DISCLAIMER: Any characters you recognise aren't mine, they are the property of JK Rowling, Joss Whedon, Bloomsbury, Scholastic, Mutant Enemy, UPN, and Warner Bros.
DEDICATION: To everyone who has sent me feedback on this mini project and the usual Motley Crue, Karen, Caryl, Mel and Jess.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the third in "A Series of Firsts" the series that sprang to mind when I suddenly got really busy at work.
"You didn't even kiss?" Kerry stared at Dawn across the desk, amazed. Dawn had been almost pathetically giddy all morning, and they hadn't even swapped spit.
"No," Dawn shrugged, it didn't seem like such a big thing. She had had such a good, relaxing evening, after they had both managed to overcome their 'first date' nerves, the kiss wasn't important.
"Wow, this guy must be something else. So what did you do if you didn't kiss? Shake hands?" Shaking her head, Kerry picked up another large file and started to sift through it, one ear open for the phones, the rest of her concentrating on her friend.
"He hugged me," Dawn shivered at the memory of the way his hands had pulled her close, how they had just stood there on her doorstep for what seemed like forever and just hugged.
"Now I've heard everything." With a grin, Kerry returned to the filing that should have been finished the week before, more curious than ever about this mystery guy Dawn simply continually talked about. "You went out on a date, no smooches, no sex, just hugging. Are you sure he's not gay?"
Dawn laughed out loud at this suggestion. There was no way that Charlie Weasley was gay, definitely no way if the bulge in his pants when he had pulled her into that tight hug meant anything. "I really don't think so." The phone on her desk started to ring, and she turned away to pick it up. "Reception, Dawn Summers speaking." Dawn grimaced, put the phone back on the hook and stood up. "I won't be long, Ker, Jemsen wants to see me about something."
Feeling sick, her nerves having sunk to the base of her stomach, Dawn walked along the corridor to Jemsen's office, her head bent, her mind filled with confused questions. Jemsen hadn't sounded very happy when he had demanded she attend a brief meeting in his office, so whatever had happened, it wasn't going to be good for Dawn, or her position at Carlton Medical.
"Dawn, I am sure you know why I called you in here," Harvey Jemsen stared at Dawn over the rim of his tiny square glasses, his cold blue eyes taking in every detail of her appearance.
*Would I be sitting here like a total prat if I did?* Dawn bit her tongue to prevent the answer escaping, it was almost too tempting. "No Mr Jemsen. Is there a problem?" She focused on a point on the wall behind Harvey's head and continued to stare at it, desperate not to laugh. Harvey Jemsen had been hired by Human Resources to liase between staff and management, another of his roles was to boost staff morale, something he was proving to be extremely inept at. All he had managed to do was increase animosity among the reception and secretarial staff and cause quite a few of the girls Dawn considered friends, to quit.
"It has been brought to my attention by several people that there have been large delays in the sending out of insurance paperwork…" Harvey steepled his hands under his chin and continued to stare at her.
Dawn opened her mouth, and then slammed it shut like a clam when Harvey cleared his throat and continued to voice his displeasure about the work that wasn't being carried out.
"You need to make sure this paperwork is sent out on time, Dawn. Without organisation everything would fall apart…"
"I…" Again she was silenced, this time with a wave of Jemsen's hand in a regal manner very suited to the Queen they all assumed he was.
"I don't want to hear excuses, Dawn. You aren't doing your job properly, and that could cost us a great deal of money. I am sure I don't have to stress to you how important that paperwork is…"
"No, of course not…but…" She bit her lip, furious at the way he was staring down his long Roman nose at her.
"I said no excuses, Dawn. I don't want to have to call you into my office for this again. Needless to say I will be reporting this matter to Human Resources for your personnel file."
He picked up his phone and started to dial a number. "You can go now, Dawn."
Dawn walked calmly out of Jemsen's office and walked back to her seat at the reception desk.
"Are you all right? You looked like someone just shot your dog or something," Kerry moved until she was standing beside Dawn and placed one comforting hand on her shoulder. "Did the jackass fire you or something?"
"Yeah right, like they could afford to lose anymore staff at the moment." She tilted her head in the direction of the recruitment board the HR department had decided to put up in the waiting area. "They've already lost enough staff. Did you know that Jaci is leaving next week?"
"What? I didn't think that Jaci would ever leave." Kerry didn't have to feign shock over this revelation.
"Apparently Jemsen told her that she needed to adjust her attitude because in his opinion she was far too chatty and didn't do enough work. She told him where he could stick his opinions and quit…he's lucky she's working out her notice really." Dawn grinned, remembering what Jaci had told her when they'd shared lunch the week before. Jemsen really did need to work on the job he was supposed to be doing.
"That guy really needs to get a clue." Kerry shook her head, sorting through another set of patient records. "So, are you seeing mystery guy tonight?"
