Title: Chapter 9
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.
A/N: I know, there are going to be so many questions but patience is all I ask, I assure you everything will be explained in time
Ash holds Simi closer, rubbing his hand up and down her back while she cries. "Thanks, Tabby." He hangs up the phone and puts it into the front pocket of his backpack.
"Ash, what's going…." Kyrian starts.
"Not now." Ash interrupts, gathering Simi up into his arms.
Kyrian tries to speak again but just like that, Ash is gone.
"I always thought it'd be interesting to see Ash fall in love but…" Amanda shakes her head. "This is going to get messy."
Kyrian nods his agreement. "Yes, it is."
Alexion jumps to his feet when he feels Ash return home, his boss's powerful presence always alerting those on Katoteros of his return. Danger is sitting behind him on the couch, Xirena's head on her lap while his demon occasionally whimpers. Xirena has been like this for over a day, since the second she felt Simi gone. She flutters between sobbing, screaming, and then this, this chilly silence. Then he sees Ash and is unprepared for the sight. Simi is cuddled against his chest, her small frame shaking with her sobs. He can hear Ash soothing her in Atlantean but it doesn't seem to make a difference to Simi's distress. Then he hears her words.
"Simi wannntt her akra, akri." Simi sobs. "Want her akra now."
"I know." Ash soothes, rocking her gently.
Alexion raises an eyebrow, his mouth dropped open in shock. Something is very wrong with Simi, something happened to Simi and he can tell by the look on Ash's face, it was bad. Very bad.
Ash sings quietly to Simi but it feels empty without Dawn's voice joining his. Her sobs fade to quiet whimpers and after a few minutes, her loud snores fill the room. "Xirena, come lay down with her."
The other demon moves to her feet, a sneer covering her lips, but she doesn't argue. Instead she follows him into his room where he lies Simi on his bed and then picks Xirena herself up, placing her on his bed next to her sister. Xirena cuddles herself around Simi, her head lying down next to Simi.
Ash stands above them, watching as Xirena joins Simi in sleep. Then he covers them both up and walks back into the room where Alexion and Danger are waiting.
"Ash, what is going on?" Alexion questions the second Ash steps into the room. "What happened to Simi? How did you find her? Who is akra?"
Ash drops down in a chair, rests his elbows on his knees, and cups his face in his hands.
Alexion drops down beside Danger in shock. In the nine-thousand plus years he's know Ash, he's never seen him like this; helpless. And that's exactly how Ash looks, unable to do anything about whatever happened.
"No one is to know." Savitar says.
Zeus nods his agreement. "Where is she?"
"Where do you think she is?" Savitar asks. "Where do you honestly think she would be?"
Zeus's big form tenses. "She is with the Atlantean."
"She is." Savitar agrees.
"I do not want her there." Zeus says.
"And like your daughter, you don't understand that you don't have a choice in that matter." Savitar replies. "Even after eleven-thousand years, they are still bound and they always will be. Not time nor removing those memories will change anything."
"We did what was necessary." Zeus defends. "Had the Atlantean known what truly passed, and who was responsible for it happening…"
"Then not even the gods themselves would have been safe." Savitar finishes. "I agreed with the thought but when he finds out, you very well might have a war on your hands."
"That's a moot point since he will never find out." Zeus stands up to pace his room, unwilling to admit that the Atlantean scares even him. And he does. Because unlike him, the Atlantean doesn't know the extent of his own powers, no being knows the extent of the Atlantean's powers.
"I wouldn't put money on that." Savitar comments. "You did not see them together; their bond has not faded. The more time they spend together, the more intertwined they will become and the more damaging it will be when they are separated."
"What are you talking about?" Zeus arches an eyebrow, the Greek God looking confused.
Savitar shakes his head. For all his power and years, Zeus is sometimes very uniformed when it comes to the world he oversees. "The pledge they made to each other, the vows and exchange they performed bound them to each other completely. Being near each other awakened that bond once more. Nothing short of death will close it again."
"How is that damaging?" Zeus runs a hand through his hair, hating that he's clueless when it comes to what is happening.
"She will…her body is human and subject to human weaknesses." Savitar explains. "Their bond will effect her emotions, making her weaker and depressed when they are separated for lengths of time."
