Title: Fowl Play
Category: BTVS/Highlander crossover
Pairing: Dawn/Richie, Duncan/Amanda
Disclaimer: I own nothing except the demented plot. All BTVS characters belong to Joss Whedon, etc. All Highlander characters belong to Davis Panzer Productions Inc., etc.
Distribution: Twisting the Hellmouth and Seventh Dimension. Otherwise, please ask first (I’ll probably say yes).
Warnings: Usual warnings apply (BTVS Season 7 spoilers, mild alternate universe, minor OCs)
Notes: Sequel to “Welcome to My World”. Dawn only knows Methos by his Adam Pierson alias.
Series: Seventh story in “The Life and Times of Dawn Summers, College Student”.
Summary: Dawn meets Amanda who convinces her to help cook Thanksgiving dinner.
“Have you ever thought about painting the ceiling? Maybe a mural? Degas or Renoir?” she asked the man who had her pinned to the floor.
“You’re thinking about interior design at a time like this?”
“I just figure I might as well have something to look at while I’m spending so much time flat on my back.”
He shifted above her. “So what did you do wrong?”
“Zigged when I should have zagged?”
“Dawn,” he said in a warning tone.
“Okay, okay,” she replied. “I should have lowered my center of gravity and not overbalanced.”
“Exactly,” he said, “and you could have tried kicking me in the knee before I pinned you. Let’s try again.”
She groaned as Duncan helped her to her feet. They were at his dojo where Richie was originally going to spar with her. Unfortunately, her boyfriend was running late and couldn’t make it in time so his mentor offered to fill in.
“If there is any chance of you getting attacked by vampires, you are going to learn to defend yourself,” Duncan lectured.
“Where were you when I was sixteen?” Dawn asked with a small laugh.
They circled slowly then Duncan went on the attack. He feint a move that forced Dawn to spin then managed to wrap his arm around her throat from behind. She took his right wrist with her left hand and pushed his elbow up allowing her to duck out of the hold. She lifted his arm up forcing him to bend over slightly. He countered by grabbing her ankle and pulling up causing her to fall backwards. He went to pin her again, but she caught him off guard with a kick to the stomach that knocked him down.
Dawn scrambled to her feet and watched as Duncan smiled then flipped to his. Oh crap, she thought when he came at her again. He tried to unbalance her by hooking her leg with his. She countered by stepping back with her other leg and leaning forward. She unbalanced him instead, but he grabbed hold of her so they both went down. When he rolled her for the pin, she instinctively brought up her knee causing him to grunt. She winced, “sorry.”
“No, it’s okay. You did the right thing,” he swallowed in discomfort as he pinned her to the mat. He kept her there for another moment when he suddenly sensed another immortal.
Recognizing the signs, she asked, “Richie?”
Before he could respond, a striking woman with closely cropped black hair entered the dojo. She smiled at them. “Am I interrupting something?”
Dawn turned her attention back to the man on top of her and pointed out the obvious. “She’s not Richie.”
Startled, Duncan quickly got to his feet and helped Dawn to hers before going to the woman. “Amanda, welcome back.”
“Good to be back,” she said then kissed him passionately.
Wow, Dawn thought as minutes ticked away before they broke off the kiss.
“Dawn, I’d like you to meet an old friend, Amanda,” Duncan introduced.
“Montrose,” the woman added.
“Dawn Summers,” she said shaking the proffered hand.
“Dawn’s one of my students,” Duncan explained.
“At the university,” he clarified.
“Yeah, he was just sparring with me because my boyfriend was going to be late,” Dawn explained.
Before she could reply, Dawn noticed both Duncan’s and Amanda’s eyes dart around the room and settle on the doors. When she saw who it was, she smiled and sighed, “Richie.”
The man in question came in and gave her a chaste kiss on the lips before kissing Amanda on the cheek. “I didn’t know you were coming to town. So you’ve met Dawn?”
“Yes,” Amanda replied as Richie put his arm around the young woman’s waist.