"No, Buffy's invited me over for dinner. She wants to *talk* to me again about college." Dawn sighed, she would far rather be spending the night with Charlie, but Buffy had insisted, and when Buffy insisted there was no way to argue with her.
"How many times has she given you that *you're better than this* speech?"
"To be honest I've lost count. I guess Buffy is so used to being the one in charge that it's impossible for her to change." Dawn smiled at the little girl who had just arrived at the reception desk with her harassed-looking mother.
After dealing with the sudden deluge of people with appointments, Dawn sat down in front of the computer and began to check through the papers that had been gathering dust in her in-tray for the last few days.
"I'm so glad it's a half day today. Where d'you want to go for lunch?" Kerry moved around the desk and slumped in the office chair next to Dawn's, stretching her long legs out in front of her and studying the chipped varnish on her perfectly shaped nails.
"Usual place?" Dawn and Kerry always ate at the City Diner after finishing work on a Friday, it was their treat. The baked New York cheesecake was the best there was. "I'm gonna need the triple chocolate cheesecake today," Dawn's mouth started watering at the thought of the triple chocolate, her stomach rumbling as she realised that it was very nearly one.
"If you eat any more chocolate you're going to start resembling a cocoa bean. How do you manage to stay so skinny when you stuff yourself with so much junk?" Kerry was always on one fad diet or another, desperate to get down to what she saw as her ideal, a size two. Personally, Dawn couldn't see anything wrong with her best friend's weight, she was curvy, something that Dawn envied.
"Just have a really good metabolism I guess." Dawn grinned at Kerry as her friend pulled a new copy of Cosmo from her purse and started to look through it. "What's the quiz this month?" The quizzes were something that Kerry and Dawn did together whenever a new issue came out. It was a Friday ritual, they finished at lunchen the phone htime and went straight to City before spending the rest of the afternoon shopping, normally for nothing more than nick-nacks. Today though, Dawn felt the need to spend some of the money she had received after Buffy had conned the insurance company into paying out for the house destroyed in Sunnydale.
"Something about oral sex, and how your partner can pleasure you. Maybe you should take this home with you for your next date." Kerry giggled girlishly and put the magazine back in her purse, glancing quickly at the clock on the wall before turning her concentration back on the work she had waiting for her.
"Kerry! We haven't even kissed yet," Dawn whispered the words as a patient walked up to the desk and wanting to complete the paperwork for her insurance.
"Then maybe he needs a few hints…" she raised her eyebrows at Dawn a few times, distracted only when the phone at her elbow rang and she was forced to answer it.
It wasn't possible that the next thirty minutes could move any slower than they already had. Dawn kept on looking at the clock, desperate for the hands to show one thirty and her shift to be over.
"You look eager to leave today, Dawn. Have a busy weekend ahead of you?" Clara, one of the weekend workers, slumped down in the chair opposite Dawn, took out her book and her bag of chewy sweets and started to move the things around on the desk.
"Just the usual stuff." With a smile, Dawn picked up her purse and her jacket and walked around the edge of the reception desk. "Come on Kerr, if you don't get a move on the lunch specials will be over!"
Kerry picked up her purse and followed quickly after Dawn, the thought of missing out on the cheaper lunch was too much to miss out on. "See you next week, Clara." Kerry waved at the reception desk in general and the swept out of the door, heading out into the bright sunshine.
"So come on, tell me all about this guy. I can't believe you haven't kissed him yet. Has he met Buffy? Where's he from?" Kerry started to ask questions the minute the pair sat down at the table by the window.
"Whoa, what's the hurry?" Dawn laughed at Kerry's eagerness to know so much about her relationship with Charlie. "We've got all afternoon…" she smiled and then perused the menu, even though she already knew what she was going to have, a bagel with cream cheese and a huge slab of triple chocolate cheesecake made with Graham crackers.
"Okay, so hurry up and order, I want the gossip!" Kerry nibbled at her lower lip, she never ordered the same thing twice in a row, today she had a craving for something nice and rich, a cheese and salmon bagel, and a piece of apple pie a la mode.
Waiting for their food, Kerry thumbed through her copy of Cosmo, and Dawn doodled little love-hearts on the napkin that had been wrapped around her steel cutlery. "Here's a good one," Kerry dropped the magazine onto the table with a thump and pointed to the question she was talking about with her pen. "Do you feel that oral pleasure should be his duty?" She smirked as Dawn flushed a deep red and turned away.
"Oh look, our food's ready," she stood up and walked over to the counter to pick up their trays.
"They went to town with the cheesecake, didn't they?" Kerry looked longingly at the slab of dessert on Dawn's plate, wishing that chocolate didn't go so quickly to her own hips. "I think that Donnie has a crush on you," she leaned forward and whispered the last as she lifted a translucent slice of salmon from her plate and dropped it onto her mouth.
"Oh puhleese. If you paid as much interest in your own life as you do in mine you might actually be going out on a date this weekend." Dawn rolled her eyes when Kerry snorted at what she thought to be the absurdity of the statement.