"His emotions will be harder to control." Savitar replies. "And as a result, so will his powers."
"What do we do?" Zeus forces himself to ask, every inch of him hating to have to do so.
"You do what you do best, watch." Savitar says. "And I'll do what I was made to do; protect the key."
Dawn checks her voicemail the second she walks out of her math test, hoping that Harmony found her something. And her hopes are fulfilled when Harmony's ditzy voice gives her an address and an appointment time about twenty minutes from now. The vampire…she doesn't trust her at all, always watches her back when they're alone, but does find Harmony to be amusing. And despite Harmony's stupidity, she really is a great assistant. She puts her cell back in her bag and turns the corner only to hit another hard wall/chest. A familiar wall/chest. "What are you doing here?"
Valerius curls his lip as he looks down at the teenager. "My wife requested my presence here as she was unable to get away from her store."
"Okay." Dawn wrinkles her brow. "Why would your wife….Ash called you guys, didn't he?"
"Yes." Valerius agrees.
Dawn rolls her eyes. While she finds the gesture to be overbearing and completely not something he should have done, it's cute. If it were her sister, Angel, or Spike she would have had a fit but Ash is just too cute with his concern. "So, what, you're going to follow me all day?"
"Until you go back to Kyrian and Amanda's house." Valerius replies.
"Okay." Dawn agrees with a semi-evil smile. "Ash wants you to be my shadow, you'll be my shadow. You have a car, right?"
"Yes." Valerius nods.
"Well, then, Valerie, let's get mobile." Dawn says. "And I hope you take vitamins cuz you're about to go shopping with a Summers girl."
"Do not call me Valerie." Valerius growls.
Dawn smiles, not the least bit fazed by his animalistic growling. "Whatever you say, Val-y."
Valerius curls his lip and follows the teenager, cursing the fact that he is unable to tell his wife no.
Alexion opens his mouth but words are unable to come out. He's known Simi as long as he's known Ash, in fact, the demon considers him a second father. He can't wrap his mind around what happened to her. And he can't imagine what Ash is going through right now. Simi is the most important thing in the world to Ash and for something to have happened to her that Ash couldn't prevent, it's unthinkable. And to Ash, probably unbearable.
And then there's Simi's new akra. Alexion can't wait to meet this human, can't wait to see the girl Simi considers her 'mother'. Xirena is going to be highly upset at that, his demon still can't accept Simi seeing Ash as her father, and for Simi to see this teenager as her mother….it's going to cause some problems.
There's something else. He's not sure what it is but Ash is hiding something, something to do with Dawn. "Dawn, where is…"
"She's at school." Ash interrupts. "Tabitha is going to meet here there."
"You're having her followed." Danger says. "That's probably going to piss her off."
"I know." Ash agrees. "But school was the only place I knew she would be and since nobody can track her, it is the only way to insure that she doesn't run."
Alexion raises an eyebrow. "Why would she run?"
Ash's face becomes a mask of nothing. "No reason in particular." He moves easily to his feet. "I'll be in my throne room if Simi needs me."
Danger watches her….he was her boss and now she's not completely sure what he is, walk away. Something is different about the Dark-Hunter and she's fairly sure it's not completely about Simi. She's almost positive it has something to do with Dawn.
Ash absently stokes his pets when they nudge his knees. His eyes close and he brings back the memory of what happened. The memory of Dawn's taste, the beauty of her pleasure washing over him as if it were happening right now. There's so many other things he should be doing right now, so many obligations he has, but for the first time, he doesn't care. For the first time, he's going to be selfish and do something he wants.
He can remember her scent vividly, her taste as if it were touching his mouth right now, the feeling of her against his skin, the sound of her breathless moans filling his ears. The tightness of her body as he thrusts deep inside…..
His eyes fly open, his chest laboring through the arousal brought on by his remembrance. He's never been inside her, not like he wants to be, but he remembers doing so. He remembers the feel of her warm, wet body clenching his cock as she orgasms. The high, pleasure-filled cry that escapes her mouth as she comes. These are clear, pristine memories that can't be real. It's impossible. He would never forget her. He couldn't.
"What do you think he would do to you if he knew?"
