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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)sevangelFR1829180,525149882260,35013 Feb 072 Nov 08No
CoA Winner

Chapter 16

Title: Chapter 16
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

-

"Mmm." Dawn arches her neck and shivers when Ash laps at her bite marks; she loves it when he does that, especially with the piercings. It makes her belly tremble. Or in this case, growl, really loudly.

Ash chuckles and drops a kiss on Dawn's lips. "Come on, let's go feed you."

"But I'd rather have smooches." Dawn pouts.

So would he but he can't deny her body's needs. "Food first."

Dawn sighs and heaves to her feet. "Fine, but I totally expect some major making out later."

"We'll see." Ash smiles at the affronted look on Dawn's face.

Dawn sticks her tongue out at him and then dodges his arms with a giggle when he feigns at her. "I have to go to the bathroom."

Ash leans back against Dawn's couch, long legs crossed at his ankles as he waits for her to do whatever she's doing. His body is tense with arousal, half hard just from their 'making out' and he'd rather stay here but Dawn needs to eat. Her new cell phone rings and he snags it off the coffee table in front of him. The caller ID says 'Wills' and he flips it over and over again in his hand, wanting to answer it but knowing he shouldn't.

"Ash, who is it?" Dawn calls out from the bathroom.

"Wills." Ash unfolds himself and walks to the bathroom.

"K, you can answer it." Dawn says. "I'll be out in a sec."

Ash flips the pink phone open and presses it against his ear. "Hello?"

There's a long pause, as if the person on the other end is thinking. "Ash?"

"Good guess." Ash comments.

"Well, it's either you or Dawn got herself kidnapped again…unless you really are her kidnapper and you're just pretending to be Ash and it's not like I would ever know, because hello, this is the first time I've ever spoken to Ash and I don't know what his voice sounds like. Um, if you have kidnapped Dawn, I'm going to give you a bit of advise; let her go. It'll save you a heck of a lot of pain in the end cuz we don't take well to Dawn being kidnapped, makes us cranky and all that…"

Dawn flips the bathroom light off and walks out only to run into Ash, again. It really is becoming a habit. Ash has her phone against his ear, the pink razor looking so silly in his big hand that it makes her giggle. Then she notices the look on his face, that 'I'm not really sure how to deal with this' look that he seems to wear a lot around her. "Is she babbling?"

"Yes." Ash holds the phone out to her. "She went from thinking I'm Ash to thinking I kidnapped you."

"Yeah, the odds on that happening are fairly good." Dawn says, then receives another one of those looks. She's got the feeling she's going to be on the receiving end of that look a lot. "What's up, Wills?"

"Robin's wife had the baby this morning." Willow replies. "I'm taking it that was the real Ash."

"The one and only." Dawn agrees. "I thought Andrea wasn't due until January."

"She wasn't." Willow says. "She went early."

"Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, the baby's fine and everything but Robin's taking a few days off to stay at the hospital with Andrea." Willow says. "You and Ash have anything planned this weekend?"

"Not really, no." Dawn replies. "Need me to pull watcher duty?"

"Yes, please." Willow sounds relieved. "Tonight and tomorrow night, hopefully. I've been researching Vi's demon for the past couple days and I still haven't found it. And you know how Giles is with the computer system…."

"Yes, I remember." Dawn laughs. The watcher accidentally flagged three slayers as 'dead' when he was attempting to enter their kills into the computer system. Frankly, the more Giles stays away from the computers, the better the world will be. "I can field calls for a couple nights, no problem. You haven't figured out what got Vi?"

"Not yet." Willow yawns. "I'm close, I just need some more time."

"That's cool, I can handle it for a couple days." Dawn assures her.

"Okay, I'll have everything forwarded to you." Willow says. "Don't forget your bag."

"Willow, I have done this before." Dawn rolls her eyes. "I'll be cool."

"Okay, I trust you." Willow replies, only a smidgen of doubt in her voice. "I'll call to check in and don't be afraid to call me if you need help."

