|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
My Old Friend
Spike and Xander meet Dawn. What’s happened in her life? What’s changed?
Music Referenced: My Old Friend by Tim McGraw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3Wly8pBuEE&feature=colike
Poetic license: The Tea House in GGP actually closes at 6pm, they’ve agreed to extend their hours just for this story, though.
|Thanks:||Thanks to YOU for reading! Without you none of this would mean anything! Giant thanks also to Anona for her pictures of Golden Gate Park and for betaing this chapter, including her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. Also thanks to Capella42 for her insightful suggestions that made the whole story better. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the very last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
Sunday, September 4th, 2011, OrphanKey Dimension:
“We’re a little late,” Xander observed as the two men clambered over the steep Drum Bridge that led to the Japanese Tea Garden and the Peace Pagoda in Golden Gate Park.
“Five minutes is a ‘little late’! We’re so late the bloody rabbit done died,” Spike snarled angrily.
“Well, you set the meeting time! You should’ve made it later!” Xander huffed.
“Hadn’t planned on Grandpa Harris drivin’ up ‘ere when I told her what time to meet us, did I?”
“Hey – there’s nothing wrong with my driving,” Xander shot back. “It’s your navigating! If you hadn’t taken us on a scenic tour of Haight-Ashbury…”
“That wasn’t a scenic bloody tour! I was getting us around the soddin’ evening mass traffic comin’ out of that big, buggering church, you git,” Spike defended.
“By going five miles out of our way and then getting lost?”
“Not m’ fault things look different than when I was ‘ere before,” Spike barked.
“Oh, right … and when was that? Last year? No! Five years ago? Noooo! A half a century ago? Bingo!” Xander pointed out.
“Also not my fault you stole a bloody truck without a GPS in it!” Spike continued to defend.
“Oh right, being late is my fault because I stole the wrong truck! We could’ve taken a bus up here instead! We’d still be in L.A. right now. Admit it, Spike – you screwed up! We should’ve just waited for the traffic to clear and stayed with the directions that I copied down … but noooo,” Xander groaned.
“If you would’ve just driven like a bloody sane person and gone nine miles an hour over the speed limit…” Spike continued to grouse.
“Oh right! And have them pull us over and run my license and figure out I’m not me. That would’ve been soooo helpful,” Xander continued.
“The CHiPpie blokes won’t pull ya over for nine miles over the bloody limit! Not worth their time,” Spike contended as they approached the five-story tall Peace Pagoda, which had once graced the 1915 Japanese exhibit at the Panama-Pacific Exposition.
“What was that last ticket Buffy got?” Xander asked knowingly.
Spike rolled his eyes. “That was different – it was a bloody speed trap downtown. The soddin’ Sunnydale police figured out they’d better start earnin’ their keep ‘fore they all got sacked. Nine miles an hour on the bloody freeway is different than in town.”
“Do you have an answer for everything?” Xander wondered, rolling his eyes.
“Bloody right I do. Might as well face it, Harris: I’m always right, you’re always wrong.”
“Gee – it’s just like being married,” Xander observed. “Without the fringe benefits.”
“I offered ya my Magic Fingers last night. Plus, you were pretty cozy up against m’ backside this mornin’. Don’t whine t’ me about fringe benefits,” Spike gibed.
“Shut up,” Xander snarled as both men came to a stop in front of the pagoda and looked around. “If you tell a single living soul about that, I will stake you,” Xander warned.
“Well, where is she?” Xander asked, still searching the surrounding area.
“How the bloody hell do I know? Probably left when we didn’t show on time, thinking I was some nutter yankin’ ‘er chain,” Spike speculated.
“And here we go again – this is all my fault,” Xander groaned back, still looking around.
“Wow, if I had any doubt it was really you, that argument you’ve been having since you came across the bridge pretty much capped it. Some things never change,” Dawn said easily as she stepped from the other side of the Pagoda, her arms folded over her chest and a bemused smile on her lips.
“Dawn!” Spike exclaimed, rushing forward and pulling her into a hug. “Sorry we’re late, pet – Harris drives like a granny woman.”
“Yeah, I know,” Dawn agreed, laughing and dabbing at the corners of her eyes as Spike released her.