Artemis spins around from the oracle glass she's looking at with a gasp. "What are you doing here? You're not allowed here." Her handmaids look up at her in fear, unsure what to do, the young women waiting for directions. "Leave."
Savitar snaps his fingers and the handmaids are gone in an instant.
"Are you insane?" Artemis gasps. "Do you have any idea what my father would do to you if he knew…."
"Zeus knows I'm here." Savitar rolls his eyes. "You are a goddess, Artemis, act like one. Your father knows when anyone ventures into your rooms, even Ash."
Artemis shakes her head in denial.
"Yes, he knows." Savitar walks over to peer into the glass that held her attention though he knows what he's going to find. And sure enough, it's Ash, sitting on his throne in his home, his pets by his knees and his eyes closed. "He always knows."
"No, he wouldn't allow it." Artemis whispers. "Not after…"
"What better punishment for you then this?" Savitar interrupts. "To touch him, taste him, to feel him inside you but know he hates it. To know, to feel his hatred for you every time he's here. Zeus knows this. To have him be so deep inside you but never touch him. He only comes here because he has to. That is the greatest punishment Zeus could ever come up with."
Artemis reaches out a hand to smack him but her wrist is grabbed before it touches his face.
"Don't mistake me for Acheron." Savitar growls, his hand squeezing around her wrist tight enough that she'll bruise. "Unlike him, I will strike back."
"You wouldn't dare." Artemis growls.
Savitar roughly tosses her onto her bed. "You don't know me, little girl, don't presume to know what I will or will not do."
"Your father can barely stand your presence." Savitar interrupts. "And you know it. It is why you try so hard to steer clear of him."
Artemis crosses her arms over her chest and glares up at him. "What do you want?"
"Just curious if you ever think about what he would do to you if he knew." Savitar says. "If he really knew what you stole from him."
"I didn't do it on purpose."
"No, but your intentions stole the things from him that he cherished the most." Savitar reminds her. "Your intentions killed the last part of him that was still human and he doesn't even remember."
"And he never will." Artemis reminds him. "My father made sure of that."
"Your father was protecting himself and Mount Olympus." Savitar argues. "It had nothing to do with you."
"You weren't there when he found out you were responsible." Savitar interrupts with a shout. "He wanted you dead and if it were not for Hera, you would be."
Artemis's face pales. "No, he wouldn't have really killed me. I am his child."
"That didn't seem to faze him in the least." Savitar replies.
"You're lying." Artemis cries. "Hera wouldn't plead for my life."
"You forget, Hera hated her as much as you did, if not more. Zeus treasured her above everything and Hera would rather save you then see Zeus kill you for her. Hera contacted your mother and together they pleaded with Zeus to spare you." Savitar says. "He did so reluctantly and against my advise."
"I hate you." Artemis clenches her fists to keep from crying. Or hitting him.
"The feeling is very mutual, believe me." Savitar growls. "Because of your petty jealousy and inability to let Acheron alone, I lost the most important thing I've ever had. The only child I will ever have. And if Ash were to know what you caused, I'm fairly sure not even your father could stop him from killing you. And if that happens, I will watch it with a smile and I know I won't be the only one."
"It's never going to happen so your threats are pointless." Artemis feels a stab of fear at his words. It can't happen. Her father removed what she did, changed what happened in Ash's mind and while Ash still believes she betrayed him, it's for a different reason.
Savitar nods. "A warning: the human is off limits. She has nothing to do with you."
"She is immersed in my world." Artemis argues. "Her knowledge puts us all in danger."
"I am warning you once." Savitar says. "If you lay a hand on her, touch her in any way, I will kill you." He turns to leave but stops at the doorway. "And not even the king of gods himself will stop me."
A loud, emotion filled pure scream of rage echoes through Artemis's rooms. The goddess screams and hurls things about her room. The human girl will be gone so help her but now she can't do it herself. She doesn't doubt Savitar's words; he will fulfill his threat if she so much as touches a hair on the human's head. But like anything else, there is a way around that.
Ash half listens to Sin bitch about Artemis, his cell phone held between his ear and shoulder. But mostly he listens to Xirena and Simi play with baby James and Adrian. Amanda and Grace flutter about him, the two women attending to the five children playing in the family room. "Sin, I'm not in the mood to hear about it. I know you hate Artemis. Artemis knows you hate her. Everyone knows you hate her. But there is nothing you can do about it." Then he hangs up the phone and tosses it onto the couch.
