurney's at a sixty-degree angle and presses the stop button on the small console. He walks in front of her and says, "My operating theatre, my dear."

Shaw's eyes take in the large room, which includes four gurneys identical to the one she's molded to, arranged around a well lit, full sized, and fully equipped surgical bay, complete with table, tools and trays, a massive overhead light, and a tank of what Shaw assumes must be anesthetic gas. She sees the magnitude of Jacob's passion laid out before her. She looks at him and says, "Jacob, you are evil and. . . a murderer, or you are mad."

Jacob looks at her accusing gaze, and his face falls. "A murderer, yes. Evil, perhaps. Insane, I am not, my dear Shaw."

Jacob then moves to the gurney and begins to wheel it to its proper place in the arrangement. Once he has it there, he clamps the wheels into triple-redundant locks bolted into the floor. "In case you have thought of rocking and tipping the gurney over, it's now locked in place. Also, it weighs more than two hundred pounds when one counts your mass added to the solid lead core. But now, I need to head out and scout out my next subject." His voice takes on a note of regret as he says, "I wish that we could have come to see each other again, perhaps know each other better, but I cannot allow someone who is willing to defend whores to attempt to change me. . . despite how much I respect her and admire what is otherwise a beautiful and fiery spirit."

"Jacob, don't do this," Shaw pleads as her head falls forward in her tipsy state. "I. . offer my life without hesitation. . . if no one else will die."

Jacob walks into view and with a sad smile, reaches up and places a tender palm against Shaw's cheek. "No, my child, I cannot accept. But this only greatens my respect for you. I'll make the final safeguards on your bed, then leave you to rest."

Jacob walks to the side of the gurney once again. With a sudden lurch, Shaw feels the gurney being lowered. Once it's about halfway back to being perpendicular, the descent halts. Jacob walks behind the imprisoned half-elf and picks up a special pillow from a nearby shelf. He steps in to the head of the gurney and gently lifts Shaw's head, to her anger.

"What are. . you doing?" she protests.

Jacob sets the pillow against the gurney and lets go of her head. He walks to the side of the gurney and locks a strap in place. Quickly doing the same on the other side, Jacob moves to finish lowering Shaw's rolling cage. Once he has it level, Jacob moves to her head once again. When Shaw tries to look upward, Jacob pulls a fur-lined strap, woven into the pillow, across her forehead. Shaw tries to rock her head and weakly yells at him to stop, but the Immortal doctor quickly fastens the strap and pulls it snug. He watches as Shaw tries to rock her head and pull it free, but the grip is firm and she can't budge it.

"What now, Jacob?" the paralyzed woman asks the Ripper, unable to see him as she can only look upwards at the ceiling. "Torture?"

Jacob looks shaken at her assumption. He walks next to her and traces a finger along the line of her jaw. "Shaw, I have never crossed that line," he swears to his captive. "I have ways of keeping my victims in line; gags to silence constant screaming, sedatives when needed, and ways to. . . distract them from forming escape plans. I'm going to use one with you, but I swear to you with God as my witness that there will be no pain whatsoever."

Shaw fights off another level of the drug, and asks, "What are you. . going to. . do to me?"

Jacob walks to an equipment cabinet and pulls out a small selection of items. He walks to the near end of the gurney and takes one of the objects in his hands. It looks like a completely fur-lined slipper, designed to fit over the entire foot, with a dial and small case on the sole. He grips Shaw's right foot and slips the strange footwear on despite her strengthening struggles. A small elastic loop on the bottom goes around the top of Shaw's foot twice before Jacob smoothes the self-adhesive strap. Then, he wraps an ankle strap made of the same material around the joint where her leg meets her foot. Shaw tries to shake the device off, then attempts to use her other foot to pry it off. Jacob quickly foils her attempt and repeats the procedure with her left foot. Then, he takes a smaller rolled up Ace bandage and beings wrapping it around and around her feet, ensuring that the strange slippers now adorning Shaw's feet won't be coming off anytime soon.

"No. . ." Shaw protests, futilely attempting to pull away from him. "Stop. . ."

Jacob finishes tying the devices in place and says, "Shaw, I swear to you, this is a harmless device. In fact, it's quite useful and therapeutic. I will cause you no harm before I operate. But this is your challenge; to overcome everything that bars you from your freedom and find a way to escape not only your restraints, but also this distraction from your efforts."

She weakly asks, "What. . . are you. . . going to do?"

Jacob walks into her field of vision. "Help you to stay relaxed. Nothing more."

With his cryptic answer, Jacob walks back to the foot of the gurney. He tells her, "Don't be alarmed. I will not hurt you before the operations."

Shaw hears two faint clicks. Suddenly, she reflexively jumps when two strange sensations begin buzzing the soles of her feet. The combination of the fur lining touching her entire foot and the buzzing tickle her a bit, but not to a great degree. She struggles for all she's worth, but other than being able to move her feet back and forth, she's completely helpless to do anything as the slippers are doubly secured to her body.

Jacob walks up to the head of the table, where Shaw is attempting to ignore the feelings the vibrating devices are causing. The Immortal traces Shaw's jaw line and says, "Shaw, fight it if you wish. But don't be afraid to let yourself relax. It's not as good or as thorough as my personal

massage was, but it's constant, and sufficient to relax your body until you drift off."

Shaw starts to increase her struggles. But, despite her increasing strength, she can't move a single muscle. Her desperation becomes full as she tries to buck, roll, or kick, but her mummification and the straps keep her perfectly motionless.

Jacob just watches her futile movements for ten full minutes before she's too tired to move at all, simply lying there as the massage units, a variation of devices readily available at almost any drug store or pharmacy chain, do the work he would rather do personally for this woman he immensely respects despite his plans for her. He leans in towards Shaw and says, "Yes, Shaw, just let yourself relax. The personal massager is quite nice, and will help relieve your stress. I'll leave you here for now, as I regretfully must leave for town. When I return, perhaps we'll talk again, or I could give you another one of my personal massages to relax you, as you need your rest. Don't be afraid to let yourself sleep, you won't be woken by up anyone in the neighborhood, since the door is soundproofed. But, if you can win free, do so. I relish the challenge."

Jacob plants a tender, chaste kiss on Shaw's forehead and walks out of the operating room, leaving the helpless woman strapped to the gurney, receiving an unstoppable, continuous massage from the devices strapped to her feet.

*****

Part 6: This Never Happens At Atlantic City's Boardwalk
(The Not-So-Great Escape Into A Triple Reverse Somersault With A One-And-A-Half Twist In The Pike Position)

Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Jacob stands along the rail of the Boardwalk, looking out towards the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. The Boardwalk is silent now, at 3AM in the morning, the place having closed just two hours ago. Jacob has been standing here for about thirty minutes, thinking about the two prospective subjects he saw in the town proper.

<A prostitute and a high school student who is somewhat less than intelligent, and possibly just as immoral as the former,> he thinks to himself, comparing the two blonde women he saw in Sunnydale that he thinks he might not be missed. <What was her name. . . oh yes, Aura. What a fool. I wonder if she'd even be missed. I might be doing the world a favor with that one.>

He stops to think about that comment, and sighs. <So many evil women, and only one person to fight them.>

He stares out at the ocean, with occasional glances up at the stars as he smells the sea air coming in from the west. He thinks about his plans to celebrate his anniversary, particularly the anticipation of spending the preceding days in a mental game of chess with the woman he's made sure can not possibly escape him.

It's not that he is afraid she will escape; it's that she has the mind to try and use all possible avenues open to her. It's a part of the crusade that he's never truly felt, and it's just as exhilarating for Jacob as he could tell the rides and their date together was for her.

Jacob pauses a bit to consider that. <Yes, it *was* a date,> he tells himself. <Not just for Shaw, but also for me.> He sighs in resignation as he realizes that he'll regret not having more nights like this. <Perhaps I should have waited, and perhaps we could have had more time together, perhaps swayed her to my point of view. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I'd met someone like her in London all those years ago. . .>

He shakes off his daydreaming as he thinks about the talk he had with her, showing her his passion for medicine, his personal crusade, and his anniversary. <I wanted to share that with her. And I did. And I know it's going to motivate her to do everything she can do find a way out of her situation. That's something to take from this; I wouldn't have had such a remarkable woman to tell my story to if I had asked her out again rather than act quickly. And if she does find a way out, that's a new twist to the hunt. I'm almost hoping she does find a way to escape.>

Buoyed by that cheerful thought, Jacob turns and starts to head back for his flat. He wonders what he should do when he gets back, check on Shaw or just head in to bed.

<The girl has to have been put to sleep by now,> the Immortal thinks as he walks. <The drugs were still stronger than I thought and, combined with the massage units being turned on high as they were, should have put her out over an hour ago. Well, if not, I'll take them off and give her the personal treatment. Perhaps the two-hour massage, she's worth it even if she thinks that prostitutes can be anything other than evil. If she's not asleep by then, I'll put the slippers back on and turn them on high for a six-hour cycle. That will keep her docile even after the drugs fully wear off.>

Jacob walks along the wooden planks of the Boardwalk as he heads to his new vacation home. As he gets halfway to the end of the Boardwalk, a figure steps out of the shadows and into his path. Jacob pulls up short and stares at the shining red eyes of the person, a woman by her figure, standing in his way.

