Title: Chapter 25
Series: The Key, the Dark-Hunter, and the Link
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.
WARNING!!!: There are big, huge spoilers for the newest DH book, 'Devil May Cry' ahead. Huge ones. If you haven't read it, and you don't want to be spoiled by it, don't read any further. I repeat, Devil May Cry spoilers.
"You two have to stay back and let me deal with Dru." Dawn says, looking between her father and lover. "I know how to deal with her."
"I'll stand behind you but there is no possible way I'm going to stand back." Ash cups her elbow, preparing to flash down to the Sanctuary.
"Me either." Savitar says.
Dawn rolls her eyes. "Dad, stay with Kit-Kat. I'll be fine. I've dealt with Dru before. I know how to handle her."
"And hey, at least this time you're not the kidnappe." Vi points out.
"Thanks, Vi, that's really helping out." Dawn says sarcastically.
"Oops." Vi murmurs. "My bad."
"This Dru kidnapped you?" Katra asks.
"Yeah, her and Spike back when he was evil." Dawn replies. "It's wasn't that bad, actually. We had a tea party and Dru played Barbies with me." A small smile crosses her lips. "That's the first time Spike called me niblet. He wanted to eat me, said I'd make a nice lil niblet till the slayer got there but Dru wouldn't let him." Ash's hand tightens around her arm and she can feel her dad tense next to her. "Okay, so I have my own version of fond moments and you have yours."
"Hers are usually incredibly warped." Vi adds. "Like hanging out in an evil vampire's lair and the first time she got nipped by a vampire."
"Which was the first time Buffy took me patrolling so it was a huge deal." Dawn sticks her tongue out at Vi.
"Was that the first vampire you staked?" Katra asks curiously.
"No, the first one was the year before." Dawn replies.
"And ironically, the first boy she kissed." Vi adds, wincing as soon as the words leave her mouth. "That wasn't helping things either, was it?"
"Nope." Dawn playfully glares at the slayer. "And could you save all the angry-making things til after we do the rescue thing. They're already jumpy enough."
"Yeah, they are a jumpy group." Vi agrees. "It's all very tense compared to L.A."
"Yeah, well, things are bound to be more relaxed when your army is made up mostly of teenage girls." Dawn points out. "So, let's roll."
Ash tightens his arm around Dawn and against his best judgment, flashes them to the Sanctuary. And then instantly tries to flash them back even though he knows it's pointless. The bar is empty of customers, only the Weres that live and work there, along with Kyrian, Julian, Amanda, Valerius, Tabitha, Grace, Vane, and Bride. Along with their children whom are sitting around a table, still dressed in their pageant clothing. The children are silent but terrified though nowhere close to as scared as their parents. Kyrian and Valerius are paler than the rest of group, both bent over slightly as if in pain. Even though he knows it's not going to work, he tries to use his powers to find out what's wrong with the ex-Dark-Hunters. And like he knew, it didn't work. He's only been in this position once in his very long life, near a God-Tablet. Or something that closely resembles a God-Tablet since he's very sure Zeus had all of them destroyed a very long time ago. Whatever it is, drained his god-powers and given the cursing behind him, those of his comrades.
"What the fuck?" Savitar growls, hands clenched at his sides in angry fists. The fact that the bulk of his powers were made due to being the key's keeper makes him vulnerable to God-Tablets. He still has some powers, the ones that he had before becoming the keeper, but the bulk of them are drained.
"Tsk, tsk." A willow-think brunette scolds, fingers running across the smallest child's head as she walks around the table, a doll in her hand. "Such language. The children shouldn't hear such words." She sets the doll on the table and starts clapping. "Dawnie, we shall have a tea party with crumpets and sugar cubes. Won't that be fun?"
"Stay." Dawn whispers behind her as she steps towards the insane vampire. "How you been, Dru?"
"My belly is rumbling." Dru complains, licking her lips with a twinkle in her eyes, her hand held out towards Dawn with an innocent smile. "Since all the party guests are here can I have a party favor?"
Dawn takes the hand Dru is holding out to her and lets the vampire lead her over to where the children are sitting. "What kind of party are we having?"
"I mustn't tell." Dru whispers loudly. "Tis a secret."
"What kind of secret?" Dawn asks.
"A wonderful one." Dru traces her fingers in front of Dawn's face. "The key, it's so beautiful. Such a wonderful shade of green. The stars speak of it. Pst. Pst."
"What are the stars saying?" Dawn feels Ash move behind her, his hand moving to her shoulder.
"Such beauty, such power." Dru closes her eyes, fingertips playing in the air. "So many things are changing, the world is shifting. Your place isn't where it was anymore." Her fingers dance over to where Vi and Phoebe are standing. "They don't belong there either. Daddy's world is shifting; he's not going to be happy."
