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The Key, the Dark-Hunter, and the Link

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Summary: After moving to New Orleans, Dawn quickly finds herself thrust into a new world that feels oddly familiar. Daimons and weres, she can handle; one overly bossy, protective god/man named Ash, not so much. Add in one spoiled demon and you get her new life.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Dark Hunter Series(Past Donor)sevangelFR1829180,525149882264,76313 Feb 072 Nov 08No
CoA Winner

Chapter 10

Title: Chapter 10
Series: The Key, the Dark-Hunter, and the Link
Author: Sevangel
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me. Joss Whedon owns anything Buffy or Angel while Sherrilyn Kenyon owns everything Dark Hunter. I am just playing with them.
Rating: PG-13

-

Dawn's shoulders stiffen when the bathroom door slams open but other than that, she gives no physical response. She can feel Ash's fury as if it were her own. The intenseness of his feelings scares her a little. She's only had the one real boyfriend (pretty much every other guy she's gone out with either didn't make it past meeting Buffy and Co, tried to kill and or sacrifice her, or wanted to have sex on the first date; she never saw any of them after that). She remembers (even if the memories are fake) how Buffy was back when her and Angel were together the first time; how everything was 'oh, my boyfriend's a vampire and it's the end of the world every day' thing. How happy Buffy was most of the time but also how miserable Buffy was at others. She meant it when she said Riley was good for Buffy, with Riley everything was calm and even. She understands now that's because Buffy was never 'in love' with Riley but when she was fourteen, she was just glad to see her sister stop crying.

She's not sure she's ready for that, ready to feel that intensely. But a part of her knows she has no choice in the matter; that the boat has already set sail and she's already sunk under. Or something like that. She can't really think right now, her heart is pounding about a thousand beats a minute.

"Akri, why you being so loud?" Simi pokes her reflection in the mirror, closes her eyes, and turns her horns pink. "Akra, you like my horneys?"

"They kinda clash with your skirt, Sims." Dawn comments, tilting her head to study Simi. "Try light blue."

Simi changes her horns to light blue. "Now, akra?"

"Perfect." Dawn taps her on the nose. "Why don't you and Xirena run downstairs while I talk to Ash."

"Don't want to." Simi crosses her arms over her chest with a pout.

"I know you don’t Sims, but go on." Dawn lifts her off the sink and sets her on the ground.

"Come on, Xirena, you heard my akra." Simi sighs dramatically, her bottom lip poked out in a pout. "The Simi wants to stay with her akra but her akra say no."

Dawn shakes her head with a smile. "Sims, stop being a drama queen and scat."

Simi sticks her tongue out at Dawn, who sticks her tongue out back, and then pulls Xirena out of the bathroom.

Dawn half hears the bathroom door slam shut as she backs up towards the sink, Ash stalking towards her one step at a time. His eyes are red, again, and his face is slightly consorted. He looks pissed, okay, beyond pissed. But before she can say anything, she leans too hard against the sink and the pins poke into her back. "Ouchie."

"What?" His voice sounds demonic to his own ears but she doesn't so much as flinch. He's clenching his fists as tight as he can in an attempt to rein in control but it doesn't do much. The thought of her on a date, with some human boy, makes him want to rip the head off something, preferably the boy. He normally has more control over himself, his anger, but for some reason that control won't come. Then the sweet, rich scent of her blood hits his nose and he can feel his fangs lengthen, his body start to harden.

"I poked myself." Dawn knows the second he smells her blood; the tips of his fangs become visible. "Turn around."

"Why?"

"So I can take off this dress before I completely mutilate myself." Dawn twirls her finger. "Turn around."

"I've seen you naked." Ash points out.

Dawn shakes her head, her face heating. "No, that was a dream; it wasn't real."

Ash just arches an eyebrow.

"I’m not comfortable with the thought of changing in front of a guy, Ash." Dawn says. "So either you turn around or leave."

He can hear the sincerity in her voice and see the embarrassment in her face; she's not comfortable with her nudity, probably nudity in general. In fact, she's blushing, something he's not used to seeing, not anymore. He is pushing her too hard, expecting her to accept and deal with things she's too young to do so. He turns around without comment.