“Um, Richie and I were going to go out for supper. Would you like to join us?” Dawn asked.
“That would be nice,” Amanda said with a sideways glance.
“I like her,” Amanda said to Duncan as he opened the elevator gate that led to his loft above the dojo.
“I thought you would,” he said hanging up their coats.
“She’s not what I would’ve expected though.”
“I didn’t think Richie would end up with the academic type,” she explained as she leaned against the desk. “I always thought he’d go for someone who lived on the edge.”
If you only knew, Duncan thought as he poured her a drink then one for himself. “They balance each other.”
“I suppose they do,” Amanda said as he handed her the glass. “Is it serious?”
“I think so,” he admitted.
“Has Richie decided whether or not to tell Dawn about his immortality?” she asked. When Duncan didn’t answer right away, she realized the young woman already knew. “What happened?”
Duncan took a sip of scotch before answering. “A few weeks ago, an immortal came after Richie and decided the best way to do that was to kidnap Dawn.”
“They usually do,” she muttered. “How much did she see?”
“Everything right down to the quickening.”
“And she still wants to make a go of the relationship?” When Duncan nodded, Amanda’s respect for Dawn grew. Mortal/Immortal relationships were always complicated. She walked to the couch and sat down. “So what are your plans for this week?”
He sat down beside her, and she kicked off her shoes and rested her feet on his lap. “Training with Richie, grading papers, teaching a class and probably a night or two at Joe’s. Nothing very exciting. Do you have something in mind?”
“Any thoughts regarding Thanksgiving?”
Several male heads turned as she walked by. Still got it, Amanda smiled then felt the presence of another immortal. Doors opened, and students flooded into the hallway. Moments later she found the immortal she had sensed. She enjoyed the puzzled looked on Duncan’s face when he spotted her. Keeping him on his toes was half the fun of their relationship as far as she was concerned.
“Amanda,” he greeted as she entered the almost empty classroom. “I didn’t realize you were stopping by.”
“It was a bit of an impulse. Actually, I was hoping to chat with Dawn, and I thought the best way to do that was to catch her after class,” Amanda said as the girl paused mid-way in putting her books in her knapsack.
“Me?” she asked.
“Yes,” the immortal woman smiled then turned to Duncan. “Don’t worry. We can play the Professor and the Naughty Coed later.”
“Amanda,” he stammered as a faint blush graced his cheeks.
She laughed, “So, Dawn, how about lunch?”
Because it was quieter than the other food venues on campus, the two women went to Cascades.
“So how do you like Seacouver?” Amanda asked as the waitress left.
“It’s pretty different from Hope Springs, but I love it here,” Dawn said.
“Will you be going home for Thanksgiving?”
“No,” the girl sighed somewhat wistfully. “Although working at Joe’s helps, money’s a bit tight. I’ll be going home for Christmas. Besides, I have finals to study for.”
“Do you have any plans for Thanksgiving?” Amanda asked then took a sip of water.
“Probably hang out with Richie,” Dawn replied.
“Well, since you’ll be with Richie, I was wondering if you would be willing to help me with a little project,” Amanda said then leaned forward. “I’m going to cook Thanksgiving dinner, and I could use a little assistance.”
Dawn bit her lip. “I don’t know. It seems kind of early in our relationship to be inflicting Richie with my cooking.”
“Not a forte?”
Dawn shook her head ruefully. “I come from a rather large extended family. It always seemed like someone else did the cooking. When I tried to do some, they sort of insisted someone else do the cooking. My friend Jade is trying to teach me how to make shrimp gumbo and sushi, but that’s not exactly typical Thanksgiving fare.”
“I suppose not,” Amanda smiled. “I have to admit I’m not the best cook either, but we’re both reasonably intelligent people. I’m sure we could figure it out. What to do you say?”
Dawn shrugged and clinked her glass against Amanda’s raised one. “Why not?”
After toasting to their venture, the waitress came with their lunch.
“So who will be there?” Dawn asked as she stabbed at her salad.
