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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)sevangelFR1829180,525148881257,49413 Feb 072 Nov 08No
CoA Winner

chapter 21

Title: Chapter 21
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: R

-

"So, basically, I'm the Prime Minster to her Queen of England?" Dawn crosses her arms over her chest and glares at the god in front of her.

Zeus shakes his head. "What?"

"I'm going to be doing all the work and she's going to be getting all the credit for said work." Dawn sighs, frustrated.

After a second, Zeus nods.

"Well, that's not fair." Dawn says. "And I know, life isn't fair, in fact, a good majority of the time, life sucks. And you know, I'm not really even that bothered by being immortal or even the fact that I'm basically going to be her assistant. What bothers me is you didn't even give me the chance to say no. You just decided to do this whole thing without even consulting me."

"I did…"

"I know how higher beings operate…I don't need an explanation." Dawn interrupts Zeus. "People don't matter, just their path do." She looks up at Ash. "Can we go home now?"

Ash nods and with that, they're gone.

"She was starting to trust me again." Savitar growls at Zeus. "And you just ruined that completely."

"I still stand by my decision." Zeus growls back. "Time will pass and she will be fine."

"That's not the point." Savitar says. "You took her free will away, something we said we would never do. And you don't even realize what you did was wrong because you never look past how something will effect you."

Zeus takes a step forward.

"Do you really want to try me, Zeus?" Savitar's voice doesn't raise but the threat behind his words is heard nonetheless. "Unlike you, the only thing I have to loose is something you won't hurt. You want to battle it out, I'm beyond caring but I guarantee you won't be standing when we're done, even if it kills me to do so."

"Get out." Zeus growls loudly. "Don't come back….unless it has something to do with her."

Savitar smirks. "That's what I thought." Then he flashes home, Zeus's fury vibrating Mount Olympus as he exits.

-

"Is eternity long?" Dawn runs her fingers through Ash's long hair and absently starts to braid the black locks.

"Yes and no." Ash closes his eyes and leans into her touch. "As it's happening, it feels long but once it's over, it seems to have passed much too quickly."

"Hmm." Dawn sits behind Ash on the leather chair he's sprawled out on. "Okay, this is going to sound completely insecure and I'm not doubting you in the least but okay, so much stuff has happened so quickly and now suddenly, I'm immortal and I know you didn't sign on for eternity. I mean, sixty or seventy years is one thing but forever is a completely different thing…."

Ash pulls Dawn around his body and cuddles her onto his lap. "Dawn, what exactly is going on in the crazy head of yours?"

"Way too much….hey!" Dawn smacks his arm. "Okay, the crazy thing is pretty accurate but it's mean to point it out." She sticks her lower lip out in a pout.

Ash smiles at the teasing tone in her voice and leans forward to nip her bottom lip. "Two seconds, five minutes, a year, thirty years, or eternity…however much time we have left, I will spend it with you. There's no place I'd rather be."

Dawn's eyes fill with tears.

"What's wrong?" Ash brushes the tears off her cheeks.

"For being super old, you don't know much about girls." Dawn cups his face in her hands. "These are good tears."

"Good or not, I don't like seeing you cry." Ash turns his head to kiss her palm. "It just about kills me every time."

"Whelp, you've got an eternity to get used to it, Ash." Dawn kisses his nose. "Cuz I'm a girl and I tend to cry. Specially during sappy movies."

"Then no sappy movies." Ash grins.

Dawn rolls her eyes. "You can't even keep me from getting myself in lots of trouble….you really think you can keep me from watching movies? Not that you ever would because you'd never tell me I couldn't do something I want to do."

Ash's eyes darken. "I might not have protected you in the past but I will now."

'Dork.' Dawn rolls her eyes.

"Don't call me names, Dawn." Ash absently says as he dips his face to nuzzle hers.

"I didn't say…" Dawn starts.

"You weren't speaking out loud." Ash pulls his head back to look her in the eyes. 'Can you hear me?'

'Yeah but I thought you couldn't read my mind.'


Ash prods her mind but nothing's changed, he can't get inside. 'I can't.'

'Then how are we talking?'


Ash prods the connection he's shared with Artemis for over eleven-thousand years and for the first time, comes up empty. That's the point that he finally realizes that his connection to Artemis is completely and finally over. She no longer has any control over his actions or his life. He's free.

"Hey, what's the smile for?" Dawn prods Ash's smiling lips. "You gotta share the joke, Ash, it's only fair."

Ash flashes them to his bed, their clothes melting off as they hit the mattress.