Dawn starts to wiggle out of the dress the second his back is turned, trying her best not to knock any of the pins loose. She has a god-man to calm down, a demon to contend to, a date to meet, presents to wrap, and a plane to catch and all of it has to be done in less than twelve hours. She has no time to waste. She manages to get the dress of without mutilating herself any further and without knocking out any of the pins, so one victory for the night. She slips her bra back on and then grabs the clothes she's going to wear on her 'date'.

Ash waits until he hears her grab more clothing before turning around. She's wearing a pink strapless bra (he decides right then that he hates that article of clothing) and a pink striped pair of panties that almost look like shorts.

"Ash!" Dawn squeals, holding her shirt against her chest with a glare.

"You're perfectly covered." Ash points out, arms crossed over his chest as he leans against the sink.

"Okay, I guess you're right." Dawn admits after a second. "I mean, my bathing suit covers way less than this and I wear it to a beach all the time." Not that it's not a completely different situation, going swimming and getting dressed, but she is an adult and part of being an adult is dealing with adult like situations without acting like a little kid.

Ash frowns, picturing countless boys checking her out in said bathing suit. He's really starting to hate this jealousy thing. He doesn't get jealous, hasn't for a very long, long, very long time. Not since he was a child himself. And yet, here he is, ready to strangle some faceless boys along with whomever this date is.

Dawn slips on a black satin camisole top and then grabs her favorite pair of jeans. They're old, she's had them since Sunnydale, but they fit perfectly, or they did before. Now they're a little loose and hang down low enough for the top of her panties to show; she makes a mental note to grab a belt.

"You're going on a date." Ash growls, his eyes roaming up and down her body.

"Before you go all caveman and start pounding on your chest, I made the date before I even knew you existed." Dawn crosses her arms over her chest and glares at him. "I just kinda forgot it was today until the alarm on my cell went off."

"Who?"

"Some guy I go to school with." Dawn shifts her weight and then turns away from him. She grabs her toothbrush and brushes her teeth, trying her best to ignore Ash's eyes on her back. She can tell he's digesting her words, trying to process them without overreacting, or at least that's what she hopes he's doing. She finishes brushing her teeth and starts brushing her hair, not bothered by the fact that's she's being watched as does so; she did, after all live in a house with a couple dozen girls and only two bathrooms. She's not comfortable with the naked part of getting ready but the rest of it, she could probably do with thirty people in the room (except actually using the bathroom, of course). Her brain is going in a hundred different directions and she knows that it's mostly cuz she's so nervous. It feels like she's on the threshold of her life, where she's supposed to be, supposed to do, and it makes her nervous. Her entire life has revolved around her sister's; her sister getting kicked out of school, her sister being the slayer, her sister's calling, her sister's friends, and then just about finding some sort of freedom from her sister. And now she has that freedom but she's at a standstill; she 's not completely sure how to start on a path that isn't lead by Buffy.

Ash can't help but watch her in fascination as she gets ready; he's never really watched this ritual before. Artemis is always perfectly presented and never lets him see her as anything but perfect. Simi mostly uses her powers to get ready and very rarely does it the human way. He avoids Alexion and Danger's chambers as much as possible, partly to give them privacy and partly because he's not sure how to act around the woman when she's not one of his Dark-Hunters. But behind that curiosity is the rage, a possessive urge he's trying to control. He doesn't want her going on this date. He doesn't want her going near this boy. Or any boy for that matter. It's the same possessiveness he feels when it comes to Simi but for completely different reasons. Simi, he wants to keep her from males, keep her innocent. Dawn, he doesn't want any male but himself near. "Don't go."

"Ash, I have to." Dawn runs her fingers through her freshly dyed and cut hair before turning to look at him.

"No." Ash orders.

Dawn smiles softly. "Sorry, but you're going to have to deal with my going."

He closes the distance between them in one giant step, crowding her back against the counter.

Dawn's eyes open wide and she scampers back until she's actually sitting on the sink, which is even worse because it makes her almost even with his body. And she knows she could stop him, Ash would never force her do something she really didn’t want to do, but when his face lowers towards hers, she just lets her eyes drift close and meets him halfway.

It's better than the dream, how that's possible, he's not sure but it is. Her lips are plump and taste like some sort of fruit, most likely from whatever lip stuff she just got done putting on. He pushes past the seam of her lips and into the warm recesses inside. She sighs against his mouth, her lips opening to grant him better access. His body is already tight with tension and the tentative way she rubs her tongue against his is like fuel to fire; one hand moves cups the back of her head, tilting her head so he can deepen the kiss while his other hand smoothes up her body to cup one small, perfect breast.