<Great. A vampire,> he sighs. <Glad I came prepared for this potentiality.>

"I don't want to hurt you, lass," he tells the woman. "Now please, go on your way and find another person to get your drink from."

"I am hardly a vampire, Jacob," the woman says in an accented alto voice.

Jacob's eyes widen for a split second, not believing that this is Shaw standing in front of him. But he quickly regains his composure, and feels himself starting to smile; she's exceeded his expectations, thus initiating the new phase of the chase. He sobers a bit when he remembers that she's staring at him with crimson-dotted irises.

"Shaw, please tell me you didn't escape only to be changed into one of those dreadful undead," he says hopefully.

Shaw moves forward a couple of steps. "No, Jacob. My eyes are in their natural state. At least, the natural state they assume in darkness. I am currently viewing you in the infrared spectrum, by your body heat. As my friend Buffy once called it, a built-in vamp detector."

"Infrared vision?" Jacob asks dully. "Amazing. Is it some form of cybernetics or genetic engineering?"

"No, Jacob," Shaw says, taking a tense posture as she takes two more steps forward. "It is inborn genetics from my mother."

"Your mother?" Jacob breathes in a whisper. "Shaw, what are you?"

Shaw gives her answer with a trace of amusement that Jacob can hear in her voice. "I am what results when you cross an elven warrior with Scottish stubbornness and an Irish temper."

<ELVEN?!?> Jacob thinks, stunned by this pronouncement. "Are you serious?!?"

"I see no humor in our situation," Shaw hisses at him. "But, if it makes you feel more comfortable. . . shirak!"

A globe of light bursts into radiance about twenty feet above their heads, illuminating a wide area of the Boardwalk.

Jacob looks at her, and sees her eyes have returned to the hazel color that he finds so attractive. He also takes in her overall appearance; her dress is wrinkled from the night and from being under numerous rolls of Ace bandages. Her hair is unbound and he sees just how thick and long it truly is. It's been swept back over one ear, showing off the point that it comes to, confirming her claim of having blood of the Folk. She has no shoes on, nor does she have on her coat to protect her from the night chill. Somehow, however, Jacob finds her current appearance. . . wild, untamed. And to him, it seems quite appropriate.

Jacob feels his breath taken away as he sees the wild beauty before him. It doesn't surprise him much to find that it only makes him more attracted to her.

"Shaw, you look amazing," he says. He quickly adds, "I'm not trying to flatter you, you at least know me that well. But this. . . would it surprise you if I said that seeing your true nature only enhances your appeal?"

"No, Jacob," Shaw says, nothing in her voice other than determination and anger. "But I cannot let you leave this place alive, Jacob. You are a madman who must be stopped."

Jacob nods at her phrasing. "I expected nothing less from you, my dear. I am Immortal, and you know how to end my life permanently. But I can't see fighting a duel with you if you are unarmed. Despite what you might think and know about me, I am still a gentleman."

Shaw laughs at him, but there's no humor in it. "You need not worry on that account, Jacob. But I also prefer to fight opponents on equal ground. Are you armed with something more than a scalpel and drugs? The drug will not work this time, I have taken precautions against a second helping."

Jacob nods and begins to remove his coat. He removes the right arm and reaches over with it. He pulls out his sword, a precaution against a possible vampire attack, and slides the coat off of his left arm, letting it fall to the ground.

"What kind of sword is that?" Shaw asks upon seeing the unfamiliar blade.

"A Toledo Salamanca, 17th century," Jacob responds. "It was a gift from my teacher, Maestro Fasil. He said that there were only ten of them left in the world the last time I saw him, about twenty-five years ago."

Shaw nods and begins to chant. She holds out her right hand and a scimitar, composed of magical flame, appears in her grip.

Jacob's taken aback by this manifestation and asks, "Magic? Don't tell me you're a witch, my dear."

"No, I have no talent for such magics," the half-elf tells him. She twirls the flame blade in her hand, getting a feel for it. "I am a nature priestess. Not a druid like the ancient peoples of Home, but more akin to an African shaman or Native American medicine man."

Jacob nods in understanding; he was a contemporary of Doctor Livingston in the 1870's. He tells her, "So I did make one mistake; I didn't find out as much about you as I obviously should have."

"A mistake that you will not have a chance to rectify," Shaw tells him.

"Shaw, if I defeat you. . ."

"This is a duel, by your own words, Jacob," the ranger cuts in. "This is to the death. I offered my life for others, you declined. I will not go back into captivity."

"I've no desire to kill you, Shaw," Jacob tells her honestly.

"But prostitutes are another story," she snaps.

Jacob sighs, then nods. "True. I am sorry things could not be different. I would have liked becoming closer to you."

"I will have your word, Jacob," Shaw says, no room for argument in her voice. "To the death. Your word as a doctor, a Christian, an Englishman, an Immortal, and a gentleman."

Jacob smiles despite the impending death of himself or this lovely young woman. "You do not leave room for loopholes, do you? Of course, Shaw. My word that I'll not take you prisoner."

"Agreed," she solemnly says. "If you win, your word you will not use my body for your hunt. Bury me in the woods in the park."

Jacob sees the dangerous look in her eyes, and nods in agreement. She nods back and the two start to circle each other in a wide arc.

"Before we begin, can you tell me how you escaped three layers of medical restraints, a drugged body, and an ingenious medical device that should have left you asleep, let alone completely helpless?" the British citizen requests.

Shaw gives him a thin smile.

"Magic."

*****

Jacob Devonshire's Flat
Near the Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Shaw lies on the gurney, completely unable to move most of her body. She tries budging her arms and legs, as well as arching her back, but the bandages and straps of the gurney have left her prone and at Jacob's mercy.

She tries another method, attempting to shake her feet loose by moving them in opposite directions. But, once again, Jacob has done his work perfectly; the bandages wrapping her feet together, with the slippers strapped to them, make her feet move as one. She struggles for several seconds before realizing that moving only makes random shifts occur in the sensations that are sending her back into a drowsier state, distracting her from attempting to remove the source of the buzzing.

<Which is. . exactly. . what Jacob wants,> she thinks to herself. She feels her eyes starting to droop, and simply relaxes, attempting to conserve what energy and awareness she has left. The half-elf simply lies there, feeling nothing but the sensations of the devious devices Jacob has fitted her with, emitting their continuous waves of relaxation.

Shaw feels rather than sees Jacob lean in towards her. In that cultured voice, which in her current state only sounds that much more effective at charming women, he says, "Yes, Shaw, just let yourself relax. The personal massager is quite nice, and will help relieve your stress. I'll leave you here for now, as I regretfully must leave for town. When I return, perhaps we'll talk again, or I could give you another one of my personal massages to relax you, as you need your rest. Don't be afraid to let yourself sleep, you won't be woken by up anyone in the neighborhood, since the door is soundproofed. But, if you can win free, do so. I relish the challenge."

In her drugged state, Shaw find that wants to accept his advice, and just let herself go to sleep. She is also surprised to think to herself that she wouldn't mind a second foot treatment from him, but attributes it to her clouded mind.

The Immortal gives her a light peck on her forehead, just under the strap that keeps her from moving that part of her anatomy. She keeps her eyes closed, not wanting to look at him any longer. She hears him turn to leave, leaving her in the room alone, assuming that the massage units will send her drifting off into slumber.

Shaw lies there for quite some time, waiting for any indication that he might come back in, and hoping that he has indeed left his flat. It is a dangerous game she plays, as she continues to fall more and more under the influence of the electrical slippers.

<But he is. . . right in one respect,> Shaw's weary mind concludes. <These devices. . are not as. . effective. . as his own hands.>

Shaw decides to take what she knows will be her final chance at freedom. She needs to focus, so that she can cast a spell of some sort to begin her attempt to escape. She needs something to focus on, since having that focus will allow her to maintain her concentration enough to gather the magical energy and enact the spell. If she doesn't, the effort at such concentration will leave her even wearier and send her over the precipice into slumber for the second time that night.

Unfortunately, she has a difficult time finding something to focus on; she can't feel her limbs, nor can she move her head to focus on a particular object. She tries to focus on the touch of the strap to her forehead, but it's not enough; the fur lining and the parts of her hair it touches dilute the sensation almost as much as the bandages do the rest of her senses. That leaves one possibility, and it fills her with worry. The one thing she *can* feel and concentrate on; the waves coming from the massage units.

Realizing it's her only chance, Shaw relaxes her mind and removes all considerations, save two; focusing on the buzzing feeling permeating her soles, and using those distracting sensations to concentrate on casting a spell.

She focuses on the relaxing feeling that is overcoming her mind, and feels the differences in the slippers and the massage she received from Jacob. The problem for her is that the footwear is constant and won't stop if she wants it to. Ironically, that is also her advantage; Jacob would vary his techniques for two reasons, to give her the complete benefit of his expertise, and to keep her from becoming familiar with the pattern of the impulses he sends to her brain and body. The units she's wearing don't do that; so she can become used to the pattern and not be caught off guard by a random change that ruins her spell casting.

She feels the waves as one constant feeling, and concentrates on using that unwavering sensation to focus on her spell. With a deep breath, she begins casting a spell at the most powerful level of power she can muster. It's difficult, as concentrating on the massage enhances its effect on her, but she manages to cast the spell.

Suddenly, Shaw's mind is completely clear of any influence of the drug that Jacob had put in her system.