"Or we could just get naked cuz that's just as much fun." Dawn stretches with a yawn, her arms moving above her head to grip the headboard.

"Artemis has controlled my life for as long as I can remember." Ash settles his body on top of hers, careful to keep the majority of his weight on his forearms. "For the first time in my life, I'm free."

"Except for me and Simi and the Dark-Hunters, that is." Dawn says a little guiltily.

"You and Simi are the most important things in my life." Ash whispers. "You are not a duty and you never will be."

"K." Dawn bites her lip and grimaces when her fangs puncture her bottom lip. "Ouch."

"Let me see." Ash says. "It'll take a while to get used to them."

Dawn pokes out her lower lip.

Ash runs his finger over the pearl of blood on her lip and then dips his head to suck the soft bit of flesh into his mouth. Just the tiny sparkle of her blood heats his body and with a growl, he deepens the kiss.

Dawn moans, her eyes closing as Ash devours her mouth over and over again. And again. Their tongues merge and their fangs clash…then it happens, her fang accidentally pierces Ash's lip. The second his blood touches her tongue, a torrent of desire crashes through her body and she can't see straight. Her belly clenches tightly with lust and her body feels like it's going to explode. Everything becomes a blur of groping and wet kisses and the next thing she knows, she's straddling Ash with her face buried in his neck. His skin is so warm and smells so good….her tongue streaks out to taste him and she moans at the taste. She can feel his blood under her tongue, practically taste it, and it isn't until she feels his skin against the tips of her new fangs that she realizes what she almost just did. "Oh, god."

Ash flips them over and grabs Dawn's arm, pinning them over her head to keep her from leaving. "Dawn, baby, it's okay."

Dawn shakes her head and struggles to get out from under him. "No, it's not, Ash, I wanted to bite you."

"Dawn, I bite you all the time." Ash drops his weight on her wiggling form. "In fact, you keep moving like that and I'm probably going to be biting you again real soon."

Dawn moans at the thought.

"It's okay." Ash rolls back onto his back and sits up, Dawn's hips pressed flush with his. "You never have to do anything you don't want to do and anything that you do want to do that doesn't put you in any type or form of danger, you can do."

Dawn laughs in spite of herself. "You just had to throw in the danger part, didn't you?"

"You leave me no choice." Ash smiles at her.

Dawn smiles softly at him and wraps her arms back around him. Her body is pushed flush against his and she lifts up far enough so that her body is lined up with his. "Okay, I'm going to try the biting thing but if it hurts you or something, you have to tell me and I'll stop."

"Okay." Ash half smiles at the real concern in her tone. He cups her waist and lowers her body down onto his. He growls at the tight, wet heat of her body and cups her breasts as she slowly rides him.

Dawn drops her mouth to Ash's neck and repeatedly runs her tongue over his jugular. Over and over again, until her belly hurts from not biting him….and apparently, she's not the only one in pain.

"Bite me." Ash growls loudly, his head thrown back and neck bared to her mouth.

Dawn gives in and sinks her fangs into his skin. It's completely different than how she always thought it would be. Even though his skin is firm and muscled, her fangs pierce through it like butter. And past the piercing of the skin is the unbelievable taste of his blood. It's better than anything she's ever tasted…better than chocolate and peanut butter, better than a large, extra cheesy anchovy pizza….this literally has to be what ambrosia tastes like.

Ash growls loudly, his hips bucking against Dawn's in bliss. Being bitten is always arousing but Dawn's fangs in his neck takes it to a whole different level. About to cum and not doing it without Dawn, Ash sinks his fangs into Dawn's neck and reaches between them to rub his thumb over her clit.

Dawn screams, Ash's blood dripping down her face as a mind numbing, breath stealing, conscious taking orgasm slams through her body.

Ash falls backwards onto his bed, his body pleasantly relaxed for the first time in….well, ever. It's not just the sex, though what he just felt was in it's own damn category, it's the relief of finally being free to completely commit himself to Dawn. For the first time in his entire existence, his life is perfect, or as close to perfect as it's ever going to get. He has Dawn and he has Simi, the two most important beings alive to him.

"Mmm.." Dawn snuggles her face against Ash's chest, not really caring that she's currently smearing blood across his pecs. "That was amazing."

"Yeah." Ash agrees.

"And back to what we were talking about before." Dawn props her elbows up on his chest. "So, why can we do the mind talking thing?"

"I've always had a mental connection with Artemis but now that's gone." Ash explains. "And now I have the same type of connection with you."