Oh, god! That's the first thought she can form. This is so much better than the dream which gets her to wondering if everything is so much better than the dream. His mouth seduces hers, coaxing her into an intimacy she's never felt and makes her want more. The fact that she's in her professor's best friend's bathroom with said professor downstairs and the fact that she's known Ash less than a day cross her mind but she can't bring herself to care. Her legs spread of their own accord and Ash immediately steps between them, rubbing his erection against the seam of her jeans; she moans, loudly.

He just wants to eat her up. Taste her from head to toe and back again. Fill her body completely, over and over again until neither one of them can walk. He wants to possess her in ways that will make her blush and stutter, and the thought of her going on this date and this boy touching her fills him with a rage that almost scares him. He's well aware of what happens when his darkness controls him and how dangerous it is. He's barely controlling his temper now and he barely knows her, has barely touched her; how's it going to be once he actually has her?

She never really understood before what people meant when they say 'their passion got the best of them'. She does now. For the first time in her life, she's experiencing real, physical desire; her entire body is throbbing with it. She wants to crawl inside him, rub her entire body against him, touch him in places she's never thought about touching anyone in. She's had the sex talk with pretty much everyone. Her mom and Buffy told her the same thing; wait until she's older, until she knows she's in love and use protection. Willow said about the same thing only she added to never be ashamed of love, whether it's with a man or a woman. Xander told her not to do anything stupid and use protection. Giles just cleaned his glasses and told her to ask Buffy. Spike and Angel both told her men are evil and she's never to have sex (then made multiple threats of what they would do to the bastard that deflowered their little 'niblet'). Connor just told her not to be stupid. Faith told her to use a rubber and always go back to his place because it's easier to leave before he wakes up than it is to get him to leave. Anya, she was the most honest, in her very blunt way. She said that sex is wonderful but she should only do it when she's ready for it and to make sure she has her orgasms, and to never fake it. And what she didn't learn for talking about it, she learned from reading about it in her sister's diary. She knows all about sex; she just never thought she'd be wanting to do it with someone she barely knows.

And yet here she is, her mouth fused to his, her legs wrapped around his waist as she rocks her body against his. His thumb is rubbing against her nipple and it shoots straight between her legs, making her rock even harder against him. She rubs her tongue up and down one of his fangs and is rewarded with a deep, rumbly purr.

Ash sucks on her tongue, nicking it one of his fangs and then sucks on it harder. She just mewls and melts against him. Her entire body is leaning against him, her limbs languid with lust. He drops his hand off her breast to trace around the elastic of her panties before slipping his fingers inside, pushing down towards that sweet, warm part of her. But before he even reaches the bottom of her scars, a loud pounding interrupts them.

"Dawn, your cab is here." Amanda's voice says from outside the door.


Dawn pulls back from Ash, the interruption like cold water. She almost just had sex with a man she just met, in a bathroom, with a dozen people downstairs.

Ash sighs when she pulls away and a blush covers her face. He's pushing her too fast; she's not ready for this. She proves it when she hops off the counter and looks away from him.

Dawn slips her feet into her flip-flops and grabs her newly purchased 'slaying bag'. It has all the essentials for going out; cell phone, money, makeup, a clean shirt, a small first aide kit, and a couple stakes. She bought it at the mall today, along with most of the things in it save her cell, money, shirt, and the stakes, those she just put in there. She slips the bag on and grabs her dress. "I'll see you later."

"Dawn." Ash growls.

Dawn ignores him and leaves the room, slamming it shut behind her. She hands the dress to Amanda and then runs down the hall and then down the stairs.

"Akra, where you going?" Simi pops herself in front of Dawn.

Dawn screeches and jumps back. "Simi, you're going to give me a heart attack doing that without some sort of warning."

"Sorry, akra." Simi apologizes, fluttering herself around Dawn, her wings flapping quickly to keep her up.

"S'okay." Dawn murmurs, tensing when she feels Ash behind her. She's so not ready to deal with her 'slut' moment right now. And as much as she doesn't want to go out on this date, she needs to get away from Ash for a few minutes. "I have to go out for a little bit."

"Okay." Simi morphs into her 'human' body. "Let's go."

"No, Sims, I have to go." Dawn shakes her head. "You have to stay with Ash."

"Akri come too." Simi insists.

