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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)sevangelFR1829180,525149882262,05713 Feb 072 Nov 08No
CoA Winner

Chapter 14

Title: Chapter 13
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

-

Ash soothes the hair off Dawn's face and leans down to kiss her forehead. She mumbles incoherently, brow furrowing in her sleep. He doesn't understand why the barely more than a child has such an impact on his life but she does. Just her being here, her presence, calms him down enough that he can focus. It's not only that he missed her while she was gone, which he did, but….his fleeting grasp on the minuscule strand of humanity he has left seemed to completely fade when she left. He just didn’t care.

But now he can clearly focus and knows he has work to do, work that he has neglected for too long. And once again, he owes Savitar more than he can repay. If it weren't for the other man, Zoe and Dragon would both be dead.

"Where you going?" Dawn mumbles, face buried in his pillow and his blankets pulled up under her chin.

"I have to go work." Ash leans down to kiss her temple softly.

"M'kay." Dawn murmurs. "Be careful."

Ash kisses her temple again and dresses himself as he leaves his bedroom, shutting the door quietly behind him.

Alexion looks up when Ash enters the room and sighs with relief when he sees the Atlantean dressed in his 'hunting' clothes. "Going out?"

"Zoe and Dragon need a hand." Ash replies. "Dawn's sleeping but if she needs something…"

"I'll get it for her." Alexion assures his boss.

"Do we need to wake her up in an hour?" Danger asks, the smallest part of her jealous; she does miss the hunting. "For her concussion?"

Ash shakes his head, hands fisted at his sides. Her response of 'an overheated moment in battle' isn't enough of an answer for him. He will find out who hit her, who gave her a concussion. He healed her head wound, along with the bruises he found on her sides and thighs. Though the act is almost effortless for him, he hates having to heal her, hates seeing her body marked in any way but by him.

"Akri, where you going?" Simi looks away from the television and up at him.

"Seattle." Ash squats down and pushes her hair out of her face. "Do you want to come with me or stay here with Dawn?"

Simi clicks her tongue, obliviously thinking over the question. "Is it raining?"

Ash nods. "It will be soon."

"Then the Simi will stay here with her akra." Simi leans up to kiss his cheek. "Bye akri, be careful."

Ash smiles down at her and then flashes himself to Seattle, right in the middle of a fight between one of his Dark-Hunters, one of his former Dark-Hunters, and a whole passel of Daimons. Though by the tension filling the small alley, he can tell the fight was first between the Dark-Hunter and former Dark-Hunter, the Daimons interrupting sometime in the middle of it. Not in the mood to fight any of them, he ashes all the Daimons but one, who he keeps held against ground.

"Ash?" Ravyn Kontis looks away from the monster that has become his best friend to the man he formally called his boss.

"Ravyn." Ash nods. "Go home to your wife."

"Ash, don't." Ravyn steps in front of Cael protectively.

Ash just arches an eyebrow. "This is not your concern, Ravyn, go home."

Ravyn opens his mouth to protest and with a wave of his hand, Ash sends him home.

Cael shifts his weight from foot to foot and looks up at his boss with a determined expression. He knows there's no way he can take Ash in a fight but as long as his wife is home, safe, he doesn't care about himself.

Ash sighs. He knew this wasn't going to end well. And a few days ago, he would be doing something completely different from what he's going to do now. It's Dawn's influence, he knows, the innocence poring off her bleeding into him and making him soft. "Where's your wife?"

Cael pales. "You know…"

"I've always know, Celt." Ash interrupts. "Where is Amaranda?"

"You can go ahead and kill me." Cael moves his hands by his sides, showing Ash that he is weaponless. "I'm not telling you."

Ash rolls his eyes. "I was being polite." And with another wave, the tall, beautiful Daimon is in the alley beside her Daimon/Dark-Hunter husband.

"Cael?" Amaranda looks up at her husband, face pale, fangs visible, and eyes tortured. Then she feels the other presence in the alley and turns her head to see something that frankly terrifies her. Her and her siblings used to tell ghost stories about the man in front of her until they got so scared they ended up crawling in bed with their parents.

Cael moves his wife behind him protectively. "Leave her alone, Ash."

Ash sighs impatiently. This is what happens when he tries to reason with people. He should just do what he plans to do rather than try to explain to them. Takes way less time. "Come here, Amaranda."

Amaranda can't help but obey, walking slowly towards her husband's boss as though in a trance. From behind her, she can hear Cael yelling, struggling to move towards her and a part of her wonders why he's not saving her while the rest of her just follows the deep, hypnotic voice of Acheron.

"You son of a bitch." Cael screams, trying to move towards his wife but unable to do little more than shift his weight.

Ash cups the former Appollite's chin and looks into her eyes. In the two weeks since she accidentally turned herself and then purposefully turned her husband, the blonde hasn't so much as pierced Cael's skin. The guilt of what she turned Cael into eats away at her which in turn eats away at Cael. They'll both be dead within days if nothing changes. Either that or they'll completely loose control and destroy everyone around them. With a crook of his finger, he pulls the remaining Daimon to them. "Feed."

Cael stops struggling in shock.

"What?" Amaranda gasps, looking up at Ash in complete fear.

With another frustrated sigh, Ash cuts the Daimon's wrist, silencing its outburst of pain, and shoves the open wound towards Amaranda's face. Her hunger takes over and she greedily swallows the blood presented to her.

Cael's face shifts to the demon one he's yet to accept as he watches his wife feed from another man, jealously tensing his entire form. He has no idea what Ash is doing nor why he's doing it but as the color and life returns to his wife's skin, he's incredibly grateful for it.

Amaranda pulls away from the Daimon after a few minutes, the painful clenching that racked her body for the past week finally fading.

Ash releases Cael and ashes the almost dead Daimon, releasing what's left of the souls it had consumed.

Cael runs to his wife, his hands running over her body to assure himself that she's still alive. Then he looks up at Ash. "Why?"

