Author: L. L. Gunn

Title: This Little Piggy

Copyright: December 2002
Rating: PG (violent death of a root beer)
Keywords: Buffy/Highlander.

Spoilers: 
Buffy: Season 2 until Phases. Specific Episodes: None.
Highlander: Season 5 until Season finale. Richie Ryan lives.

Summary: A little tale wherein someone learns about some things she’s been missing.

Legalese:
All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties, and copyrights are the property of the 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 Steven St. Wolf, Randi Jessup, Brian Jessup, Frank Iverson, Marc Le Chevalier, and the Knights of the Order of the Grail are property of Steve Pantovich, as is the universe in which this story takes place. Steve can be contacted at Steve711@concentric.net.
The characters Shaw Hunter and Ulric Johansen are property of Tim Knight. Anyone wishing to use them may contact me at doobytim@aol.com.

Author's Notes: Just a little story that was kicking around in my head for awhile. Being a soda-addicted person myself I just had to get it written. Hope you enjoy! I can be contacted at Mzloril@aol.com.

Dedications: 
To Tim: Thanks for letting Shaw come over to play at my house, it’s been a riot.
To Steve and all the other authors: Thanks for making the Wandererverse such a great place to hang out in.


This Little Piggy….

Johansen/Hunter Residence

Shaw Hunter reread her Math assignment then reluctantly headed for the kitchen. Her guardian, Ulric, was seated at the table with pen and paper in hand, writing things down.

"Ulric?" Shaw asked tentatively.

He looked up at her, his eyes having a caring look. "Yes child?"

"When I first came here, you offered to help me with my homework if I ever needed it. Does that offer still stand?"

"Of course it does Shaw, what can I help you with?"

Shaw shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other; she didn’t like having to admit needing help with something. She finally she blurted it out, "I need to go shopping!"

At the confused look on Ulric's face, she continued, "Our Math assignment is to go to the market and select foodstuffs for our household for one week. Then we must write a paper about budgeting and also tell how we would adjust our choices for a home with larger numbers, lower income, or other variables."

By now Ulric had a smile on his face. "So you want to go to the grocery store with me?"

"Yes,” said Shaw. "I have been past the Albertson's several times, but have never been inside, so your help would be most appreciated."

"I would enjoy your company,” Ulric noted. “I don't know why I never asked you before. "

The relief was evident on Shaw's face, "Thank you."

Ulric pulled out the chair across from his. "Why don't you sit down and help me finish the list."

As Shaw hesitated he added, "I promise this shopping trip won't be as painful as going to the Mall with your friends."

They shared a laugh and then began working on the list.

*****

One hour later
Albertson's Supermarket

Ulric and Shaw entered the large store. As they chose a cart, Ulric began explaining the layout to her.

"All of the aisles are numbered and have signs overhead to give you a general idea of what is in each one."

Shaw looked around, surprised by the size of the market. "There is much more that just food here,” she observed.

"Oh yes," said Ulric with a smile, enjoying Shaw’s wonderment. "I guess the term grocery store is a bit misleading. Supermarket is a better description. Almost everything that is used in the kitchen and to prepare food can be found here, plus much, much more. "

They strolled up and down the aisles, adding things to the cart and checking them off the list as they found them. Ulric enjoyed watching Shaw's face as she examined cans and boxes. Soon she was reading labels and comparing prices like a pro, although he did field a number of questions.

They came to the end of the numbered aisles and entered a new portion of the store. Ulric finished checking the last item off the list and tucked it into his pocket.

"Shaw," he said. "I have to go over here to pick up a prescription for a parishioner of mine."

Shaw looked puzzled.

"This is the pharmacy section of the store, " he explained. "People can pick up most kinds of medication here, as well as most other items normally found in a drug store. I think where you come from it might be called an apothecary."

Shaw nodded in understanding as she continued to take everything in. She stayed with the cart while Ulric went to the counter.

When he returned Shaw asked, "Are we finished now?"

"Almost." He said. "Now we must go to my favorite area of the store."

Seeing Shaw's raised eyebrow he elaborated. "Besides a Pharmacy, there is also a full service deli and bakery."

Shaw grinned mischievously. "So this is where all of the breakfast pastries come from."

"Yes," admitted Ulric with a smile. " I have a rather large sweet tooth."

"Really, I had not noticed." Shaw deadpanned with a twinkle in her eyes.