Dawn kisses Simi's forehead. "Sorry, baby girl, I have to go alone but I'll meet you at Sanctuary later."

"Dawn."

Dawn ignores the warning tone of Ash's voice and gently moves Simi to the side. And then, for the first time in over a year, she ignores Simi's cry and runs.

He could stop her, in fact he moves to do so but stops. Besides the fact that she betrayed him, he's always hated Artemis because she forces him to do things he wouldn't otherwise do. She forces his will, using innocent beings to do so. He won't force Dawn's will. As much as he doesn't want her leaving, especially to go on a date, he knows he has to let her make her own choice. Even if he hates it, which he does.

"Akri, bring my akra back." Simi orders, her voice shaking.

"I can't, Simi." Ash sighs, shifting his weight from foot to foot. "You know as well as I do that I can't force her to do anything against her will."

"Yes, you can, akri." Simi argues. "You can because the Simi wants you to. She wants her akra back, now."

So does he, but for completely different reasons. Simi wants her 'mommy' back with her, at her side. He wants Dawn by his side, under him, over him…..he feels like the proverbial teenage boy, at the mercy of his hormones. He doesn't like it. It gives Dawn too much control over him. "I know you do, Sims, but I can't make her."

"Even if the Simi wants you to?" Simi's bottom lip trembles and tears fill her eyes.

Ash sighs heavily. "Even if the Simi wants me too."

Simi crosses her arms over her chest, glaring for all she's worth. "The Simi doesn't like it, Akri. The Simi thinks you should let her go barbecue the cab man and get her akra back."

Add in the date and he agrees. But he doesn't tell her so, or she very well might try to. Whoever this boy is, it's someone he wouldn't try very hard to stop Simi from eating. In fact, he'd provide the barbecue sauce.

-

"Thanks." Dawn hands the cab driver some cash and then hops out of the cab. It's a little cooler than she thought it was going to be and she's regretting not grabbing a coat…or a warmer top. As she walks into the coffee shop she's meeting Jacob, the guy from her Greek Civ class, she realizes three things; one, she didn't grab a belt and her pants are riding down lower than she'd like; two, she'd rather be with Simi and Ash than here, and three, she completely overreacted. Yes, her physical reaction (and groping session) with Ash was a little overwhelming but running like a little kid wasn't the answer. She's not really sure what the answer is.

She wonders if this is how Buffy felt when she first fell for Angel; need, confusion, and excitement coated with a healthy dose of fear. Her feelings, and not just desire, for Ash are getting so strong she doesn’t know how to deal with them. Or him. And she just wishes she had somebody to talk to about it, her sister for example. Faith, well, if she wants sex advice or anything like that, Faith is the girl to go to. But emotions, the slayer tends to avoid those and Xander is the only one that's ever seen that side of her. Willow…the witch has been in love three times, Oz, Tara, and Spike and all three times happened gradually. She dated and fell in love with them over time. Not to mention Willow's already covering for her enough; she can't ask Willow to hide this from Buffy too. She's not comfortable enough with Fred to talk to her about this. Anya or Cordy would both work but they're both gone.

That leaves her sister, the one she wants to talk to but the one person she can't. Buffy is first the slayer and second the sister. The words, 'I think I'm falling in love with someone I just met' will barely make it out of her lips before Buffy's in slayer mode and demanding to know everything about him. And if she learns even a little…she doesn't want to have to choose between her sister (and co) and Ash. And that's what it will come down to. The word 'God' in reference to her will send Buffy straight into slay mode. Which she would have to stop hence the choosing. It's the main reason why Simi can't come back to L.A. with her. The gang is pretty open with the demon thing, which half of them being one makes sense, so while they're not going to jump into slay mode at the sight of Simi, it doesn't mean there won't be questions. And Fred, as sweet and bright as the physicist is, she is a scientist. She'll look at Simi and see something new, or actually something really old and want to figure her out. She might not mean to but she'll look at Simi as a specimen and not the wonderful girl she is. Not to mention what the others of Wolfram & Hart will do. She trusts Angel, Wesley, Fred, Lorne, and Gunn but the rest of the law firm, she doesn't trust. Nor the senior partners. And if a ten thousand year old demon that is bound to a god-man walks into their turf, who knows what they’ll do.