"I won't." Dawn assures her. "Bye."

"Bye."

Dawn flips the phone shut and the slips it into the front pocket of her low-rise jeans.

"Watcher duty?" Ash arches an eyebrow.

"Don't worry, it's not very dangerous." Dawn pats his arm before walking around him and towards her room.

Ash pauses for a second. "Very dangerous?"

-

"So, basically you'll just be answering the phone?" Ash flips through the 'Watcher Manual' that was in Dawn's bag.

"Basically." Dawn licks the barbecue sauce off her fingers with a happy sigh. "I love food."

Ash half-smiles and drops his hand to the booth between them. "Do you do this a lot?"

"Eat, yeah, every chance I get." Dawn grins up at him.

Ash playfully glares down at her, the scowl changing to a small smile when she sticks her tongue out at him. "You know what I meant."

"Every once in a while but it's never been all one me." Dawn snuggles into his side contentedly. "I'm actually rather nervous."

He understands that nervousness; it's a huge responsibility to have warriors depending on you.

"Hey, Aimee, how goes it with the overbearing men?" Dawn smiles at the waitress who is dropping down in the empty seat across from her and Ash.

"It sucks." Aimee sighs. "How's Fang?"

"I haven't seen him in a few days." Ash answers honestly.

"Are you going to see him?" Aimee asks.

"I'm not sure, Aimee." Ash replies.

"Can't you just sneak out and see him?" Dawn questions.

"They'd find me within minutes." Aimee sighs. "Not all of us are untraceable."

"That does come in handy." Dawn agrees. "It's basically the only reason I was able to move here; I threatened to run off again if everyone didn't lay off."

"You ran away before?" Ash half growls, his voice vividly showing how much he hates that he can't track her.

"Yeah, me and Con ran off to Vegas for a week." Dawn replies.

Ash tenses.

"Not like that." Dawn grabs his hand off the booth and moves it onto her leg, interlocking their fingers together. "I needed to get away for a while and Connor tagged along. That's when we figured out I couldn't be tracked cuz they tried, tried everything they could think of. By the time me and Con got back….let's just say it was chaotic and leave it at that. It's also when I realized if I wanted a life away from my over-protective family, I was going to have to fight them to get it."

Aimee tenses.

"I'm not trying to be pep-talking, Aimee." Dawn says. "I just mean…if they're anything like my family, they're not going to let you go. You're going to have to leave. And if they love you as much as they should, they'll let you go."

"It's a little different with Were-Hunters, Dawn." Aimee says. "We don't react to thing the way humans do; we react like animals."

Oh, she knows about reacting like animals; Spike and Angel both react to some things, boys mentioned in the same sentence with their 'little girls' for instance, like the soulless vampires they used to be. Spike and Angel both might have taken the news of Ash better than she expected but like with Buffy, that's just the idea. The reality of the situation, meeting Ash for instance, is going to be a whole 'nother issue.

Ash sighs when his phone rings but he already knows who it is. "Dawn, I have to go to Detroit for a while."

"M'kay, I can just hang out here with Aimee till you get back." Dawn replies.

He doesn't like it, doesn't want her alone, but there is no way he's taking her with him. "Stay here."

"Gee, dad, but what if I want to leave?" Dawn says sarcastically.

"Dawn." Ash growls warningly.

"I'm not Simi." Dawn tilts her head back to look at him defiantly. "I don't take orders, at least not well."

"Damn it, Dawn."

"Ash, I'm a big girl and I can take care of myself." Dawn pats him on the cheek. "Now, I have no plans to go anywhere but if something comes up and I have to leave, I will. I have my phone and you can call me if you need to."

Aimee watches nervously as Ash tenses, his frame actually radiating fury. Around them, Weres and humans alike shift nervously, even the mortals seeming to know there's something incredibly dangerous about the tall man. She glances to the bar to see her parents and brothers shifting nervously, wondering if they're going to have to step in. In fact, her father gestures to her to leave but she doesn't move, entranced by the scene in front of her. She's never seen anyone stand up to Ash like this, never thought anyone would have the balls to do so. He's usually an easy-going guy until you piss him off and then….well, she's never really seen anyone after they've pissed him off. But Dawn doesn't seem to care.