"The stars told you all that?" Dawn wrinkles her nose.
"Mmm, the stars like to speak." Dru hums, eyes closing again as she writhes in her seat.
Ash frowns, hand tightening on Dawn's shoulder, waiting for the vampire to make one wrong move. There are Daimons here, in the back of the bar, he can feel them but doesn't move towards them. Right now, he wants to deal with the vampire in front of him. She's beautiful in an old-fashioned way, her dress is from the 1800's as is her manner of speaking, and she seems to be completely insane. And given what she's saying, a seer.
"Little key." Dru hums, fingers dancing through the air.
"Dru, what's the point of all this?" Dawn asks. "If you want Angel, go after Angel. Why drag me and Pheebs into this?"
"Come on, Dawnie, you of all people should know it's much more fun to use the children as leverage." An amused voice says, appearing out of nowhere.
Dawn looks up and into the eyes of someone that used to be friends with her sister. "Hey, Amy, you're looking rather skanky."
"So much like your sister." Amy shakes her head, amused. "You even died like her. Except only the once. But we can change that."
Ash growls loudly.
"Wow, you even have the overprotective fanged boyfriend." Amy comments, head tilting back to look up at Ash. "Though he's a hellova lot hotter than Angel."
"I have to agree." Dawn says. "So, you got your ass turned? Is there any length you won't go to one-up Willow? Cuz it doesn't matter, you'll never have a tenth of the power that she has and we all know it."
Amy tenses, a growl rumbling up her throat.
"Oh, did I hit a nerve?" Dawn smirks.
Ash clenches his fist at his side, only Dawn's hand on his thigh keeping him from stepping forward and ripping the girl from limb to limb.
"Ash, it's alright." Dawn soothes. "Amy's not going to do anything right now, are you?"
"No, little rat, it's not time yet." Dru scowls. "The pieces haven't all been set. We must wait until everything is ready."
"I still think you should let me bleed her dry and be done with it." Amy grumbles.
Ash is across the floor in two steps, grabbing the vampire by the neck and lifting her off the ground. "You so much as look at her wrong, I will kill you."
Amy scratches at the hand around her throat, fear filling her eyes. "He said it would drain his powers."
"It did." Ash growls, face distorting slightly. "My god-powers."
"But under that, he's still all kinds of powerful." Dawn says. "So I'd rethink trying to sample some of my grade-A blood if I were you." She pushes away from the table and touches Ash's shoulder. "You can let her go. She might be evil but she's not that stupid."
After a few seconds, Ash drops the vampire to the floor. "Let's get this over with."
"Yeah." Dawn pulls Ash back to the table and pushes him down onto the chair next to Marisa and then climbs onto his lap. "So, Dru, what's this about? Or do I even really need to ask."
"Daddy's going to be so cross with me." Dru smiles happily. "There will be spankings."
Dawn wrinkles her nose in disgust.
"Ew, she doesn't mean spankings in the way I think she means spankings, does she?" Vi asks.
"Yep." Dawn replies. "Right Dru?"
"Daddy hurts me in such beautiful ways." Dru hums. "But now he won't even hurt me a little bit. All little girls need their daddies to love them, isn't that so, little key?"
"Sorry Dru, my relationship with my dads ain't anything like yours was with Angelus." Dawn says. "Thank god."
"So they really….she called him daddy?" Vi frowns. "That is so disturbing."
"Daddy loves his little girls, doesn't he little sister?" Dru purrs.
Phoebe shakes her head. "Whatever you're talking about, Angel didn't do it."
"No, Angelus did." Dawn says. "And that's what this all comes down to, what this is all about. Dru wants her family back, don't you?"
"Yes." Dru nods.
"So, what, you're going to use Amy to suck out Angel's soul?" Dawn asks. "Is that the big plan?"
"Partly." Amy moves to Dru's side.
"And what, you think the three of you will be one big happy family?" Dawn arches a brow. "You do, don't you?"
"We will." Amy nods.
"Please, the first thing Angelus will do is kill you." Dawn rolls her eyes.
"No he won't." Amy argues. "I have power."
"Exactly." Dawn says. "You have too much power. He'll kill you." She looks at Dru. "And you know it."
"Why would he kill her if she has power?" Urian wraps a protective arm around Phoebe's waist.
"Let me give you a crash course in Angelus, 101." Dawn replies. "Dru here, when he first met her, was a little village girl that had visions of bad things happening. And when they did, she got freaked out and went to confess her 'evilness' to a clergyman, who Angelus happened to be eating at that time. He told her that it was evil and she should embrace that evilness but she didn't want to. This went on for months, Angelus telling her that her visions were a gift from the devil. Then he killed her entire family, made her watch him do it."
