Bonds of Love
The Charming Death and The Swift Dawn
Disclaimer: I was pondering the beginning of a new story, a Buffy / Anita crossover, when a small sign fell from the sky in front of me. I picked it up and read it out loud. This is what it said: You. Own. Nothing.
Warning: There is a kind of gruesome character death, and slight cursing.
Chapter One: Bonds of Love
Buffy was sitting by herself in the Bronze bummed out over the Scooby’s drifting apart. What with Giles all retired, Willow and Oz being all collage couple-y, and Xander doing his road trip thing she was left all alone.
Speaking of Xander, that really hot guy in leather sort of looks like him…
“Xander?! When did you get back? What on Earth are you wearing?” Buffy jumped up in amazement when the hottie she was eyeing turned out to be Xander. She leapt toward him to give him a hug before she stopped abruptly. She was getting a danger vibe…from Xander.
The being that looked like a hot version of Xander gave a malicious smile and said, “What, no hug Buffy?” He clutched at his no longer beating heart. “That hurts, really; I think you broke my heart.” This non-Xander person stalked forward a couple of steps toward Buffy and said with a bright smile, “Since you broke mine I guess it’s only fair that I get to rip yours out in return.”
“What’s up Dawnster?” Xander asked, looking up from sharpening his sword.
“I know this sounds kind of stupid but…could you tell me a story? I’m worried because the others haven’t reported in from the latest strike. I know I should be resting, but every time I close my eyes my head fills up with worries.”
Xander looked over at the eighteen year old girl whom he considered his little sister. He was sitting with her as a guard since she was injured while the others of their team went to fight the newest wave of the First’s minions. These dark days the whole world knew of the supernatural; it was unavoidable with the First controlling two thirds of the world, and a large army of demons, vampires, and psychotically evil humans.
“No problem Dawnie, let’s see. Once upon a time there was a beautiful, if a little dim and nutty, princess named Snow White-” the vampire began with a twinkle in his dark brown eyes.
“No no no! I don’t mean a Xander modified fairy tale, I mean a REAL story. How about when you became a vampire? I never got to hear all the details of that one before.” requested the curious teen.
Xander gave a small wince, and ran his long fingers through shoulder length brown hair. “I dunno Dawn. It happened on my road trip right after high school. I was at Oxnard, and…I was turned at the place I was working at to make money to fix my piece of crap car.”
“What was your job?” Dawn interrupted.
Xander gave an uncomfortable cough, and a slight squirm. “Ah, that’s not important to the story-”
“Oh yeah? I heard that you were working as a stripper or something.” Dawn said mischievously, repeating what she’d over heard Willow and Buffy talking about a long time ago.
“Dawn!” Xander exclaimed. “I was not a stripper! I just happened to wash dishes at a strip club. And sure, there was that one time…but hey! Who’s telling this story anyways missy? Pipe down or I won’t continue the legend of Xander the Vampire.” Xander threatened with a glare that was less than threatening with the slight smile he wore.
Dawn giggled and made a zipping motion across her mouth.
After a slight pause to make sure Dawn understood that commentary was forbidden, Xander continued his story. “Anyways, after I was turned I went back home to the Hellmouth.” At this point the ever-present laughter in Xander’s eyes dimmed, and his smile turned sad. “If you thought the stories you’ve heard about Angelus were bad, well, I might have been all soulless for a little while, but it wasn’t pretty. You know what they say, no one can hurt you like your friends can.” Just thinking about some of the things he did and said to the ones he loved the most made Xander’s lips press close together with guilt.
Dawn, seeing Xander’s pain, held her arms out. Xander gratefully got up from the chair next to her bed and climbed in beside her. He carefully picked Dawn up, put her on his lap, and wrapped his arms around her, resting his head on the top of hers. If an outsider were to look upon this scene, they would have seen two good-looking teens snuggling in a bed, making a rather romantic sight. In reality nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, Dawn had once had a small and short lived crush on Xander, but since he had helped to raise her he was more her babysitter, protector, older brother, and eventually best friend.