He adores that she's not afraid of him, that she is so comfortable with him but a part of him wishes she was just so he could keep her safe. But she's not and her independence scares him because he won't take it from her. But that doesn't mean he won't protect her to the best of his abilities.

Dawn lifts her hand to cup his chin. "I'll be fine by myself, you forget I've been living here for three whole months alone. I'll be fine, go do whatever it is you have to do."

Ash turns his head to kiss her palm and then tugs her roughly against him, half onto his lap and kisses her deeply. The fact that they're sitting in the middle of a slightly crowded Sanctuary doesn't phase him nor does the fact that he normally keeps everything about himself secret. Right now, all he cares about is making not only Dawn but everyone know she belongs to him. When he finally breaks the kiss, Dawn is panting and her eyes are glazed over. He wants nothing more than to take her home but instead he stands up, leans down to kiss her forehead before stalking over to the bar.

"Dawn, you okay?" Aimee asks with a grin.

"Uh huh." Dawn murmurs, reaching out to take a gulp of her pop, her mouth suddenly very dry. She downs half of the glass before she sets it down and then looks up just in time to see Ash leaning down towards her. She wonders if her lips are as swollen as his are, if her eyes are as lust filled as his. She wants to leave, go back home and do things to him she can't even say out-loud but knows they're not going to. Ash has work to do. "You going?"

"I'll be back in a few hours." Ash leans down to kiss her forehead. "Please stay here."

"That please just about killed you, didn't it?" Dawn teases.

Ash glares at her, drops another kiss on her lips, and then walks away, shooting Aubert and Nicolette a look as he goes.

"Looks like Ash is having mom and dad watch you." Aimee says with a grin. "Which means you won't be able to leave."

"Actually, it doesn't mean anything." Dawn replies. "All I have to do is get clear of them and into a crowd; they'll never find me once I do."

"But it's getting clear that's never going to happen." Aimee stands up, grabbing Dawn's empty glass as she moves. "I've been trying for years."

Dawn ponders over this after Aimee leaves, turning sideways in the booth to lean against the wall. Aimee's brothers are surrounding her, all seemingly busy doing something to do with the bar but all of them shooting both her and Aimee looks. But to a girl who spent six months being completely and utterly watched over, this just presents a challenge. One she so desperately wants to fight but for the moment, just lets it be. If it were her sister telling her not to leave, she'd already be gone but with Ash….she knows how hard it is for him to have her. He's not used to weaknesses and it's killing him not to be able to shelter her like he does Simi. And because of that, she wants to make things easier for him.

Her phone rings then and she's too busy dealing with a problem Andrew is having in Rome. Then it's a slayer in Toronto, wanting to know the best way to kill hell-hounds. Then another slayer, this time in South America, then a watcher in France, one in Japan, and all this before it's even prime slaying time in Cleveland and L.A., the two busiest cities for them. Aimee drops off drinks periodically, shooting her a questioning look but doesn't say anything. She knows she must look a little like some busy executive, cell in hands-free mode, laptop open and her hands flying over the keys, and papers and books spread all over the table. It's….she hasn't fielded phone calls in so long and she's forgotten how tiring it is. Listening to teenage girls bitch about boys, school, teachers, parents, and demons is just the slightest big annoying. And makes her so glad she's past that stage in her life, that immatureness that died when she watched teenage girls drop like flies around her.

Her cell phone rings again but to her relief, it's someone that isn't going to annoy the shit out of her. "Hey, Vi, how's the folks?"

"Dawn?" Vi whispers.

Dawn sits up straight at Vi's tone. "Vi, what's wrong?"

"I don't….why aren't you home? You should be home." Vi's words are slightly slurred, almost like she's drunk, but there's also underlying pain and terror in her voice.