As her full awareness, physical power, and mental alertness return with the speed of a hurricane-force wind, Shaw rejoices in the increased ability to reason and resist the impulses being sent to her brain.

However, there's one drawback to her success; the sensations being sent through her feet increase threefold. Shaw's eyes widen at this, as the buzzing now truly tickles her soles, and she starts bucking and doing everything she can to pull her feet away from the feelings being shot up into her mind. After three minutes she stops, as she recognizes that even with her full physical strength, she wouldn't be able to budge the bandages in the slightest, let alone the two additional layers of restraints securing her to the table.

She begins to feel two disparate yet conflicting feelings; she's fighting the impulse to giggle at the tickling she feels against her feet, but she's also fighting a new impulse to completely go limp and let the massagers continue their work. When it hits her that the impulse has nothing to do with the weakened state of mind caused by the drug, she reacts in what she considers to be the appropriate manner.

She spends two minutes cursing high heel shoe designers, masseuses, English Immortals, and Amazon matchmakers in an amazingly fluent mix of English, Elvish, Common, and two Gaelic tongues.

*****

Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

"A spell to neutralize poisons?" Jacob asks in wonder. "I would never have considered something like that."

"Granted, I would normally consider using it for something more natural," Shaw admits to him, "along the lines of snake or spider venom. But it served its purpose."

The two warriors take up defensive postures, Jacob using a French fencing stance and Shaw an Oriental pose. They each wait for the other to strike for a few seconds before Shaw launches the first blow, a standard thrust that Jacob easily parries.

"Too easy, my dear," Jacob tells her as they circle once again, looking for an opening in the other's defenses. "I expected more from you."

"And why should I use my most advanced skills immediately and reveal the level of my training to an unknown opponent?" Shaw retorts, her lips forming a thin line.

"Touché, lovely one," Jacob says, acknowledging her point. "But I do need to know, your spell negated the drug in your bloodstream, but it wouldn't win you your freedom. I am stronger than you, but I could never break free of such levels of bondage. Or will you have that fall under the concept of a magician never revealing her tricks?"

Devonshire launches a Spanish-bred three-step offensive, but Shaw flawlessly parries it. She extends his blade to the side and sends the outside curve of the blade flashing at his chest, but Jacob quickly jumps back out of her reach. With his greater arm length, he tries a one-handed swipe of his sword, but Shaw ducks under it by extending one leg to the side as she crouches and sends her return slash at the Immortal's knees. He quickly backs up another step, leaving room between the two combatants once again.

"In answer to your question," the Slayerette replies, "I am a nature priestess, so I have magic spells based on the natural world as well as the elements."

"Please tell me you didn't set fire to my lab," Jacob says in concern for his flat.

"No," Shaw says, the single word being the only answer she gives him before charging him.

*****

Jacob Devonshire's Flat
Near the Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Shaw finishes her tirade and quickly realizes that it might have been somewhat impulsive on her part. As she breathes hard to regain the air she expelled with her speech, the stoppage in her cursing means that she's no longer focusing on something other than her predicament.

Thus, the intensity of the emanations from Jacob's tools returns in full measure, causing Shaw to squirm and wiggle.

She feels laughter welling up inside of her and knows that if she loses her concentration on escaping, she'll never get out of this lab alive.

Shaw grits her teeth (at least in mental imagery) and begins to chant another spell. This spell takes only half as long to take effect.

The air in the room begins to circulate and take shape. In mere seconds a figure can be made out, appearing to be a miniature whirlwind with eyes. It watches the woman who summoned it impassively, awaiting her commands.

The prone half-elf feels the laughter starting to overtake her, but manages to get out, "Remove the bandages around my feet and the straps on this Goddess-blasted monstrosity!"

The dust devil quickly moves to fulfill the directives given to it, swirling to the foot of the gurney.

Shaw starts to giggle due to the feelings from the massagers, closing her eyes and fighting the impulse to give in to full-blown laughter.

The low-powered creature from the Elemental Plane of Air quickly removes the Ace bandage around Shaw's feet and moves to undo the multiple straps keeping her bound to the gurney. She opens her eyes and begins to demand to know why the being hasn't removed the slippers, but kicks herself when she realizes she didn't tell it to.

Her resistance starts to fail and her giggles become louder and more consistent. As the laughter Jacob found so beautiful begins to emerge, she still gets out the last command she can give the elemental before losing her clear speech.

"TURN OFF THOSE BLASTED DEVICES ON MY FEET!" she screams before laughter finally overcomes her willpower and becomes the only thing coming out of her mouth.

The dust devil immediately follows its new directive, whirling to Shaw's feet. Since it doesn't know how to turn the dial on the technological device, it has to consider how to fulfill her orders. Since the dust devil is only semi-intelligent, it takes a few minutes to ponder its choice of action.

Unfortunately for Shaw, its natural confusion means five more minutes of laughing her head off and being lost to the torturous sensations from the very items the creature wants to turn off.

Finally, the creature acts in the simplest manner it can; rather than do the easiest thing and turning off the massager, it rips off the battery container from each slipper. The lids fly off into the distance and four AA batteries land and begin rolling all over the floor of the medical room.

The air elemental just watches and waits for Shaw to give it further directions, as it takes Shaw two minutes to stop her laughter, and another to regain her breath and composure. Finally, she rasps, "Remove the straps."

The elemental does so and then vanishes as the spell expires.

Shaw stares into space for several seconds as she realizes she's on her own once again. She's laying on the gurney, no longer bound to the table but still completely immobile due to her mummified state.

Shaw begins a second round of cursing, which lasts for nearly one minute. She then lays her head back down and considers her options. Finally, she decides that the only way to get out of her bonds is to use a spell capable of removing every single layer at once. But there is a risk that she'll set off something that could leave her in worse shape.

<As Xander would say, 'Screw it,'> Shaw snaps at herself. She begins to pray, casting a fourth spell.

There is no visible effect, but Shaw can feel the spell coming over her. Luckily for the ranger, the spell will affect her and anything touching her skin. She then begins yet another casting.

Suddenly, a blast of fire shoots from Shaw's right hand, lasing its way down the right side of her body. The searing light spell, usually meant to fight undead vulnerable to sunlight, rips through the bandages encasing her hand and right leg. The beam shoots into the opposite wall and dies there. Shaw gingerly moves her legs in opposite directions and to her immense relief, the bandages part easily, having been ripped apart by the blast.

Shaw quickly swings her legs over the side of the gurney and stands on the floor, crushing the dials on the massage units still tied to her feet. Shaw quickly forms an open fist and casts what she hopes will be the final spell she needs.

A flame blade forms in her now-freed right fist; while the fire resistance spell made the bandages entrapping her hand immune to her sun bolt, the force of the beam was another story. Shaw carefully turns the flaming Arab blade in her hands, then gently applies the hot, sharp edge to the wrappings along her right arm. The blade quickly cuts through all but the layer that only surrounds the same arm that holds the blade.

Once the wrappings that actually bound her fall away, Shaw cancels the spell and begins to hastily remove the bandages from each arm. She then hops up on the gurney and with a look of extreme hatred undoes the fur-lined shoes and throws them in a random direction. Finally, she takes off the bandages Jacob wrapped around each leg and heads for the door.

She gently takes the knob in her hands and whispers to Mielikki to aid her now. She turns the handle and lets out a sigh of relief when it swings open, not having been locked.

Shaw walks into the living room and calls out Jacob's name in challenge. However, he's not back yet.

<Even better,> Shaw thinks grimly. She desperately wants to find her property, particularly her ring of regeneration, which would make her healing speed nearly a match for the natural recovery rate of the Immortal. But time is of the essence. <If he catches me here and defeats me, all of this has been for naught. And lives are at stake. That must take priority.>

Shaw sprints for the door and leaves Jacob's flat, heading into the night. She looks around, quickly taking in the features of the area so that she can find his home once again should she not face him elsewhere. Once she's satisfied, she looks down and sets off in an attempt to track him down.

*****

Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Jacob is impressed with Shaw's abilities, both magical and in the use of a sword. He parries yet another offensive flurry and backs off.

The pair of fighters watches each other warily, breathing hard and sending miniature plumes of smoke out of their mouths and noses.

Jacob sends Shaw a salute and tells her, "As I said, Shaw, the thrill. I know you don't feel it, but I do. And I have you to thank for it. This is a new element of the crusade I’ve never felt before. A woman of the same character as me who is willing to speak for those I hunt."

Shaw isn't in the mood for compliments. But, she reluctantly admits, while panting heavily, "To be honest, Jacob, I was only minutes away from losing myself to slumber. You would have won."

"Only for one day," the surgeon returns. "And I would still have no knowledge of your true skills."

Shaw finds herself agreeing, and is angry for it. "Why did you do this, Jacob? Why did you agree to go on this date only to lie to me and plan to kill me?"

"Shaw, I never lied to you!" Jacob blurts out in protest. "I meant everything I said to you!" He then lets out a sigh of resignation. "In fact, I still wish we had more time to spend together like we did tonight. I know you don't think otherwise, but I meant everything I said to you. You are quite probably the most remarkable woman I've ever met, let alone spent time getting to know. I only wish you felt the same as I do on one important matter."

Shaw doesn't comment on it, but simply says, "Let us end this."

Jacob reluctantly nods and tells her, "As you wish, my dear. As I promised, I won't take advantage of you if you perish."

"That much, I know," Shaw replies softly. "Despite everything I cannot abide about you, you are honorable, Jacob."