"Run and catch." Dru hums, eyes closed. "Run and catch. The lamb is caught in the blackberry patch. My mummy used to sing that to me." She looks up, eyes meeting Savitar's. "What did you sing when you found little key's body?"
"So, anyways, after he killed them all, he chased her to a convent and then let her be for a while." Dawn finishes. "Then on the day she took her vows, he turned her."
"So?" Amy arches a brow.
"He completely broke her first." Dawn says. "Broke everything about her. He'll never accept Dru having a childe as strong as you. He has too much of an ego for that."
"Gee, he sounds like a fun guy." Fury says sarcastically.
"Angelus, not so much." Dawn shakes her head. "Angel is great though."
Amy looks at Dru, her eyes turning black. "She's right, isn't she?"
"Shh, little rat…"
"Don't fucking shush me." Amy shouts. "I only agreed to this stupid plan because you said Angelus would let me kill Willow. You lied to me."
"Hello, she is evil." Dawn points out. "You honestly can't be surprised that she lied and betrayed you."
"Shut up, Dawn." Amy vamps out.
"Wow, that's not attractive." Katra comments.
Dawn opens her mouth to agree but all that comes out is a loud screech as she goes hurtling out of Ash's lap. The last thing she hears before her world goes black is Ash screaming her name.
"Stop yelling at me and I'll do it." Vi says, hand shaking as she tries to dial Willow's phone number.
"Daddy, grandpa, it's not her fault." Katra touches both of them on the arm. "Don't yell at her."
"Thank you, Kat." Vi takes a deep breath and presses the phone to her ear.
"Hello?" Willow answers.
"Wills, it's Vi." Vi says. "We have a major problem and I kinda need you."
"Why isn't Dawn calling?" Willow asks. "Did she get kidnapped again?"
"Um, yeah." Vi replies. "Can you come here, like you you and not your astral self?"
A loud, room shaking pop is her reply.
"What happened to Dawn?" Willow's hair and eyes are black, her body literally vibrating with magic. But she's not alone. Behind her are three other beings, though instead of standing, they're all kneeling on the floor.
"Daddy?" Phoebe whispers.
"He's fine, Pheebs." Willow says. "The trip is just a little rough on anyone not me. What happened….Amy?"
"Yeah." Vi glances over her shoulder to where the two vampires are tied up, both bloody and unconscious. "Amy did some kinda spell thing that is blocking everyone's powers."
"Not mine." Willow argues.
"God-powers." Ash clenches his fists. "Fix it."
"Okay, Mr. Bossy, you need to calm down." Willow scolds.
"Wills, don't." Phoebe shakes her head. "Just fix whatever Amy did."
Angel pushes to his feet, a growl rumbling through his chest. "Phoebe, what's going on?" He cocks his head to the side, cracking his neck. "Who is that?"
Phoebe glances behind her at Urian, shooting him a pleading look, and then runs forward to hug the pissed off vampire. "We have to get Dawn back first and then we'll talk, okay?"
Angel kisses the top of her head, arms wrapping around her protectively.
"What the bloody hell happened to my niblet?" Spike growls as he stands up. "Baby, you have to find a better way of traveling."
"Sorry." Willow murmurs as she looks around the room, trying to find the source of the magical ward. She can feel it, feel the magical wall surrounding the room they're in, but she can't find the source. "Did it take your powers?"
"No." Savitar says. "It just drains them."
"God-Powers?" Angel scowls.
"What about God-Powers?" Buffy murmurs as she stands up. "Is there another Hell-God after Dawnie?"
"No, not exactly." Willow closes her eyes and lets her magic flow out.
"What does not exactly mean?" Buffy places her hands on her hips. "Which one of you is Ash?"
"That'd be the really, really tall guy looking incredibly pissed off." Vi points across the room.
Buffy marches across the room and stops when the tips of her sandals hit the toes of his boots. Then she looks up, like really up. "Whoa."
"Hey!" Angel says.
"Sorry baby but damn." Buffy whistles. "Dawnie sure knows how to pick out her men."
Ash scowls down at her, fangs visible, and hands clenched at his sides.
"Willow, maybe you should hurry up." Phoebe says. "Acheron is really pissed off."
"Who's Ackeren?" Buffy asks, turning her head to look at the other slayer.
"Acheron." Phoebe corrects. "And he's standing in front of you."
"It thought his name is Ash." Buffy wrinkles her nose.
"It's a nickname." Phoebe says. "But his real name is Acheron."
"Seriously?" Vi asks. "How come I didn't know that?"
"More importantly, how did you know that?" Angel looks down at his daughter, scowling at the unfamiliar scents on her.
Phoebe is saved from answer when Willow goes flying across the room, sliding into the wall with a painful grunt.