"How do you know I'm not home?" Dawn asks.

"Because I'm here and you're not." Vi says. "Why aren't you here?"

Vi shouldn't be at her house, she's supposed to be in Texas with her family. "Just sit down and I'll be there in a few minutes, okay?"

"Okay." Vi whispers. "Hurry."

Dawn flips her phone shut and quickly moves out of the booth. Dev and Remi are on her in an instant, standing beside her like two overbearing bodyguards. "I'm just going to pee or is that not allowed?"

Dev nods and then follows her when she starts walking.

"So, are you coming in with me?" Dawn asks curiously. "Cuz I'm pretty sure Ash isn't going to like that."

"We'll stand outside." Dev growls. "You've got exactly three minutes and then I'm sending mom or Aimee in."

Dawn rolls her eyes and pushes past both large men to the bathroom. There's a couple girls in there, primping in the mirror, but Dawn pays them no mind as she walks over to the small window on the wall across from the entrance. She flips the large trashcan over, tossing paper-towels everywhere and places it upside down in front of the window. Then, ignoring the looks and whispers behind her, she pushes the window open and lifts herself up through it. It's a tight fit and if she was even a few inches bigger, she would have gotten stuck, but she manages to squeeze through. The fall out the window isn't at all graceful; she lands in a painful heap on the nasty asphalt of the alley beside the bar. Her three minutes are almost up so she pushes herself to her feet and takes off out of the alley at a dead run.

-

"Why are you standing outside the girl's bathroom?" Aimee asks her brothers. "Are you two that hard up for dates?"

"We're waiting on Dawn." Dev glares down at his little sister. "Go see what she's doing."

Aimee rolls her eyes and pushes past her brothers to the bathroom. She's back within in seconds. "She's not in there."

"Yes, she is." Remi argues. "She went in there."

"And she snuck out the window." Aimee says with a giggle.

"Fuck." Remi and Dev push past their sister and storm into the girl's bathroom only to return a few seconds later. "What the hell is going on? Why can't we track her?"

"I don't know but not even Ash can." Aimee says. "You better go tell mom and dad that you let her escape and pray that she gets back here before Ash does."

The bears growl under their breath about stupid, independent women as they make their way across the bar.

Aimee follows at a slower pace, amused by what Dawn did but terrified at what's going to happen because of it. As much as she detests how her family treats her, she doesn't want to lose any of them.

-

"Vi, why didn’t you call Willow?" Dawn half supports the slayer, Vi's arm thrown over her shoulder as the two girls make their way back to the Sanctuary.

"It wasn't this bad before, honest." Vi winces and stops walking. "I need a second." She grips her side, right where the demon sliced her, wounds that some how reappeared halfway through the flight from Dallas to New Orleans. She actually jumped out of her seat from the pain, pushing past flight attendants and passengers to get to the bathroom. She found them then, the slashes that healed over the morning after she received them, back as if she just got them. The rest of the flight was hell, biting her lip and clenching her fists to cry out from the pain. She wrapped the wounds with toilet paper and bled through it before the flight was over. Then she stumbled through the airport, unaware of her surroundings, crawled into the backseat of a cab and gave the driver Dawn's address. Only to find the key not home. "I was fine and then I wasn't."

"So you didn't come here because of this?" Dawn asks.

"No, I had another fight with my family." Vi grunts out. "The disappointment struck again."

"Vi, you're not a disappointment and nobody thinks that." Dawn says. "Not even your parents."

"Dawn, my oldest brother is a doctor, my sister is a teacher and my other brother is a preacher and they're all married with kids" Vi pants out. "Then there's me, the outcast. I don't have a job I can tell them about, a boyfriend, or anything really. I just know when they look at me, they wonder why they adopted me in the first place."

"If you didn't look like you were about to keel over I'd kick your butt for that." Dawn says. "Your parents love you and you know it. They just worry, all parents do. And just because you're adopted, it doesn't make you any less of their child."