The Immortal and half-elf swing their blades at each other. The metal and magical blades collide and sparks fly from the weapons. The combatants trade offensive and defensive moves for several minutes, unconsciously moving closer and closer to the edge of the Boardwalk.

Shaw feels herself beginning to grow tired, due to her earlier exertions and the combat she's currently engaged in. She's figured out that her skill level exceeds that of Devonshire's, but she has to hold back to avoid making a mistake that would be fatal in her rapidly fatiguing condition.

Jacob makes a forward thrust designed to use the curve of Shaw's scimitar to her advantage, the intention being to slide down the blade and under the crossguard. This will cut her hand and disarm her, leaving her open to a killing blow.

Shaw, seeing the maneuver (and having tried it against katana wielding Immortals, albeit failing miserably), instead rips her blade away from the parry and spins in a clockwise motion, combining the motion with her second clockwise move (with Jacob being the center of the clock). The combined twists bring her up behind Jacob's right side, but facing away from him. Shaw does another type of double spin, twisting the blade in her hands and spinning like she would for a backhanded stroke.

However, this time the blade is not coming in at Jacob. It's the tip that leads as she aims it at his heart.

Jacob overcomes his shock at her lethal grace and starts to move, but only makes the barest motions before he feels a sharp jabbing pain, combined with unbearable heat, digging deep into his spine and left lung. He stiffens, then feels the nerves in his legs instantly go dead. He begins to fall forward, but a startled gasp and a pair of hands quickly catch him.

He feels the sword drop from his grasp and hears it being kicked away.

The Immortal is guided to his knees and Shaw comes around in front of him, holding him by bracing her hands against his shoulders. Jacob sees the remorse etched onto that face he so admired the last three days and smiles at her.

"Don't be so sad, my dear. . ."

"I did not mean to wound you there, I. ."

"I know. You were aiming for my heart," he finishes. "But it's all right. I don't feel any pain."

"But. ."

"The lung is healing, but the flames of your blade cauterized the wounds. My spine will not heal any time soon."

Shaw's jaw drops as she realizes she's crippled an Immortal man. She feels tears forming at her unintentional act. "Jacob, I am sorry. ."

Jacob reaches up and cups her chin in one hand. "Shhhhh. It was a risk that I gladly took. I could tell you would have won anyway."

Shaw's jaw clenches as she hisses, "But not like this. It is not clean."

"Then make it clean, my dear," he orders her. "But before you do so, grant me one last request."

Shaw hesitates; this man is responsible for hundreds of murders, planned to kill her, and did everything he could to make her powerless to resist him. Then she amends the last statement a bit; powerless, yes. But to resist him was what he wanted, in a way. He told her so more than once.

"You never lied to me, did you?" she asks in wonder. "You would kill me, as part of your anniversary, to defend your killing, but you never lied to me. You are the person I thought you were."

"Yes," Jacob quietly says. "As I said, you are a remarkable woman. I only wish things could have been different. I don't know if it will mean anything to you, but. . . I'm sorry."

Shaw doesn't answer, but walks over and picks up Jacob's sword. She offers it to him, watching him look into her eyes. "Take it, and I will end this. I will tell people you died with a sword in your hands. An honorable death for you who, for all of your darkness, are a true gentleman."

To her surprise, Jacob shakes his head. "No, Shaw. This is part of my request."

Shaw can only stare at him in shock. "What?" she whispers.

"I come from a sailing family, I didn't tell you that about myself," he replies in a somber tone. "How do you think my father purchased all of those volumes from the Mediterranean nations? My request is twofold, will you grant it?"

Shaw considers whether or not to grant a killer's request, but realizes that she can't deny him. <It is the. . . honorable thing to do.>

"Name it."

"First, take me to the edge of the pier. When you take my head, send me into the water." When Shaw draws breath to protest, he interferes with it. "It is the death due a sailor, to be buried at sea. I know the currents in the area, I sail these waters quite often. I will be carried out to sea rather than be dragged in by the tide. Will you do this?"

Shaw woodenly says, "Yes. What is the second request?"

"Take my books and sword, plus whatever else you wish from the flat."

"WHAT?!?" Shaw shouts at nearly full volume.

Jacob looks at her and says, "Shaw, you love literature, you said this yourself. I will have no need of them, and what will happen when someone goes there after figuring out that I have left this world? I don't want them ending up in some government office under bureaucratic rule. I want them to be owned by someone who will truly understand them. Consider them payment for the first request, or. . a trophy from the hunt."

Despite the smile on his face, Shaw feels a trace of anger. "I do not take trophies, Jacob. So I will use your first reasoning."

"Thank you, Shaw," Jacob says wistfully as he gazes at the half-elf.

Shaw quietly takes him by the shoulders and guides him to the edge of the pier. They stand there silently, Jacob waiting for Shaw to do what must be done, and Shaw hating herself for having to do what must be done.

In a broken voice, Shaw says, "Jacob. ."

"Shhhh. I know," Jacob whispers soothingly. "Another part of your nature. The iron will of a warrior, with the compassion of a woman. A truly beautiful and remarkable woman."

Shaw doesn't answer, and the two opponents spend several seconds staring to the west, watching as the ocean cuts off half of the celestial wonders of the night sky.

Finally, Shaw sighs as she resigns herself to the inevitable. "Jacob?" she asks quietly.

"Yes?"

"I do not see myself as remarkable," she begins. "But I am a woman, and for those few hours, that was *all* that I was. Even though I will not be able to accept parts of your life, and the horrors you perpetrated for centuries will always throw a shadow over my memories of you, I will not forget that you allowed me to express and enjoy that facet of myself. A facet that you were right to say that I had ignored. I will not forget lesson. Thank you."

Jacob looks at her with wondering eyes. He shakes his head and tells her, "You're welcome, Shaw Hunter. Now, will you let me go to my rest?"

Shaw nods silently, and leans Jacob over the rail, facing the sea so that he'll not see the deathblow coming. She lifts the Toledo and levels it.

Before she swings, she gives Jacob one final comment. "Your apology is accepted, Jacob. I, too, wish things could have been different."

Shaw throws her arms around with all the power she can muster, sending Jacob's blade, now hers through his own request, whistling through the night, light glinting off the blade as it completes its deadly arc.

Jacob's head is cleanly severed and flies forward, gently descending to the dark waters of the Pacific Ocean. Shaw quickly bends over and picks up the heels on the corpse, refusing to think of it by name. She heaves with the last of her reserves of energy, and the body follows the head into the water with a loud splash.

Completely exhausted, Shaw allows some tears to fall. They are not for her, but for the sadness that Jacob had such a dark side that he did not want to let go of. If he hadn't had it, he would have been a great person not only for Section Seven, but a possible person for her to come to have feelings for.

As she sits at the end of the pier, leaning against a wooden rail and clutching the Spanish blade by the crossguards, Shaw hears a distant rumbling begin to come from the water. Shakily standing up by using the weapon for leverage, she turns and peers over the railing.

Shaw sees a glowing light, as well as arcs of electrical energy, beginning to manifest itself. Shaw feels a pang as Jacob's Quickening begins to release itself from his body. She takes a precaution, casting a shielding spell around herself, shaping it like a complete circle so that she won't be hit by Quickening bolts from any direction.

As she watches the bolts flying off in all directions underwater, the woman feels a sudden lurch in the pier. She's confused by the action until she sees a Quickening bolt fly out of the ground and strike the right side support beam at the end of the very ledge she's standing on.

Shaw's eyes widen as she realizes her predicament, but can't react fast enough as the support begins to splinter and break, sending twenty feet of Boardwalk, as well as a half-elf cursing Amazon matchmakers, falling into the Pacific Ocean with a deafening splash.

*****

Part 7: Goooooooooooooooooooooood Morning Scooby Gaaaaaaaaaaaang!
(This Isn't A Test; It's Time To Hunt An Immie!)

St. Wolf Residence
Sunnydale, California

Randi Jessup grumpily makes her way to the door, tying the belt of her robe in place while her head pounds in time with the ringing doorbell. She walks up and looks through the peephole, then snarls in disgust when she sees the faces outside.

The young Immortal throws open the door and snaps, "What are you doing here at 4 on a Sunday morning!"

"Hey, Giles called us and told us to get our butts here," Cordelia retorts, sounding far too fresh for Randi's liking. "Like we wanted to come here on a Sunday morning."

"Let alone at 4 in the morning," Xander adds. "He said he's calling everyone over here so I'm gonna put the coffee on."

"Fine. Whatever. Knock yourself out," Randi says, walking away from the door. "Why do you two sound so chipper?"

"Uh, well, we weren't asleep," Xander mutters.

"Go no further," the blonde haired woman says, closing her eyes and burying her head in her hands. "God, I wish Steve was in town. Let him answer the door."

"Yeah," Cordelia agrees.

"So did Giles give you any details?" Randi asks. When Cordelia doesn't answer, she grumbles, "I know, stupid question."

A few minutes later, Willow and Oz arrive, obviously having been together as the prior arrivals were. Ten minutes after that, Giles and Jenny walk in along with the two Slayers in town at the moment, Faith and Kendra. Larry comes in mere seconds after the quartet, followed ten minutes later by Amy and Robin, the last to arrive.

"I know you're wondering why I called you here. . ."

"Duuuuuuuh," the kids all say as one.