“God, Spike! Look at you! You look … fine! Perfect! And in the sun! I’ve never seen you in the sun!” Dawn gushed, her eyes shining with unshed tears, looking him up and down.
“Even got some freckles,” he teased. “Wanna see?” he asked waggling his brows up and down suggestively.
“You didn’t show me your freckles,” Xander objected from behind him in mock jealousy. “What am I now, chopped liver?”
“Only had t’ open your eyes last night, Harris,” Spike pointed out with a smirk, stepping back away from Dawn. “Xander, this is Dawn … Dawn – Xander … not your Xander, o’ course. He came with me to … watch my back. Thinkin’ I can lose him in the woods and leave ‘im here, if I can un-stick his sweaty body from my arse.”
Xander shot Spike a warning glare. Spike smirked at him.
“Yeah, I figured that out. No eye patch,” Dawn observed, missing or ignoring the posturing between the two and extending her right hand towards Xander.
Xander looked away from Spike and shook Dawn’s hand, giving her a warm smile. He hoped she didn’t hold anything his doppelganger did against him – he couldn’t control every Xander in every universe, after all.
“Oh, right – I’d nearly forgotten that bit,” Spike realized.
“Eye patch? I’m a … pirate? Sailing the seven seas, all roughish and … sexy like Captain Jack Sparrow?” Xander asked with interest.
Dawn laughed. “Not hardly – Caleb poked your eye out. You’re mostly just … angry and … aloof … and a bit … scary at times.”
“Oh,” Xander moaned, sorry he’d asked.
“Sounds like a big improvement,” Spike teased. “Wanna trade?”
Dawn laughed again and turned her eyes back to look at Spike, and he took her in. She’d grown from the gangly girl he remembered, all long arms and legs, elbows and knees, into a lovely young woman. She had an air of ease about her and confidence now that she’d lacked before. Her hair was still long and dark with some lighter highlights around her face. She wore make-up, but it was so understated that it would’ve been hard to tell from any distance. Her eyes were the color of a stormy sea and seemed to sparkle from within, although Spike could also see a guarded wariness to them, just below the surface.
“Sooo,” Dawn said when no one spoke. “You gonna tell me how the hell you got out of the Hellmouth and where you’ve been?”
“I’ll show ya mine, if you’ll show me yours,” Spike suggested in a roughish tone. “How the bloody hell did you get ‘ere in three hours, pet?”
“Would you believe on the back of my pet dragon?” Dawn asked in a serious tone.
“Uhhh … no,” Spike replied, narrowing his eyes at her.
Dawn shrugged. “Yeah, me either … but it’s sort of true,” she sighed. “There’s a tea house over here – you can buy me some sushi.”
Xander wrinkled up his nose and Spike looked at her like she might still be joking. “You eat … sushi?” he asked not wanting to offend if she actually did.
Dawn laughed. “I told you, I’ve changed,” she reminded him. “C’mon – they have ice cream and cookies too … and tea sandwiches,” she said, looking at Xander, who brightened considerably. Then she looked at Spike. “Oh … but … I don’t know what you eat. They don’t have any spicy wings or onions. Do you eat anything else?”
“Blood and beer,” Xander murmured under his breath.
Dawn raised her brows. Spike rolled his eyes. “I’ll just have some tea. Do ya think they have a proper cuppa Earl Grey?”
Dawn laughed again and shook her head. “It’s a Japanese tea house, not an English tea room. I’ll order for you,” she offered as she led the way to the restaurant.
Spike, with a few interjections from Xander, spent a good amount of time explaining to Dawn how her Spike and Buffy died closing the Hellmouth and how the PTB had rewarded them by merging their souls and memories into their counterparts in the other dimension, the Unexpected Dimension. He and Xander told her about their families and their friends, about Tara and Willow and Eddie, and finally, Spike told her why he was here.
“The Niblett’s like you, Dawn. She’s the Key in our world and … well … she’s feeling a bit alone, I reckon,” Spike explained. “Kinda like she’s the only one of ‘er kind that ever was.”
Dawn smiled sadly. “Of course, I’d love to come and meet her and … well, at least she’ll know she’s not the only one.