Simi takes the block out of James's mouth. "No, baby James. That is not food."
Ash smiles softly; that is Dawn's influence.
"Akri, when will my akra get back?" Simi asks, her bottom lip trembling slightly.
Ash sighs heavily. Today has been bad. Simi, after she woke up, cried again for Dawn. She calmed down after thirty minutes or so and hasn't left his side since, not for a second. And she constantly asks for Dawn. He didn't want to bring Xirena with them but Simi's sister threw a demon size fit when they tried to leave and demanded that Simi stay. Simi, in turn, threw a fit saying she wanted 'her akra'. In the end, it just seemed easier to bring both demons with him. Xirena doesn't trust him though and will only listen to him because her akri, Alexion, ordered her to.
He knows it was shocking to Amanda, Kyrian, Julian and Grace when he showed up with the two demons, almost no one knows of Xirena's existence, but they took it in stride, Amanda doubling the food she was making for the two demons. It's fascinating to watch Xirena around the children, seeing how she's never been around human children. Simi, to his amusement, it teaching her sister all about human children.
It's four-thirty now and they should be back. But they're not. "She'll be back soon, Simi."
"She is not your mother." Xirena says to Simi for the hundredth time. "You have a mother."
"Duh." Simi rolls her eyes. "My akra says there is no limit to how many people you can love. And blood doesn't make family; love makes family. The Simi loves her akra and her akra love her. And that's all that matter. Besides, my mother would want me to be happy and my akri and akra make me happy."
"That's very pretty, Simi." Grace comments.
Simi smiles widely, her fangs flashing.
Ash wonders what else Dawn has told and taught Simi, curious as to what kind of effect Dawn's had on Simi.
The doorbell rings and Simi jumps to her feet with an excited squeal.
"No, Simi, it's not her." Ash shakes his head. "It's somebody else."
Simi plops down on the ground with a pout. "My akra is too slow, akri."
"I noticed." Ash agrees, grabbing a plastic car before Xirena can eat it. "It will make your belly hurt."
Xirena glares at him.
Kyrian shakes his head as he passes the group to go to the front door. He opens it, arching an eyebrow at who he finds. "Wolf. Bride."
"Greek." Vane nods.
"Kyrian." Bride smiles.
Kyrian gestures them in, cocking his head at what Vane is carrying. "I think we need some new curtains if you're in a creative mood."
Vane growls at him.
Bride laughs and deposits Bryan on the floor with the other children. "It's mine, Kyrian."
"I figured that." Kyrian agrees. "I just don't understand why you brought a sewing machine."
"I don't know why I did either." Bride shrugs. "Valerius called and asked if I would met him here with it."
"He didn't say why?" Ash questions.
Bride shakes her head.
The front door opens, Simi jumps to her feet excitedly, and then drops down with another pout when she sees who's walking through. "Just Tabby."
"Just Tabby?" Tabitha feigns hurt. "Why Simi, I'm hurt."
"Sorry, Tabby." Simi apologizes. "Just thought you was my akra. The Simi want her akra."
"They're not here yet?" Tabitha sets Christopher on the floor with the rest of the children. "Hey, Ash."
"I thought you were going to be with Dawn, Tabitha." Ash says, a slight growl coating his voice.
"I was but I forgot the Health Inspector was coming by the shop today." Tabitha sits down on the couch with a sigh. "Valerius went instead. Have they called?"
"You let Dawn go with him?" Kyrian looks at his sister-in-law as though she's insane. "Now she's definitely going to run."
Simi's eyes instantly flood with tears. "Akri…"
"He was just joking, Simi." Ash sends Kyrian a glare. "Dawn isn't going to run." He hopes. He hates this, being powerless when it comes to her. If it were anyone else, he could find them in an instant but not Dawn. It's infuriating.
Tabitha grabs her purse and pulls out her cell phone.
"Don't." Ash stops her, standing up in one fluid moment. "He's here."
Simi jumps to her feet once again and follows Kyrian to the door.
