Disclaimer: I do not own, much to my displeasure, any BTVS or KTE characters you may recognize. I am just borrowing them for a bit and plan on returning eventually, though they might be a bit scuffed. The characters that you do not recognize are mine to use and abuse.
Warning: Potty language
Alex checked his watch impatiently. Dawn’s United Airlines flight was due to arrive at Gate 32 any minute and he was nervous. He hadn’t seen her for over three years, though they had kept in touch through occasional emails.
He didn’t know what had happened. Dawn had given him the brief details over the phone. They had been in Naples, a week before, having been sent there by Giles. They had gone to a church looking for some sort of relic or amulet, and then something happened, something real bad.
They had been ambushed. Buffy and Willow had been covering their retreat, allowing Tara and Dawn to escape. Suddenly a monster of some sort came from out of nowhere, grabbed Buffy, and killed her.
What happened next, Alex wasn’t too sure for Dawn had been crying way too hard for him to be able to follow the story. However, from what he could make out, the life had been literally sucked out of one or both women, draining them of their energy. After that, Dawn had succumbed to hysterical crying. A strange girl, presumably a slayer had taken away the phone from Dawn and relayed Dawn’s flight information.
So, now he was here, waiting for Dawn Summers to arrive. A part of him wanted to kick him-self in frustration and annoyance for telling the girl that she was welcome at his home. Despite the fact that he loved Dawn dearly, for she had been a loyal and true friend when the others had turned their backs on them for their own reasons, he did not welcome the chaos that would soon follow the former Sunnydale resident.
While he did not mind helping Cash and Luna keep order in the city by preventing demons from opening up pathways from their own personal hells in Golden Gate State Park and helping out Taylor, the local vampire slayer in taking out Primordials, he did not want disorder in his life. More importantly, he did not want to see Alexia’s well-being threatened by whatever cataclysmic event that Dawn was bringing with her.
And on top of it all, Buffy, the oldest surviving slayer in history had died, along with his childhood friend, Willow. At least it could be said that they died saving others, fighting the good fight to the very end. While they hadn’t been friends in a long time, the thought of Buffy and Willow no longer being alive, helping to protect the world from evil left him a tremendous feeling of sadness and emptiness in his chest.
He suddenly realized that he was the last of the Scoobies, the originals. That thought alone almost brought him to his knees in the middle of the airport.
After Alex checked the arrival/departure boards for possibly the millionth time, Dawn made an appearance, with Tara trailing behind her. Both girls looked haggard, which Alex knew immediately that it wasn’t from the long flight.
Dawn, taller than she had been when Alex had seen her last, was still rail thin, with long light brown hair, and jewel-blue eyes, but she was no longer the young teenager she had been. She was now nineteen years old, a young woman who had clearly seen and experienced way too much in her short life (technically she was only six years old). Her eyes were red, with dark circles underneath them. Her hair was tied back in a sloppy pony tail and her nails had been bitten down severely.
Tara, Alex noted, looked God-awful. Her eyes and nose were both red and her skin was blotchy. She actually had bags underneath her eyes and her clothes hung off her frame. It looked as if she hadn’t slept or eaten in nearly a week. Both women looked like a wreck, but Tara’s appearance was frightening.
“Xander,” Dawn said as soon as she passed through security and promptly burst into tears. Tara was not far behind her, already crying herself.
Alex did the only thing he could. He immediately engulfed the both of them in a hug, letting them, literally, cry on his shoulder. A couple of people gave them dirty looks for blocking their way, but he viciously glared at them, daring them to say anything; nobody did.
When there was a small break in their sobbing, Alex asked them if they had eaten yet.
Both Tara and Dawn shook their head in the negative.
Alex then picked up their bags, slinging the straps across his chest easily. The luggage, while quite hefty, did not tax his strength. “Come on. Let’s go get you guys fed, and then we’ll sit down and try to figure things out.”
He took them to an Applebee’s that was near the airport. Both women just picked at their food. It took tons of cajoling too get them to eat just a few bites. It wasn’t about the money wasted. He was truly worried about their physical health.