“It’s so weird – I was always ‘the Niblett’ … it’s just strange to not be that anymore. I missed hearing you say it … I missed … a lot of things,” she finished. She’d admonished herself before she left to not get all mushy, but she found those old feelings of loneliness and sadness creeping in as Spike spoke.
“I’m sorry we left you, pet,” Spike offered sincerely. “Buffy wanted t’ try and get back … we both did, but … we were told we couldn’t and … that you’d be alright. The git messenger the PTB sent said Buffy’s friends would take care o’ you.”
Dawn nodded and took a sip of her tea. Her cup trembled and clattered slightly against the saucer when she set it back down. “They did … everyone was … really great. I stayed with Giles in London and went to school there. I graduated from Oxford, and … helped rebuild the Council. Probably, if I hadn’t been there I never would’ve met Gertie and Shiro and learned … how to tame my pet dragon.”
Spike and Xander both looked at her, waiting for her to explain that statement.
Dawn laughed a bit at their anxious and confused faces, and pulled an amulet out from under her shirt. The amulet was large, almost the size of her palm, and three dimensional. There were six points to it that were made of sharp, triangular, golden pyramids. Those surrounded a lilac-colored, round, flat crystal in the center. Across the face of the flat crystal were six more slender, geometric, amethyst crystals, each matching, and lined up with, a point of the star. The crystals faced inward, toward the center, while the golden points faced out. The base of each amethyst crystal was wrapped several times in what looked like bright copper wire, and they were all connected to each other with more wire, this time in silver. In the very center of the amulet, where the points of the six crystals met, there was a large, square gem that looked like a diamond, but may have been quartz.
“Meet my travel agent,” Dawn said as she straightened the complex, six-pointed, crystal amulet on her chest. “It helps me focus my energy so I can open doors from one place on the earth to another using the Dragon Spines,” she explained.
She was met with more blank stares.
“Ummm … Ley Lines? Tectonic plates? Geomancy?” she tried.
“Ok, well, there are places around the world that hold magical power, that have intrinsic, natural energy. Places like Hellmouths, some churches, Stonehenge, Ayers Rock, the Great Pyramid in Giza, Easter Island, Mutiny Bay, Airport Mesa and Bell Rock in Arizona, Point Conception … and even places like right here in San Francisco where so many fault lines converge,” she explained.
"These places are all connected through the earth with Ley Lines ... the Chinese call them Dragon Spines. I can use my Key energy, balance it with the six points of this star, connect my energy to the earth through the amulet, which has a Metatron's Cube etched into the back of it, and focus it with the crystal in the center.” As she spoke, Dawn turned the amulet over to reveal the etching on the back of it and showed it to Spike and Xander.
The two men looked at it with interest, nodding and ‘uh-huh’ing thoughtfully.
“So…” Dawn stopped and sighed when she saw the looks on the two men’s faces. “You don’t have the slightest idea what I’m talking about, do you?”
Spike and Xander looked at each other, both started to protest that, of course they knew what she was talking about, but finally just shook their heads in defeat.
“I’ve heard of Stonehenge, though,” Xander offered. “That’s in England, right? Big rocks piled around in a circle.”
“You’re bloody brilliant,” Spike groaned. “Never know he didn’t attend a day o’ university, would ya?” he asked Dawn with an eye roll.
Dawn smiled and shook her head. “It’s ok, I’m used to people looking at me like I’m Shirley Maclaine,” she admitted.
“Ok, here’s the dumbed-down version,” she continued, and both Xander and Spike looked slightly offended, but also relieved.
“See the pretty necklace?” she asked, sounding as if she were talking to three-year-olds. She held the amulet up and let it swing back and forth from its heavy chain in front of them, like she was trying to hypnotize them.
“We aren’t that thick,” Spike objected.
Dawn smiled and nodded as she dropped the amulet back against her chest. “Just kidding.” She took a deep breath and continued in a serious tone, “I learned how to use the Key energy in me to create doors between these mystical places around the world. I use the amulet to help me focus my energy so I can use these doors to move from place to place.