Giles sighs in exasperation, but Jenny cuts him off to explain everything in less than one hour. "Short version; Joe Dawson called us earlier to warn us about an evil Immortal coming to Sunnydale. His Watcher was sick with the flu last week and when he returned to Watch this Immortal, he had vanished from Los Angeles."

"Maybe he had his head cut off," Xander offers.

"Don't say stuff like that, Xander," Randi pleas.

"Sorry."

"If I may?" Jenny asks, trying not to snap at them in her own tired state. "This Immortal doesn't play the Game. He spends his time working in a hospital. . ."

"And he's evil?" Willow asks in confusion.

"Yes, Willow," Giles assures her with reluctance, "he's evil. Or insane."

"Or both," Xander quips.

"Right," the male Watcher agrees. Giles stifles a yawn and says, "We need to find this Immortal very quickly. He sees himself as a crusader of sorts. . ."

"Like a Boy Scout?" Xander asks.

"No, like a killer of prostitutes the world over," Giles tells the group. At the sick and shocked looks on their faces, he adds, "And he's been doing this for over three centuries."

"You know," Randi says disgustedly, "older Immies have the most sickening hobbies."

"Yeah," Oz mutters.

"Uhm, not to get off track here, but where's Redeye?" Faith asks, using the nickname she's given Shaw. "I mean, I'd expect her to be the first one here. She gets up early every morning and does her praying and other holy-type stuff."

"Ulric said she wasn't home," Jenny answers, the surprise she still feels in her voice. "Her bed hasn't been slept in."

Amy and Cordelia look at each other in shock.

After pausing a few seconds, Amy gulps and asks Cordelia, "You don't think. . ."

"No way," the brunette comes back. "She wouldn't."

"Excuse me, you two," Giles says in irritation at the interruption of a serious discussion, "but what are you two talking about?"

Cordy and Amy start to answer, but Xander beats them to it.

"Shaw had a date last night."

Giles says, "Oh," but the answer quickly registers in his mind.

The entire group stares at Amy and Cordelia and, as one, the Slayerettes save for Xander, Amy and Cordelia shout, "WHAT!!!"

"Shaw had a date last night," Amy reiterates. "With a British guy."

Jenny and Giles go pasty white in the face, and it leads Amy and Cordelia to get an uneasy feeling.

Cordelia asks in dread, "Why don't I like that look?"

"What was this man's name," Jenny demands, urgency in the question.

"Jack," the blonde witch answers. "Jack Devon-something."

Jenny and Giles' eyes go wide with fear.

"Lemme guess," Robin says, speaking up for the first time. "You two played matchmaker?"

"Well, we just convinced her to ask him out," Cordelia says in defense of herself. "But Amy all but dared her to do it."

"I did NOT dare her, Cordy!" Amy snaps at her.

"But. . ."

"QUIET!" Jenny shouts in a manner atypical of her personality.

Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Giles somberly asks, "Amy, Cordelia, Jacob Devonshire is a 350-year-old Immortal."

"Well, cool," Amy says, now smiling at her matching up Shaw and Jacob. "If anyone can understand Shaw being a half-elf, it's an Immie."

"Amy!" Jenny snaps, grabbing her attention. "He's Jack the Ripper."

The younger members of the Scooby Gang all stare at Giles and Jenny's announcement then turn their attention to the shell-shocked Amazon matchmakers.

Speaking for everyone, Xander asks, "You set Shaw up with Jack the Ripper?"

Amy and Cordelia spend several seconds spitting and stammering as they attempt to come up with a response. Finally, they offer the only answer they can.

"WE DIDN'T KNOW!!!"

Taking command of the situation as they now see it, Giles turns to Jenny. "Jenny, you and Willow get on Steve's computer and see if you can track down the address Devonshire's using in Sunnydale." He turns to Xander. "Xander, get everyone else fitted with weapons. Long range."

"Got it," Xander says, snapping into Soldier Boy mode. "Larry, Oz, you're with me in the gun department. Girls, start grabbing blades. Lots and lots of blades, but only long ones. Capable of doing a Marie Antoinette on ol' Jack."

The Slayerettes spring into action, moving against time to track down an Immortal and one of his likely victims.

*****

Fifteen minutes later, the Slayerettes come into the living room at the same time, loaded for bear and Immortal killers.

As they all silently begin to charge for the door at a brisk pace, they stop and stare in shock at the sight that greets them.

Shaw, with Brenna in her arms, standing there in the living room, soaking wet.

Amy feels as if a massive weight has been lifted from her shoulders and starts to move to see if her cousin's all right. She blurts out, "Shaw! We've been worried sick. . ."

Shaw and Brenna look at her with a look that scares Amy into silence.

Cordelia moves to warn Shaw about her date from the previous night. "Shaw, Jack..."

Shaw and Brenna look at her with a look that scares Cordy into silence.

Jenny decides to take command of the situation. "Shaw, what happened?"

In response, Shaw walks forward, takes up Steve's TV remote, holds her arm out, and presses the on button.

The Slayerettes all switch their eyes onto the TV, where a morning newscaster says, "Last night, the edge of the pier at the Sunnydale boardwalk collapsed into the ocean..."

Shaw clicks the off button and waits for them to speak. The Scoobies stare at her, reluctant to say anything to the ranger.

"May I ask how that happened?" Giles reluctantly asks.

Shaw clicks the on button.

The same reported continues with her report. "The initial reports of the investigation indicate that a freak lightning storm struck the Sunnydale area last night. . ."

Shaw clicks the off button once again and throws the remote onto the table.

Robin guesses, "Quickening?"

"Quickening," Shaw replies coldly.

"Shaw, are you all right?" Amy asks in genuine concern.

Once again, Shaw and Brenna look at her with looks that scare Amy back into silence.

Jenny sighs at the silent routine Shaw's giving Amy and Cordelia. Wanting to get to the bottom of what happened between her and Jacob, the Gypsy asks, "Shaw, will you tell us what happened?"

Shaw says, without any emotion, "Jacob and I went on a date, he drugged me, he captured me, I escaped, we fought, he died."

"Would you care to elaborate?" Giles asks, growing tired of this situation.

This time, Shaw actually considers the question. Finally, she says, "Yes and no."

"Oh, that explains a lot," Robin says with a roll of the eyes.

"You killed him, huh?" Willow asks her friend.

"Yes, Willow," Shaw admits. She allows Brenna to jump out of her arms and says, "I am beginning to think that the Watchers might as well keep a permanent file on me, with the Immortals I seem to keep having to fight."

Giles and Jenny share embarrassed glances.

Jenny clears her throat and says, "Actually, they do."

"What?" Shaw asks in surprise.

Now being the target of Shaw's attention, Giles admits, "Well, Joe ended your file when your racial origins were discovered. But, Methos reopened the file after you and Kenny paid him a 'visit' last year."

"Richie loved the idea of getting one over on you after you sent him through the window," Jenny added with a smile despite Shaw's likely reaction to it. "And when Amanda found out about it, she. . . well, you know Amanda. She's. . . Amanda."

"And you yourself said you seem to attract evil Immortals," Giles reminds her. "And they tend to die shortly after."

Shaw looks at the Watchers and her shoulders sag in defeat. "Goddess, I have been in America too long."

"HEY!" the American kids all snap.

"Shaw," Amy says hesitantly, "we're sorry. We just wanted. . ."

"For me to have a good time," Shaw finishes. "But I am not the one who is enraged at you."

"What?!?" Cordelia snaps. "Hey, if you hadn't left us with a flat tire this wouldn't have happened!"

"I have a right to a life outside of the team," Shaw tells her. "Besides, I had someone watching over me after midnight."

"Who?" Giles asks, not sure if he wants the answer.

"The one who pulled me out of the Pacific after the pier collapsed," the half-elf mutters. "She wishes to discuss the matter of Amy and Cordelia not tagging along to keep observation over their project."

"Hey, that was your fault with the tire," Amy tells her.

"Yes, but someone feels differently," Shaw counters.

"And just who wants to 'discuss' this with us?" Cordelia imperiously demands.

Brenna immediately shifts into her true form, a saber-toothed tiger, and growls very loudly.

"Brenna does not like water," Shaw states with a shrug.

The two Amazons take the only action they can take with the Guardian Spirit. They run.

Brenna springs into motion after Amy and Cordelia as they run for the training room. As the cat disappears from the living room, the Scooby Gang turns to Shaw.

"Shaw, call her off," Giles orders.

"You know that she is as likely to follow my orders as I am to follow that one right now, Giles," Shaw says with a growing smile.

Brenna then walks into the living room, having shifted back to her Siamese form.

Shaw cocks an eye at her, and then looks at Giles. "She would not harm them, Giles. Just attempt to teach them a lesson about keeping track of their progress in matters of matchmaking. Of course, Amy and Cordelia do not need to know that."

"And how long before they get brave enough to come out of the training room?" Faith asks.

Shaw looks at Brenna, then nods and says, "Another two hours or so."

"Shaw," Jenny says, "we need to file a final report on Jack. Do you know where his house is?"

Shaw stares at her silently for a few seconds before answering. "Yes, Jenny," the woman softly says. "But I have right of first refusal of any items in the flat."

Giles starts to speak, but Xander says, "The D&D 'to the victors go the spoils' thing?"

"No," Shaw growls at him, sending him back a step or two. "I gave my word his items would be properly disposed of, and he gave me the right to take whatever items I wished to keep. It was payment for granting his last request."