And then there's Ash because he's not going to let Simi go without him. He's too powerful; it'll put everyone on alert the second he's there, especially Willow. It'll be too much like Jasmine for the Bat gang and too much like Glory for the scoobs. He'll scare them too much and most of them are human or at least emotionally human; they're going to strike out at what scares them. She's not really sure how Ash would react to that. If they attack Simi, he will attack back, no second thought, but she's not sure what he'll do if they attack him. Oh, he'll defend himself but to what extent? Not that it matters because if they attack him, Simi will protect him which will make them attack her and then he'll definitely attack back. Which puts her smack dab in the middle. Where she doesn't want to be.

"Dawn?"

Oh, yeah, her date. Her date that's probably been standing there for a few minutes staring at her. "Hi."

"I have a table over here."

He places his hand on the small of her back to lead her and it makes her want to puke. Seriously, the feel of his hand on her skin makes her physically ill and curse the fact that she didn't grab a damn belt. His thumb starts to rub on her skin and she pulls away from him, dropping down into the chair he pulls out for her. Guilt stabs her gut, guilt like she's doing something she shouldn't be doing. Guilt like she's cheating. It feels like she is and she doesn't like it. She doesn't want to be here. She's leaving in less than eleven hours now and she doesn't want to spend any of that time with some guy she really doesn't like to begin with. But the mannered part of her, the part that her mom taught not to be rude, can't just run out on a promise she made. But she also remembers listening to her mom talk about how a single mother of two can't ever find a date.

"So, are you coming to the game?" Jacob asks.

Oh, yeah, he's on the football team. She kinda forgot about that, not that she really cared in the first place. Sports, not her thing. Except gymnastics and ice skating, of course (she was made from Buffy after all). He's pretty much the 'All-American beefcake; tall and buff, dark brown, spiked hair, jeans, polo shirt, and tennis shoes. A year or so ago, she would have been so excited that he wanted to date her but now, she's so unimpressed. And completely uninterested. "It depends on how Simi's feeling."

"Is Simi your roommate?" Jacob leans forward.

"No, my daughter." Yep, worked like a charm. His mouth drops open, eyes widen, and he leans back.

"Your daughter?" Jacob repeats.

"Mm hmm." Dawn nods. "Didn't I tell you I had a daughter?"

"No, I'm sure I would have remembered that." Jacob replies.

"Hmm." Dawn shrugs. "I don't talk about her much; her father is very overprotective."

"Her father?" Jacob repeats.

"Ash, he's….well, don't worry, I didn't tell him your name or anything so you should be okay." Dawn assures him, feeling the slightest bit bad about scaring him.

"Okay?"

"Ash is, he didn't like the idea of me meeting you but he needs to understand I'm allowed to have friends, even if he doesn't like it." Dawn says, speaking mostly truths. "He's a little on the possessive side. We're working on it."

Jacob fidgets in his chair before standing up. "I'm going to go see what's taking the waitress so long."

Dawn nods and watches him walk towards the counter. He fiddles in his pocket as he talks to a girl behind the counter and then quickly strides back to their table.

"She'll be over in a second." Jacob says.

Dawn nods and smiles, counting to herself. Before she even reaches ten, his cell phone rings.

Jacob, a surprised look plastered over his face, reaches into his pocket and pulls out his ringing cell phone. "It's my brother, I have to get this."

"Okay." Dawn agrees.

The call is short, Jacob saying okay a few times before hanging up.

"I'm so sorry but I have to go." Jacob says with an apologetic smile. "My brother's car broke down and he needs me to come pick him up."

"It's okay." She's the tiniest bit insulted with how fast he backed out but is not surprised. She declines his offer of a ride home and waits until he's gone before walking over to the counter. She orders a frozen espresso and pulls out her own cell as she waits. And then remembers she doesn't have Ash's phone number. Or remember Kyrian's address (Valerius told her what it was when she called the cab company on their way back from the mall). Her best bet is to just go to Sanctuary and wait there for Ash.

She exits the cafe with her drink in hand (and directions to the bar from the counter girl) and starts walking. It crosses her mind to call a cab since it's a good ten blocks away but she feels like walking. Which surprises her seeing how she spent a year walking or riding Raven. But the crowded streets comfort her. She loves this city, more than any place she's lived. There's just something about New Orleans that reaches out and touches her.

About a block and a half from her destination she feels somebody following her. Or more accurately, somebody's. It's not Ash, she would know his eyes on her back, feel it down to her bones. And it's not Simi cuz she wouldn't follow, she'd run up here. She tosses her empty drink into a trash can and sneaks a glance back. Blond hair, big builds, three men. Daimons.