"Does that really matter?" Ash asks back. "This doesn't solve anything except your immediate deaths. You have to feed from her and she'll have to feed from Daimons. You can't. If you do directly from a Daimon or if she feeds from a human, I will kill you both. And you need to leave here, tonight. Go to Milwaukee. As far as I'm concerned, you still work for me, Celt. She can't have contact with any of her family and if you tell anyone what I let her do, I will kill you both."

"And that's it?" Cael asks in disbelief.

Ash laughs. "Not even close. If Artemis ever realizes what's going on, she'll want you dead, which means you can't go so long without feeding. The longer you go, the more Daimon you appear and feel. Other Dark-Hunters will hunt Amaranda if they sense her and if you kill one, I will have to kill you both. If you don't do your job, Artemis will order your death. It's not going to be an easy life but you'll be together for however long it lasts. I hope that's enough."

Cael looks at his wife and knows it will be. "Ash, than…"

"Don't thank me." Ash interrupts. "I was serious when I said it wouldn't be easy. You two need to lay low and Amaranda, you need to stay hidden except when you need to feed."

Amaranda nods.

"Go." Ash orders. "Before I change my mind."

The couple joins hands and then run out of the alley as if the hounds of hell were nipping at their heels.

"I'm fairly sure you're not supposed to protect Daimons."

Ash tenses slightly and turns his head to see Savitar walking towards him. "I'm fairly sure I'm not supposed to either."

"Then why did you?" Savitar questions.

Ash shrugs. "Honestly, I don't know I'm doing anything lately."

"I do." Savitar pats him on the shoulder. "When did Dawn get back?"

"About an hour ago." Ash isn't surprised that Savitar knows. "Zoe and Dragon?"

"They're fine." Savitar assures him. "How is she?"

Ash can feel the other man's concern for Dawn but it's not like his own concern. Instead, Savitar's resembles the concern he himself feels for Simi. Filing that away, he answers. "She was sleeping when I left."

"I thought she wasn't getting home until Sunday." Savitar says. "I saw the countdown."

"She wasn't supposed to." Ash agrees. "Nicolette called me an hour ago; Dawn showed up there, beat up with a concussion." Yes, he was right, the rage that floods of Savitar's body is in sync with the rage he felt when Simi got hurt. "You knew her before."

Savitar sighs. Ash is too damn smart for his own good. "Yes."

Ash files that away too. "But she doesn't know you."

"She does." Savitar corrects. "She just doesn't remember."

He has a thousand more questions but can tell by Savitar's closed look that the other immortal isn't going to answer them. So instead, he flashes the other man a smirk. "Feel like helping me break up another fight?"

Savitar smirks back. "Sure, what the hell."

And then they're both gone, the only evidence of them having been there the ashes blowing in the wind.

-

Dawn sits up with a gasp, eyes scanning the room for a danger that she can't describe. A danger that instinctively, she knows isn't there. It was another dream, nightmare really, and she knows she won't be able to sleep anymore.

She's had nightmares as far back as she can remember, even back in the made up memories. The worst were always about Glory and even now, those nightmares scare her the most. Next comes Ben, the stuff she has nightmares about the doctor-slash-godshell makes her skin crawl even thinking about it now. Then just the everyday demons and vamps that they face, made bigger than life by her unconscious mind. She's always kept quiet about having them, except for the ones that she actually wakes up screaming from and can't deny, not wanting Buffy to feel anymore guilty than her slayer sister already does.

This nightmare was about none of those, instead flashes of a life that isn't the one she's led. Pain and love, death and life, all rolling through her mind. Without even realizing it, her hand is cupping her belly, searching for a wound that isn't there. Yep, it always sucks to get gutted in a dream.

She stretches with a wide yawn and for the first time realizes she's not in her own bed. This bed is way too big and much too comfortable to be hers. Not that hers isn't comfortable but this bed is like sleeping on a cloud, or at least what she thinks sleeping on a cloud would feel like. Either way, it's totally comfie. Most of her wants to stay nestled here, in these Ash smelling blankets and just veg but the growling in her belly says something else. So she stands up and stretches again, moaning as her shoulders and back pop. A glance down at her body shows that she's not wearing her own clothes, instead is wearing a large black t-shirt that is way too big, sliding off one shoulder, and reaching mid-thigh. She doesn't remember changing and the fact that her body doesn't hurt any more from the fight tells her that Ash changed and healed her.

His house is like nothing she's ever been in, pure white marble walls, pillars, and all those other things you read about in ancient worlds but more…rich. Simi's singsong voice echoes down the hallway and she follows it. It leads her back to the room she's almost positive she first showed up in and her stuff on the floor backs up that thought, though thankfully someone put everything back. Hopefully the pretty girl on the couch and not the hot guy beside her because despite how she joked with Ash, he's the only guy that's ever touched her undies.

"Akra!" Simi pops over to Dawn's side. "You awake, akra."

"Yep." Dawn absently kisses Simi's forehead, one hand moving to trace of Simi's swishing tail. A tail Simi didn't have in the hell dimension but since the 'demon' form Simi's in now is different than the one she was in before, Dawn isn't surprised. "I like your tail, baby-girl."

Simi grins, fangs flashing, and tugs on Dawn's hand.

"Hi, Xirena." Dawn smiles at the other demon as she sits down on the floor with Simi.

"Hello." Xirena cocks her head to look at Dawn but doesn't say anything else.

Dawn listens to Simi talk for a few minutes, her hands waving excitedly as she talks about all the 'sparklies' she bought and a bunch of other things that Dawn's brain can't process right at the moment. She needs food. The loud growling of her stomach backs up her brain's thought.

Simi stops talking, tilting her head to look at Dawn's belly. "You hungry, akra."

"Yep." Dawn agrees.

"Lexxie, my akra is hungry." Simi announces.

"I heard." Alexion watches the human with Simi, honestly surprised by Dawn's easiness with the two demons beside her. Even Danger sometimes gets a little nervous, especially when the two sisters start talking about eating or, god-forbid, demon mating. He wonders if Dawn will react the same way. "Is there something in particular that you want?"