"Which was?" Giles asks worriedly.

"To commit his body to the sea," she says, "after taking his head."

Giles nods in understanding. "He did come from a family with sailing interests."

"Jenny, Giles," Shaw tells them, "you may come with me, but no one else."

"Hey!" Xander protested. "Shaw, we're here on a Sunday morning for. . ."

"He is dead, Xander," Shaw acidly remarks to him. She stares him down and says, "You can return home to bed, or to the Motor Lodge when Cordelia comes to what senses she has."

Most of the Slayerettes snicker at that comment, but Xander's not happy.

"We're not going anywhere," Jenny primly tells the half-elf, "before you get yourself dried off."

Shaw starts to comment, wanting to get this business finished with, but nods in defeat. "Of course."

"C'mon," Randi says, "I'm sure I have some sweats that'll keep you until you get home. And I'll wash your stuff so that it doesn't get ruined."

"Thank you, Randi," Shaw gratefully replies.

As the two girls start to head upstairs, Xander calls out, "Uhm, Shaw? If you don't mind my asking?"

Shaw stops and looks at him. She nods for him to ask his question.

"How'd the date go?" the young man asks.

Shaw looks at Willow. "Willow?"

Willow nods. Then she smacks Xander on the back of the head.

"OW!"

*****

Ten minutes later, Shaw comes down clad in a sweat suit, her hair still damp and without any shoes on. She sees Amy and Cordelia glaring at her, and says, "Do not worry. Brenna is outside waiting for me."

"Ha, ha, ha," Amy mumbles. She looks at Shaw and says, "I wanna be serious here. Are you okay?"

Shaw doesn't answer as she heads for the door. She asks Jenny, "Jenny, might we stop by my place so that I may put on some running shoes?"

"Yes," Jenny sighs as she looks over her shoulder and gives Amy and Cordelia apologetic looks.

"Shaw, we're sorry!" Cordelia blurts. "Stop giving us the silent treatment!"

Shaw stops at the door, sighs, and says, "You convinced me to ask Jacob out, you took great amusement over my inexperience in such matters, you took great amusement in setting me up on this date, and you then attempted to follow me after telling me you would not 'tag along.' But, to humor you, I will say this. And I would suggest that you accept this as the order it is for the two of you, although it is an invitation for Willow, Faith, Randi and Kendra; library, tomorrow morning, 6:30 A. M."

"What?!?" Amy and Cordelia blurt at Shaw giving them orders.

"Willow, explain it to them," Shaw says as she looks up at the Heavens in supplication.

"Sure," the amused Wiccan replies.

Shaw starts to walk out, but snaps her fingers as if remembering something. "Oh yes," she says offhandedly. "As for your matchmaking; I will say this only one time. If you ever try to set me up with someone who you have not done extensive research on beforehand, I will make what we did to Ares look like what you call a 'love tap.' But, as an occasional reminder, I will resort to other methods."

"What 'methods?'" Cordelia demands in anger.

Shaw simply asks, "Robin? Xander?"

"Got it," both men reply.

SMACK!!!

"OW!!!" Amy and Cordelia shout.

With a satisfied grin, Shaw walks out to go with Jenny and Giles.

*****

Jacob Devonshire's Flat
Near the What Is Left Of The Sunnydale Boardwalk
Sunnydale, California

Shaw leads Jenny and Giles into the flat and sits down on the couch in the living room, letting the Watchers investigate to their hearts' content.

She looks over at Jenny's back and says, "Jenny, one addition to what I told you at Steven's house; Jacob has. . ." She breaks off and takes a deep breath. "Jacob had a collection of old literature from Europe. When you find it, it is mine. He. . . wanted me to have it because he knew about my reading habits."

Jenny and Giles look at Shaw staring off into space. Jenny looks at Giles and nods for him to go on. The librarian returns her nod and leaves the room.

Jenny walks over and sits down next to the young woman. "Want to talk about it?"

To the Romany's surprise, her answer is yes. Shaw tells her about the things that Jacob had told her, not only about himself but his feelings about Shaw. She tells Jenny about how he died and what he did in return, as well as the things they talked about before, during, and after the fight that culminated in Shaw ending his cycle of killing. After finishing, Jenny puts an arm around Shaw and strokes the half-elf's hair.

"I understand your feelings on this," Jenny tells her honestly. "You liked him, even though he was insane."

"He was not insane, Jenny," Shaw says softly, though Jenny can hear some anger in her voice.

"Why do you think that?" Jenny asks just as softly.

"I have dealt with insane individuals before," the Slayerette answers, "Jazartho and. . ."

"Yourself."

Shaw nods. "He told me he killed them on religious grounds, at least partially. To me, that does not make him insane. It makes him. . . a zealot."

Jenny continues to comfort Shaw, but says, "Maybe. But maybe it's all in your point of view."

Shaw whispers, "Jacob said the same thing, Jenny."

"It's okay that you liked him, Shaw," the teacher tells her student. "Like you said, without that dark side, he could have been a great man. And while some people might not agree, I do know, as you do, that there are people who can be honorable and evil at the same time."

"Is it wrong that I am choosing to remember the good things, and lament the darker parts?" Shaw asks.

"No, Shaw. In fact, I think it's part of your growth." When Shaw looks at her in confusion, Jenny releases her and sits up. She says, "Once, you would've killed him without regrets, no matter what type of qualities he might have had. You used to think of things in black and white. Another difference is that you have more experience than the others, Rupert and myself included, in fighting evil in all its forms. But now you are taking the time to see the good in someone who by all accounts was a brutal killer. I'm sure the Chronicles will show that what you saw bears out, that he was still a gentleman and honorable, despite everything. It's okay to feel upset and sad over the loss of a chance to find something more than black and white in a person."

Shaw takes a few moments to consider her advice, and finally says, "Thank you, Jenny."

"You're welcome. But let's get going on this. You need some sleep," Jenny orders.

"I slept for three hours," Shaw sighs. When Jenny gives her a funny look, Shaw reluctantly says, "This way."

*****

After showing Jenny the medical room, she returns to the living room and waits for her and Giles to complete their searching.

After nearly an hour, Giles is shaking as he walks out of Jacob's bedroom. His face is gray, but alive with anxiety. "Shaw, you said that Jacob left you his collection of books?"

Shaw nods, adding, "As well as his sword. Plus anything else I desired to keep."

"You might want to take a look at this, then," the librarian tells her. He then calls out, "Jenny, come take a look at this."

Shaw gets up and follows Giles into the bedroom, followed shortly after by the other woman. The women watch as Giles moves over to a bookshelf lined with old books, but it's the unique nature of the shelf itself that attracts their attention.

The shelf is made of metal, and sealed with glass coverings over the various shelves, to protect the centuries-old collection of literature.

"I haven't opened it," Giles says, his voice a dry whisper. "I thought you might want to see *exactly* what is was that Jacob wanted you to have."

Shaw slowly moves forward and begins to look at the titles. Since she's worked in the library at school under Giles' tutelage, she has a fair knowledge of famous works. She looks over some of the titles, and her voice is as light as Giles as she reads off some of the titles she sees.

"The Iliad. Merchant Prince and Art of War, by Niccolo Machiavelli. Romeo and Juliet. Antigone. Oedipus," she says, just glancing at some of them. Her face takes on a smile as she says, "Le Morte d'Arthur. Should we tell Merlin about this?"

"Shaw, look at those ones," he says, pointing at the second shelf. "Do you recognize those?"

Shaw looks at them but shakes her head. "I cannot read that language."

"It's Greek," the Watcher tells her. "The Republic by Plato. Socrates. Hippocrates. Aesop's Fables. And several works from ancient Greek playwrights."

"I cannot keep those," Shaw says with a trace of sadness. "I cannot read them."

Giles nods and says, "If you wish to give them away, that is your right."

"I told him I would give them to someone who would appreciate them," she says to him. She looks at Jenny and Giles in turn and asks, "Would a library or museum be more appropriate for some of these? I want to fulfill his wishes in a manner he would have wanted."

"We'll talk about this later," Jenny says. She places a hand on Shaw's shoulder and tells her, "Right now we can just get the stuff you're taking with you to a safe place. We'll go from there."

Shaw nods, and starts to leave but stops. She looks at the edge of the bookcase for several seconds before walking forward. She pulls on the case, revealing a hidden space behind the collection. Seeing what she's found, Giles reaches in and helps pull the case all the way out to reveal a second glass case, this one on a wooden stand.

Shaw just looks at the language, nodding in understanding.

"Oh, dear LORD!" Giles shouts in amazement.

Jenny and Shaw turn to face the astounded librarian, who looks about ready to faint.

Jenny steadies her fiancée and asks, "Rupert, what's wrong?"

"WRONG?!?" Giles babbles out, having completely lost his composure. "That. . . that. . ."

"It is a Bible," Shaw says, not understanding his reaction any better than Jenny. "Certainly you have seen one before."

"Shaw," Giles stammers quickly, "that is a GUTTENBURG Bible!"

Now Jenny's jaw drops as well as she turns to stare at the massive volume.

"But. . . that's impossible! There's only seven left in the world!" the Amazon breathes.

"It is not impossible for an Immortal," Shaw softly mutters, as she realizes not only the rarity of this book, but also the truest measure of the respect that Jacob did indeed feel for her. She shakes off the emotions and says, "Giles, I. . . I cannot keep this. It is more than valuable. It is priceless."