"I just wish for once, they'd look at me like they do Mike, Sherri, and Daniel; like they're proud." Vi whispers.

Dawn doesn't say anything because she knows it's useless; Vi has been fighting her insecurities for too damn long and she can't help her get through them. She's already tried and never succeeded. "We're almost there but there's a few things you need to know. We're about to enter a bar with a bunch of non-humans so don't freak out and try not to freak out when you meet Ash cuz he's a little….intimidating."

"Kay." Vi murmurs. "I can walk now, I think."

Dawn sighs with relief when they make it to the front entrance of Sanctuary without being attacked. Daimons must not be as drawn to slayers as normal vamps cuz with normal vamps, they would have been ambushed. Dev is standing right outside the entrance and when he sees her, he runs towards them, face full of fury.

"Where the fuck have you been?" Dev yells loudly.

"That Ash?" Vi asks, tilting her head back to look at the tall, hot guy currently ripping into Dawn like Spike or Angel would.

"Nope, this is Dev, one of my appointed bodyguards by Ash." Dawn replies. "Dev, you wanna be a gentleman and help a girl out?"

"Who is this?" Dev reaches for the small redhead leaning against Dawn's side but the second he touches her side, she screams. And not a scared scream but a gut-wrenching, I'm about to die from the pain scream. "What the…."

"Vi, what happened…you're bleeding." Dawn lifts up the bottom of Vi's bloody jacket to reveal three deep, bleeding scratches. "When did you get these?"

"Monday." Vi grits her teeth, biting past the pain as best she can.

"Vi, those healed over." Dawn says. "Days ago."

"I know." Vi gasps out. "They came back on the plane."

Dawn half carries, half drags Vi to her booth, the redheaded slayer seemingly close to passing out. Vi whimpers occasionally but makes no other sounds. Dawn sets her down as gently as she can and then pulls her cell phone out.

"Dawn, where the hell did you go?" A quiet, angry voice growls into her ear. "I asked you to stay here and then I got a phone call from Nicolette…."

"Ash, I know and I don't really have time right now." Dawn dials Willow while she talks. "You can yell at me later, okay?"

"What's going…who's this?" Ash looks down at the pale redhead who is at the moment, clenching the table in front of her like a lifeline.

"This is Vi." Dawn introduces. "Vi, this is Ash."

"Hi." Vi grunts.

"Wills, something…how did you know she was with me?" Dawn pauses, brow furrowed.

"I called her parents and they said she took off." Willow says. "She always goes to you or Connor when she's upset and since Connor with us, an ocean away, I figured she'd go to you, which she did."

"You figured out what demon got her?" Dawn asks.

"Yes, and you need to listen carefully." Willow's tone is deadly serious, one the witch only uses when things are very dire. "She was attacked by a Grifnoth demon. Their claws contain a very deadly poison that infiltrates the victim's immune systems as it heals itself and then uses the immune system to break down the body and kill the victim. Normally, this takes a few weeks but with Vi being a slayer, it's not going to take near that amount of time. I've been looking but I've only found a few cases where the victim survived. How is Vi, physically?"

"The scratches are back, she's in intense pain, and she's weak." Dawn sits down beside her best friend who is currently clenching her stomach, eyes closed tightly.

"Does she have a fever?"

Dawn touches Vi's forehead and feels like she's been burned. "She's burning up."

"Fuck."

"Willow." Dawn automatically scolds, not used to hearing that particular cuss word coming from the witch's mouth.

"This isn't…there's only….there's an antidote that will cure her but in order to make it, you'll need part of the demon. Which is in Minnesota. I can get you two on a plane but I don't think you're going to be able to get there in time."

"How long?" Dawn brushes the sweaty hair of Vi's forehead.

"If she's got a fever, only a few hours." Willow replies quietly. "I can try to come there but over an ocean, I'm not sure…"

"Just e-mail me the antidote." Dawn orders. "I'll take care of getting the demon."