Kyrian opens the door and is greeted with the sight of Valerius and Dawn both carrying bags. They're talking rapidly, switching between four different languages. It's almost like they're trying to talk over each other, barely waiting for the other to finish before responding. They both walk through the door he's holding open though they don't stop talking.
Tabitha frowns at the sight of her husband talking to heatedly with Dawn and then jumps when Dawn squeals, loudly.
"I so just kicked your butt." Dawn grins, sticking her tongue out at Valerius. "Hey, baby-girl."
"Akra!" Simi throws her arms around Dawn. "I miss you."
"I missed you too, Sims." Dawn drops her bags onto the ground and then holds her hand out to Valerius. "Pay up, buddy."
Valerius sets the bags he's holding on the floor and pulls out his wallet. He counts off three hundred dollars and hands them to the teenager.
"Thank you." Dawn smiles sweetly.
"You were gambling?" Tabitha questions her husband, moving up to his side.
Valerius kisses softly. "Yes."
"How?" Tabitha doesn't want to be jealous but it's a little hard not to when her normally quiet husband was acting not so quietly with Dawn.
"It's a word game." Dawn explains. "Me and Giles used to play all the time. It's how I learned to speak Turkish and Latin. See, I say something in Italian, for example, and then Valerius would say it in Latin and then say something else in Latin which I would say in another language. Whoever messes up, loses."
"You messed up?" Kyrian laughs.
"She's very good at it." Valerius defends.
"I've had a lot of experience at it." Dawn adds, walking over to the couch, Simi attached to her side. And then she wishes she had a camera cuz Ash looks so freaking cute with all those kids surrounding him. And then she sees Simi's sister. The other Charonte demon looks almost exactly like Simi but there are a few notable differences. Simi looks less 'demon-y', which makes sense seeing how Xirena lived as a demon for over nine thousand years while Simi embraced human customs, such as dressing and acting like one. "You must be Xirena."
"You know about me?" Xirena arches an eyebrow.
"Of course I know about you." Dawn smiles at her. "Simi talks about you all the time."
Xirena doesn't say anything, she just stares.
Dawn hugs Simi close and kisses her horns. She can't believe how much she missed Simi today. How many times she started to say something to Simi only to realize she wasn't there. This is the longest amount of time they've been separated in over a year (discounting that one week) and it was bad. A glance at Ash tells her it was bad on this side too.
"My akra can't leave again." Simi orders. "Simi no like it."
"I didn’t like it either Sims but I have to go to school." Dawn replies.
"Why?" Simi asks.
"Because I have to go to school so I can graduate and then get a good job." Dawn replies.
"Why?" Simi asks again.
"So I can support myself and stop mooching off Angel." Dawn combs her hand through Simi's hair. "Cuz as much as he loves me, I doubt he's going to want to support me for the rest of my life."
"My akri support you, right akri?" Simi says. "Then you can stay with me and not go to school."
"And be a big ole gold-digger, no thanks." Dawn taps Simi's nose. "You, young lady, will just have to deal with me going to school."
Simi crosses her arms over her chest with a pout.
Dawn laughs and hugs Simi again. "You're just too cute for words, Sims. And pouting isn't going to work, not on me at least. You can try it on Ash though, he's male and therefore not immune to the pout."
"What did you two do?" Tabitha asks.
"First I got my hair and nails done." Dawn replies. "Then we went to the mall."
"Tabitha, I want to apologize for ever complaining about shopping with you." Valerius says sincerely.
"Oh, come on, it wasn't that bad." Dawn rolls her eyes. "You just better be glad I didn't need shoes."
Valerius glares at her.
Dawn laughs. "Tabitha, your husband is great. He reminds me of Angel; so many buttons to push but he's too refined to yell at me for doing it. It's great."
"I'm rather fond of him." Tabitha agrees, relaxing a little. "Angel is…"
"My surrogate uncle." Dawn provides. "He's great to annoy. He just broods."
"I'm sure you're very good at annoying him." Valerius comments.
Dawn touches her heart dramatically. "You wound me with your words."
Valerius shakes his head.
Ash cocks his head, trying to figure out why his stomach is clenching. Then he suddenly realizes why; jealousy. He's jealous that she spent the afternoon with the Roman soldier. That they bonded. And even though Dawn sees him as another version of her 'uncle' he's still jealous. It's annoying.