Alex had even placed an order for himself in hopes that they would see him eat and be motivated to do the same. He also did it so it would be less awkward for them about him being different. Since Alexia had come into their lives, he and Emily had taken up eating human food on a more regular basis, so the sudden ingestion of food would not come as a total shock to his system. Also, he figured that if eating did go south for him, the bathroom wasn’t too far away for a quick binge and purge moment.
“You eat food?” Dawn asked, watching Alex eat the Fiesta Lime Chicken.
Alex shrugged. “Yeah,” he said. “It doesn’t do me any good you know, but it helps hide things. Also, we started eating to encourage Alexia to clear her plate. She went through a picky phase a while back.”
Tara and Dawn picked at their food, neither of them had much of an appetite. When Alex couldn’t no longer cajole either of them to eat anymore, he paid their tab, his treat he had said, and they left Crapplebee’s (also known as Applebee’s).
Alex drove them through San Francisco, in his new SUV – a dark grey Ford Explorer (a vehicle he had been loath to get, but he needed the room to haul Alexia, her friends, bikes, tools, not to mention his more specialized gear and weapons), occasionally pointing out landmarks and points of interest. It vaguely reminded him of when he had come up to San Francisco to visit Emily and she had played the role of tourist guide for him. Granted that time had been a much happier time for everyone. Back then, although he had been thoroughly pissed at the Sunnydale gang and looking for an out from the group, he didn’t have an excruciating ache in his chest that he now had. It all depends on perspective, he thought to himself. He had been miserable back then, but nothing compared to what he was feeling now.
He and Emily had moved since the Sunnydale residents had been in the city. They figured that the less those from Alex’s past knew where to find him specifically, the better.
So they moved to the area near Sutro Heights Park and Golden Gate Park, within shouting distance of the Dutch Windmill and gave them a spectacular view of the beach and the Pacific Ocean. It was close enough that they could smell the salty air, yet give them easy access to Golden Gate Park and an urban setting for their more nocturnal activities. The new home also was a good place, they decided, for Alexia to grow up in, less crowded and healthier. Also, they all loved the area.
Back at his home, he let them in the house. Emily was there to greet him with a kiss and a gentle and sympathetic hug for both Dawn and Tara. She had nothing against the humans; in fact she was very grateful to them for being the ones to be honest with Alex and telling him about Alexia.
“Alexia wants you to kiss her good night,” Emily announced.
While Alex went off to be a father to his daughter, Emily showed Dawn the small guest room-slash-office that would be hers while Tara stayed in their bedroom. Tara tried to object, saying that the couch would be good enough for her. Emily rebuffed her protests, saying that she needed the sleep more than they and that the couch would be just fine for Alex and she would be taking the air mattress (which was infinitely more comfortable than the couch).
Once they were situated they all went downstairs to the living room. Alex sat in the arm chair while Emily sat in the rocking chair that Alex had made for her a couple of years ago. The humans sat on the couch, both of them looking miserable and lost.
Alex looked at them in sympathy. They had obviously been through hell and back, but he needed and wanted some answers. “Can you tell me what happened?” he asked careful to keep his tone gentle.
Dawn looked at him with eyes brimming with tears. “It happened about a week ago,” she said, beginning the tale of what had happened to the oldest surviving slayer and her best friend, Willow.
A/N: Well, what do you think? Crap or not? Hit the shiny review button and let me know.
Just remember that it is early in the story and I will be revealing the ins and outs over several chapters. I hate it when everything is revealed immediately and there is no buildup, conflict, or even a bit of mystery. I like a story to be developed over time and I move slowly.
And, yes, the area I described briefly of their “new home” does exist and is beyond spectacular. If I ever win the lottery (and remember to actually by a ticket since I don’t like to actually gamble) I am buying a home there. Also, with creating this new home is in response to a couple of comments in NLTZ 2 about how easy it was for Buffy and company to find Xander. I don’t feel that it was bad how I had it, so this should not be construed as a correction, but as a sign of change and growth for the characters and symbolic of them creating a home and family.
Thanks for reading and thank you to everyone for their support, encouragement, and ideas. I truly appreciate it (thank you especially to TAO for your support).