She dunks into an alley and jogs halfway down, leaning back against the brick to blend in. She knows they saw her and is just waiting for them to show up, a stake in each hand. She's not disappointed.

It's rather disappointing actually; there's no banter portion of the fight. They spot her and rush her, pretty much like she expected they would. But they could have at least had the decency to threaten her a little. She stakes one pretty easily but counts her chickens before they hatch. After she kicks one of the remaining two away, the other one manages to grab her around the neck, shoving her hard against the brick. She grunts at the impact and drops her stake to scratch at his hand. He backhands her. Her brains a little scrabbled, she starts to panic until she hears that voice in the back of her head, the one she always tries to ignore.

Stay calm. Relax your body.

She does both, relaxing her body and letting her eyes drift close.

When he moves in to take a bite, make him sing.

The second the tip of his fangs touch her neck, she slams her knee up into his balls. He shouts and his grip loosens. As she sucks in much needed air, she grabs his pretty blond hair and uses it to slam his head into the building beside her. Then she pushes him aside and swipes her leg at the other Daimon. Diving to the ground, she grabs her dropped stake and pops to her feet. Then it's just like any other slaying, plunge and move on. A few moments after she was nearly strangled, there's nothing but dust around her.

"Damn, you're better than he said."

Dawn spins around, her right fist connecting hard with the face belonging to the voice. It isn't until after she sees his face that she realizes she's met him before. "Noun-boy?"

"Sundown." He corrects, rubbing his jaw gingerly. "Damn, girl, you pack some heat."

"Thanks." Dawn grins.

"You okay?" Sundown frowns, head tilting to look at her.

"Yeah, I'm good." Dawn replies, before looking down at herself. "Damn it."

"What?" Sundown follows her gaze, admiring all the smooth curves and skin.

"I got my shirt all dirty." Dawn sighs and drops her stake back into her bag. "I hate alleys. They stink."

"And now so do you." Sundown grins and then jumps away when she smacks at him.

"Shut up." Dawn orders.

"Ash know you're here?" Sundown questions, following her out of the alley.

"No, he thinks I'm on a date." Dawn replies. "Which I was a few minutes ago but now I'm not. I'm meeting him and Simi at Sanctuary."

"I'll walk with you." Sundown says.

"I don't need a bodyguard." Dawn rolls her eyes.

"Hey, maybe I do." Sundown grins. "And you can guard me anytime you want."

"Tell you what," Dawn grins back. "why don't you run that one by Ash when we get there, see what he says."

Sundown pauses, but doesn't say anything.

Dawn swallows a few times, wincing a little as she does so. She's gonna have strangle marks, there's no doubt about that. The question is, who will be more pissed, Ash or her sister? Her money's on Ash.

"You sure you're okay?" Sundown questions, wincing when he gets a good look at her neck; bright red handprints mark her skin, right over a open bite mark. "Wait, he bit you?"

"No, I kneed him in the balls before he did that." Dawn replies.

"Then where'd the bite mark come from?" Now that he looks at it, Sundown realizes it's not fresh; the bite has healed over by a few hours, at least. "You didn't have it last night."

Dawn doesn't answer, just quickens her pace when she spots the bar. It's not like she can tell him his boss bit her. Doubt it would go over well. She nods to the hot bouncer and then makes the beeline to the restroom, again. And she's right, her neck is already red and it is going to be bruised. Her satin shirt is sprinkled liberally with alley gunk (she's not sure what it is and she's pretty sure she doesn’t want to know) so she grabs the spare shirt she tucked into her bag. It's a black wife beater, one that Vi got her as a joke for when they went patrolling back in the day, and has 'Bite me' written across the front in dripping, blood-red letters. The bathroom is once again empty so she changes quickly before dunking into a stall to pee. When she comes out, there's a tall, beautiful blonde woman wearing a black halter and leather pants leaning against the counter. She steps up beside her, sets her bag down on the counter beside the blonde, and washes her hands. She can feel the other woman's eyes on her but ignores them; Simi told her about the no violence order in this bar so she should be relatively safe. She turns off the water and grabs some paper towels to dry off her hands, her back to the woman.

"Don't fight him too much; he's not used to it and won't know how to handle it. But don't let him boss you around either; he needs somebody that won't back down to him. And most importantly, don't play around with him; he can't handle that, not from you."