"As if!" Kerry made short order of the bagel on her plate, licking her fingers as she pulled the dessert plate toward her and picked up the large spoon. "So, are you going to tell me about this guy or not?"
Groaning, Dawn took a large bite out of her bagel, swiped the back of her hand across her mouth, and then looked at Kerry with an impatient expression on her face. "What do you want to know?" Rolling her eyes she waited for the questions to start.
"Where did you meet? What's he like? What's he look like? What's his name?"
Good grief, when Kerry asked questions, she really asked questions. This was going to be a very long afternoon.
Heading over to Buffy's house just after seven that evening, Dawn found herself wondering why exactly she was always filled with doubts about her choices. She knew that Buffy only had the best of intentions, but at the same time that didn't stop the lectures from sounding worse than the ones that their mom had given every time a homework assignment hadn't been completed on time.
"Dawn, you look great, Buffy's just putting Zack to bed. D'you want a drink?" Xander ushered Dawn into the dining room and took her coat, throwing it down on the couch set into the corner of the room.
"Is she going to start on about school again?" With a half smile, Dawn sat down at the table and absently fiddled with the cutlery.
"I don't doubt it. Don't be too hard on her though, Dawnie, she's got your best intentions at heart, you know that, right?" Xander hated the fact that this always caused so much tension, he wanted nothing more than for the two Summers' girls to get on.
"In that case can I have a whiskey and coke?" Dawn rarely drank, especially when she really should have all her wits about her, but this situation always called for a drink or two, just so she could cope with Buffy's determination to get Dawn back to a place she no longer wanted to be.
"Be right back," Xander walked through to the kitchen, quickly made Dawn up a drink, grabbed a cold bottle of beer out of the fridge and sat down on the chair next to his young sister-in-law.
The drink that Xander poured her proved to be the highlight of the evening. After Buffy returned from putting Zack to bed the questioning started.
Sighing with relief, Dawn toed her shoes off, threw her jacket across the back of the chair by the door and curled her toes into the carpet, her eyes closing on a pleasurable moan as she started to relax. Rolling her shoulders back, and stretching her arms above her head, she collapsed back onto the old ratty couch and relaxed. "God, that was a nightmare." She longed for the days before Buffy had started a family and started trying to find ways for Dawn to better herself. Before Zack had been born, Buffy had only tried to insist that Dawn go to college, but now that was almost all she talked about, that and how she hoped that Zack didn't follow his auntie's example.
Reaching over to the end table behind the couch, Dawn pressed the button on her answer machine and grinned when she heard, "You have two messages…Message one." The first message turned out to be someone trying to sell her a new kitchen, but the second call but a big smile on her face. "Dawn…uh…hi. It's Charlie. Um…you're not in so I guess I'll call you later? I just wanted to know if you wanted to go out with me again…you don't have to call back…"
Checking the clock, Dawn noticed that it wasn't too late to call him back, and, picking up her phone pressed *69. "Hello? Is Charlie there?"
"I'm real pleased you called me, Charlie," Dawn pushed open her front door and walked into the hall. "Do you want a drink?" She walked through to the kitchen and poured herself a small glass of wine, taking a healthy mouthful before filling the glass up to the brim. "I don't have much, but I am sure there's a beer around here somewhere."
Smiling, Charlie walked over to stand behind Dawn, wrapping his arms around Dawn's waist and pulling her close. "I'm okay for the moment, thanks." He buried his face in her hair, pressing a light, almost imperceptible kiss to the top of her head. Sucking in a deep breath he wished with all his might for some control. "So how did dinner go with your sister…Buffy, right?" The second he mentioned Buffy's name, Dawn tensed up a little, and pulled out of his arms, moving to lean back against the counter.
"Normal really. She talked about school again." Dawn shrugged and wished lifted her glass to her lips again, sucking in air through her teeth as the sour aftertaste of the wine flowed down her throat.
"So what are you cooking me for dinner tonight?" Charlie changed the subject, eager to get back the light-hearted mood that they had been enjoying just moments before.
"How about something British? I think I've got a card here somewhere for fish and chips." She opened one of the many drawers in the kitchen and pulled out a pile of untidily filed recipe cards.
"That sounds good, first though…" with a grin, Charlie moved in to stand close to Dawn, bent his head and pressed his lips to her's. He pulled away for a second, then brushed his tongue against her full lower lip.
Dawn gasped, surprised, pulling away from Charlie for a moment. Leaning in again, she smiled, her eyes darkening. "I thought you'd never do that." she hugged him tighter, stroking her hands along his shoulders, enjoying the feel of him close to her.
"My mum brought me up to be a gentleman," he moved them both until Dawn's back was against the wall, and kissed her again, this time pushing his tongue between her lips, rubbing it against the roof of her mouth, battling with her tongue. He could feel all the blood in his body flowing away from his brain, but he didn't care, right at that moment everything was perfect, he was wrapped around a woman he was very quickly growing to care for.