Dawn traces random patterns on his chest, her eyes downcast to follow her fingers. "Are you mad?"

"About what?" Ash nudges Dawn's chin up, forcing her to look up at him. "Dawn, about what?"

"Artemis." Dawn bites out the word. "You were lovers."

Ash sighs heavily. "Yes."

"For like eleven thousand years."

"Give or take a couple thousand."

"And now she's gone, no longer in your life."

Ash nods, a full fledged smile covering his lips. "Yes."

"You're happy about it?" Dawn arches an eyebrow.

"You have no idea how much." Ash rolls them onto their sides. "Artemis used the other Dark-Hunters as leverage to get me to do whatever she wanted me to do. She held their souls hostage for time alone with me. She almost got Simi killed. I hated her with every fiber of my being and nothing would make me happier than to see her dead. She might have been physically beautiful but she is the ugliest thing in existence."

"You were doing great up until that physically beautiful thing." Dawn taps his forehead. "Let me break it down for you….you, perfect, me not so much, you, very secure with your perfection…me, not so much."

"Now you're the one being silly." Ash half-smiles as he cups the back of her head. "To me, you are perfect. There is not a thing I would change about you even if I could. Nothing, human, demon, God, or Goddess will ever compare."

Dawn melts. "You are just the perfect boyfriend, do you know that?"

A loud banging on Ash's bedroom cuts off his response.

"Akri, akra, the Simi thinks you need to stop having sex now and play with your Simi." Simi growls. "The Simi is feeling…what's that word again, Lexxie….oh, yeah, the Simi is feeling neglected."

Ash laughs as he flashes lounging pants on his body and flannel, covering her from head to toe, pajamas on Dawn.

"Very funny, Ash." Dawn rolls her eyes. "I want one of your shirts and a pair of my shorts."

Ash changes Dawn's clothes with a roll of his eyes. "They're not shorts."

-

"What did the redheaded heifer do to my akra?" Simi growls, her head tilting back to sniff at Dawn. "The Simi is going to barbecue the heifer…."

"No." Ash interrupts, his tone actually rising.

Simi pouts. "You never let the Simi barbecue the redheaded heifer and look what she did to my akra."

"Simi, you need to listen to me very carefully." Ash gently grabs her arm and pulls her towards him, making sure she's looking into his eyes. "Dawn and Artemis are bonded. If Artemis dies, so does Dawn. You can't hurt her or you'll hurt Dawn."

Tears actually fill Simi's eyes. "The Simi don't want nothing to happen to her akra. She love her akra."

"I know, Simi." Ash wipes the tears off her cheeks. "And nothing is going to happen to your akra, not as long as I'm alive."

"Okay." Simi chirps, her tone saying she completely trusts Ash to protect Dawn, no questions asked. "Can my akra get some hornays like me? Then we be twins."

"I'm just going to stick with the fangs for now, Sims." Dawn taps her horns. "I don't think I can pull off the hornays like you."

"So, do you think it's going to be a fun heart attack?" Vi arches an eyebrow. "Cuz let's take count, shall we. Your boyfriend is an older than dirt, super-powered god, you yourself are now an immortal goddess type thing and you're in charge of a group of warriors. This is going to go over well."

"Yeah." Dawn sighs and leans her head back on Ash's shoulder. "We'll deal with that slayer when we get to it."

"What's this we stuff?" Vi tugs on Fury's hand to pull him down on the couch beside her. He lays down on the couch, his long legs thrown over the arm and his head moves to rest on her lap.

"Um, hello, wolf-slash-man boyfriend type mate thing." Dawn gestures to Fury. "You really think nobody's going to freak out about that one? Face it, we're both in for the lecture of a lifetime."

"Well, maybe the hotel will be attacked or something when we get there." Vi says hopefully. "Immediate death threats usually soften the blow."

"Yeah, hopefully." Dawn agrees. "A kidnapping would be best though, Buffy always lets me off the hook after I've been kidnapped….Ash, you don't happen to know demons or creature like things that could kidnap me and Vi, do you?"

Ash tightens his arms around her waist. "Don't even think about it, Dawn."

"You either, firecracker." Fury growls up at Vi.

"Okay, but you two have to listen to the lectures with us." Dawn tilts her head back to look at Ash. "And it'll be Buffy, Giles, Angel…Spike'll probably just threaten to rip our heads off for being so careless."

"He's not really going to rip our heads off." Vi runs her hand through Fury's long hair when he growls. "He just threatens too."