Dawn drops the paper towel and spins around only to find the bathroom empty. She checks every stall but they're all empty. Out of places to search, she grabs her bag and decides just to let it go; she doesn't have the time to deal with this right now.

She spots Aimee the second she walks out of the bathroom, the other woman surrounded by big, beefy looking guys, only one of them whom she knows, Sundown. Her bag held in her hand instead of over her shoulder, she walks over to the bar. "Hey, Aimee."

"Dawn, how are you?" Aimee smiles and pushes on the big guy next to her. "Remi, move."

"Who are you?" Remi growls down at the human, not moving.

"Dawn Summers." Dawn smiles blindingly and holds out her hand. "You must be one of Aimee's many overprotective and overbearing brothers, emphasis on the bear part."

Remi growls, loudly, drawing attention from the human patrons around them.

Nicolette rushes over and smacks her son on the back of the head. "What's wrong with you? Are you trying to drawl everyone's attention to you?"

Aimee forcibly pushes her brother out of the way and moves over to Dawn's side. She's glad to see the other girl but is a little shocked that she's alone.

"Who is she, Aimee?" Remi demands.

"None of your business." Aimee retorts.

"The hell it's not my business." Remi growls lowly. "Your judgment has proven to be pretty damn bad lately. Now, who the hell is she?"

Dawn cocks her head to look at the tall, blond man. "You know, if you were about a foot and half shorter and wearing a halter, you could so be my sister. Well, she's a little bossier and a hellova lot scarier but you're close."

Another tall, blond man, do they all have blond hair, steps up beside Remi and pats him on the back, laughing loudly. "I'd pay good money to see that."

"I have a halter, if you want to borrow it." Dawn offers with a grin.

Remi just growls.

"I'm gonna let you in on something, Remi was it, three Daimons just attacked me, one who decided that he wanted to strangle the life out of me before he sucked out my soul, and I'm still standing while what's left of them won't even fill an ashtray. You growling at me isn't going to scare me, especially when I know you can't hurt me in here. Sanctuary and all."

"You fought three Daimons?"

Dawn arches an eyebrow at the man that's standing beside Remi. "Who are you?"

"Dev." Aimee introduces. "Dev, this is Dawn."

"And yes, I fought them." Dawn says. "If you don't believe me, ask noun-boy over here."

Sundown rolls his eyes. "She pretty much kicked their collective asses."

"So, Aimee, when we doing this mall scamming on guys thing?" Dawn asks with mischievous grin. And then suddenly, she surrounded by countless tall, built, growling men. "Oh, you so have me beat in the 'I'll never get laid department'."

"You're telling me." Aimee mutters.

"Man, I didn’t believe Simi when she told me." Dawn ignores the men and focuses her attention on Aimee. "You should just do what I did and move two thousand away."

"Watch your tongue, human." Kyle growls.

"Kyle, don't." Aimee orders her brother and then looks at Dawn with pleading eyes. "Dawn, don't bait them; they're going to do something stupid and I don't want anyone getting hurt."

"They're not going to hurt the human, Aimee." Nicolette assures her daughter, shooting her sons a look. "But it would be best if she stopped baiting them. And don't take that as a request either."

Dawn's mouth opens when the song blaring throughout the bar stops and is replaced by 'Sweet Home Alabama'. The bar goes instantly quiet, some people she recognizes as Daimons, sneaking out the back way. Confused, she looks at Aimee. "What's going on?"

"Acheron is here." Nicolette sighs.

"He has his own theme song?" Dawn laughs. "Okay, how silly is that?"

"Try saying that to his face and see what happens." Dev says with a grin.

Dawn shrugs. "Okay."

"She's not really going to, is she?" Remi whispers to Dev when the human turns and starts looking towards the middle of the bar.

"Humans are stupid." Dev whispers back.

"I heard that." Dawn looks over her shoulder and then turns back around just in time to be tackled by a familiar body.

"AKRA!"

Dawn squeals as she goes falling backwards but is saved from hitting the ground by the body of one of Aimee's brothers. "I missed you too, Sims."

Dev straightens the human, his hands on her waist and stares down at Simi in confusion. He's a little surprised that Ash's demon knows the girl who's waist he's holding, a waist that is surprisingly soft and reminds him that he hasn't gotten laid in a long time.