"Why did you ask Bride to come here?" Tabitha, once she realizes Dawn sees her husband as an 'uncle' figure, relaxes. She's not such a jealous person that she's going to throw a fit about her husband befriending Dawn; he doesn't have that many friends to begin with and if he enjoys the teenager's company, she's not going to protest.
"For me." Dawn raises her hand. "Are you going to go all growly at me again….I forgot your name."
"Vane." Vane provides. "And no."
"Good." Dawn smiles at him. "Bride, Valerius said you're a seamstress and I need to get my bride maid's dress altered by seven tomorrow morning. And I know, it's so short late notice and I'd be extremely grateful if you could do it and I can pay…"
"Dawn, it's okay." Bride cuts her off with a smile. "I can most likely do it but I need to see the dress, on you with whatever shoes you'll be wearing."
"Oh, no shoes." Dawn says. "The wedding is on the beach so no shoes."
"Okay." Bride replies. "Then just the dress."
"It's upstairs." Dawn jumps to her feet. "I'll be right back." Then she runs up the stairs, Simi hot on her heels. Xirena watches them for a moment and then runs after them.
"Did you have fun?" Tabitha asks her husband.
"Yes, actually." Valerius slips an arm around her and rests a hand on her bulge. "Dawn is very interesting and very smart, once you get around her inability to speak English correctly that is."
"What'd you guys buy?" Julian asks curiously.
"Dawn bought a wedding present, something for her sister, a man named Giles, and then picked up something for Angel's birthday." Valerius replies. "And she bought clothes."
A stampede of feet comes down the stairs, Simi and Xirena leading with Dawn right behind them. The room quiets as they enter except for the happy chatter of children.
"That's your bride maid's dress?" Bride asks after a moment.
"Yeah, why?" Dawn looks down at herself.
"It's leather." Ash states. "I've been to quite a few weddings lately and I don't remember any of them having leather dresses."
"You've never met Faith." Dawn smoothes the blood red leather. The dress is more of a 'clubbing' dress than a wedding one, the skirt ending mid-thigh. It's a simple cut, strapless that is supposed to hug her body but due to the weight she lost in the other dimension, it hangs a little. "Okay, when I tried this on at home, it was tighter than crap, like painted on tight so it needs to be that tight again."
"I can't believe you're going to this extreme to lie to deceive your sister." Julian comments.
Dawn stands still, her arms held out while Bride adjusts the back of the dress, pins in the taller woman's hand. "I'm not…okay I am but…Buffy is super, super protective, like if she could get away with keeping me in a bubble and safe, she probably would. She's lightened up a little over the years but it's still bad. Seriously, she finds about my little trip to another dimension, she will force me to stay in L.A., even if she has to chain me up in the basement to do so."
"No, my akra stay here with me." Simi crosses her arms over her chest.
"Sweetie, we have to have a little talk later, okay." Dawn smiles reassuringly at Simi even though she knows the little demon is going to flip, totally flip when she finds out she's leaving in the morning. And that she can't come with her.
"I'm almost done, Dawn." Bride says, sliding a few more pins in. "This actually won't take very long; this dress is very simply made."
"That's Faith." Dawn says. "She actually wanted us to all wear leather pants, including her, but Buffy and Wills talked her out of it. And then Faith and Wills talked Buffy out of pink leather and into red which is good because pink leather just doesn't seem right."
Bride smiles and sticks the last pin in. "Okay, you just need to take it off without removing any of the pins."
Dawn starts upstairs, the demons on her heels, followed by Ash. She pauses at the top to look at him. "Um, what are you doing?"
"Coming with you." Ash replies. "If you're having a talk with Simi, I want to be there."
"Not right now, later." Dawn says.
"Why wait?" Ash asks.
Dawn casts a look at him. "Um, I have to go get ready right now and I have to leave for a little bit."
Ash arches an eyebrow. "Where?"
Dawn turns her gaze from him and lowers her voice to a whisper. "I might, sort of have a date." Then she runs down the hall as fast as she can with the pins sticking in her dress.
Ash stops for a second and then takes the last four stairs in one step. "WHAT?"