"Spike's big with the threats but he'd never hurt us." Dawn explains. "He's been threatening to rip my head off and bleed me dry for years and as you can see, head still on shoulders and I'm still rich with the blood."

Ash looks over at Vi, his head cocked to the side to look at the slayer, and then he growls, loudly.

"You reading Vi's mind?" Dawn tilts her head back to look at him.

"Spike is a vampire too." Ash growls out. "And you had to keep him chained up?"

"Multiple times, really." Dawn replies. "The time you're getting off Vi was when he was killing people without knowing it so we kept him chained up in the basement to keep him from snacking on the girls. Then there was when I was younger and Giles kept him chained up in his bathtub. I used to hang out with him in there and watch cartoons. Xander kept him tied up in his basement….and we had to keep him chained up at Wolfram & Hart once because a necromancer was trying to use him to kill people….and this isn't helping you with the relaxing about Spike, is it?"

"No." Ash and Fury growl together.

"Huh." Dawn shrugs. "Don't worry, you'll like him when you meet him. Spike is….like a big teddy bear with fangs."

"I don't think they're buying it." Vi whispers loudly to Dawn.

Dawn grins back. "Me either."

"Akra, what's my akri look so growly bouts?" Simi flutters over to lay on top of Dawn.

"Because he's silly." Dawn kisses the top of Simi's head. "Sims, do you care if I move in with you and Ash?"

Simi sits up, a broad smile on her lips. "My akra's going to live here with us? Till when?"

"Pretty much forever, Sims." Dawn taps her nose. "Since I'm kinda immortal now."

Simi squeals loudly and throws her arms around Dawn. "I love my akra."

"Your akra loves you too, Sims." Dawn hugs her back.

Vi smiles to herself, happy to see Dawn so happy. And she's happy herself, even if the man across her lap is way too controlling and is probably going to drive her absolutely nuts.

'I think you've got it completely wrong, you're the one that's going to drive me insane.'

'Bite me….wait one freaking second, since when can we do the mind talking thing?

'We're mated, Vi. We have a mental connection now.


Vi tosses Fury off her, bouncing to her feet with a growl. "What the hell do you mean we're mated?"

"We are mated." Fury lazily stands up, a wolfish grin covering his lips. "Did I forget to tell you that?"

Vi clenches and unclenches her fists, her eyes flashing angrily. "Ash, you know the number of a good vet? Cuz somebody's about to get neutered."

-

"Okay, here's a tip, a girl that has had her entire life taken away from her and told that she's now a warrior for the light and will probably die within a few years, not going to react well to having yet another decision taken out of her hands." Dawn pats Fury on the shoulder. "You totally screwed up."

Fury growls, rubs his face, and heaves to his feet. "How do I make this better?"

"Apologize." Dawn says. "And do a damn good job at it."

Fury mutters to himself as he stalks back to the room he's sharing with Vi. He runs a frustrated hand through his hair; he's never apologized to anyone before, not when it mattered. But he can't get the look on Vi's face out his mind. Beyond the sarcasm about neutering him (which will never happen), the was real hurt on her face. Physical pain he can handle, not that he wants her to be hurt, but he could handle physical pain better than emotional pain.

'Fuck off!'

Vi's mental command his him pausing, briefly, before throwing open the door to their room.

"What do you want, Fury?" Vi doesn't look up from the ground where she's currently doing one-handed pushups.

"I want to talk to you." Fury growls down at her.

"And I don't care." Vi pants, pushing her body as hard as she can to keep herself from feeling anything but the pain in her arm. "You got what you wanted. Congratulations, you're not sterile."

"Damn it, Vi, I'm going to talk to you even if I have to tie you up to make you listen to me." Fury grabs her by the arms and lifts her up, wincing when she knees him in the stomach.

"Just leave me the fuck alone." Vi thrashes in his arms, fighting with every ounce of her strength to get loose. And it's frustrating to no end when she discovers he's stronger than her.

Fury knocks Vi's feet out from under her and follows her to the ground, pining her arms above her head in one of his hands. He pins her sides with his knees and rests his entire weight on her to hold her down. "Stop struggling."

Vi realizes it's pointless to struggle because even as she does, she can tell she's not getting loose. It's not just his strength, he must be using whatever other powers he has to hold her down. Since she can't get away from him, she settles for not looking at him.

Fury growls low in his throat when Vi turns her head to the side, his anger directed mostly at himself. "Damn it Vi, I'm sorry."