“It took me a long time and a lot of practice with Eastern meditation to learn how to focus it. At first I had to use blood applied to the amulet, but now I can just do it by concentrating on bending the energy within me to my will. So now I can travel the Dragon Spines of the earth between these hot-spots. Like … today, I left from Stonehenge and came out about twenty miles south of here at Moss Beach. Of course, I didn’t have a car, so I had to take a cab up here,” Dawn explained.
“Soooo,” Xander questioned. “You … walked on dragon spines from …”
“No … no, it creates a door, I just step through. It’s like walking through a curtain. It only takes a second,” Dawn clarified.
“So why’d you say three hours?” Xander wondered.
“‘Cos, I had to drive to Stonehenge and then I knew I had to get a cab or call someone to come get me from Moss Beach and bring me here. The actual trip from Stonehenge to Moss Beach was,” Dawn snapped her fingers to demonstrate the trip through the portal. “It’s getting to and from the hot-spots that takes time.”
“Why didn’t ya just have us meet ya there?” Spike wondered.
“They don’t have a tea house and sushi,” Dawn explained with a sly smile. “I haven’t been here in ages, just had a craving. Although, now that I think about it, you would’ve liked it there better, they have a distillery there that’s a restaurant. Oh! Shoot! I should’ve had you meet me there! I totally forgot, they have really awesome buttermilk onion rings! They’re almost as good at that flowering onion thing they had at the Bronze.”
“No worries,” Spike assured her, eying his untouched green tea. “This is … brilliant.”
Dawn laughed again. Spike never remembered her laughing so much. Of course, she had been a teenager. Everything is dire to a teenager, especially one that had just found out that she hadn’t actually existed before six months ago and held some kind of mystical energy inside her that could end the world.
“You’re still a horrible liar,” she told him reproachfully.
“So, can ya open portals to other dimensions too?” Spike wondered.
Dawn nodded. “I can open them if I know where they are … of course, it also helps if you know where they go. You can end up in some really bad places if you just go jumping through portals willy-nilly.”
“Yeah, like pink motel rooms with an air conditioner and a TV both manufactured in 1980, only one bed, and a vampire who’s off his meds,” Xander muttered, popping the last green tea cookie into his mouth.
“Best night o’ his sorry life,” Spike asserted, giving Dawn a small wink that Xander couldn’t see.
“Now this is what I’m talking about!” Xander exclaimed as he walked into their hotel room later that night.
Since it was late when they got done talking in the tea house, the three decided to stay in San Francisco for the night and head back to the ‘New Sunnydale’ tomorrow. Spike told Dawn to pick any place she wanted, that money was no object. She chose the Five Star Hotel Fairmont Heritage Place near Ghirardelli Square.
“If you had brought me here first, I would’ve given you a big ole sloppy kiss,” Xander continued as he looked around the two-bedroom, lavishly furnished 1,200 square foot suite, which had a full kitchen, living room, over-sized bathroom with a sauna, a giant balcony with a view of the bay, and three … count ‘em three plasma TVs, each roughly the size of Montana.
“Be still m’ heart,” Spike groaned as he set their backpacks down on the large dining room table and looked around too. “I just dropped nearly a grand an’ all I get’s a sloppy kiss? Got a mighty high opinion o’ yourself, Harris.”
“You’ve never been kissed until you’ve been kissed by the Xan Man,” Xander claimed smugly.
Dawn coughed loudly as she came in behind the two men, her disagreement clear. Xander ignored her.
“Don’t really know what you’re making such a big ruckus about, ain’t even got Magic Fingers on the soddin’ beds,” Spike complained.
Xander smiled. “No, but there are two beds in each bedroom … plus a very comfy-looking couch – even the floor here looks more inviting than that one bed at the Motel That Time Forgot.”
Dawn swept in past them and slid open the large French doors that led to the balcony, and a fresh, salty breeze wafted in from the night. “I miss the air in California, it’s sooo…”
“Smoggy and rancid?” Spike interjected. “Smellin’ of rotted fish guts and car exhaust?”
Dawn laughed and turned around to face him. “No … salty and vibrant and … just …” she sighed with melancholy. “Home.”
“We could a’ slept on the soddin’ wharf and gotten that without dropping a bloody grand,” Spike muttered under his breath.