“Well, you, Richie, Duncan, Meth-,” Amanda began then caught herself. “Me, Adam and Joe. Duncan and I will get the groceries tomorrow. If you can, come by Duncan’s around 3:00. With any luck we can have supper on the table by 6:00.”
“Help has arrived,” Richie announced as he opened the metal grating of the loft’s elevator and walked into the room followed by Dawn.
“Hello,” Duncan greeted distractedly from the kitchen.
Taking his jacket off, Richie let out a low whistle. “That is one big turkey.”
“Amanda, are you sure about this?” Duncan asked as he eyed the bird in question with misgivings.
“Yes, I’m sure,” she replied with conviction, “though maybe we should have got one that came with instructions, Mr. I-don’t-have-any-cookbooks.”
“If you have an Internet connection, I’m sure I could find a recipe on the Web,” Dawn offered.
“Help yourself,” Duncan said motioning to his laptop. “Richie, I could use some help getting the table out of storage.”
“You got it,” he said following his mentor back to the elevator.
Dawn hung up her coat and booted up the laptop. Amanda stood behind her and watched as the young woman googled her way to several roast turkey recipes. After ruling out a couple of hits due to lack of ingredients, they settled on one they thought might work.
“When did you buy the turkey?” Dawn asked as she read the first few instructions.
“Yesterday. To be honest, there wasn’t much of a choice,” Amanda admitted. “It was either a Cornish hen or the one we bought.”
“It says here that the turkey should be left out to defrost for three to four days,” Dawn said worriedly.
“We’ll just turn the heat up to 500 degrees,” Amanda replied.
“Okay,” Dawn shrugged.
“Wait a second, I have to stick my hand where?” Amanda asked as she read the next set of instructions. She then looked at the turkey. “That doesn’t seem sanitary.”
“Actually, I think that’s the point,” Dawn said as the elevator opened, and the men unloaded the table.
“I’ll flip you for the honor,” Amanda said to Dawn.
“But I get to toss the coin,” Duncan countered knowingly.
“Fine, I’ll do it,” Amanda grumbled good-naturedly.
Once Duncan and Richie set up the table, she told them to leave. “Go workout. Dawn and I will take care of the cooking.”
“Amanda, are you sure?” Duncan repeated.
“Go!” she ordered waving them off with a wooden spoon. The men raised their hands in surrender and returned to the elevator.
“If you need anything, just shout,” Duncan said.
Dawn bit back a smile.
“You know I caught him trying to make dinner reservations,” Amanda said. “I convinced him not to.”
“She pulled a knife on you?” Richie asked incredulously.
Duncan nodded as they began stretching. “It wasn’t so much the knife as the open-ended threat. Amanda can be pretty creative.”
“Why is she so determined to cook supper?”
“I’m not sure,” Duncan said rolling his shoulders. “The holiday season can make people do things they normally wouldn’t.”
“Do you think they’ll be able to pull it off?” Richie asked.
Duncan looked as his friend and shrugged. Each man wondered inwardly whether they would be dining on turkey, pizza or chow mien.
“So what else is on the menu?” Dawn asked once they got the turkey in the oven and cranked up the heat.
“Green beans, Caesar salad, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and stuffing,” Amanda said lifting a box of ‘Stove Top’. “I’m not ambitious enough to make it from scratch, and there’s pumpkin pie for dessert.
“Where do you want to start?”
“How about the potatoes? I think they’ll take the longest to cook,” Amanda said heaving the bag up onto the counter.
“I heard somewhere that if you cut them into small pieces, they’ll cook faster,” Dawn said picking up a knife.
“Okay, we’ll cut them into one inch pieces. That should be small enough,” Amanda said as she grabbed the biggest pot she could find.
Chatting while they worked, it wasn’t long before they cut up all the potatoes and put them in the water-filled pot. Placing the pot on the largest burner, they turned the heat up. Dawn started working the Caesar salad, and Amanda took care of the green beans and stuffing.
“What’s the point of cranberry sauce?” Dawn asked as Amanda opened the can and scooped out the contents into a bowl.