“I’m sorry Xander.” Dawn said quietly. “You don’t have to continue if you don’t want to. I didn’t mean to drag out bad memories.”
Xander took a deep, unneeded breath and gently stroked Dawn’s long straight brown hair. “No, it’s okay. So after a couple of really ugly encounters, Buffy rather spectacularly kicked my ass. They found an underground cell to hold me while Willow and the gang gathered the materials to soul me. Luckily for me, Wills was more thorough in attaching my soul than Angel’s is, and no painful test like Spike’s.”
“No happy clause either. I know you appreciate that too.” Dawn said impishly, looking up at Xander.
“Dawn!” Xander exclaimed, half scandalized, half amused. They both broke out in laughter. “Hmm, anyways, after I got my soul back I did go through my very own broody phase. I thank all that is holy that I didn’t end up like Angel and have to go on my very own tortured redemption kick. Nope, no trench coat wearing, tortured brooding and lurking shtick for me.”
Though he wasn’t the leather and black clothing fashion plate that Angel and Spike were, Xander’s attire did alter a bit, for the better. Many humans felt drawn to the engaging, neatly dressed vampire he’d become. Though he was technically twenty-six now, he appeared to be a boyishly charming young man of eighteen, and he always would.
“So when did Willow start her Xander alteration obsession?” Dawn sleepily inquired. She knew this was one of the few chances she could question Xander, but she could feel sleep tug at her. As always, Xander stroking her hair, and his very presence, soothed her and made her feel safe.
Xander felt a wry smile form on his lips. “I might not have been human any more, but somehow I still seemed to be a magnet for the supernatural. I think after realizing that she had nearly lost me when I became a vampire, Willow’s new hobby seemed to be to try and enhance me beyond the normal vampires abilities. She was always trying to test new protective charms, and augmentation spells. Some things like the invisibility spell, and the spell to lessen my need for blood was a complete failure, not to mention the embarrassing side effects. It took a long time before she found a way to make my hair visible again. On the other hand, things like melding the essence of the Gem of Amara to my soul so I could walk in daylight, and the speed-boosting spell was pretty cool.” Xander gave a smug laugh. “Spike was pretty jealous over those two. It took a lot of whining before she did the speed spell for him too, and even then she couldn’t make him a daywalker.”
The brown-eyed vampire glanced down at the silent Dawn, and a soft smile spread across his face. After placing a tender kiss on the sleeping girls forehead, Xander carefully laid her down on the bed, and tucked her in. He returned to his chair, and settled into a light trance. He only needed a couple of hours of meditation a week and he’d be fully rested. He wasn’t quite sure what spell Willow did that made this possible, but he was grateful all the same. It gave him less time to be vulnerable, and made more time that he could watch out for Dawn.
He’d had a couple loves, and he would always stay true to the Scooby gang, but in this whole world, he loved two people with all his heart: Willow and Dawn. Willow, through all her dabbling’s, and in the course of fighting against the First’s army, had become the most powerful witch in the world. Perhaps the most powerful witch in history, so he knew she could take care of herself.
Dawn however wasn’t nearly so invincible. While she was slowly becoming a proficient witch and a decent fighter, it was much more likely for her to need his protection than Willow did. Besides, she was still at her core the Key; something that could put her in danger if the First ever found out who and what she was. So Xander swore to protect her as long as he existed. Considering that he was a vampire, and the modifications and enhancements Willow had made to him, that was a long time.
“Sleep Dawn. I’ll watch over you. I will always protect you.” Xander whispered to her slumbering form.
They had lost. The First and her army were slowing pushing back the last bits of the resistance. Humans were either corrupted in an insanely evil way, or enslaved. The same went for the more peaceful demons and mystical creatures. The last of the Scoobies left were Willow, Xander, and Dawn.