"I found it." Willow pushes to her feet. "Amy's gotten better, I'll give her that."
"Fix it." Ash orders.
"I'm getting there, take a chill pill." Willow rolls her eyes as she walks towards the table full of children. Children that look terrified. Adults are standing around the kids, two of which she focuses her gaze on for a few seconds, before looking at the kids. She waves her hand at them, a grim expression on her face. "Sleep."
"What the hell did you do to them?" Kyrian reaches for Marisa, a scowl on his face.
"They're fine, just sleeping." Willow assures him. "They'll wake up in the morning and not really know what happened. They don't need to see this."
"See what?" Savitar asks.
Instead of answering, Willow steps in front of two of the men and without hesitation, slams her fists through their chests.
Tabitha and Amanda both scream along with their husbands, all four of the immortal beings' knees buckling, the two men only held up by Willow's fists.
"She knows what she's doing, Ash." Vi grabs his arm, stopping him from crossing the room. "Let her do it."
"Vi's right, mate." Spike pulls out a cigarette and lights it. "Red knows what she's doing."
Ash growls at the vampire but doesn't do anything. Instead he just watches as two of his former warriors scream in complete agony as something dark is sucked out of their chests and flows up the arms of the mortal witch. After what seems like forever, the redhead flies backwards, a jet of blackness leaving her mouth as she screams. It hits an invisible wall, flows into it, and then she screams again. The wall bursts and the entire room vibrates from the force of the blackness shattering the wall. His powers return instantly.
Savitar flexes his hands, sharing a look with Ash as they both return to normal.
Buffy takes a step back from the now insanely powerful man in front of her. "Whatever you want with Dawn, I will stop you. I died once for her and I will not hesitate to do it again. I don't care if you are Mr. Superpower guy…."
Ash feels his anger soften somewhat at the determinedness written across the warrior in front of him. She means it, means every word of what she just said. She knows she can't take him, he can tell that by the look in her eyes, but she is willing to die to save Dawn. Like she has before. "I would never harm Dawn."
"You're not planning to use her key-rich blood to destroy the universe?" Buffy cocks a brow.
"No." Ash shakes his head. "I love your sister in ways you can not comprehend. I always have."
"Whoa, whoa, what does that mean?" Buffy frowns. "You just met."
"No, we met over eleven thousand years ago." Ash corrects.
The room goes completely silent.
"She never said you were that old." Willow grumbles as she pushes to her feet.
"I'm thinking there are a lot of things Dawn didn't tell anybody." Buffy casts a disapproving look behind her. "And she's not the only one."
"I was only trying to save you guys from information you couldn't digest properly." Willow kneels next to the two panting men and waves a hand over their open chests. "And with Angel and Spike not being able to digest anything that means pretty much everything."
"What information?" Angel eyes the being in front of Buffy with weary eyes.
Ash ignores him and looks upward. "Artemis, get your ass down here."
"Artemis, like the goddess Artemis?" Willow's eyes open wider. Before he can answer though, a beautiful redhead appears in the middle of the room, her nose upturned.
"What?" Artemis crosses her arms over her chest.
"Where is she?" Ash growls.
"She's your wife." Artemis replies. "Shouldn't you be able to keep track of her?"
"Mom, please." Katra says quietly, moving between her father and the woman that raised her.
Artemis's face softens. "Katra."
"I'm not ready to forgive you." Katra says quietly. "But like mama said, you did raise me and you do love me in your own way. And I do love you. I'm not ready to forgive you and if you let her get hurt, I never will."
"Her life-force is bond to yours so that means you can find her whenever you want." Ash says.
"Yes, I am aware of that." Artemis growls at him. "Which also means I'm not going to let her die."
"No, but you might let her get to the brink before you do anything about it." Ash moves around Kat and lifts his ex-lover up by the throat. "I can't kill you, as much as I want to, but I will remind you that there are states worse than death."
"Dad, please." Katra whispers.
With a loud growl, Ash drops the goddess to her feet. Artemis in turn, straightens her clothing, glaring daggers at Ash as she does so.
"You can feel her." Savitar steps forward, head cocked to look at the goddess.
Artemis sighs. "I think she's in the underworld but I'm not sure where."
Savitar reaches out a hand to grab Ash before he can flash himself down to the underworld. "You can't go."
"Watch me." Ash growls.
"Don't take that tone with me, boy." Savitar growls back. "You're too out of control right now. If she's hurt, you will lose control."
"And you won't?" Ash arches a disbelieving brow.
"Of course I will." Savitar sneers. "She's my daughter. When I lose control a couple thousand mortals might die, no big loss…."
"I see that as a big loss." Buffy interrupts.
Both men shoot her glares.
"But I'll wait until you're done and then you can explain that 'daughter' thing while you're at it." Buffy waves her hand. "Carry on."