“I don’t know, but Duncan likes it,” she replied as she rinsed out the can. Being the Boy Scout that he was, Duncan had separate bins for recycling plastics, glass and cans. If I’m going to live forever, I might as well try to make the world a better place to live in, he would often remind her.
Distracted by her thoughts of Duncan, she wasn’t paying attention to what she was doing. The can slipped, and she cursed as the sharp edge of the lid sliced deeply into her hand. “Son of a -”
“Are you okay?” Dawn asked as she came quickly to the woman’s side.
“I’m fine,” she said wincing as blood began to flow freely.
“Better rinse it,” Dawn suggested and grabbed some paper towels.
Damn, Amanda thought as the wound began to close on its own. She saw Dawn’s eyes go wide.
“So that’s what it’s like,” the girl said.
“I can explain.”
“You’re an immortal,” Dawn said matter-of-factly causing Amanda to blink.
“Did Richie tell you?”
“No, I kinda suspected it when you first came to the dojo.”
“What tipped you off?”
“Well, when Duncan and I were sparring, I could tell that he sensed another immortal,” Dawn explained handing her the paper towels. “I thought he was sensing Richie, but he was sensing you. Then both of you sensed Richie when he did arrive.”
“Was this the first time you’ve seen one of us heal?” Amanda asked as she dried her hands.
“So Richie’s never shown you?”
“Not really. I mean he’s been injured, but I’ve never seen the actual healing process,” Dawn said while she grated the parmesan cheese for the salad. “It seems rather rude to ask your boyfriend to mutilate himself just so you can watch the wounds knit together.”
Figuring everything was under control, they set the table. Amanda was trying to turn the napkins into fans when Dawn came back from the bathroom.
“Is something burning?” she asked.
Amanda sniffed and, wide-eyed, turned to the oven. “Oh no!”
Duncan was about to pin Richie for the third time when the fire alarm went off. They froze for a moment then scrambled to their feet.
“Amanda!” Duncan yelled rushing up the stairs.
“Dawn!” Richie shouted one step behind his friend.
Upon opening the door to the loft, they were greeted by the stench of burnt meat. The charred turkey sat on a stool in front of an open window while Dawn flapped a dish towel to help disperse the smoke.
“What happened?” Duncan asked.
“The turkey wasn’t thawed, and it was too big to put in the microwave so I turned up the heat,” Amanda explained as she tried to cut the bird only to find that it was still frozen on the inside.
“It sounded good in theory,” Dawn consoled as she folded the dish cloth.
“It’s okay, Amanda,” Richie said. “There’s other stuff to eat.”
“He’s right. We have the salad, stuffing, cranberry sauce and potatoes,” Dawn said. When she lifted the lid of the big pot, her face fell. “Oops.”
Amanda came over and saw the problem. The potatoes had disintegrated so the end result resembled some akin to extra runny cream of wheat. She sighed then sniffed the air again. “What’s that smell?”
“It’s just the turkey,” Dawn said.
“No, it’s not,” Richie said as he grabbed the pan off the stove and lifted the lid. The scent of scorched beans added another dimension to the smoky air. He brought the pan to the open window, and once again, Dawn flapped the dish cloth.
“Come here,” Duncan said comfortingly as he pulled Amanda into a hug. He couldn’t help but smile at the forlorn expression she had.
“I just wanted to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family,” she sniffed, a pout dangerously coming close to forming, “and I wanted it to be nice for Dawn who can’t be with hers.”
“Amanda, this is probably one of the most normal Thanksgivings I’ve ever had,” Dawn said with a small laugh.
“Really?” she asked.
“Really really,” Dawn smiled.
Duncan checked his watch then looked at the culinary disaster that was to be dinner. “Um, Adam and Joe will be here in less than an hour. Any suggestions?”
“Pizza?” Richie offered.
“Anchovies,” Amanda and Dawn said in unison then turned to each other in bemusement while Richie shook his head at the request.