Willow had studied extensively before finding a way to save Xander and Dawn. This world was doomed, but she had found a way to send the last of her family to an alternate reality where the First didn’t exist, and couldn’t pursue her loved ones. One of the ingredients for the spell was Dawn’s blood. Though dormant, her blood contained the catalyst for opening the doorway between universes.
“Willow, are you sure you can’t come with us?” Xander questioned quietly, anguish clear in his eyes. Dawn was just sitting quietly, hugging her knees to her chest, tears streaming down her face.
“Xander, this spell requires me to stay on this side to channel energy, and my life.” Willow said firmly. “Plus, done this way, I can split my power in half to both you and Dawnie so that you will be able to take care of anything that tries to mess with you on the other side.”
“Are you sure the First isn’t there?” Dawn questioned in a tired, watery tone.
“Absolutely. She isn’t there, and she can’t follow you. There are vampires there of a slightly different flavor, and that reality is close enough that the history should be more or less the same. The spell should alter both of you enough that you’ll fit into that universes quirks.”
Before Xander could open his mouth to ask again if she couldn’t come, Willow pointed at her face and said determinedly, “Hey, no more arguments. Resolve face mister.”
With a weak smile, Xander nodded. Then with the blinding speed he was legendary for he appeared in front of Willow in less than the blink of an eye and gently squeezed her in a hug. “I love you Willow.” he whispered intently in her ear. “I will never forget you, and will love you till the stars grow cold.”
Dawn joined the Willow hug a few seconds later, squeezing harder than Xander was, almost too choked up to whisper her love to the woman she viewed as her mentor, and older sister.
After two hours, Willow was done setting up the ritual and preparatory spell work. While Dawn and Xander hugged each other in the middle of a large circle of runes and spell lines, Willow began to chant and channel her power into the spell. Tapping into the Earths enormous well of power, Willow’s eyes and hair began to turn white. More and more power poured into the spell, and the mixture in the gold bowl in front of Willow began to swirl. At the peak of the spell Willow picked up her dagger and cut deeply into both of her wrists and let her blood splash freely into the bowl.
With a sob Dawn turned and ducked her head into Xander’s shoulder. Xander clutched Dawn to him, but he kept his eyes on Willow, staring at her through his tears.
“I love you both. Watch over Dawnie, and remember to live and be happy.” Willow whispered. Xander could hear her perfectly with his vampire hearing and nodded his head.
Then in a brilliant flash of light Xander and Dawn disappeared from their world to a new one, never to return to their doomed reality again. Happy in the knowledge that the last of her loved ones were safe, Willow Rosenberg, the strongest witch in history, died peacefully with a small smile on her face.
Xander and Dawn arrived into their new home reality screaming in pain.
Apparently the small alterations Willow had mentioned, the ones that prepared their bodies so that they could fit into this universe, were made on a deep and painful level. After a while the two screams faded, and their bodies stopped convulsing.
As they lay panting on the ground, Dawn breathily murmured to Xander, “Ladies and Gentlemen, there may be some turbulence, but it’s nothing to worry about…”
Xander gave a small, breathy laugh in return and answered back, “Ha. If you see my spine lying around please don’t step on it, just tell me where it is.”
Then both of them thought of what they had left behind, and their last sight of Willow. Xander crawled over to Dawn and they both broke down into tears. About half an hour later Xander noticed something strange about how easily Dawn fit into his arms.
“Dawnie, did you shrink?” Xander asked her confusedly.
Dawn quickly looked down at herself and noticed that sitting in Xander’s lap her head barely came up to his shoulder and…
“Oh my god! My boobs are gone!” Dawn shrieked in surprise.
Choking off a shocked laugh, Xander quickly covered his mouth lest he draw the wrath of the now twelve-year-old Dawn. It was pretty hard not to laugh though as she patted herself down, and even looked inside her shirt as if she could find her missing breasts hiding in it.
As Dawn stood up looking over the rest of herself, rather upset at the loss of her hard earned years, when she looked over at Xander. “What the hell?! How come you aren’t a mini Xander? You didn’t change, you look exactly…you look…” her voice trailed off as she stared at Xander still sitting on the ground.