"A large, thin crust pizza with extra anchovies from Dominos." Dawn replies without hesitation. "Extra cheese too and Diet Coke."

Alexion pulls out his phone.

"You aren't calling Ash, are you?" Dawn asks.

Alexion nods, he doesn't know what Dominos is.

"He's working, right?" Dawn asks.

Alexion nods again.

"Don't interrupt him then." Dawn says. "It's not like I'm going to keel over if I don't eat right now. He's probably busy saving someone and I don't want him to stop just because I'm hungry. I mean, what if somebody dies just cuz I wanted a pizza. I couldn't live with the guilt. I can wait until he's done doing whatever he's doing."

It's a far cry from Artemis. The goddess would care less if the entire world ended as long as she got what she wanted. He's stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place; if he doesn't get Dawn food, Ash is going to get pissed. If he calls Ash to bring her food, there's a chance it will upset Dawn which will piss off Ash.

"I can go get my own food, you know." Dawn says. "Well, if you tell me how to get out of here, I can go get my own food because I'm pretty sure it's not as easy as walking out the front door."

That's not going to happen. So, he flips open his phone and dials a number he never thought he'd have to call for a reason like this.

"What?" Urian's no-nonsense growl answers.

"I need a favor." Alexion, while he gets along with Urian, doesn't want to ask the former Daimon for anything but knows it's his only choice. He's the only other one besides Savitar that has access here. Either that or Artemis and he's a hundred percent sure the goddess isn't going to bring Ash's girlfriend food.

"Alexion?" Urian pauses.

"Yes." Alexion agrees. "Can you bring a large pizza with extra anchovies and cheese from Dominos and some Diet Coke here?"

There's a brief pause. "What?"

-

"So, you used to be evil." Dawn swirls melted cheese around her finger and then licks it off, sighing happily at the wonderful flavors. She loves pizza. She looks up from her slice to see two demons, two shades, and one something she doesn't know what he is staring at her. "What? Is it some big secret? I'm pretty sure you can't hide your formerly evil state from Ash but do Alexion and Danger not know? Am I letting some secret cat out of its bag?"

It takes Urian a moment to process what she said. He's never been a fan of slang or the way some Americans talk and the way this human talks is very irritating. "You think I used to be evil."

"I know you did." Dawn corrects, pausing to sip at her diet coke. "You have that whole 'tall, dark, broody, I used to eat people' vibe going for you. And the guilt complex that comes with it. You probably spend hours a day, reliving the worse things you've ever done, torturing yourself with the memories."

She's too insightful for a mere human. And that also irritates him. "You think I'm evil and yet you sit here with me?"

"I said 'formerly' evil." Dawn corrects, wordless handing a piece of pizza to both Simi and Xirena, who both scarf it down. "The key word being 'formerly'. If you were evil, there's no way Alexion would let you near me let alone Simi or Xirena. And Ash wouldn't let you come into his house either."

"True." Urian agrees.

"So, you used to be evil." Dawn holds her hand out to him. "I'm Dawn Summers. Thanks for the pizza. How much do I owe you?"

Urian stares down at her hand.

Dawn sighs. "It's this custom us humans have. You place your hand in mine and then….okay, it always ends up sounding way dirtier out loud than it does in my head." She grabs his hand and shakes it. "Nice to meet you…."

"Urian." Urian provides after a second.

"Urian." Dawn repeats. "So, how do you know Ash?"

"I tried to kill him." Urian replies, wanting to see her reaction.

Dawn arches an eyebrow. "Pretty much failed at that one, huh?"

Danger leans back against her chair and just laughs. And then laughs some more. "Dawn, I think I'm really going to like you."

"Thanks." Dawn offers her a piece of pizza.

"No thanks." Danger wrinkles her nose. Even though she can't taste food, just the thought of the little fish in her mouth makes her want to gag. "Do you have any idea how bad that is for you?"

Dawn nods. "That's why it tastes so good."

"You're not afraid of me." Urian announces, rather bothered by the fact.

"Nope." Dawn agrees. "I can pretend if you want me to but you probably have that super sense of smell and will be able to tell it's all fake."

"Why aren't you afraid?" Urian is completely thrown, not used to humans not fearing him. "Especially when you know I used to be 'evil'."

Dawn shrugs. "You just don't send off the scary vibes." She realizes it's a mistake to say as soon as it leaves her mouth; he has that some look that Spike did when she told the evil vamp she felt safe with him. Men and their egos.

"I'm still puzzled with how you knew he was evil to begin with." Alexion says. "That's not something you can just tell unless…."

"You spent some time around evil things to begin with." Ash interrupts quietly.

Dawn tilts her head back to see Ash standing behind her. "Hi."

"Hi." Ash wordlessly lifts her up and settles back down on the chair she was sitting on, her nestled in his lap. "Who kicked you?"

"Why's that matter?" Dawn leans her head on his shoulder, looking beside them when someone sits down in the empty chair. "Savitar, right?"

Savitar nods.

"Nice to see you again." Dawn smiles at him, though it's a little forced.

Savitar nods back.

"In case you forgot, I'm Dawn." Dawn says. "How are you?"

"He's fine." Ash answers for him. "Who kicked you?"

"You're going to blow it way out of proportion so I'm going to go with 'I'm not answering'." Dawn leans her head back on his shoulder.

"Dawn." Ash growls.

"Ash." Dawn growls back, though it sounds more like a purr. "Yeah, that's real intimidating."

Ash smiles briefly before scowling. "Dawn, who kicked you?"

"I'm not telling you unless you promise not to do something all macho and overbearing." Dawn replies. "It really was an accident, a heat of the moment kinda of thing." Then she pauses, remembering something Simi told her. Ash can't break a promise, not without it killing him or something along those lines. In fact, if he does promise the only way he can break it is if she lets him out of the promise. She doesn't want that kind of power over him, over anyone. "Never mind, no promising."

"What?" Ash tilts her head back.

"Sims told me about the promise thing." Dawn shakes her head. "So don't want that kind of power so no promising." Then she sighs. "But if you hurt him, I'm going to be really, really, really mad at you. Like not talking to you mad because he didn't mean to."