They shared a laugh and began looking over the selections. After the sweets were chosen, Ulric noticed Shaw's interest in the Deli counter.

They moved off to the side and Ulric began explaining in a low voice. "At this counter they sell sliced meats and cheeses, as well as a variety of salads and side dishes. At the end are hot foods. They have daily specials and there are usually fried or barbequed chicken, as well as other items that you can buy hot here, so that one need not prepare things at home. It saves time."

After a few more moments Ulric said, "One last stop and then we can go to the checkout."

The area they now entered held shelf after shelf of bottles. "This is where they sell liquor."

"Such as Scotch?" asked Shaw with a grin.

Having heard the tale of McClarity's Pub, Ulric chuckled. "Yes, such as Scotch."

As he chose a bottle from the shelf he said. "I'm having dinner with a dear friend tomorrow night. I always bring the wine."

They added the bottle to the already full cart and proceeded to the checkout line. Shaw helped empty the cart and then watched as the items were scanned, then sacked.

Ulric noticed that Shaw had become very quiet during it all, but decided not to comment on it. He had grown used to her changes of mood by now. Back home, they made several trips to get everything in the house.

As they began unloading the bags Shaw turned to Ulric. " Would you mind if I started on my assignment now?"

"Of course not." He said. "It would probably be better to get your observations down while they are fresh."

Shaw murmured her thanks and left the room. Ulric continued to put things away, thankful for having the help tonight. He smiled as he emptied one bag, already planning dinner for the night.

*****

Shaw closed her notebook with a satisfied snap. She had made a good start to her Math assignment, but now her stomach was grumbling.

"Time for a break and some dinner.".

/ It's about time! \ said a slightly annoyed voice from the bed. / I'm wasting away to fur and bones over here! \

Shaw looked at her Siamese and snorted, "Hardly fur and bones, but it is time for dinner."

Brenna just sneezed a dainty cat sneeze and hopped to the floor, trotting out of the room on her way to dinner. They walked down the hall and met Ulric at the kitchen doorway.

"Ah Shaw, I was just going to call you.".

"Do you need me to help with dinner?" she asked, looking into the kitchen.

"Oh no!" said Ulric quickly. "Leave the cooking to me."

They laughed, since Shaw was still learning about cooking the "Earth" way and neither wanted a recap of her previous mishaps.

"As it was," Ulric continued. "I didn't need to cook our dinner tonight. Sit down and I will bring you a plate."

He placed a plate in front of her and one at his place. Then he poured a brown liquid into their glasses.

He took his seat. "This is one of my favorite meals." He explained, "The sandwich is smoked turkey with Provolone cheese on rye bread."

Shaw perked up, "Turkey? Like we had at Thanksgiving?".

"Yes," said Ulric. "I got this at the Deli counter a few days ago."

Shaw nodded; it smelled good. "And the rest?"

"There is lettuce and tomato on the sandwich and on the side is an Italian pasta salad I think you'll like." he said. "And there is iced tea with lemon to drink."

Shaw eyed the glass doubtfully. "Tea?" "What of my allergy?"

Ulric took a deep breath. "Shaw, did none of your friends ever explain decaffeinated beverages to you?"

"Decaffeinated?" asked Shaw in a flat voice; obviously the word was new to her.

Shaw found herself unable to speak for a few moments. Ulric by now was familiar enough with his ward to read her facial expressions quite well. He watched them run the gamut from astonishment to resignation.

She sighed. "Well they are teenagers. I doubt they know such things exist."

Ulric chuckled and went on to explain, "There are a wide variety of beverages that have no caffeine in them. You can even get decaffeinated teas and coffees."

"Coffee?" Shaw asked doubtfully.

"Trust me Shaw." said Ulric, understanding her reluctance. After all, enough caffeine could kill her in a matter of hours. "I'm not experimenting on you. I cleared all of this up in a conversation with your friend Tobabaird a few days ago."

Shaw smiled, "Well he would be the one to ask." She took a small sip of her tea. "This is very good."

Ulric beamed. "I'm glad you like it. "I also bought some flavored seltzers, more juice, and some caffeine free soft drinks."

"Soft drinks?" asked Shaw. "Do you mean sodas?"

"Yes." he said. "There are several that are caffeine free."

He broke off as Shaw launched into a low, hissing tirade of Elvish. When she was finished she looked at Ulric, whose face was slightly cross. Just because he didn’t understand it didn’t mean she could swear.