It's the last thing that she expected and the sincerity in his growl breaks the tight control she has over herself. She doesn't cry, she really hasn't since her watcher died, but her eyes do moisten.

"Don't do that." Fury dips his face to nudge hers, panic thickening his growl more than normal. "I'm sorry, I'm an asshole. Just don't cry."

Vi nods, burying her face in his shoulder, but she can't help that a few tears fall down her face.

Fury nudges her face back, his chest clenching at the tears in her eyes, and then laps them away with two swift, wet swipes of his tongue.

At first, she's freaked out that he licked her, actually licked her like a dog, but then she remembers that he is a wolf and that's just part of who he is. Plus, it's kind of cute, him trying to comfort her by licking her face.

Fury rolls over onto his side, bringing Vi with him, and nuzzles her face with his. "I've never asked for anything…..I've always just taken what I wanted. It never occurred to me to ask you before I completed the bonding ritual."

"I get that you're old." Vi sighs and reaches up to trace his face with her fingers. "And I know with the oldness you're going to be all old-fashioned and set in your ways."

Fury nips her fingers with a playful growl.

Vi laughs and dances her fingers over his nose. "But you have to stop deciding things for me. I am smart enough to know what I want and I'm pretty well capable of taking care of myself."

"You can't ask me not to protect you because that's something I can't do." Fury licks the pads of her fingertips. "But I'll try."

"You see that you do or we're going to butt heads." Vi taps his nose. "And I've got a darn hard head."

Fury rolls over onto his back, pulls her on top of him, and runs his hands up her back. "That, I have noticed."

-

"I don't know any of these people." Vi studies herself in Ash's huge mirror and sticks her tongue out at her reflection. "I can't go."

"You're going." Dawn pokes at her fangs, her face only inches from the mirror. "And you've met some of them….you tossed them across the room."

"Yeah, when I was dying so that doesn’t count." Vi tosses Dawn's mascara onto the shelf holding the key's makeup. "What am I supposed to say to them? Hi, my name's Vi and I like to hit things for fun?"

"Whatever works for you." Dawn pulls her bangs back with a small clip. "But honestly, we're going to be eating so it's not like there's going to be tons of talking."

"And that's another thing, what if they think I'm a huge pig because I eat so much?" Vi hops up on the sink and crosses her legs, frowning once again. "And why am I wearing a skirt?"

"Thanksgiving Dinner, you kinda have to dress up." Dawn reminds her. "I'm wearing a dress." Dawn adjusts said dress, fixing the spaghetti straps on her shoulders and adjusting the front of it so that her boobs stay in. The dress is one of the only ones she owns, a red dress with small, white polka dots that dips low in the front and flares out at the waist. It ends at her knees and is probably the girliest thing she owns, next to the skirt Vi borrowed. White flip flops complete the outfit, her toe and finger nails painted a matching red.

"And your dress looks so much better than what I'm wearing." Vi uncomfortably adjusts the skin tight black spandex type tank top.

"Vi, your boobs are going to fall out." Dawn sighs and helps Vi fix her clothes. "See what happens when you wear girly clothes?"

"Bite me." Vi growls. "It's not my fault you're flat as crap and have a ghetto booty."

Dawn bumps Vi with said booty. "You're a brat."

"I try." Vi grins. "Are you sure this looks….respectful?"

"Vi, they're my clothes so you're not going to look too respectful." Dawn eyes Vi's outfit, the tight black tank top and the white flowing skirt that has a black swiggle pattern through it. It's the outfit she wore when she interviewed at colleges. Black flip flops grace Vi's feet, her toes painted a shiny black. "You look great."

"Okay." Vi sighs dramatically. "Who's all going to be there?"

"Kyrian and Amanda, of course since it's their house." Dawn ticks them off. "Professor Alexander and his wife Grace, Vane, he's your new brother-in-law, and his wife Bride, Fang, he's your other brother-in-law, Sundown, he's a Dark-Hunter that's stationed in the area, Valerius and Tabitha, Bill and Selena, and a bunch of kids. Hopefully, Aimee will be there but I doubt her parents will let her since they don't want her dating Fang."

"Are we doing anything for the actual Thanksgiving holiday?" Vi asks.

Dawn shrugs. "I'm not really sure. Ash said something about going to see Dante, Pandora, and their cubs but nothing is official."

"Oh." Vi follows Dawn out of the bathroom but pauses when something occurs to her. "What do you mean, cubs?"

-

"You got fangs like my uncle Ash." Marisa announces loudly, the entire table stopping to stare at her.