"Dawn, you're in New Orleans and the demon is in Minnesota…."

"I'll get the demon, you e-mail me the antidote." Dawn interrupts.

"Fine but I expect some major explaining." Willow says. "And be careful."

"Always am." Dawn flips her phone shut without saying goodbye and turns her head to look up at Ash. "Can you take me to Minnesota?"

"Of course." Ash replies without hesitation. He doesn't know what's going on, can't get anything off the redhead but intense pain. She's dying, he can feel it, but whatever's killing her, he can't heal it. He tried but nothing happened.

Vi clenches her hands around the table as another wave of pain pushes through her body, squeezing so tightly that the wood cracks under her hands. She's never felt pain like this and honestly, she'd almost rather be dead. "I'm dying, aren't I?"

After a second, Dawn nods. "There's a way but we have to find the demon that scratched you. Did you burn it or just bury it?"

"Buried." Vi grunts out. "Stabbed and beheaded it before I buried it."

"Do you remember where?" Dawn asks hopefully.

"Near a bar called 'Inferno'." Vi whispers. "Dawn, I don't want to die."

Ash leans down to pick the small redhead up, careful not to jostle her stomach too much. He's not sure what's really going on, he only knows she was hurt by demon and that it's killing her. And that it's breaking Dawn's heart as it happens. Dawn quickly gathers up her stuff, shoving it carelessly into her bag, before grabbing his hand. He flashes them out of Sanctuary, altering the minds of the humans in the bar as he goes, and to back entrance of the Inferno.

"Oh, god." Vi slams a hand over her mouth and wiggles out of the very tall man's arms. She throws the back door to wherever they are open and runs inside, pushing past people in a desperate attempt to make it to the bathroom before she throws up. She makes it, barely.

-

"Hey, Dante, wasn’t that…" Mike distractedly hands the beer in his hands to the hot girl in front of him when he sees a familiar flash of red hair run though the bar.

"Yes." Dante pulls out his cell phone and dials Fury's phone number. "Hey, she's back." He promised the wolf if the human girl came back he'd call right away, understanding Fury's need to find his mate. He remembers that need.

"Where?" Fury flashes in beside Dante, his two brothers at his side.

"She just ran past to the….Acheron?" Dante lifts a surprised brow upon seeing the Dark-Hunter leader in his bar. The Atlantean looks like he always does, tall and completely unapproachable but there's something else, an underlying tension that he's never seen on Ash. "Where's Simi?"

"Around." Ash tilts his head slightly to examine Fury. "You're mated."

Fury nods.

"When?" Ash asks.

"Late Monday night, early Tuesday morning." Fury grabs a bottle of whisky off the shelf and pours himself a shot. The animal inside him is crawling, demanding to be let to find its mate.

Ash nods, a little surprised that Fury found his mate so soon. He knew the wolf would, knows the first time the two ever met, but didn't think they would cross paths again this early in the girl's life. She was a child then, a baby really, and would only be no more than twenty-one now. Unlike panthers, wolf females tend to mature more before they mate. She'd only just now be hitting puberty which also means she's just now coming into her powers. "She's here?"

"She just got here." Dante says. "Just ran past to the bathroom."

That's impossible. The only females in the bathroom right now are Dawn and Vi. He knows Dawn isn't Fury's mate and Vi isn't a were. As he's thinking, a familiar body settles into his side and he absently wraps his arm around her.

Dante watches in amusement when a human girl approaches Ash, moving as if to snuggle into the immortal's side. He's seen this countless times and every one of them, Ash gently and politely pushes the girl aside. But to his shock, Ash doesn't. Instead, he wraps his arm around the girl and absently kisses her temple.

"How is she?" Ash murmurs.

"Puking." Dawn wrinkles her nose. "Blood, guts, slime, and innards I can handle, puke, nada. It makes me puke." Then she smiles brightly at the man standing in front of Dawn. "Hi, can I get some water?"

Dante nods and pours the human girl a glass of water, still unsure of what is going on.

