A/N: Last chapter! I'll do a sequel sometime, promise! Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to review, I love you all! Love xx Shezzi
Jean Claude glared around the room, eyes finally settling on Dawn, who cowered slightly. Shang Da wrapped an arm protectively around her shoulders, eyeing the vampire carefully.
“The power from this room was felt throughout the circus, probably throughout the city. If we do not have police here shortly I will be very much surprised,” the vampire stated quietly. “So, does someone want to explain what it is that is going on?”
“Ummm…I think I can explain,” offered Willow, eyeing Anita, who hadn’t put her gun down.
“Ma petite, the gun, please,” Jean Claude said softly. Anita scowled, but set the gun on the table, flicking the safety on.
“Everyone, sit,” directed the master vampire. Dawn and Shang Da moved as a single unit to the two empty seats that had been left for the Ulfric and Hati, and Richard, after a single glance, took the seat between Spike and Micah, as everyone else slowly returned to their own. “Explain,” he ordered Willow, who nodded.
“Dawn…is complicated,” began Willow slowly. Xander snorted lightly at that understatement, and Spike glared at him.
Willow sent them both a quelling glance and continued. “She wasn’t born; she was created to hide a powerful preternatural force known as the Key. She came into being at fourteen years of age with the memories of a life as the little sister of Buffy Summers, the Slayer. She was sent there because there was a hell goddess searching for the Key to open a portal to her own dimension, which would basically have destroyed this one. Buffy died preventing that. Since then, the power of the Key has lain dormant within Dawn, but it was a major threat on the hellmouth, so we left, subsequently learning the truth about the world. It’s not like this on the hellmouth; almost all vampires are revenants, weres are insane animals on the three nights of the full moon, and demons are everywhere.” She stopped and took a quick sip of water.
“Earlier, when I saw Dawn’s eyes had changed colour, from blue to green, the colour of the Key’s energy, I studied her on the astral plane. With the inclusion of a beast, Dawn has grown more…in tune, for want of a better word, with the power that is caged inside of her. Her body needed an outlet, however small, for that power, so it changed her eyes. It was also a possibility, although at the time it seemed rather small, that she would draw, and be drawn to, an alpha powerful enough to protect her. If she gets into too many power struggles, the bonds on the Key’s power are unlikely to hold; it’s already overflowing somewhat. That’s what happened tonight; the Key recognized its protector and drew him to her, and vice versa.” She stopped talking and looked around the table. The range of expressions she encountered were rather interesting.
Spike and Xander were wearing almost identical expressions, the expression of older brothers and fathers world wide, the one that said, ‘Is he good enough for her?’ Anita and Jean Claude were eyeing each other carefully, although their expressions were the most understanding. Tara had already known what was going on, so her expression was fairly bland. Shang Da and Dawn were listening carefully, but the explanation didn’t seem to upset either of them. Richard’s face, however, was black as thunder.
He stood suddenly and slammed a fist down on the table, a splintering crack informing all present that he had broken the thick hardwood. “You’ve forced one of my wolves into a mystical binding?” he growled, furious.
“Richard,” Anita said firmly, glaring at the man. “This isn’t about us; and it wasn’t done intentionally. Plus, does it look like he minds?”
“And how did you feel when you realized that the arduer was making your men into exactly what you needed them to be, the perfect partner, the perfect wife?” demanded Richard, scowling.
Anita pursed her lips but was forced to concede the point. She had been upset, at first, but had quickly come to understand exactly what it meant, that she had become exactly what each of them had needed as well.
“Look at them, Richard,” she told him. The two, having lost interest in the conversation, had gone back to staring at each other, expressions soft yet somehow possessive and protective at the same time.
Richard stared, his own expression softening slightly. He knew only a little of his Hati’s life in his previous pack, but he knew that it hadn’t been pretty. Slowly he nodded and sank back into his chair.
“So, what happens now?” asked Xander, glancing around the table.
“Not much changes. We still have to be out of St Louis tomorrow, Dawn will still be staying with the Pard, and we’ll leave them alone to let their relationship evolve at its own pace,” Tara replied softly. The others nodded slowly in agreement.
“Asher, mon chardonnet, would you kindly go upstairs and explain that there was a small magical accident, nothing to be worried about?” Asher nodded his assent and left the room, heading for the stairs.
“Now, I believe we were going to eat,” Jean Claude declared, bringing the evening back on track.
After a massive meal, and an amazing amount of talk, particularly between the three vampires, they sat back from the table, replete. Dawn yawned hugely, and several of the others followed suit.
“Dawn, would you like to stay here tonight, or come and settle in at the house?” asked Anita, watching the girl carefully.
Dawn shrugged, not really caring very much. “I won’t really have anything to settle in with until we find a way to get my stuff from Uncle Dolph’s,” she admitted, her voice breaking slightly over the name. “And of course until these guys get around to sending me my stuff from LA,” she added, glancing at her family, who nodded slowly.
“I brought you a few things,” Willow told her softly.
“Thanks, Will,” Dawn replied, smiling at the thought of getting out of the, although comfortable, decidedly ugly sweats. She yawned again, then answered Anita’s question. “If there’s room, I think I could just curl up here,” she told the older woman, who nodded.
“Jason will show you to a room,” offered Jean Claude, but Xander interrupted.
“She can share with me,” he said, drawing glances from everyone at the table, and a soft growl from Shang Da. “Oh don’t even go there, wolf-boy,” snapped the hyena. “She’s my baby sister, but we’ll both sleep better if we’ve got someone to curl up with, you all know this, and hell if I’m letting her sleep with you tonight!” Slowly, Shang Da nodded his agreement, and everyone sought their beds, although some had different purposes in mind than others.
The next morning Dawn stood on the tarmac, tears standing in her eyes as she waved to the small jet as it taxied down the runway. Micah gripped her shoulder gently, and she slowly turned away as the machine disappeared into the distance.
“Let’s get you home,” the Nimir-Raj said, and the girl nodded slowly. They made their way back across the tarmac and to the car, Dawn glancing over her shoulder occasionally as though she expected the jet to suddenly reappear.
They reached the car, and Dawn climbed into the back next to Shang Da, who had opted to avoid the last round of ‘take care of our sister or else’, which he had been subjected to all morning. He smiled gently at her, and held out an arm. She snuggled against his side, his arm wrapping tightly around her shoulders, and he pressed a kiss against her hair. She sighed, her beast content, the power under her skin dormant, and her body relaxed against him. For the first time in years, she felt at peace.