"Marisa." Amanda scolds.

"It's okay." Dawn waves off her concern. "Yes, I do."

"Do you like my uncle Ash?" Marisa cocks her head.

"Very much so." Dawn smiles back.

Marisa quirks her eyebrow, nose wrinkled. "Are you married to him like my mommy and daddy?"

"No." Dawn elbows Vi, who is laughing next to her.

"Are you going to marry uncle Ash?"

"Um…I'm not sure." Dawn pinches Vi's leg.

Marisa takes a bite out of her pumpkin pie, her nose wrinkled. "Why aren't you sure for?"

"I'm just not." Dawn glances over at Ash before looking back at Marisa. "What about you, do you have a boyfriend?"

"She's in kindergarten." Kyrian scowls.

"Bobby Mitchell kissed me on the swings." Marisa says.

"What?" Kyrian and Ash both shout.

"On the lips too." Marisa gags dramatically.

"What'd you do?" Dawn squeezes Ash's thigh, amused by his anger. She's not surprised, he'll probably be ten times worse if they have a little girl. If they ever have kids, that is.

"Kicked him in the knee." Marisa replies. "He's my boyfriend now."

Kyrian slams his head against the table with an overdramatic groan.

"She's only five." Julian protests, glancing at his own daughter as he does so. "That's way too young."

"Oh, please, back in the metal skirt days, she would have been married and pregnant within a few years." Dawn rolls her eyes. "It's not real dating anyways."

"I had a boyfriend in kindergarten." Vi says. "I broke up with him after he stole my pudding cup."

"I broke up with mine after he pushed me down." Dawn wrinkles her nose. "Which looking back, was a sign."

"Of what, you're bad luck with guys, Ash notwithstanding." Vi comments. "Cuz let's face it, you and guys are non-mixy things. Me too, now that I think of it. Maybe it's a slayer thing…but you're not a slayer so it can't be that. Buffy never had much luck with guys either, did she? And Willow, what with losing her boyfriend and then having two girlfriends. Maybe we weren't…"

Dawn slams her hand over Vi's mouth, arching an eyebrow at her best friend in question. "Okay, what's up with the babble? Willow rub off on you when we were home?"

Vi shakes her head.

"Oh, you're just nervous." Dawn says.

Vi nods.

"I'll remove my hand but no more babbling." Dawn pulls her hand away.

Vi glares at her, sinking down into her seat, her face blushing bright red.

"What are you nervous about?" Fang asks between shovel size spoonfuls of mashed potatoes. "That we won't like you?"

"Fang." Bride scolds.

"What?" Fang grunts, looking up from his plate.

"You can't ask a human girl that." A voice echoes into the room. "But since you're neither a girl nor human, you probably don't know that."

Ash pushes to his feet, his silver eyes gleaming as he looks around the room. "Get the kids upstairs."

"No need." Dawn touches Ash's arm. "Wills, what the heck are you doing?"

"Just making sure this is where Vi is." Willow appears between said slayer and Dawn. "So, this is what that mark is about; you two are bonded."

Vi's mouth drops open in shock.

"Vi, for the hundredth time, I am bound to you, to all the slayers." Willow reminds her. "I can block said bond when I want to but it's always there. And after the little stunt you pulled about not telling me you were attacked, I decided to keep our wavelength slightly open." She glances at the long-haired, absolutely gorgeous man beside Vi. "And I felt you….bond."

"Willow!" Vi screeches.

"I didn't mean to and by the time I realized what was going on, it was….well, let's just say Spike had a good ole time after the magic bender you two put me on." Willow blushes. "But hey, at least I can close the wavelength again since there's no need, what with your wolfy guard-slash-boyfriend on duty."

Vi drops her head to the table.

Dawn laughs and goes to hug Willow, only to fall straight through Willow and onto Vi.

"The first." Vi pushes back her chair and jumps to her feet, Dawn half leaning against her.

"I am not the first." Willow protests.

"Hello." Dawn runs her hand through Willow's 'body'. "Non-corporeal, looks like you…"

"I'm not dead nor have I ever died, remember." Willow interrupts.

"Willow could have died for all we know and then here you are, being all Willow like when you're not….." Dawn yelps loudly, looking down at the fingers Willow is pinching her with. "Astral?"

"Astral." Willow agrees. "And do you realize the amount of magic I have to call on to make my astral self real?"

"I'm guessing by the black tinge in your eyes, a heck of a lot." Dawn replies. "So, now that we know you're not evil, what's up?"