"Hey, look, it's grumpy, grumpier, and grumpiest." Dawn teases, leaning into Ash's side with a smile.

Vane, Fury, and Fang scowl at her but don’t say anything.

"Dawn, do you have to provoke everyone?" Ash asks curiously, half amused by her behavior and half worried what kind of trouble it will get her into.

"Yep, it's what I'm good at." Dawn grins up at him. "Though Spike always says my mouth is going to one day get me killed." She takes a sip of the water, then sets it down, planning to give the rest to Vi. The man in front of her keeps staring and the three wolf brothers look all tense. Not that she's the most relaxed person, what with her best friend dying. Fury looks…well, he kinda looks like Angel did that Thanksgiving he snuck around spying on Buffy. Like everything he wanted was a few feet from him but he couldn't touch it. Then she sees something that has her reaching across the bar to grab the wolf's hand.

"Dawn, what are you doing?" Ash growls, gripping her waist possessively.

"Where is it?" Dawn demands, eyes tracing over the mark on Fury's hand, the same mark that is on Vi's hand.

"Where is what?" Fury yanks his hand out of Dawn's, a little afraid of the murderous look on Ash's face.

"The demon that gave you that mark." Dawn says impatiently. "Did it just scratch you or was it a while ago. Where did it go?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Fury growls. "What demon?"

"The mark on your hand, that came from a demon, right?" Dawn leans back against Ash.

"Why would you think it came from a demon?" Ash asks, confused.

"That's how Vi got hers." Dawn tilts her head back to look at him.

"How Vi got what?" Vi says, her voice a gravely whisper. She sees the glass of water in front of Dawn and grabs it gratefully.

"The demon mark." Dawn explains, completely not noticing the looks she's getting, or more accurately, the looks Vi is getting.

Vi takes a few sips of the water and then gasps, the glass falling from her hand as a deep, dark bolt of pain shoots through her body, so intense that her knees buckle and only the bar in front of her keeps her from hitting the ground.

"Vi, you okay?" Dawn rubs her hand up and down Vi's back in a soothing gesture.

"I changed my mind." Vi bites out. "Somebody just kill me and put me out of my damn misery." She takes a few deep breaths and then forces herself to straighten up. And then wishes she hadn't. "Fury?"

"What's wrong with you?" Fury demands, moving from behind the bar and to her side in the space of one heartbeat.

"Vi you know….oh, my god, it's him, right?" Dawn looks between the slayer and wolf in shock. "The guy you molested?"

"Dawn!" Vi squeaks.

Fang and Vane both laugh at the look on their brother's face.

"Sorry." Dawn apologizes. "I just can't…wait a second, if the mark thing isn't from the demon, why does he have one too?"

"What?" Vi straightens the rest of the way up, whimpering at the pull on her body, and ends up looking into the intense, beautiful eyes that she never thought she'd see again. "You have one?"

Fury turns his hand over to show her the mark on his palm.

Vi traces her finger over the mark on his palm. "We're connected somehow, aren't we?"

Fury nods.

Vi starts to speak again but another crash of pain cuts her off. She really is starting to change her mind, it feels like her insides are being boiled and poked with a pointy hot poker. She bites her lip until it splits and she tastes blood but she can't keep her shout of pain in. Her knees buckle again but instead of the bar saving her, Fury does.

Fury swings Vi up into his arms, growling when she shrieks at the action. He doesn't understand what is going on, why she's with Ash and Dawn, nor the intense pain that is currently raking her body. He can smell her blood and not just in her mouth from where she bite her lip almost in half. "What's going on?"

"Explain-y later." Dawn grabs Ash's hand and then places a hand on Vi's back. "Vi, where'd you bury him?"

"Woods." Vi chokes out. "Bout a mile from here."

"Bury who?" Fury tilts her head back and pushes her sweaty hair off her forehead.

Vi closes her eyes and nuzzles his hand. "The demon that's killing me."

-
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