"Think that again while you're touching her, bear, and it'll be the last thing you'll do."

Dead silence follows the growled threat.

Dawn rolls her eyes and hefts Simi higher in her arms as she steps away from Aimee's brother. Simi is talking a mile a minute in her ear, like they've been separated for years rather than an hour. "Haven't you ever heard the saying eavesdroppers never hear good things about themselves or something like that?"

Ash just glares, his arms crossed over his chest.

"Well, in case you haven't, it pretty much means you shouldn't listen to things you're not supposed to hear, thoughts for example, cuz you're likely to hear things you don’t want to hear." Dawn explains, kissing Simi on the forehead before placing her on her feet. "And you can't threaten somebody because of their thoughts."

Ash uncrosses his arms and closes the distance between them. He gently grabs her chin and tilts her head to the side. "Who touched you?"

"Sorry, I forgot to take names." Dawn replies, one hand resting on Simi's shoulder and the other on Ash's chest. "But if it's any consolation, they're nothing but dust now." His look tells her it's not. "Ash, it's not a big deal, I can handle myself. I mean, even noun-boy didn't think it was bad enough to step in."

"Hey, I just caught the end." Sundown defends.

Ash spins around, fangs flashing threateningly. "You let them choke her?"

Sundown tenses, preparing himself for an attack. He knows there's no way in hell he can take Ash but he'll go out fighting.

Dev and Remi start forward despite their parents calling them back but are beaten by the human girl.

Dawn steps between the two immortals and cups Ash's chin in her hand, forcing his gaze down to hers. "He didn't let them do anything and besides that, I'm fine. Except that I'm starving."

"Me too, akra." Simi adds, stepping between her parents and leaning her head back against Dawn's belly. "Akri made us go home after you left and I didn't get any of the tasty food Amanda made."

"Where's Xirena?" Dawn asks, finally realizing the other demon isn't with them.

"Xirena is with Alex." Simi chirps. "Akri, the Simi and her akra are hungry."

"C'mon Ash, you can buy us some food." Dawn lets go of his chin to grab his hand. Simi stands in front of their clasped hands, talking cheerfully as she leads the way to an empty booth.

Aimee watches them walk away, a smile on her face at the cute 'family' they make, before turning to her shocked family. "Dev, whatever you were thinking about Dawn, I would never think it again. And Remi, don't threaten her again or it will be the last thing you do."

"Who is she?" Nicolette murmurs, suddenly realizing how close she just came to losing another one of her children.

"Well, Simi thinks of her as a mother and I'm pretty sure Ash thinks of her as his." Aimee fills two glasses with what Simi and Dawn drank before.

Dev grabs a bottle of the good stuff, the stuff that'll knock a human out with one shot, and chugs straight from it. He knows he just came damn close to getting his ass fried by Ash and as someone who doesn't feel fear, well ever really, it's a little daunting. Damn, for all the girls to check out.

Sundown holds out his hand. "Gimme a shot of that; hell, give me the damn bottle."

Ash moves down into the booth beside Dawn, Simi on her other side, and throws his arm over the back of it. He can hear the bear family whispering about them, along with a good portion of the bar, but tunes it out. He can smell the human boy, Daimons, Sundown, and Dev on Dawn and it makes him want to rip something in half, preferably them. Aimee approaches the booth with a small smile but he pays her next to no attention as he stews. This possessiveness towards Dawn is getting worse. How he's going to handle her leaving, he's not sure. Nor is he sure how he's going to handle hearing about her date and why it ended so damn early, not that he's mad about that, but even though he's never actually been on a date, he's fairly sure they last longer than an hour. A dozen different things pass though his mind, each one worse than the former, and he's growling without even realizing it. Then she's touching him, her head on his chest and hand squeezing his thigh and his rage starts to lessen.

Dawn squeezes Ash's thigh reassuringly and tilts her head back to look at him. To her surprise, he drops a light but possessive kiss on her lips. She laughs when Simi squeals loudly and claps her hands and kisses him back.

Nicolette watches the Atlantean with the human and sighs. This is going to cause problems, she can feel it in her bones. She's nervous enough when the demon is here, knowing what Ash will do if something happens to Simi, and now there's a human that he's libel to act just as protective over. She feels her husband squeeze her shoulder and knows he's thinking the same thing. Whether they want it or not, this human, just like Simi has been, is now under their protection as much as their own daughter.

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