"Um, actually a heck of a lot if you want…." Willow's sentence trails off when the tallest, most magical person she's ever met steps beside Dawn. "Holy poopballs."

"Ash, actually." Ash says.

"I'm Willow." Willow tilts her head back to look up at him. "Which you probably got what with Dawn calling me Willow."

"Yes." Ash wraps his arm around Dawn, looking down at Willow with a mixture of amusement and wary. He can smell the magic on her, even if she is nothing more than a projection of her true self, and it's more power than any normal human that he's ever met. He's also starting to think he might be letting his guard down too much, seeing how she was able to sneak up on him without him being aware of it until she spoke.

"Wow, Dawn, you weren't kidding about powerful." Willow whistles. "Buffy's going to freak out when she….you have fangs."

"Guilty." Dawn holds up a hand to hush Willow. "I am still me, I'm not evil, I'm just…"

"Super powered." Willow interrupts. "Yeah, I can see that now." She sighs. "You were just going to spring this all on us at once, weren't you?"

"Maybe." Dawn grins guiltily.

"And give them heart attacks." Willow scolds. "Dawn, that's just….okay, I get why you're doing it and I would love to talk about it more but I really can't cuz….let's just say it's crappy right now."

"What's going on?" Dawn asks. "Why are you here anyways? You're supposed to be in England."

"We were attacked." Willow replies.

"Buffy?" Dawn whispers.

"She's…well, she'll be fine but she's unconscious right now." Willow assures her.

"And?"

"Giles and Xander are both banged up but they got out before they could be really hurt." Willow says. "Connor, Faith, and Buffy took the brute of the attack and they're in the hospital."

"Spike and Angel?" Vi asks, concern thickening her tone.

"Toasty but they'll be okay too." Willow bites her lip. "It was….they completely bombarded us….I barely got Pheebs out of there before it got bad."

"Where is she?" Dawn feels Ash grab her hand and squeezes it back gratefully.

"On here way here." Willow eyes Ash. "Angel….this wasn't random and this wasn't about just attacking a slayer. This was personal."

"How do you know that?" Dawn asks. "If they just attacked you guys, maybe it was about besting the oldest slayer alive."

"They attacked the hotel, Wolfram & Hart, Connor's parents, mine, Xander's mom and dad." Willow looks at Vi. "Your family."

"What?" Vi cries out. "They…"

"They're fine." Willow cuts in. "We got them out of there before they were hurt."

"I want to go there." Vi says, her voice shrill.

"Vi, you can't." Willow replies firmly.

"Willow, it's my family."

"Vi, this is personal." Willow repeats. "They are attacking us personally, not the council and not the slayers. This is about us."

"Us who?" Dawn asks.

"Angel and Spike think it's them." Willow replies. "Which makes sense seeing how they're attacking all their weak points one by one. Which is why you can't go. This isn't about some vamp trying to be all badass and make a name for himself. This is about revenge and trust me when I say when you're on that path, you will do anything to get it. You two need to stay here and keep Pheebs safe until we can figure out what the heck is going on."

"They're my family, I got them into this and I should be there protecting them." Vi argues.

"I'm going to be brutally honest, you two couldn't be bigger targets than if you had signs painted on your backs." Willow says. "You two and Pheebs are Angel and Spike's biggest liabilities. As far as we know, nobody knows about Pheebs but almost everybody knows about you two. If somebody wants to get to them, they're going to go after you. Going to your parents is just putting them in more danger than they already are."

"I'm a slayer, Wills, I can take care of myself."

"Yes, but you've said so yourself, you're not as strong as Buffy and Faith." Willow says as kindly as she can. "You sympathize with people too much and while that makes you a wonderful person, it also makes you a weaker slayer; you hesitate too much. That's dangerous enough during normal slaying situation but with this…it will get you killed. And there is no way in hell I'm letting that happen. You three are staying here with power guy here until we find out who's behind this, that's a direct order."

"Fine." Vi looks down at her hands.

"Vi, I wasn't trying to be mean and you know I love you to death." Willow says. "I don't want you to get hurt and I know your parents wouldn't either. It's safer for them if you're not around, at least until this is over….Claudia."

"What about Claudia?" Dawn drops Ash's hand and steps towards Willow, panic evident in her voice.

"She's hurt." Willow cocks her head to the side. "Call Alan, see what's going on."

Dawn runs across the room and grabs her purse, fishing her cell phone out with slightly shaking hands. She dials the other watcher's phone number but it just rings. "He's not answering."