"I am sorry." She said, blushing. "I have been wondering what soda tasted like, and I am tired of the strange looks I get from the bartender at the Bronze every time I ask for juice."

"I see." Ulric said carefully. "I'm sure it's not an order they get very often. Now let's enjoy our dinner so we can move onto more important things."

Shaw just quirked an eyebrow at him. Ulric smiled, "Dessert."

They dug into the sandwiches and salad. Ulric was pleased that Shaw seemed to be enjoying everything. They finished their meal quickly and cleaned up after themselves. Shaw stood back as Ulric assembled several items on the counter.

"I know you like ice cream."

At Shaw's nod he continued, "But I think this will be new to you."

He lined up two tall glasses and scooped some vanilla ice cream into each one. Then he poured a brown liquid over the top. He added a spoon and a straw then handed one glass to Shaw.

"This my dear, is a root beer float." He stated.

She raised an eyebrow and doubtfully asked, "Beer? I do not think alcohol would taste good with ice cream."

"No, no." he hastened to explain. "Root beer is a soft drink, no alcohol, and no caffeine in this brand either." He sipped his. "Try it, I think you will like it."

Shaw hesitated and then took a small sip of her drink. Her eyes opened wide and a huge smile spread across her face. "This is delicious Ulric!" she exclaimed.

He just smiled in agreement and sipped at his own drink. He knew she liked learning new things and was happy to show her something that wouldn’t possibly be painful.

*****

Bronze
Next night

The band had just finished its first set. The Scoobies all bounced back to their table for a rest and something to drink. They settled themselves and reached for their drinks.

Amy turned to her cousin, "Your dancing is getting better, Shaw. A little more practice and you'll be out there shakin' it with the rest of us." Her blue eyes were twinkling with joy.

Shaw sipped her drink. "And is that supposed to be a good thing?" she asked, winking at Willow, who giggled.

There was a chorus of "Heys" from around the table. Shaw just shook her head and grinned.

"Be nice, cuz." Said Amy to Shaw. Suddenly without warning Amy grabbed Shaw's arm, causing her drink to spill all over her silk blouse, one they’d gotten her for her birthday.

"Shaw!" she yelled. "What are you doing? That's soda! The waiter must have given you the wrong drink!"

This threw the whole table into an uproar, knowing what her allergy could do to her. Willow’s witch green eyes were in a panic. "Come on." Said Willow. "We need to get Shaw to the hospital!"

In the midst of all this commotion one person alone was not alarmed. Shaw pulled her arm away from Willow, perturbed, disbelieving, and totally soaked.

"Calm down Willow!" she said, glancing around to make sure they weren’t attracting attention. "Other than having soda spilled all over me I am fine. My blouse may be another matter."

"Bu-but your allergy!" Willow stammered. "We need to get you treatment!"

"Yeah!" yelled Amy, and the two of them resumed trying to pull Shaw from her seat. Resisting their Amazon strength wasn’t easy.

Shaw shook them off. "Stop this at once!" she demanded. "I said I was fine!"

Even Buffy was worried now. "Shaw, you are being irrational! We have to get you to the hospital. Irritation could be one of the first signs of an allergic reaction!"

"Irrational?" Shaw nearly yelled, startling her friends. She counted to ten in three random languages before icily saying, "I will tell you what is irrational. Of all of my friends, no one ever thought to inform me that there were caffeine free beverages, teas, and coffees available! As well as suitable replacements for chocolate and other caffeine laden foods! Things I have wanted to experience but thought I could not."

The gang just stood there with their mouths hanging open. Shaw nodded in satisfaction. Finally, Xander said, “Shaw, caffeine free stuff usually doesn’t taste as good as the ‘real’ stuff. We didn’t think you’d want to waste your time with something not like the stuff we like.”

Shaw considered that but said, “Well, I would have appreciated knowing this anyway, because I want to experience these things. Last night I got to enjoy the sensations of a root beer float.” As they all shot surprised looks her way, she raised her chin and haughtily said, "Now while I go dry off, someone can go to the bar and get me another root beer, just make sure it is a caffeine free brand. After all, you OWE me."

She walked off and the gang just looked at each other, shocked that she was giving them ORDERS. "She is so gonna get it for this!" muttered Cordelia.

"Get in line." Said Amy. "I'm family, I get first dibs on kicking her butt!"

The End

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