“You are so cheap,” Xander declared, prodding Spike in the middle of his back with a pointy finger.
“Am not, I’m … thrifty,” he defended, bending his arm at an impossible angle behind his back to rub the spot Xander had poked.
“You say potato …” Xander muttered as Dawn walked back towards them.
“Which room do you guys want?” she asked, picking up her own bag.
“It doesn’t matter,” offered Xander. “You can have the one with the balcony and the fresh smog.”
Dawn’s smile brightened. “Thanks!” she exclaimed as she turned to head to her room, but then stopped and looked back. “Oh, in the morning before we leave, I want to stop at Ghirardelli’s and pick some stuff up to take with us. Does Buffy still like that Intense Dark Hazelnut Heaven?”
Spike sighed, pulled out his wallet, and began checking how much cash he had left. “Yeah … and about ten other kinds … and the Niblett too. Be lucky t’ get outta this dimension with any money left at all.”
“You’ll be lucky to live five minutes if Buffy finds out you were within walking distance of Ghirardelli’s and you didn’t bring her half the store,” Xander pointed out. “Think of it as self-preservation.”
Spike sighed again and nodded. Harris had a point.
“Couldn’t sleep, eh?” Spike asked a couple of hours later as Dawn padded past where he sat on the couch. She’d apparently been heading for the kitchen.
She shrieked and jumped as she spun to face him in the dark.
“God, Spike! You scared me to death!”
“Yeah, well … vampire, remember,” he pointed out, sliding over to make room for her to join him.
Dawn sat down on the couch sideways facing him and crossed her legs Indian-style. “What’s the matter, Xander’s snoring keep you up?” she asked with a knowing smirk.
Spike rolled his eyes. “Sounds like a bloody freight train rumbling through the room, he does. He didn’t do it last night. Considered getting in ‘is bed and letting him cuddle to shut him up, but he hogs the bloody covers.”
Dawn laughed and nodded. “Like I said, some things never change.”
“So,” Spike started, turning slightly to face her in the dark. “What weren’t you saying before in front of Harris?”
Dawn rolled her eyes and ran a hand through her long hair, tousling it around her face and shoulders. “Our Anya’s dead, ya know?” she began.
“Kinda figured,” Spike admitted.
“She didn’t make it out of the high school – Andrew said one of the Bringers killed her. Xander’s never … well, he’s never been the same since. He’s just been … so … depressed and guilt-ridden. Your Xander’s more like old Xander. I like him.”
Spike nodded. “Reckon I could see how losing Anya would change ‘im. Be like that summer we lost Buffy … only forever.”
Dawn nodded. “So, you and Buffy are really … happy, huh?”
“Yeah,” Spike agreed. “It’s not all Christmas and puppies, but we get on.”
“And all those kids! Buffy never thought she’d have any kids, you know, being the Slayer and all. Plus … I think I kinda put her off the idea. I might’ve been … a little difficult when I was younger.”
Spike laughed. “You’re the queen of understatement, pet.”
Dawn rolled her eyes.
“I’m really so glad that you’re together though. You guys never could catch a break. Between her vampire neurosis and Riley and dying and … well, everything else …
“You know, I had a total crush on you when I was fourteen,” Dawn admitted, looking down and studying her fingernails in the dim light that shone in from the distant wharf.
“Did ya now?” Spike asked, cocking a brow as if surprised by this revelation.
“Buffy, of course, thought I’d lost my last marble.”
“It’s a wonder she didn’t stake me on the spot.”
Dawn nodded and fell silent.
“So,” Spike prodded. “Reckon you got over your obsession with vampires then?”
Dawn nodded again. “Yeah … fell in love with a Watcher – one of the new guys Giles recruited: Samuel Sandstone.”
“A Watcher, eh?” Spike started to rib her about falling for a stiff-upper-lip Watcher, but stopped – her whole vibe had changed. “What happened, pet?” he asked, staying solemn.
“He … got killed – he and his Slayer got killed by a pack of vamps about two years ago,” Dawn explained. “I … really loved him. I thought …” she shook her head sadly. “I really thought we’d get married and have kids and …” She sighed forlornly.