"She's terrified." Willow whispers.

"Can't you go to her?" Dawn asks.

"And do what, wave at whatever's chasing her?" Willow says. "Pinching you took more magic than….I need a body."

"Um, don't you have your own?" Dawn questions.

"Yeah, but it's back in England in a slight coma." Willow replies, head tilted to the side as she thinks. Then she cocks her head at Vi and before anybody can say anything, Willow steps into Vi's body.

Dead silence follows, parents moving kids behind them and wolves surrounding the mate of one of their own.

"Vi?" Fury growls cautiously.

No response.

"Willow?" Dawn tries.

Vi's head cocks to the side, neck cracking, before she tilts her head back to look at Dawn. "Dawnie?"

"Willow?" Dawn tries again.

"Yeah." Willow holds out her arm, Vi's arm, and pokes the man next to her. "Hey, look it worked."

"You didn’t know if it would work?" Dawn asks in disbelief.

"No, I actually never thought about possessing somebody until I realized I needed a body." Willow holds her arms out, looking down at Vi's longer limbs in fascination. Then she looks down and gasps. "Wow, look at those puppies."

"Willow!" Dawn scolds. "You do realize Vi's going to freak out when she finds out you were checking out her rack."

"Well, it's not my fault there all in my…her face." Willow defends. "And I wasn’t checking them out, hello, boyfriend."

"Hello, two girlfriends." Dawn points out. "Pretty sure that means you're an equal opportunity checker-outer."

Vi's face blushes.

"So, what's the plan?" Dawn asks, laughing at the look on Fury's face. He looks ready to cover up Vi's chest but by the look in his eyes, realizes that means he'll be feeling up somebody else in his girlfriend's body. Instead he just crowds Vi's body, his brothers at his sides.

Willow waves her hand at the table and after a few second, the salt shaker shoots jerkily into her hand. "Oh, this isn't going to work very well." Almost like she's talking to herself, Willow uncaps the salt shaker and dumps all of it into her hand. She then makes a circle on the carpet, large enough for her to stand in but no larger than that. "Oh, yeah, I need a catalyst." Then she walks over to Dawn. "I need some blood."

Dawn quirks a brow but dutifully bites her thumb and then lets her blood drip onto Willow open palm.

"What are you doing?" Ash growls, grabbing Dawn's hand and healing the small cut on her thumb with a passing over of his own.

"I need to open a portal." Willow steps into the circle of salt and drops down onto Vi's knees. "Dawn's blood is going to do it for me."

Fury steps towards Vi's body but stops right out side of the circles when Vi holds up a hand to stop him.

"Don't cross the salt." Willow warns. She whispers under her breath and the small puddle of blood starts to float into the air. Then she starts to speak in rough Latin, the language sounding broken on her tongue. After a few moments of fumbling over the words, she throws her head back in frustration, Vi's short red head rubbing against the back of her neck. "Why do spells have to be in a different language? It's very irritating and highly annoying. Plus it's pointless since I really don't need the words or to make nice with some god to get what I want. I want the portal opened, using the blood as a guide." Willow throws her arms back, Vi's hands grabbing the two wolves behind her. "NOW!"

Vi's short hair turns jet black as Fury and Vane hit the ground, the two wolves half morphing into their animal selves. The house shakes, the kids scream, and a portal opens in the air right above Vi.

Ash pulls Vi back with his own powers right as two bodies fall out of the portal. The opening closes as quickly as it opened and Vi passes out to the side, her body hitting the ground to the right and Willow's astral form hitting the ground to the left.

A loud growl interrupts the silence as one of the bodies rises to its feet, its body much like a dog and white foam falling from it's oversized teeth.

Ash moves to kill the creature but before he can, the body that was under it pops to its feet. A small, child-size hand stabs something sharp through the creature's heart. The force of the stabbing sprays over both of the bodies and after a second, the creature collapses, dead.

"Oh, Claudia." Dawn pushes past Ash and holds her arms out to the slayer covered in blood.

"Dawnie?" Claudia whispers. She drops the wooden stake in her hand to the ground and runs across the room, throwing her forty-five pound body into Dawn's arm. "The demon ate Mr. Man and he told me to run and I did and then it found me and bit me and I didn't mean to, I'm not supposed to slay but he was hurting me."

Dawn hugs slayer closer to her chest and rocks her body, whispering to the little girl. She feels Ash move beside her, feels his confusion, and looks up at him with tears in her eyes. "This is Claudia. She's the youngest slayer alive. She's four."

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