"Yes, I know," Giles says. "But he made you swear to keep it, as you would appreciate it for its value."

"No," Shaw says, drawing surprised looks from her mentors. "He said he wanted it in the hands of someone who could appreciate it. He knew I could not accept something of this magnitude. . . he wanted me to see that it gets to someone who CAN truly appreciate it."

Shaw takes in a deep breath and slowly lets it out, the events of the night finally catching up to her. She looks at Giles and asks, "Can you or Jenny teleport these items to Steven's? I cannot do this right now."

Giles looks at Jenny, who nods.

"Of course."

*****

Thirty minutes later, Giles and Jenny (after coordinating with Amy and Willow) send the items Shaw has selected to take from the flat. Besides the Salamanca, she takes Jacob's entire literary collection, a few choice antiques that she will look through with Steve when he returns from Florida within two days, her own property that Jacob had removed, and his personal computer, after several minutes of intense persuasion from Jenny, who tells Shaw that she could use a machine of her own at home, the model Jacob had being nearly top of the line for the commercial market. So, reluctantly, Shaw adds it to the list.

Not wanting to do anymore, Shaw tells Giles and Jenny to take what they need for the Society of Watchers, for their final report on Jacob as well as for information the Society might find useful.

After they're done, Giles walks up to the silent Shaw and asks, "Shaw, I'd like to know if you'll provide a complete report of this event. Are you willing to do that in time?"

Shaw looks at him and considers her answer. Thinking that this might be one way that she can show others the parts of Jacob she'll always cherish, she says, "Yes. I will make an audio recording about his story, what he planned, and the fight as well. I will also put in my own personal observations about him, on all counts."

"I see," Giles says with a furrowed brow. "But what about your time with him last night?"

To his surprise, Shaw smiles at him. "I am sorry, Giles, but that is for me to know, and for females under the age of twenty to find out. No offense, Jenny."

Shaw then walks out of the flat, leaving Giles staring at her in confusion and Jenny giggling behind the hand covering her mouth.

Giles looks at his love and asks, "What did she mean by that?"

"Gossip, Rupert," Jenny tells him with laughter dancing in her eyes. "No man allowed.

*****

Epilogue: Dishing The Dirt
(And Rubbing It In On The Amazon Matchmakers)

Sunnydale High Library
Sunnydale, California

Amy and Willow walk towards the library on Monday morning, talking about what's going to happen when Shaw starts telling them and the other girls what happened on the date that Amy and Cordelia convinced Shaw into arranging.

"What are you worried about?" Willow asks her fellow witch. "Amy, you were trying to help her out. I think she'll consider that."

Amy says, "Will, this is Shaw. One, she didn't want us to play matchmaker in the first place, remember?"

"She liked him," Willow counters.

"She was gonna get killed by him," Amy adds.

Willow shrugs and says, "We live on a Hellmouth. Common stuff."

"And we know Shaw can hold a grudge for a loooong time," the blonde Amazon finishes.

Willow tries to come up with a counter to that point for several seconds.

"Will?" Amy asks, looking for reassurance that this meeting won't turn into something that would make her prefer a firing squad. "No comeback, huh?"

"Well, you could bring up the tire," the computer whiz feebly offers with a shrug.

"I am so dead," Amy mutters. When Willow laughs a bit, she says, "Gee, thanks pal."

"Well, you'll have good company," the redhead smiles.

Amy rolls her eyes as the two push open the doors to the library and walk in. Amy and Willow see that Shaw, Faith and Cordelia have already arrived, but Kendra and Randi are nowhere in sight.

"Where's Randi?" Willow asks.

Faith shrugs and hops up on a table, munching on an apple. "Ah, she begged off. Wanted her beauty sleep before going to class. And K, well. . ."

"Too shy for gossip?" Willow guesses.

"Nah, too clueless," the Bostonian says with a shake of her head. "Doesn't get the point."

"And Shaw does?" Cordelia asks.

"Perhaps, or perhaps not," Shaw calls out from the office. "Consider it another phase of my 'education' in Earth matters."

"Riiiight," Amy and Cordelia say together.

Shaw calls out, "Considering that the two of you were on, as you would say, 'thin ice,' last night, I would keep my mouth shut if I were you."

Amy and Cordelia exchange looks with Willow and Faith. Willow gives them looks of sympathy, whereas Faith just smirks, getting a good deal of humor out of how their romantic endeavor backfired on them.

Shaw walks out of the office and says, "Since Randi and Kendra will not be attending, we can get started, yes?"

When the Slayerettes turn to look at Shaw, Amy and Cordelia's eyes bug out at the sight of the half-elf. Their jaws drop and the two Amazons begin stammering in shock. Willow looks at the pair in confusion, and Faith just nods her head in approval.

Amy and Cordelia cannot believe the sight before their eyes; Shaw's decked out in a tight, sleeveless shirt that shows off a generous amount of cleavage while being cut somewhat high as well, showing off her stomach. Her black skirt comes high up on her thigh, and she wears black hose and high heels. She wears a short, black leather jacket that completes her outfit. But it's the other things that send the two Slayerettes over the edge into complete silence; Shaw has gold studs adorning her ears, and a matching stud is nestled in her navel. Her hair, which was full and thick only twenty-four hours ago, is now cut all the way up to her shoulders, with the hair being arranged into curled ringlets that shine with glitter that has been freshly applied.

Shaw takes in the stares from Amy and Cordelia and says, "Now, let us begin talking about what happened on my date."

Finally overcoming her shock, Amy mutters, "S-S-S-S-Shaw, y-y-y-y-ou. . ."

"Comments about my new accessories can wait until after our gossip session, Amy," Shaw tells her with a smile. "But first I wish to say something to you and Cordelia."

"We're dead," Cordelia groans.

"I am sorry for being angry with you," the ranger says solemnly.

Amy and Cordelia are now more shocked. "What. . ."

"Please, let me speak," Shaw says quickly. With a deep breath, she begins. "I am still not happy that you tried to set me up with a boyfriend, but I can accept that you did it with good intentions. You want me to have someone and be happy. What I wish to truly apologize for is for attempting to blame you for something of which you were not guilty; doing everything you could to make me date Jacob."

"Amy dared you," Cordy says. "Well, sort of."

"No, she only tried to get me to show some initiative," Shaw contradicts with a single shake of her head. "Upon retrospect, I think what she actually did was simply convince me to do something that I had not realized I already wanted to do. There was a slight amount of pressure, yes, but not so much that I could have refused to ask Jacob out if such was my inclination."

"In American?" the confused Faith requests.

Willow provides the answer. "All Amy did was get Shaw to realize she liked Jack and see if there were sparks between them."

"And we know how THAT turned out," Faith says before taking a bite out of her apple.

"WE DIDN'T KNOW!" Cordelia snaps in despair.

"Neither did I," Shaw tells Faith with a look to quiet the Slayer. She looks at Amy and Cordelia in turn. "And Amy was right; I did like him. And there were some sparks. This is one time I cannot accept Amy's advice and *not* say, 'What if?'"

Amy and Cordelia are looking at her in shock.

"Shaw!" Amy babbles at her cousin. "He was Jack the Ripper! He wrapped you like a mummy, he tied you to a table like Doctor Frankenstein, and he was gonna KILL you!"

"But he never lied to me, Amy," Shaw says quietly. She looks down at the table and continues. "Yes, he was a murderer. Yes, perhaps he was evil. And yes, perhaps he was, in the strictest sense, insane. But he was still honorable and a gentleman, Amy. I am looking at the whole picture, and I still wish that things could have been different, perhaps even worked out for him and me if he had not had that dark side to himself."

Seeing the emotion in Shaw's face, Willow says, "He liked you, too. Didn't he?"

Shaw nods and blushes a bit. "When I had him beaten, I asked him why he lied to me. He was shocked that I could say that to him. And the things he said to me. . . the things he said *about* me. . ."

"Girly things?" Faith asks with a grin.

Shaw surprises her by saying, "Yes, Faith. I have never had someone talk to me in such ways. Talking to me like. . ."

"A woman?" Cordelia asks. When Shaw nods her head, Cordy asks, "How'd you like it?"

"It was embarrassing," the woman admits sheepishly. She looks up at Cordelia and asks, "But at the same time, I liked what he was saying. Because I knew for certain it was not in connection with anyone or anything but myself. He said things to me about my appearance and personality simply because he thought it was the truth. And he did teach me an important lesson in that time, Cordelia."

"What?" the warrior asks. "Never to go on a date at the Boardwalk again?"

Shaw sighs at Cordelia's comment. "No, Cordelia. The lesson I learned was that there were still parts of myself I had not seen. In my time here I have been, and you have seen, the warrior, the priestess, the Harper, the Slayerette, and after what happened with Ares, I was simply a person. But for much of Saturday night, I was something I have not been for a long time, perhaps ever."

"What?" Willow asks.

"A woman," she replies with a crooked smile. With a little more certainty, Shaw tells her friends, "For those few hours at the Boardwalk, I was not a Forestarm, a ranger, a Slayerette, or even a half-elf. I was Shaw Hunter, a woman spending time in the company of a man who had an attraction for her, who felt the same thing for him. And that was ALL that I was. Shaw Hunter. And for those few hours, perhaps, I also saw what it was like to be an Earth woman, which is what I want to be."