It takes Ash a few seconds to respond. If he wasn't already in love with her, which he knows he is even if he won't admit it out loud, the fact that she doesn't want power over him would make him fall, hard. "Who?"

"Connor." Dawn whispers, her hands clenching around his thigh when he tenses, body radiating fury.

"The boy that threw you out of bed." Ash growls.

"Who hurt my akra?" Simi demands. "The Simi will eat em."

"He didn't throw me out of bed." Dawn argues. "He dumped me. No eating him, Sims."

"What's the difference?" Ash tightens his arms around her.

"The difference is he wasn't really trying to hurt me." Dawn explains. "It's this thing that me, Connor and Vi have. Well, mostly me and Vi against Connor. If we can catch him sleeping and he doesn't wake up the first time we say his name, we tip the mattress over. Funny as hell. At least for us. Connor does it back."

"And he kicked you." Ash growls. "Did he bruise your thighs too?"

"No." Dawn rolls her eyes. "That'd be from a demon…or a vamp, not really sure which. Whoever threw me, I wasn't really paying that much attention to that part of it."

Ash closes his eyes briefly and counts to twenty, hoping to gain some sort of control over his anger. And he can tell by the quietness of the man beside him that Savitar is attempting to do the same.

Urian watches Ash's human curiously. She's different from any other human he's ever been around. More ballsy and letting things that would scare the hell out of most roll off her as if they're nothing. It's rather fascinating. Add in the fact that the words rolling out of her mouth look to drive Ash close to insane, and she's starting to become his favorite human ever.

"That's when Connor kicked you." Ash states, his voice more demonic than human.

"Nope, that was the night before, when we went patrolling." Dawn replies. "Connor kicked me when the army of vamps and demons crashed the wedding. It really was an accident, I was talking to Vi and not paying attention to what Connor was doing. He thought I was in front of him and then I wasn't. Total accident. Believe me, he couldn't feel guiltier." Then she winces. "Can we just back up Dawn's verbal diarrhea and pretend like I never said the whole army part?"

"No." Ash and Savitar reply together.

"They're not vamps." Urian corrects the human, having always hated it when people referred to Daimons as vampires; they're two completely different beings.

"I told my akra that too." Simi crawls onto Dawn's lap and leans her head back against Dawn's shoulder. "She don't listen to the Simi."

"Yes, I do." Dawn tickles her sides.

Simi giggles.

Savitar stares at the closest thing he'll ever have to a child. "You're familiar with Hades' creatures." It's the only explanation that makes any sense.

"She is?" Urian wrinkles his nose in disgust. Even if they weren't forbidden to associate with the God's toys, he would still choose to avoid them. The very few he's met over the thousands of years he's been alive have made a huge impact. They act too much like the fictional legends for his own liking. They boast too much about the little power they have.

"Hades' what?" Danger looks to Alexion for an explanation.

Alexion looks to Ash, unsure what he's allowed to say.

"Okay, you mean Hades as in the god." Dawn drums her fingers on Simi's belly. "And by creatures, you mean…"

"The vampires and demons you just referred to fighting." Savitar cuts in.

Danger looks around the table but sees she's the only one that is startled by this. "By vampires you mean like the books and movies?"

"Take out the turning into bats, wolfs, sleeping in coffins, and not being able to walk past running water and yes." Dawn answers. "They're pretty much like the movie monsters. I don't get what Hades has to do with anything though."

Ash looks over to Savitar, eyebrow raised.

"How much do you know about how everything began?" Savitar asks Dawn after a few moments.

"If you're referring to how the world didn't start out as a paradise like popular mythology likes to say, yeah, I got that memo." Dawn replies. "And I know about the Old Ones, the first demons that somehow got banished into hell way back before humans were around….things get fuzzier right around there. Some of the books say that before they were cast away, one of 'em bite human and he bit another and another, until there was a bunch of monsters walking around half possessed. But then the further you go back, especially in ancient Sumerian and Greek texts, things veer off a little after the old ones were banished. According to them, after the old ones were banished, they stayed that way until they were somehow let out. Not really sure how, I was researching it before I moved here but Wes wouldn't let me borrow the books."

"You know Sumerian?" Urian speaks up first.

"Um hmm." Dawn nods. "Talked Giles into teaching me a few years ago though in reality, I think he actually talked me into letting him teach me seeing how I'm one of like five known people that can actually translate Ancient Sumerian; he wanted help."

Savitar drums his fingers on the table. "Why were you researching it?"

Dawn shrugs. "I'm a nerd; researching is fun for me."

"Okay, so you're saying the monsters from movies are real." Danger says, still stuck on that; she had a hard time dealing with Daimons being real.

"Some of them." Dawn takes her empty can out of Simi's hand. "It'll hurt you belly." Then she looks back at Danger. "Our weres are different from your guys'; ours are humans bit or scratched by a werewolf, either in human or wolf form, and they turn into a wolf on the full moon and the two days surrounding it. They're monsters and don't really look anything life actual wolves; you can't reason with them in that state. They'd kill their own family without knowing it. We usually just tranq 'em when we find them and then when they wake up, explain it all to them. We also have safe places for them to go on the three nights, cages that they can't break out of and they can stay in until morning."

"Who is we?" Ash asks.

Dawn holds out her hand. "I need your phone first, mine's broke."

Ash reaches between them to grab his phone out of his pant pocket and places it in her hand. "Why?"

"There's a procedure that I have to follow before I can answer that question." Dawn flips it open and dials Willow's phone number.

"Sod off, you bloody poof." A very familiar voice shouts before he actually speaks into the phone. "Lo?"

"Hey, Spike." Dawn turns on Ash's lap and throws her legs over the arms of the chair. "What's Angel do?"

"Same bloody thing he always does, niblet." Spike drawls. "Thinks everything's always gotta be his way. Whose phone you using, your new boy's?"

"Yep." Dawn laughs at the outrage on Ash's face at being called a boy, not surprised that he's listening, that they're all listening. "Mine got broke from the wedding crashers."