“I’m sorry, pet,” Spike offered, reaching a hand out and laying it comfortingly atop hers.
Dawn nodded and finally looked back up at Spike. “Then I … well, I was pretty down and … I don’t really know how it happened, but Xander and I just … we were both in this same dark place and it just happened. The problem was, I climbed out of it and … he’s just stuck there. After a while … well, I just had to break it off. He was keeping me from really healing. He got so mad …” Dawn stopped and cleared her throat with a nervous cough before continuing, “Anyway, I had to just cut all ties with him.
“It’s really a shame because talking to your Xander reminds me of everything that I loved about him at one time. But he just could never pull himself out of that pit of despair, and I just can’t live that way. I lost Mom. I lost Tara. I lost Anya. I lost Buffy. I lost you. Hell, I lost the man I loved too – but that doesn’t mean you stop living, right? I’m still alive. I can still make a difference … I can’t just stop seeing the beauty in the world because people I love aren’t in it anymore.
“Willow always told me: ‘Buffy and Spike would want you to be happy. They would want you to laugh and love and enjoy life. Every time you laugh, an angel sings in heaven and they’ll know that you’re happy.’
“I used to imagine you and Buffy were together in heaven and … it’s silly, but I would go outside and just look up at the sky and laugh for no reason. I always hoped that you could hear me.
“Xander said there was no way God would let William the Bloody into heaven with Buffy, but Willow said Buffy would beat God’s ass if he didn’t,” Dawn laughed and dabbed at her eyes. “I guess Willow was right.”
Spike smiled softly and squeezed her hand. “Reckon Buffy’s beaten bigger Big Bads than God,” he agreed.
Spike wrapped an arm around Dawn’s shoulders and tugged her towards him. She unfolded her legs and turned to lean against his chest, tucked securely under Spike’s arm. Spike dropped a kiss onto the top of her head. “I’m sorry we left you, Niblett,” he offered. “I’m so proud of you, though. Your sister’s gonna be chuffed t’ bits with how brilliantly you’ve done.”
Dawn had no words. She just nodded against him and gave up trying to stop her tears. ‘Bittersweet’ just reached a whole new level.
Next Day, on the road again:
“No! I’m totally serious!” Dawn related to Xander as they traveled down the interstate back to Sunnydale. “The Initiative chipped Spike – he couldn’t hurt anyone … but he didn’t realize it, right? So, he goes to Buffy and Willow’s dorm room to kill Buffy – as normal – but Buffy’s not there. So, while he’s waiting, he tries to bite Willow and he can’t! He can’t do anything!”
“OI!” Spike objected from the driver’s seat. “I could a’ done … something – if I’d wanted to. Just couldn’t … bite ‘er.”
Xander laughed and leaned forward to look past Dawn, who was sitting between them. “Spike was … impotent? A harmless wittle lamb? Spike! You never told us about that before.”
“You’ve got a big mouth, Niblett,” Spike growled, scowling at her.
“Oh! And he’s totally afraid of bears!” Dawn continued as if Spike hadn’t spoken. “I mean ‘scream-like-a-girl’ afraid of bears.”
“I didn’t scream like a bloody girl. And if you were tied to a bloody chair in a room with a giant bear, you’d scream too, I reckon,” Spike defended.
“Buffy had you tied to a chair and put a bear in the room with you?” Xander asked. “That’s a little over the top kinky even for you, Spike.”
“Noooo, you prat! It was Thanksgiving and it was a demon bear spirit thingy,” Spike related vaguely.
“It was still soooo funny. His eyes got big as saucers!” Dawn claimed, widening her own eyes with her fingers to demonstrate. “‘You made a bear! You made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!’” Dawn mocked between fits of laughter.
“You don’t know! You weren’t even there! You went with your mum to visit relations back east!” Spike pointed out.
“Buffy told me all about it,” Dawn claimed, giggling.
“Why don’t ya tell Harris about the time ole Drac had ‘im whimpering after ‘im like a puppy? Or that time that what’s-it demon split ‘im in two and ‘e tried to kill himself – literally?” Spike suggested.