Shaw pauses for a bit, then continues by saying, "Jacob showed me that I can simply be a woman, something I do not think I have even attempted before. It was a valuable lesson, and it is this lesson that I am going to take from everything that happened. A lesson that I will not soon forget."

"Wait a minute here, girlfriend," Cordelia says, raising a hand to halt Shaw's speech. "You telling us that from now on, you're going to be 'one of the girls?'"

"To put it in simplest terms," Shaw says with a grin, "Yep."

Willow starts giggling at Shaw's way of putting her answer, but Amy and Cordelia are simply stunned at Shaw's vow.

"And I start that now, with what you call dishing," Shaw says.

She tells them about the date, the activities she and Jacob shared, as well as how she felt towards him even after knowing the truth. She leaves nothing out, taking great pains to show her friends the side that she saw in the man, the side that contradicts everything history says about Jack the Ripper. The end result is that the Slayerettes in the room get to see the side of Shaw that they hadn't seen before, the side that she is determined to keep from going into remission. Although they don't know it, the girls have the same determination.

When she finishes, Amy says, "You really did like him, didn't you?"

"Yes, Amy," Shaw offers. As Amy places a hand over Shaw's in a show of familial support, the half-elf tells her, "Do you see why I wish things could have changed for the better?"

"Yeah," the witch answers with a sad smile. "And I'll tell you; it surprises me, but I wish they could've been better too. Maybe next time it'll work out, huh?"

"Perhaps," Shaw mutters, hoping Amy's right.

"But you know we're not gonna let you just mope over this for too long, right?" Cordelia says. With a grin on her face, the woman promises, "We're gonna make sure you don't go back into 'warrior' mode too soon. You said you're gonna be one of the girls, then we're gonna help you stay one of the girls. And we'll help you get started."

Shaw spreads her arms out and says, "Faith was a great help to me in making that start yesterday."

Amy and Cordelia begin sputtering again as they're reminded of Shaw's outfit. They can't say anything coherent as Shaw stands up to show off her attire once again to provide the two Amazons with a very good look.

"Hey, I was glad to help," the Slayer grins in hellish delight at the senior Scoobies' loss of composure. "Lot easier than I thought it'd be."

"As I said, I am a woman who is determined to embrace and enjoy that part of herself, and to begin enjoying my life as I did so long ago," Shaw answers in full seriousness. She turns to Cordelia and Amy, tears glistening in her eyes. "Enjoying life, rather than simply living it. And I have the two of you to thank for that. But now I need to get some books from my locker before coming back to do some paperwork."

Shaw heads for the door and calls, "Faith, Willow, will you join me?"

"Why me?" Willow asks, looking puzzled as to Shaw's request.

"I want to discuss my new computer with you, perhaps get some advice as to software to buy," the half-elf says.

A smile lights Willow's face and she nods. "Sure."

Willow and Faith start heading for the doors with Shaw, who turns and says, "Oh, Amy, Cordelia? I would ask that you not be discouraged because this set up did not work out. But do not think that you will be able to make a second such attempt without me knowing about it."

Amy and Cordelia, shaken out of their daze over Shaw's outfit by her challenge, glare at her.

"Yeah, right," they both say.

Shaw sighs and says, "Fine. It is your choice. But I simply want to keep you from embarrassing yourselves. In one way, Jacob sets a high standard to follow."

Amy and Cordelia are shocked by the fact that she's going to compare future dates they try to set up to Jack the Ripper, even though she cared about him.

"WHAT?!?" they blurt out. Amy adds, "How can you SAY that?!?"

"It is quite simple," Shaw replies. She turns and says, "Anyone you even think of attempting to set me up with could not POSSIBLY give me such completely enjoyable and relaxing foot massages."

And with that, Shaw leaves the stammering Amy and Cordelia sitting in the library, their mouths hanging several inches down. As Faith and Willow walk out to follow Shaw, Amy and Cordelia try to regain their dignity.

Amy finally whispers, "Is it just me, or is she rubbing it in?"

"Rubbing it in," Cordelia snarls in an evil voice. "Definitely, rubbing it in."

"And we're not gonna hear the end of it for weeks," Amy says.

Cordelia nods in resignation. "If not from your cousin, then from Xander and Robin."

"Well, way I see it, we've got two choices," Amy says.

"What are they?"

The witch grins and says, "A, let them rib us for weeks and weeks, or B, we look for someone else for Shaw."

"Are you NUTS?!?" Cordelia snaps. "Amy, she just changed her entire look and. . . Oh Goddess she's gone overboard already! I mean she's even got a belly ring!"

"I know, I know, don't remind me!" Amy says while shuddering at the memory. "So we'll have to think of someone who likes a half-elven, uber-religious, sword-swinging woman who likes music, sword and sorcery novels, and can cuss up a storm and now dresses like a rocker babe."

Cordelia and Amy look at each other for several seconds before grinning with evil smiles.

"Think we can swing it?" Amy asks.

Cordy nods. "Of course. Got any ideas?"

*****

As Shaw, Faith and Willow walk through the empty hallways towards Shaw's locker, Willow asks, "Uhm, why did Amy and Cordelia react that way to your outfit?"

Shaw stops, forcing the other girls to copy her motion. Shaw and Faith look at each other, smile for several seconds, and then break out into laughter.

Willow just looks between the two, completely befuddled by their reaction to a simple question. Willow looks at Shaw, who's wearing a long-sleeve ivory-colored blouse, tight black jeans, light hiking boots, and a short leather jacket of a black color that is obviously fresh from the Mall. Shaw absently throws some of her unbound hair out of her face, the massive waves flying backwards around the upper portion of her back and gold stud earrings shining in her newly pierced lobes.

"What?" Willow asks about what is a completely acceptable outfit. "What's so funny?"

Shaw stops laughing first, and says one word.

"Artemis?"

With a sudden flash of light, the Goddess of the Hunt and Patron of the Amazons is standing in the hallway. She looks at Willow and waves for her to stop the bow that was just beginning to form.

"Please, Willow, I am only here for a few minutes to explain," the Huntress giggles. "Yesterday morning, Shaw called to me to ask for my help in warding off an immediate second attempt by certain of my Amazons to find her a mate."

"Uh oh," Willow says, beginning to get a sinking feeling in her stomach.

"I do not mean you, Willow," Artemis grins. She cocks her head and says, "You showed good sense in not trying to set THIS one up."

Faith is laughing her head off, but manages to get out the Next of the explanation. "Shaw calls me up and we go to the Mall. We look over stuff that even *I* wouldn't put the hell on. So after gettin' the image of the biker elf from Hell, we called Arty here up and she did her mojo on Shaw."

"What did you do?" Willow asks in confusion.

"Lady Artemis cast an illusion over me that will only affect Amazons. An advanced form of glamour," Shaw says with a sadistic grin Willow's seen before, but only on Robin's face. "She cast a second spell that rendered you immune to the illusion. So you do not see what Amy and Cordelia *think* I am actually wearing."

Willow's face splits into a grin worthy of the Cheshire Cat. "Oh come on. Let me see."

Shaw glances at Artemis, who nods.

Seconds later, Willow's face looks just like Amy's and Cordelia's as she realizes what Amy and Cordelia must be thinking. A few moments after that, the witch joins the Goddess, Slayer and ranger in laughter.

When she regains control of herself, Willow asks, "So how long before you let them off the hook?"

"As for the matchmaking, as long as it seems feasible without becoming 'old hat,'" Shaw says with a smile. "As for the illusion, we will cancel it now. Imagine the looks on Amy and Cordelia's faces when they see me in my true outfit at lunchtime. In front of everyone."

Artemis nods and cancels the illusion. "If that will be all?"

"Yes, Lady. Thank you for your help," Shaw says with a grateful tone. "If I may, are they thinking what I assume they are thinking?"

"Of course," the Goddess says with a tinkling laugh just before vanishing, leaving the three mortals alone in the hallway once again.

Willow quickly realizes what Shaw means by that. "They aren't!" Willow moans.

"Of course they are," Faith snickers. "That's the beauty of this, W. They're thinking biker babe from D&D, but instead they get the same old Hunter."

"No, Faith," Shaw says in opposition to the last part of her statement. "Not the same old Shaw Hunter, but the growing Shaw Hunter." With a smile that is simply from good feelings, she adds, "Why should I make things easier for them?"

"Right," Willow grins.

"Oh well, it was fun while it lasted," Faith sighs. "So much for the Amy-Cordy Disaster."

"Round One," Shaw adds, knowing this is but the first of what could turn out to be many matchmaking attempts on the parts of her friends.

"Goddess help us all," Willow mutters.

Shaw's sharp elven hearing picks up the comment, so the half-elf says, "I will take it."

Laughing at the prospect of getting another shot in at Amy and Cordelia in lunchtime, the three women, a Slayer from Boston, a witch from California, and a priestess from another world, march off down the hallway in a perfect line, Shaw throwing her arms around the others' shoulders as she enjoys time with two of her finest friends.

They never suspect that part of the reason she's laughing even more than they are is because of a man who Shaw will miss for some time, who taught her a valuable lesson in their short time together.

With a soft ache in her heart, one that she takes comfort in knowing it will fade, Shaw sends up a silent call to Jacob Devonshire. A final exchange of words for someone she cares about, despite his faults.

<Thank you, Jack.>

The End

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