"That's not the only thing, platelet." Spike says. "Poof-boy-junior bout broke your skull in."

"You know us Summers girls, we're made of sterner stuff than that." Dawn replies.

Spike laughs. "Right that, bunch of hard-headed bints you are."

"Hey!" Dawn protests.

Spike laughs again. "What's up, bit? Change your mind about spending Turkey day with us in the mother country? I talked Red into making some bloomin' onions for the big day."

"Nope, I just need to speak to Wills." Dawn can feel Ash tense at Spike's words and squeezes his thigh reassuringly.

"Why?" Spike asks.

"School stuff." Dawn replies without hesitation. "Unless you know anything about geometry."

"The only thing I know to do with a ruler they don't teach you in school." Spike mutters. "Hold on a sec, niblet, I'll get Willow."

"You never told me why he calls you niblet." Ash says.

"It's just a nickname, he has a whole bunch of them; bit, niblet, little bit, platelet, snack size." Dawn traces random patterns over the leather covering his knee.

"Here she is, bit, you stay out of trouble and don't let that bloke…."

"Spike, go harass Angel and leave Dawn alone." Willow's voice echoes into the phone. "Okay, Dawn, so what's the problem with the math? Is it the circumference thing again or you not getting….okay, Spike's out of range, what's up?"

"I need to file three sixteen-point-seven A's." Dawn says.

There's a long pause. "You want to tell three non-civilians about the Council."

"Yep." Dawn agrees.

Another long pause. "Ash isn't human, is he?"

"Nope."

Another long pause. "Let me guess, some type of immortal warrior loads older than you that may or may not be evil."

"Everything but the may or may not." Dawn agrees. "Ash isn't evil."

"You really are too much like your sister." Willow sighs. "And the other two?"

"Pretty much his scooby gang." Dawn replies. "They know about the supernatural world…"

"Just not about us." Willow finishes.

"That's about the it." Dawn says. "Are you going to?"

"I shouldn’t." Willow sighs again. "When Buffy finds out I did, which she will eventually, she's going to lose it but with what Lorne said will happen if she interferes…well, I guess it's a good thing she still can't use a computer to save her life, isn't it?"

"Yep." Dawn agrees. "She'll never know you filed them."

"Okay, you'll get them on a couple conditions." Willow says. "One, you make sure they know they can't go telling anyone any of what you tell them, two, that you bring both of them home with you, Ash, and Simi for Christmas so I can meet them, and…."

"Three?" Dawn prods when Willow stops.

"That if Ash loses his soul, goes evil, and tries to kill you after you two have sex, you'll let me know." Willow deadpans.

"Ha ha, you think you're so funny." Dawn rolls her eyes.

"Oh, come on, it could happen; you are Buffy all over." Willow laughs. "And you know it."

"I'm taller, smarter, and have better hair." Dawn argues. "And I'm nowhere near as stubborn."

Willow flat out laughs. "I'm thinking Connor kicked you harder than we originally thought."

"You're a brat, Wills." Dawn says. "I need a new phone, by the way."

"Kay, I'll have one delivered to your house." Willow says between giggles. "And I'll send you three forms, Ash got a fax machine?"

"I don't…" She looks up at him when he nods. "Okay, he does actually, hold on, I'll get the number." Then she recites the number to Willow, says goodbye to the witch, and hangs up the phone. "Okay, if you want to know the 'we' you have to sign a confidentiality agreement."

"You only said three." Savitar reminds her.

"Yeah, Danger, Alexion, Sims, and Xirena don't have to sign." Dawn replies. "From what Sims said, shades fall under the ghost category and demons fall under a whole 'nother category…but with them both being bound, they fall under their guardians….is this whole big legal thing that's a pain in the ass to explain."

"Who's Lorne?" There's a lot of questions he has about the five minute phone conversation she just had but the most important is about whoever this Lorne is and what he said about Dawn.

"Gotta sign." Dawn shakes her head. "Sorry, I trust you and all but it's not just my ass on the line."

"You're going home for Christmas?" Ash sighs.

"Yep and you and Sims have to come with." Dawn replies. "And now Savitar and Urian too so Willow can see if it's really safe for them to know."

"But you're going to tell us now." Urian says.

"And if you don't pass Willow's test, she'll erase the memories." Dawn replies. "It's all in the contract."

-

Ash reads through the short contract in front of him, a little surprised that it's not that long. Basically, it just says if he purposefully reveals anything he's told in confident, security measures will be taken, the first and foremost being the removal of all information he's told. "You weren't joking."

"Nope." Dawn looks over his shoulder to the standard contract they make all humans, watchers, slayers, and others sign before they can be introduced into the 'supernatural' world. "Willow doesn't like to do it but she will when she has to."

"She's human?" Urian looks up from the contract and then back again after Dawn nods. "No human has the power to alter memories."

"Sign it or live with not knowing." Dawn says firmly.

A pen appears in Ash's hand and he wordlessly scrawls him name on the blank line at the end of the contract. He then hands it to Savitar who shakes his head but does the same. Urian cusses under his breath but follows suit.

Dawn gathers the papers and sets them aside to scan and email back to Willow later. "Okay, Willow is a witch, the strongest one in this hemisphere, perhaps even the entire world, we're not real sure on that one yet. Lorne is an anagogic demon that can see a person's connection with the powers when they sing. He happened to catch me singing and saw my future."

"How did he catch you singing?" Ash tenses under her.

"He was coming to ask me and Vi if we wanted to go see Justin Timberlake with him this week." Dawn replies.

"You like J.T. too, akra?" Simi grins. "My akri don't like him none so's I got both his cd's."

"Yeah, I've been a Justin fan since his boy-band days." Dawn smiles back. "I used to torture Giles by making him listen to it when he would baby sit me."

"You were going to go to a concert with a demon." Alexion says.

"Lorne is harmless." Dawn replies. "We always hang out when I'm home. A lot of our demons aren't evil demons, the good majority of them are harmless."

Simi crosses her arms over her chest with a pout. "You know other demons?"