Dawn thought about it, but decided to stay on the ‘Spike’ parade. “Oh! Wait until you hear this one! There was this robot girl named April, and Spike made a pass at her at a party. She threw Spike through a window! She picked him up like he was a rag doll and…”
“Please stop!” Spike objected. “You weren’t there either!”
“Reee-jected!” Xander interjected loudly.
Dawn giggled. “Buffy told me! She laughed about that for days!”
“I’m bloody glad my pain was so entertaining to you bints,” Spike growled.
“Ok – wait! Just one more!” Dawn pleaded. “This was one of my favorite Spike moments. It was when Buffy was dead the second time. This gang of motorcycle demons took over the town, right? Well, I was home with Spike, but we needed to get out of the house – get away from this gang that was tearing up the place.
“So, Spike goes and stands in the middle of the street – just stands there all calm and cool with all these bad-ass demons smashing and looting stuff all around him. He was like … I don’t know – Dirty Harry or something, like, c’mon punk, make my day,” Dawn related excitedly.
“Then, this motorcycle demon comes roaring right at him and Spike just stands there and I thought I was gonna pass out! My heart was like trying to escape and run away, but Spike’s just all Mr. Cool standing there waiting, and then BAM! He moved so fast I could barely see him! He like spun around in mid-air and knocked the demon off his motorcycle! And his duster was like … billowing out like Batman’s cape. It was the coolest thing ever!”
Spike smirked, keeping his eyes on the road, feeling pretty self-satisfied with that story.
“So,” Xander summarized. “That sounds like Spike-the-impotent-loser: fifty; Spike-the-bad-ass: one.”
“Sod off, Harris. I saved the bloody world in the end, didn’t I? Reckon that counts for something,” Spike argued.
“Which I understand included wearing that really dorky necklace that our Buffy wore,” Xander taunted. “Nothing says ‘bad-ass’ like drag-queen bling.”
Dawn and Xander rolled in laughter. The laughing only waned slightly when Spike pulled over and threatened to put them both out on the side of the road.
In truth, Spike didn’t mind the ribbing so much. Some of the stories Dawn told about him had nearly been forgotten in the ethereal memories he had of that dimension. He was extremely happy she stuck with embarrassing, but in the end, harmless tales. There were plenty of stories she could’ve told that were, well … dishonorable, to say the least.
“Ok,” Xander commanded as Spike pulled the borrowed pickup truck back into its place next to the construction trailer. “Just follow my lead.”
“Aye, aye, Capt’n,” Spike muttered as he cut the engine and put the keys back in the little magnetic box they’d come out of.
The three of them piled out of the truck and grabbed their backpacks. Spike took the large gym bag that held the chocolate from Ghirardelli’s from Dawn, who had been holding it. Spike stuck the magnetic box with the keys in it on the driver’s door and they headed off towards the portal, Xander in the lead.
Xander was happy to see that Mr. McNally had left the area flagged and barricaded off. Even though all the other streets around it now had the first layer of asphalt lain down, they had skipped several yards on either side of the rubble of the exploded catch-pit.
The three travelers were nearly to the hole in the ground when they heard someone calling, “Harris!”
“Crap,” Xander moaned, hoping beyond hope that McNally hadn’t called the building inspector’s office looking for him. Xander stood up straighter and put on an air of importance and impatience as he turned around to meet the foreman.
“Oooo,” Spike whispered. “Look at the puffed-up manly, man.”
“Shut up,” Xander growled at him as he stepped past Spike and Dawn to greet Mr. McNally.
“I don’t have time to chat, McNally,” Xander stated hurriedly. “We’ve got four other jobs to look at today, so, we’ll just get this concrete tested and…”
“Tested? But … I thought …” McNally stammered as all the color drained from his face. “I thought we had an understanding,” he said in a low voice so no one else could hear.
“But I can’t afford an understanding with three of you. Why did you bring even more people into this, Harris?” McNally asked, looking at Spike and Dawn in turn.
“Well,” Xander began in a loud voice, “I can’t go anywhere without my personal assistant, William, now can I? And this is Miss Summers – she’s the concrete tensile strength testing tech. I am supposed to be testing the concrete – it’s hard to make that look legit if I don’t have a tech with me,” he explained.