Ash can't help but smile briefly; this is where Dawn got her sass.
"But if you lose control, everything will be destroyed." Savitar says. "It's the reason we erased your memories in the first place. She is and always will be your biggest weakness. And right now, you're too pissed off to maintain complete control over yourself."
"I'll go." Katra says. "It's not like it's the first time I've ventured into the underworld."
Artemis rolls her eyes. "Fine. Let's just get this over with."
Ash moves as if to go with them.
"No, you'll just destroy everything until you find her." Artemis holds up a hand. "And I'm not in the mood to listen to Hades bitch about it for the next millennia."
Katra lifts up to kiss her father on the check. "We'll be back in a minute, daddy." Then she grabs Artemis's hand and with that, they're gone.
Ash sighs heavily, wanting to follow them but knowing they're right. If she's hurt or he sees her being hurt, he's not sure what he'll do. But he does know it won't be good. For the first time, he's actually glad about Zeus having her life-force combined with Artemis's. There is nobody more concerned with their own well-being than the goddess and as long as her well-being is reliant on Dawn's, Artemis will do anything to keep her from dying.
Buffy looks between the two incredibly hot men, one dressed in Goth and the other like a surfer, both freaking her out beyond belief by the amount of power rolling off them. "Hate to break it to you boys, but you better get used to this if you plan on hanging around Dawn. She has the tendency to get her butt in all sorts of trouble."
Dawn winces, her entire body feeling all oogly, and then forces her eyes open. Ash is going to be so pissed off. That's the first thought that floats through her head. She's not worried about what happened because she knows without a doubt that he's okay but he's going to be so pissed that she got kidnapped. So is her dad. And Kat's going to be worried. Hopefully though, Simi is still at home and doesn't know she's missing.
She's not sure where she is but it's not somewhere fun. It's like a dark cave, rather cold and damp. In fact, it's more than cold and even as she thinks it, it gets more damp. She's in shackles, which she really hates, and her head hurts. Plus she feels like she's going to hurl. And she's not alone. In the corner is a tall, gorgeous man with long black hair and swirling silver eyes. But he's not Ash. "Hey."
"Hello." He steps forward, head cocking to look at her. "You are Ash's new human toy?"
"I am not a toy." Dawn scowls. "Who are you?"
"Stryker, I am…"
"Yeah, yeah, you're Apollo's son. I know who you are." Dawn rolls her eyes. "You joined up with Drusilla and Amy to get to Ash?"
"I did not 'join' up with anyone." Stryker scowls. "I merely gave them information and a few resources. What they chose to do with those…"
"Is not your fault." Dawn finishes. "So, where are we, your place?"
Stryker laughs. "It is the first place that Acheron would think to look. No, we are somewhere different, someplace he won't think to look."
"What's the big plan?" Dawn asks. "You going to kill me and send parts of me back to Ash to taunt him? Cuz I gotta advise you, so not the smart thing to do."
"I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to do with you." Stryker leans back against the wall, legs crossed in front of him. "Mostly, I'm just curious that Acheron has taken a human lover for more than one night."
"Well, you got me here, fire away?" Dawn motions with her shoulder. "Think you can unchain me? I mean, they're kinda pointless, aren't they? I'm thinking that there's no possible way I'm getting by you on my own. I'll just have to wait until Ash gets here and kicks your ass."
Stryker laughs. "You are strange for a human."
"I get that a lot." Dawn says. "And seriously, my arms are starting to hurt and I think I have to puke so if you don't mind…."
Stryker waves his hands, releasing her from the wall. "I don't have to warn you what will happen if you attempt to escape, do I?"
"Nope, I've done the kidnappee thing plenty of times before." Dawn looks around the small cave, trying to find something to sit on and maybe a trash can…she really does feel sick. "While you're being so sweet and all, how bouts a chair and a trash can?"
"Or you can just watch me puke all over the floor." Dawn touches her belly. "Your choice."
With another sigh, Stryker conjures a soft chair and a bucket.
Dawn doesn't make it to the chair, she barely makes it to the bucket before she hurls. This whole God-power thing so isn't agreeing with her.
"You're out of your realm, Artemis." Hades grumbles loudly, his long frame sprawled out on his throne, head tipped back and eyes closed. The throne next to him is empty, only a small, white fan sitting on the arm. "Go home."
"We need your help." Artemis approaches her uncle hesitantly. With three months still to go before Persephone can come back to the underworld, he's not a fun god to be around.
"No." Hades grunts, no so much as sparing them a look.
"There's somebody here that shouldn't be here." Katra says. "We need your help in getting her back."
"No." Hades growls this time though he doesn't move from his sprawled out state. "Go the fuck away."