"Lots." Dawn kisses her forehead. "But you're still my favorite."

"What did he see?" Ash pushes a frustrated hand through his long hair.

"You're going to overreact." Dawn says. "It'd probably be better not to know, I mean, immortal or not, I'd hate to be the cause of your ulcer."

"Dawn." Ash growls.

"Fine, fine, don't say I didn't warn you." Dawn smiles to herself, liking the sound of him growling her name; it sends tingles up and down her spine. "He might have sort of maybe seen me…you know, die…."

"WHAT?" Ash and Savitar both roar.

She expected Ash's fury but Savitar's doesn't make sense. She's never met the man before Kyrian's house so there's no reason he should really care about her future. There's no reason for him to care….unless he wants her alive for something else. She still remembers how it felt to be near Glory and being around Ash and Savitar is more powerful than the hell god. She's fairly sure that she can't be used to end the world for like another five-hundred years but there's all kinds of things he could do with the energy inside her. And he knows. She can just tell by the way that he's looking at her that he knows what she is and the realization makes her want to run. It's her first instinct. And if it weren't for the arm Ash has wrapped around her waist and the weight of Simi's body on her lap (added in with the fact that there's no place she can run to here) she would. But his arm prevents her movement and makes her focus past her fear.

After Sunnydale fell and the all the slayers were activated, they were faced with a bunch of girls and no watchers to train them. Giles and Wesley combed their contacts together and started finding people qualified to do so. Some were actual watchers that were dispatched around the world during the conflict with the first and some were watchers that either quit the council or were fired. And others still were those familiar with the supernatural world but due to not having the right family connections, were never given a chance to work for the council.

Then came the detailed event of training them. Giles and Wesley honestly had no idea what they were doing so they used Willow, Xander, Robin, and her as guinea pigs. She is considered an active watcher though she doesn't actually do any active watching. She does research when needed and occasional gets a phone call from a slayer or another watcher needing help but that's about it.

One of the first things they learned, after learning to separate reality from illusion, is to step back from a situation and look at it logically. To see all angles of the problem, count and place all variables, and come to the correct course of action. It's what makes them watchers as opposed to warriors. That's always been the hardest thing for her. She is, after all, made from Buffy, someone who usually goes with the 'attack and ask questions later' method.

The problem: Savitar knowing she is the key. Variables: Savitar, her, Ash, those around the table with her, the scoobies back home, and of course, the world. The only variable she doesn't have is his intentions. And the only way to find that out is to ask him. Since the first dream they shared, she's known that she's going to eventually tell Ash about her being the key. Alexion and Danger….they're both shades and by what Simi told her, they can't leave Ash's home unless he sends them. They are, for all intents and purposes, ghosts. Simi is bound to Ash and Xirena to Alexion. Neither demon can do anything without permission from their 'lord and master'. And if they are given orders not to tell something, they have to follow orders. The only one she's not sure about is Urian. He did admit that he was at one time evil but he's not now.

She's not sure if it's the key or just her but she's always been able to feel, for the most part, if something is evil. She didn't really understand what it was but there's a tingling in her spine, nothing like the one that Ash causes, that she only feels around evil things. And Urian doesn't set it off. Glory and Ben did, but she didn't understand what it was then. The first's imitation of her mother did, but yet again she didn't understand it. But as she's trained and learned to fight, she's learned to trust her instincts. And her instincts tell her while Urian was evil and while he isn't the most moral of folks she's ever going to met, he isn't a threat, not to her.

"What's wrong?" Ash nuzzles Dawn's face with his and whispers into her ear. "Are you okay?"

Dawn nods.

"Baby, you're terrified." Ash murmurs.

"Yeah." Dawn agrees. Because while she may be doing this logically, she can't suppress her fear.

Now here's the fear that she didn't show for him. Urian breathes it in, a small part of him relishing in it as he would have a few years ago and that makes him feel 'guilty' as she said. He has no intentions of hurting her, is actually amused by her. And she's not afraid of him and as demeaning as that is to ego, she's one of the first to ever treat him like a normal person in spite of the fact that she's well aware that he's not a 'good' person.

"Dawn, I'm not…." Savitar clenches his fists tightly. She's never been afraid of him, she loved him with every particle of her being, unconditionally, and he can't handle her terror of him.

"How old are you?" She address the first problem, finding out his motives. "You're older than Ash, right?"

Savitar nods.

"How much older?"

Savitar quirks his head. She's much more…inquisitive than she was before. Much more aware of her surroundings. "How old do you think I am?"

"I think you've been around pretty much longer than anything." Dawn relaxes into Ash's body, one hand moving to brush through Simi's hair. "I'm right, aren't I?"

"Fairly close." Savitar admits, not able to lie to her. She's the only one he can't lie to. He can omit certain truths but he can't flat-out lie to her. He's never been able to. It's a weakness he hates but one he learned to live with. Ash has his own weakness when it comes to her, the biggest being the fact that the Atlantean can't alter her memory or pretty much use his powers against her.

Savitar admitted to him that he knew Dawn before but this…he wasn't prepared for the link they seem to share. They're both staring at each other, not a word passed between them though they both seem to be saying so much. And if he didn’t know Savitar felt for Dawn like he himself feels for Simi, he would be incredibly jealous of the other immortal. And then Dawn twines her fingers with his, resting them over her belly, and he knows that she knows what he's feeling.

When Dawn first met him, she was too upset with Ash having tried to read her mind, the fear of what happened to her and Simi, and what might happen to her to react rationally. But now that she looks at Savitar, something clicks. She's not sure what it is or what it means, but whatever it is, it clicks and she knows, can feel it in her bones that she knows the man in front of her. How and when aren't important right now just the fact that she knows him is. And that he's no more of a threat to her than her own sister. "I know you, don't I?'

"You did." Savitar agrees, hands unclenching as her fear starts to fade.

"Got one question and don't lie to me." Dawn says firmly.

"I won't."

"When I knew you before, did you try to kill me?" Dawn questions.

Savitar feels his mouth drop open.