For the most part Xander was still her Xander-shaped vampire big brother, but there were some small changes that made a big impact. He seemed to have an almost magnetic quality to him now. His features were slightly altered in a way that made his face a little more finished and refined. His hair was thicker and glossier with a slight curl to it. All the small changes polished Xander so that where he was once a relatively good-looking male, he was now absolutely stunning.
“What?” Xander asked in a worried voice. He ran his hands over his face, worried that he was disfigured in some horrible way from the manner that Dawn was gaping at him.
“Your face its…” Dawn’s voice trailed off once again, still staring.
“What’s wrong with my face?!” Xander yelled, panicked now.
“It’s stunning.” Dawn breathed in amazement.
Xander blinked a couple of times before he assumed that Dawn was messing with him and he growled, “You brat. I’m gonna kill you.”
As he slowly got up threateningly, Dawn held her out hands and yelped, “Hey, I’m not kidding! Your face really does look different now.”
Xander narrowed his eyes at her, before ignoring her to look around at the place where they had arrived. A healthy forest surrounded them, and he could hear water somewhere nearby. It was a breathtakingly perfect picture of nature. Too perfect.
The air smelt pure in a way that the Earth hadn’t smelt like in a long time. It held a kind of freshness that hadn’t been spoiled by man. Shaking off his unease and half formed worries, Xander turned back to Dawn and told her that they were going start walking to try and find information on where they were, and what kind of reality they were now in.
The next few weeks were full of traveling and surprises for Xander and Dawn.
The first time Xander tried to coax a deer to him, he nearly got run over by a whole herd of animals. Apparently the new magnetic quality Dawn had tried in vain to describe to Xander also translated into a more concrete vampire power. He could literally charm animals to him to drink from. Because despite all Willows modifications he still needed blood, just in smaller quantities and he could wait longer periods of time between meals. This power also meant easy food for Dawn.
When he went to bite into an animal, Dawn squeaked in surprise and told him that he was missing his game face. Xander jerked away from the wild animal that just stood adoringly next to him while felt his face. Sure enough he didn’t have any brow ridges, and was told by Dawn that his eyes hadn’t changed to yellow gold either. The only change had been two elongated fangs had slid out, and when he concentrated they slid back up into his mouth and he appeared to be a normal human.
While traveling Dawn got tired quicker than Xander did, and frequently hitched piggyback rides. Xander could keep going all night and, thanks to another Willow change, all day in the sun. He could also move much quicker than Dawn. Yet eventually Dawn got fed up with her smaller, weaker frame and shouted that she wanted to be nineteen again.
To their astonishment, when Dawn voiced her desire to be older her body slowly aged until she became nineteen once more. After a little experimentation Dawn found that age was now a relative concept for her. She could age and de-age herself by concentrating on how much older or younger she wanted to be.
While making these discoveries, Dawn used a spell to locate the nearest group of humans. The spell took a couple tries to get it right as she was unused to the extra power that Willow had bequeathed to her. Her first few tries she overcharged the spell, blowing up parts of the forest, setting other parts on fire, and knocking Xander through a couple of innocent trees. After some meditation, and controlling her power by siphoning it out at a much slower pace, Dawn finally got the spell correct. Xander congratulated Dawn from where he stood watching her attempts…a quarter of a mile away from her.
After three and a half weeks of hard travel, and new discoveries Dawn’s spell led them to the sought after humans. Civilization at last…or so they thought.
Authors Note: Bwahahaha, a cliffhanger! Can anyone guess what I’m hinting at? Sorry for killing Willow, it had to be done (though it does appear that I do that often). Okay, next story will have Willow in it, alive. Promise. Oh, and I swear that the next chapter of Brown Eyed Stray is very nearly done, so no heckling about starting a new story. Stupid little plot bunny followed me around until I typed it out.
Note: Yes I do in fact know that these vampires do not have retractable fangs. Xander's just special like that. A mix between permantant two fangs, and the "game face" of his old universe.