“Of course,” Mr. McNally agreed. “But … just how much understanding are we talking about, Harris?”
“Tell you what, McNally, let’s see just how crappy your concrete is, then we’ll know just how much understanding we’ll need,” Xander suggested, turning on his heel and starting for the hole again. “Let’s go, William – chop, chop,” he ordered, clapping his hands together as he passed Spike.
Spike growled under his breath, but started after Xander. Dawn hurried after them. The ladder was still in the hole, so Xander ducked under the tape and between the barricades and started down.
McNally had hurried up after them and stood at the edge of the pit, looking down nervously.
Once all three of them were down in the crumbled catch-pit and standing in front of the portal, Xander looked up at McNally and said, “You know, this would probably go much better if we had some nice, cold water … bottled water. What kind do you want, William?”
Spike struck a pose like a ‘Racer’ on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’. With one hand on his hip, which he’d jutted out to the side, he pursed his lips and then shook his head as if he had long hair that he was trying to get out of his face. “Perrier,” Spike purred, looking up at McNally, his eyes narrowed into sultry slits.
McNally gulped. “Uhh … Perrier? We don’t have any … we have AquaFina,” McNally offered, looking desperate.
Xander clicked his tongue disdainfully and sighed heavily. “Well, if that’s all you have. I suggest you stock up on Perrier for the future, though. A happy assistant makes for a happy inspector,” Xander informed the foreman. “Run along now – I’m parched,” he instructed, waving a hand at the man dismissively.
“Right – three waters coming up!”
“Make sure they’re ice cold!” Xander called up as McNally hurried away.
“Personal assistant?” Spike mocked scathingly, glowering at Xander. “Sexual harassment, that’s what this is.”
Xander smirked. “You should be so lucky,” he retorted with a self-satisfied grin.
“Ok, can you open it with your cute little … Key thingy?” Xander asked, looking at Dawn. “’Cos we do have blood.”
“I can do it,” Dawn assured him, stepping forward until she was standing right in front of the portal. She pulled the amulet out from under her shirt and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, in through her nose and let it flow out through her mouth, then commanded, “Aperire!”
A bright flash of vibrant, green light burst out of the amulet, slammed against the portal, then spread out and covered an area about six feet high and three feet wide. Within just a couple of seconds, the green light began to glow bright white and started to swirl wildly. A second later, a wind whipped up out of nowhere as the portal opened.
“Here we go!” she announced, stepping through the light and wind and disappearing from view.
Xander and Spike followed quickly on her heels and within just a few seconds they were all three standing in the vampire-dust-clogged Hellmouth of the Unexpected Universe.
When they were all through, Dawn turned back to the open portal and commanded, “Finivi!” and the process reversed. First the wind died, then the swirl of glowing, white light slowed, and finally the white light morphed back to a sparkling, kelly green. Lastly, the amulet seemed to suck the green light back from the portal like a vacuum cleaner until no trace of it remained.
Dawn turned to Spike and Xander, held her hands out Vanna White fashion, and announced, “Ta-da! And, for my next trick …” she shrugged and dropped her arms. “Well, really, that’s my only trick, but, pretty cool, huh?”
“Brilliant,” Spike agreed, giving her a smile.
“Neat,” Xander concurred. “It must save you a fortune on vacation packages!”
Dawn laughed. “Oh totally! One of my favorites is Diamond Head. It’s technically not on the Council’s list of approved destinations – there aren’t any Slayers in Hawai’i,” she divulged with a guilty smile. “But, sometimes I … just end up there … by accident. It’s a total mystery to me how that happens.”
“Oh God, please don’t tell Anya you can do that! She’d go back every weekend if we could afford it. She’s still obsessed with trying to study Alex O'Loughlin’s tattoos up close and personal,” Xander moaned.
As Xander brought up the rear, Dawn began to follow Spike up the stairs and out of the Hellmouth. “That sounds like a perfectly valid ambition to me. They’re definitely worth a lot of very detailed study,” she agreed with a laugh.
Dawn is reunited with Buffy and meets the family next.
My Old Friend, Tim McGraw
My old friend, I recall
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