"Fairly sure that wasn't a hard question." Dawn says. "And if the answer you're not wanting to say is yes, it's okay. Okay, it's not okay but….you won't be the first person that's tried to kill me that I'm still in contact with." If that's not the truth. "You probably wouldn't even be the sixth person that's tried to kill me that I'm still in contact with. I'm not going to freak out, I just want to know."

"No, I've never tried to kill you." Savitar says firmly, hands clenching again.

"Who's tried to kill you?" Ash demands.

"And why do you still have contact with them?" Danger asks curiously.

"Sometimes people just get….confused." Dawn explains. "And sometimes they fall onto the dark path and it takes them a while to get back on the right one. And they sometimes tend to do things they shouldn't while on said dark path, such as try to kill people they wouldn't otherwise try to kill."

"Akra, you have a weird life." Simi wrinkles her nose. "I thinks you should just stay here with me and akri and not go back to it."

"I know you do but that weird life is part of who I am." Dawn taps Simi's nose. "Don't worry though, I'm used to it."

He agrees with Simi. And if he could get away with it, he would keep Dawn trapped here, with him, safe where he can protect her. But that would kill the part of her that shines so brightly in her green eyes and he couldn't handle that. Doesn't mean he likes the idea of the life she leads.

"Okay, so if you didn't try to kill me before I'm going to go with you have no intentions of trying to kill-slash-maim-slash-sacrifice me anytime in the near future." Dawn concludes. "Which means for now, I'm going to let it go that you know….what I am…but don’t think I won't bring it up on a later date because I will. Right now, I want to make with the explain-y bout my crazy life and then go back to bed."

"What you…."

"I'll tell you later." Dawn cuts Ash off. "Not right now though."

Ash nods after a second.

"Okay, then, where were we?" Dawn asks the table in general.

Simi yawns. "Akra, you like to talk lots and it's boring the Simi."

She's not sure whether to be insulted or not. She goes with not and tickles Simi's belly until the demon squeals loudly.

"Akri, make my akra stop." Simi squeals, wings flapping wildly as she wiggles around.

Ash just smiles at the two of them.

Simi pops herself a few feet away and then sticks her tongue out at her parents. "The Simi's going to go watch her show now, she's bored."

"Okay, stay out of trouble." Dawn wiggles her fingers at the fluttering demon.

Simi blows a raspberry. "That's no fun."

Dawn laughs her agreement. "Yeah, I have to agree with you on that. It's a lot more fun to get into trouble."

"Come on, Xirena, let's go buy more sparklies." Simi holds her hand out to her sister.

Dawn shakes her head as she watches as the two demons start to leave the room. "You guys have them so spoiled it's unbelievable."

"It's Ash." Alexion defends. "I try to tell her no but he just goes behind me and lets her do what ever she wants."

"Yeah, I'm sure you try so hard." Dawn rolls her eyes.

"Have you ever tried to tell Simi she can't have something she wants?" Alexion asks.

"Hey, Sims, what's rationing?" Dawn hollers at the retreating demon.

"It's when the Simi can't have everything that she wants right now cuz she's got to save some for later." Simi hollers back. "The Simi don't like it none but she's gots to be reasonable."

Alexion's mouth drops open in complete shock.

Ash's mouth opens and closes a few times before he can speak. "You taught her that in a year when Alexion couldn't in three thousand?"

"That she learned in a couple weeks." Dawn corrects. "And it's a lot easier to teach somebody to ration food when they're going to starve to death if they don't. She huffed and puffed a few times, threatened to barbecue me a few times but learned fairly fast that she'd rather have a little to eat at a time then a whole bunch now and none later."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Urian shakes his head, completely confused.

"Alexion can tell you later." Dawn brushes off his question. "Right now I want to know what Hades has to do with my types of demons before I launch into the cliff notes version of my world."

"What you read in ancient Sumerian and Greek is closer to the truth." Savitar has no desire to tell this story, just like he had no desire to tell anyone anything close to the truth about himself, but if it's what he has to do to learn about his daughter's life, it's what he'll do. "The old ones were banished and remained that way until about six thousand years ago. A human pissed Hades off and he released some of the lesser demons as a punishment. And because they were meant as a punishment for the humans, they are the humans to fight. Ash's people, the weres, Apollites, and even the Daimons are not to have any purposeful contact with Hades' creatures. To do so is an instant death sentence, delivered from Zeus himself."

Dawn digests the information, not speaking for a few moments. "Okay, let me get this straight; one human pissed off Hades and as a punishment, he released demons onto the entire populace. And then left said demons for the humans to fight."

"There are warriors, humans selected to fight them." Savitar corrects. "But honestly, I don't have that much contact with that world. And I'm fairly sure Ash doesn't either."

"No, I don't." Ash agrees. "The few hunters I let hunt Hades' creatures were killed by Zeus. Since they didn't seem like much of a threat to begin with, it seemed easier to leave them for the humans to deal with rather than fight Zeus on the order. With the Greek Gods, you learn to pick and chose your fights."

Dawn laughs. Not a little laugh but a full, side aching, about to pee her pants laugh.

"Dawn, are you okay?" Ash turns her slightly on his lap so he can look down at her face more clearly.

"Just give me a second." Dawn says from between giggles. "I just can't….okay, if you don't see my demons as much of a threat then yours must be totally badass. Like trying to end the world on a monthly basis badass rather than the bi-yearly attempted apocalypses that we fight."

Ash isn't sure how to respond. He's not sure if she's joking or not.

"You've got to be kidding me." Urian mutters. "I've run into a few of your 'demons' and besides the slightest bit of supernatural strength that they had, they were no more of a threat than your average human."

"I'm guessing you ran into fledges." Dawn replies. "That'd be recently turned vamps and yeah, they're not the greatest threat until they're a little older. It's the older vamps, the ones that have been around for a couple decades that are the real threats."

"And the apocalypse?" Alexion questions.