Artemis sighs. "It's Auyn."
Hades is across the room in the space of two heartbeats. "Auyn is dead. You know better than to even mention her name." A visual of the blonde girl flashes through his eyes, his brother's created child being the only other being beside Seph that he loves unconditionally.
"The Fates brought her back as a human girl." Artemis says. "Zeus combined her life-force to mine. She is here, somewhere, but I can't distinguish where exactly. So, either you help us find her or we go back to Acheron and Savitar and tell them you won't. Then they will find her on their own."
Hades tilts his head to the side, a severe frown covering his mouth. "You're not lying."
"No." Artemis agrees.
"I'll find her." Hades waves a hand at them. "Go." Like that, they're both gone and he closes his eyes, letting him senses drift out to cover every inch of the underworld. Nothing is out of place there so that leaves only one place that she could be without him realizing. He flashes himself onto the other side of river Styx where souls are waiting to cross over. Waving his hand, he freezes everything and searches again. "Sonofabitch, I'm going to kill that damn demon."
"Apollo is an asshole." Dawn agrees. "He so tried to force himself on me back in the day….god, I thought daddy was going to kill him."
"Daddy would be Zeus or Savitar?" Stryker asks, sprawled out on a chair across from the former-human girl who is gesturing wildly as she talks.
"Daddy is Savitar and Zeus is papa." Dawn replies. "I never told Ash completely what happened. I always figured he'd try to kill Apollo. They don’t get along."
"Yes, well, father is an asshole." Stryker says. "It's understandable why anyone would want to kill him."
"Do you?" Dawn asks curiously.
"Most of the time." Stryker replies. "What about you? Did you ever want to kill your fathers?"
"No, of course not." Dawn shakes her head, curling one leg under her body. "They spoiled me rotten and adored me. How I wasn’t a total bitch back then I don’t know. I was allowed to do whatever I wanted and got whatever I wanted. The only time they ever told me no was Ash and even then they gave in. They both loved me and I knew it. Still know it even if papa is a big ole poophead. I don't hate him though."
Stryker laughs. "Poophead?"
"Yep, he's a poophead." Dawn grins back.
A loud cough has them both looking towards a now open doorway.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything." Hades arches a brow.
"Uncle Hay-hay." Dawn squeals loudly, jumping off the chair and running at him.
Hades opens his arms to catch the girl and the second he touches her, he knows. He can feel her soul. She looks so different but her soul is the same. Hugging her tightly against his chest, he buries his face in her hair. "Auyn."
Dawn pulls back to see despair written across her uncle's handsome features. "Is papa still being a poophead bout Aunt Sephie?"
Hades laughs. "Poophead?"
"Yep, he's a poophead." Dawn nods.
"Zeus is as Zeus ever was." Hades tucks a bit of brown hair behind her ear, frowning at the bruise on her face. "What happened?"
"Got hit by a magical bolt, fell into some portal type thing, and I think I hit my head either as I was falling or after I fell through, not to sure." Dawn shrugs.
Hades sets her aside and starts to advance on Apollo's bastard. "You do not belong here."
"I know." Stryker agrees.
"Uncle Hay-hay, don't." Dawn grabs his arm. "We called a truce and you can't break it."
Hades turns his head to look at her. "You called a what?"
"A truce." Dawn says. "See, Stryker here promised not to rip me limb from limb and send pieces of me back to Ash if I promised to keep whoever rescued me from doing the same to him."
"I didn't promise anything." Hades growls.
Dawn places a hand on his chest, looking up at him with a pout. "Please uncle Hay-hay, my head hurts and I don’t feel so good. Just take me back to Ash and the next time you see Stryker, you can do whatever you want to him."
"Hey!" Stryker grumbles.
"Truce only lasts while we're here." Dawn shoots him a grin. "Once we step out of this room, we go back to you trying to kill me to get to Ash and me mocking you as you do it."
"You haven't mocked me." Stryker frowns.
"Yet." Dawn says. "But believe me, there will be mocking. Perhaps even pointing and laughing. I haven't decided yet."
"You are the strangest human." Stryker shakes his head. "I'm starting to wonder if killing you might be doing Acheron a favor. You're bound to drive any sane person mad."
"Ex-nay on the elkillay." Dawn whispers.
Stryker laughs. "See you around, Dawn." Then, before Hades can do something, he pulls a ruler out of his pocket and with a pop, he's gone.
"Amy so stole that from Harry Potter." Dawn shakes her head. "Evil just doesn't know what lines not to cross."
Hades frowns. "Auyn, what the fuck is going on?"
"Okay, let me get this straight." Buffy gestures wildly. "You're super old and a god of some type. Dawn was alive before, way back before the day and you two were married and had that really tall, gorgeous woman. Then Dawn died and Zeus and him erased your memories so you didn't destroy the world."