In the end, everything turned out okay. As they cleaned up the mess, Dawn told Amanda a bit about her past including, rather impulsively, that her sister was a vampire slayer. The female immortal’s lack of shock caused the others to blink, and she told them that she had met a slayer or two in her past. When Duncan questioned why she never told him, she simply replied that he had never asked.
Joe and Adam arrived a short while later. When told what had happened to dinner, the men wisely offered their condolences to Amanda. They were saved from any further comment by the arrival of the food.
Richie put the open boxes on the table, and Duncan poured the wine. The non-traditional Thanksgiving feast was quite enjoyable and was finished off with pumpkin pie.
“So you’re saying that something bad happens to your family on all major holidays,” Joe said skeptically.
“Most of them,” Dawn nodded after swallowing a bit of pie, “and some of the minor ones.”
“Halloween?” Duncan asked.
“One time everyone became their costumes. Xander became a military guy, Willow a ghost and Buffy an 18th-century noble woman,” Dawn replied. “Then there was the time they got trapped inside a haunted frat house.”
“I though you said weird stuff didn’t usually happen on Halloween,” Richie said as he tipped the red canister and squirted more whipped cream on his piece of pie.
“Vampires tend to stay in, but other stuff can be active,” she clarified, “though it’s usually because of something a human did.”
“What about Christmas?” Joe asked out of curiosity.
“The very first evil tried to convince Buffy’s vampire boyfriend to commit suicide,” Dawn said then added thoughtfully. “It was probably trying to tip the scales in the war between good and evil.”
“Valentine’s Day?” Duncan asked.
“Love spell gone wrong,” she replied. “Most of the female population of Sunnydale fell in love with Xander then tried to kill him.”
“Okay,” Adam said sending her a contemplative look. “What’s the worst day of the year?”
“My sister’s birthday,” Dawn said instantly. “Something always attacks her then.”
“Isn’t something always trying to attack her?” Richie asked. “I mean throughout the year?”
“Yeah, but it’s extra special on her birthday.”
“On her nineteenth birthday, Giles was turned into a Fyarl demon, and Buffy almost killed him with a letter opener. Then, on her twentieth birthday, a hell god tried to kill us,” Dawn said then sipped her tea. “During her twenty-first birthday party, I accidentally trapped us inside the house.”
“How do you ‘accidentally’ trap yourself inside a house?” Joe asked.
“I was having some abandonment issues at the time and wished that people would stop leaving,” she explained with a bit of a shrug. “Unfortunately a vengeance demon, oh wait, I’m sorry. A justice demon granted the wish, and we couldn’t leave the house which might not have been so bad if we hadn’t been trapped with another demon.”
“The justice demon,” Duncan said.
Dawn shook her head. “No, a different demon.”
“Different demon?” Amanda repeated.
“Uh-huh. It could hide inside the walls,” she explained. “Buffy was able to stab it with its own sword. It got sucked into the sword then Buffy killed it when she snapped the blade in half.”
“How did you get out of the house?” Duncan asked.
“Halfrek, the justice demon who granted my wish, accidentally got trapped with us. When she couldn’t leave, she was forced to lift the curse,” she said then let out a big sigh. “I love my sister, but all things considered, I’m really glad I’m going to miss her birthday.”
“I don’t blame you,” Joe said.
“And I thought our lives were exciting,” Amanda added causing Dawn’s cheeks to pink.
“I’d like to propose a toast,” Adam said raising his wine glass. “May our exciting lives be occasionally dull.”
“Here, here,” everyone toasted then clinked glasses.
After a moment, Dawn spoke up. “You do realize that you’ve just jinxed us all, and I reserve the right to remind you of this at the earliest opportunity.”
“Duly noted,” Adam smiled and finished his pie.
Author’s note: Although Dawn was not actually present when some of the past holiday events happened, this story was written with the assumption that the monks’ spell gave her those memories. There have been similar examples in the show itself (re: Dawn’s reaction to Faith when the rogue slayer returned to Sunnydale in Season 7). When those monks do a spell, it’s pretty comprehensive.