"Well, the last one was a total accident." Dawn replies defensively. "Was so just a case of wrong place at the wrong time and Connor and Vi killed the demons before they made a virginal sacrifice out of me and released hell onto Earth. It's not like we purposefully set out to end the world, we were bored. Then Giles sends Vi away and bands the three of us from being alone together. Overreacting if you ask me."

He's not even sure where to start. As cute as he finds the way she talks to be, at times like now, it pushes him even closer to the edge than he is. He doesn't like this Connor to begin with and the more he learns about the human boy, the less he likes.

"You almost ended the world?" Danger gasps.

"Little bit." Dawn holds two fingers about an inch apart. "We stopped it before it actually happened though. So it was pretty much a mini-apocalypse. Not a biggie. Now that I think about it, most of the apocalypses lately have been on the diet side."

When him and Zeus made her human, they protected her from everything. She was very sheltered, naïve and saw the good in everything. She's not the same anymore. And while a part of him mourns the loss of his completely innocent his child, he knows she wouldn't survive in the world like it is now. Dawn will. She's strong enough to. Doesn't mean he won't try to protect her as much as he did before. And given the angry look on Ash's face and the arms the Atlantean has wrapped around her, he knows he's not alone.

"Oh, by the way, those warriors you were talking about, they're usually referred to as 'the slayer'." Dawn says, her fingers squeezing around Ash's. "And up until about ten years ago, there was actually only one. Into every generation, a slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a Chosen one. One born with the strength and skills to hunt the vampire, to stop the spread of evil. As long as there have been vampires, there has been the slayer. She was made way back when, by a bunch of powerful men that raped an innocent girl with the essence of three demons. She was the first slayer. When she died, another was called. And then another when she died. There was always just one. The council was formed to help train her about two thousand years ago. Then in nineteen-ninety-seven, there was a prophesy that the slayer then would fight a vampire and she would die. She did. He drowned her but she was brought back with mouth-to-mouth. She was sixteen."

"But because she had been physically dead, another slayer was called. The new slayer was killed about a nine months later and her replacement was called. That replacement kinda…got knocked off track and went to jail for a few years. Then, about three years ago, potential slayers, girls all over the world that could possibly be called as the next slayer, were being killed off, along with their watchers. To make a rather long story short, a big bad called the First wanted to knock out the slayer line and found a way to do that, still not really sure how….but anyways the First is incorporeal and couldn't really do anything but it had a bunch of minions working for it. Those minions killed off a lot of the potentials, blew up a good majority of the council, and pretty much made life a living hell for the active slayer."

"Eventually, the slayer realized this end might actually be the real end and declared it war time. She started an army of a bunch of teenage girls, three grown men, and one witch. The other slayer, the one that was in jail, broke out and came to help. The original slayer came up with a rather brilliant, if dumb idea, which came down to all the potentials walking into hell and the witch activating the entire line. It worked somehow….still not sure how cuz I was pretty sure we were all toast."

"And that ends the very brief history. There are now eighty-seven slayers, twenty-one of them active, forty-two of them semi-active, and twenty-twenty-four of them under the age of ten. There are forty-seven watchers stationed throughout the world though most of them are with the semi-active and the underage slayers. And one of them sitting right here." Dawn raises her hand. "Oh, and the slayer that started it all by not staying dead when she was sixteen is my big sister, Buffy. And the witch the went against what the powers decreed and activated the entire slayer line is Willow. Any questions?"

Dead silence follows.

"Yeah, I figured that was going to happen."

-

Lying on his bare chest and her chin resting on his, Dawn reaches up to tap Ash on the forehead. "What's going on in there?"

"I'm just trying to come to grasps with the fact that your life is just as…no for you, more dangerous than mine is." Ash slides his hands up under the shirt she's wearing, his shirt, and rests his hands on her bare back.

"How's that working out for you?" Dawn nips his chin and then swipes her tongue across the scratchy skin.

"Not very good." Ash tilts his head down and finds her lips with his.

"Mmmm." Dawn murmurs happily against his mouth, pretty much deciding she's going to spend the rest of her life right here, on top of him. "Ash?"

"Mm hmm?" Ash slides his hands down her back and cups her ass, kneading the firm globes gently.

Dawn moans, hips undulating against his. "If I need to leave, how do I do it?"

Ash stops squeezing her ass and breaks the kiss, pulling his head back to look Dawn in the eyes.

Damn, he's so cute when he pouts. "I'm not planning on leaving…not unless you want me to anyways and don't feel obligated to keep me here or anything…but anyways, I thought, if you don't care, that I'd stay here, you know, with you and Simi and just go to school from here. Not unless you don't want me to."

Ash rolls them over, pinning her body under his and bites his way down her neck.

"Oh…" Dawn moans loudly, head tilting to grant him more access. "I'm going to take that as a yes."

Ash's response is to suck deeply on the fang marks he left on her neck.

As his hand buries under her shirt and into her panties, his mouth tasting every bit of available skin he can find, Dawn is suddenly very sure that her virginity is going to soon be a past topic of conversation. And then she can't think, his fingers and mouth sending her towards that wonderful blissfulness.

She's his. That's all that matters to him. She is his and she will always be his. And he will kill anyone that tries to take her from him. Then all thoughts fade away when her little hand unbuttons his leather pants and sneaks inside.

She's not really sure what she's doing but when he growls and bucks against her, her name leaving his lips on a possessive growl, she's pretty sure she got something right. And that's all that matters.

-

Shade: when a Dark-Hunter is killed, they become a shade. Basically, it's kinda like a ghost only they are ravaged with hunger and thirst but unable to satisfy either. They have no contact with anyone or anything, and will walk around, screaming for eternity. It pretty much makes hell look like a paradise.

A/N: I didn't want to end up doing what I did in My Daughter….and make the explanation four chapters long. The jest of it was told on paper and some was implied. And no, Dawn never told anybody about being the key. The only one that knows right now is Savitar though that will change.

Two get the two worlds to fit right, I've played around a little bit. For example, on the DH website, L.A. is listed as one of the cities Daimon frequent but for this story, they don't.

Oh, and I'm so not doing the 1800 slayer thing like the comics. Way too many for me to worry about.
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