Ash nods. "That is mostly correct."
"So the fates brought Dawn back to life and sent her to me so I could protect her until she was old enough to get groin-y with you again." Buffy continues. "And now my little sister is married, with two kids, and is bound to the goddess Arkenmis?"
"Artemis." Ash corrects.
"Yeah, whatever." Buffy waves that off. "And now you're telling me that my little sister, who I died for, is in hell?"
"The underworld is not hell." Ash says. "It is the place where souls go once they die before they are judged upon."
"But it's still hell-likish?" Buffy asks. "And Dawnie is down there with whoever kidnapped her? What if they don't want to give her back? I mean, we walked down into the hellmouth but I'm thinking this is on a whole different level. I'm pretty sure it's not going to be as easy as dripping some blood over some symbol of a goat to get into the underworld."
"I wonder if I can get there astrally." Willow ponders out loud. "I mean, I can't do a whole bunch physically….unless I possess somebody…."
"There is no reason to attempt to enter the underworld." Savitar interrupts. "Artemis will bring her back."
"I don't know, she seemed kinda bitchy to me." Buffy comments. "Doesn't seem like the rescuer type."
"She's not." Ash agrees. "But she's also not stupid. We can't kill her but there are things that can be done to her that would make her wish we would."
"Well, that's reassuring." Willow mutters.
Buffy tilts her head back to look at Dawn's 'dad'. He doesn't look all that friendly, in fact hasn't said more than a few words in the twenty some odd minutes that they've been there. She doesn't like this bar, there are way too many supernatural beings around and that's after half the people left. The kids and their parents went home, all of them with Willow's cell phone in case something went wrong. The couple that own the bar gave them a room in the back to wait in and then left them there so they could go open. Buffy can hear the music blaring, can feel so many supernatural things that her skin is crawling. And she can tell by the way both Angel and Spike are standing that it's the same with them. Willow, on the other hand, looks more intrigued than anything else. "So, were you a good dad at least?"
"Hank, my father, sucks in the parenting department." Buffy explains. "The last time we saw him was my freshman year of college which was when Dawn was twelve. And even then we only saw him for about an hour before he had to go. It sucked for me but for Dawn….her biggest male influence has been Spike and he was evil most of that time."
"Hey!" Spike growls. "I love bit."
"Yes, I know that Spike but come on, Dawn spent most of her youth with you, that's not good for any kid." Buffy looks over her shoulder at him. "When her friends were playing sports and doing little girl things, she was hanging out in a crypt listening to you tell tales of your slaughtering days."
"I PG'd those stories." Spike defends.
Buffy just looks at him.
"A'right, they were still R mostly." Spike smirks. "Platelet loved 'em."
Angel smacks Spike on the back of the head. "I can't believe you told Dawn that crap. No wonder she has no sense of self-preservation. You glamorized everything."
"Bite me peaches." Spike growls. "I've been protecting bit since she was a kid. Got myself nice and tortured because of it."
"We know that, baby." Willow pats him on the belly. "It's just….you were kinda with the corrupting back when you were evil and Buffy's just trying to find out if Dawn's other dads actually cared about her and spent time with her or if they ignored her."
Before Savitar can say anything, Artemis and Katra appear before them.
"Where is she?" Ash demands. "Artemis, I swear if you do not…"
Katra clamps her hand over Ash's mouth. "Hades is going to find her and bring her back. Don't go making promises that you have to keep."
"He sent us back." Artemis crosses her arms over her chest. "If that's all, I'll be going."
"Thank you." Katra says quietly.
Artemis nods and then she's gone.
"Hades is going to find Dawn?" Buffy screeches. "The devil is going to find my sister is nobody is freaking out about that."
"Hades isn't the devil." Katra says. "He is just the keeper of the dead."
"One of them that is." A male voice says from the doorway.
Willow turns and pales.
"Osiris." Ash nods. "Haven't seen you in a while."
"Ash, my man, how've you been?" Osiris strides into the room, the dark-haired god wearing cut-off cargo pants, an AC/DC t-shirt, and Adios Samba tennis shoes.
"Good." Ash looks between the Egyptian God and the redheaded witch. "There going to be a problem?"
Osiris holds up his hands in a placating manner. "Just felt her and wanted to see what she's up to. Girl's got a problem knowing when not to step in."
"Heard about that." Ash smirks. "Got bested by a human…that should have been news but somehow, I never heard about it."
"I'm just waiting for her to piss off one of the Greeks." Osiris laughs. "Them bastards won't be able to handle that."
"But you don't care?" Ash arches a brow.
"Of course it bothers me that some little human best me." Osiris eyes Buffy. "I don't like losing warriors but loopholes are there for a reason."
Buffy tenses, shifting her weight from foot to foot.
"Don't sweat it, slayer, you'll be back one day." Osiris grins at her. "Till then, relax."
Willow opens her mouth but can't say anything.
"Don't, witch." Osiris waves her off. "We all have jobs to do. Personally, the world needed her. Had it not, you wouldn't of gotten her back." Then he looks back at Ash. "Playing a game of Hold-Em with Cupid and a couple furies upstairs. You in?"
"Not tonight." Ash shakes his head.
"Man, that bites." Osiris complains. "I love it when you play; everyone's so damn scared that they don't notice when I cheat."
Ash shakes his head.
Osiris tilts his head and then cusses, loudly. "Fuckin' hell, I hate that cocky bastard." Without further explanation, he's gone.
Ash sighs with relief; there's only one being that can get the normally chatty God to leave that fast: Hades. And sure enough, as he thinks it, the Greek god flashes into the room, Dawn at his side.
Buffy pinches her arm, starting to wonder if maybe she's sleeping. Because if not, then there really are Gods popping in and out of the room like it's nothing. A look at Willow shows that her best friend is just as thrown. Angel and Spike are both tense, the vampires standing slightly in front of her and Willow as if to protect them. Phoebe and Vi are both beside them, Vi's very silent (and hot) boyfriend lounging on a chair with Vi standing between his legs. Phoebe and the tall, absolutely gorgeous man that won't leave her side are standing to Angel's right. She doesn't like meeting the god who Willow bartered with to bring her back, doesn’t like thinking about it.
Plus, when she pictured the Greek gods, back when she took the college courses, they were nothing like what she's been seeing. Osiris is dressed like Xander and doesn't seem at all 'God-like'. Then he flashes into the room. Tall, dark-haired and devastatingly gorgeous, dressed in leather armor and wearing a large scowl, looking like every girl's dream man, with her little sister is at his side, his arm around her.
Ash grabs Dawn out of Hades's arms and pulls her against his chest. "Are you okay?"
"Fine and dandy." Dawn rubs her face against his chest, arms wrapping around his waist. "Actually, as far as kidnappings go, it was the best one."
Ash tenses, a growl rumbling up his chest.
"I'm fine, Ash." Dawn presses a kiss against his chin and the wiggles out of his arms to throw herself into Hades's arms again. "Thank you, Uncle Hay-hay."
"Welcome, Auyn." Hades kisses the top of her head. "Come back and see me. I've missed you."
"Gonna let me drive the boat again?" Dawn looks up at him with a grin.
Hades grimaces. "Not a chance in me."
"Dork." Dawn punches his arm. "I'll come down and see you in a couple days, get Aunt Sephie to bring me."
Hades's face softens. "I truly have missed you."
"Missed you too." Dawn lifts up to kiss his cheek. "Love you."
"Love you too, baby." Hades kisses her forehead and then looks at Savitar. "We need to talk."
"Don't go getting him all riled up." Dawn scolds. "They're both so anal I'm not going to be able to go to the bathroom without an escort."
"If you didn't make truces with beings that kidnapped you, maybe they wouldn't be." Hades frowns down at her.
"Who?" Ash growls out, his body literally sparking with fury.
"Stryker." Hades sneers at the Atlantean.
Dawn scrambles over to Ash, rubbing his belly and presses a kiss to his pec. She knows his eyes are red even though she can't see them and he's seconds away from losing it and scaring the hell out of everyone. "Hey, I'm fine."
Ash lifts Dawn up and flashes them home.
"Hey!" Buffy protests. "Where'd he take her?"
"We need to talk." Hades says to Savitar again, ignoring the human. "She's not dying again." Without waiting for a response, he flashes out of the room.
"Where did my sister go?" Buffy demands, stomping her foot to emphasis her point.
"My guess, home." Urian looks down at Phoebe. "Convincing himself that she's real."
"That's it." Angel growls loudly. "Stop looking at her like that."
Urian just arches a brow. "You're out your league, boy."
Angel vamps out and takes a step towards him.
Phoebe pushes between the two most important men in her life. "Dad, Uri, stop it, now."
"I'm not going to stand by and let him look at you like that." Angel growls.
"Don't growl at her." Urian growls.
"Stop it!" Phoebe shouts, pushing both of them hard, so hard that they both stumble back. She turns her head to her husband. "Things have changed, Uri, and you're going to have to deal with the fact that you are not the only man in my life. He's my father, deal with it." Then she whips her head around to look at Angel. "Dad, there are things that you don't know and Urian is one of them. And he's allowed to look at me however he wants to."
"Says who?" Angel crosses his arms over his chest.
"Says the fact that he's my husband." Phoebe glares up at him.
Angel's face fades back into his human façade. "Husband?"