Voodoo Love Spells & the Carpenter Seal of Approva
Chapter Four – Voodoo Love Spells and the Carpenter Seal of Approval
Dawn/Jon, maybe more as we go alongSummary:
Age does not protect you from love, but to some extent love protects you from age. Dawn is about to find out that walking away from one battle may have led her into another one. Disclaimer:
I don't own anything except for my laptop and a vivid imagination. Whatever Joss doesn't own belongs to those guys who own Stargate.Author's Note:
I know it’s been forever since I’ve updated and I totally apologize, especially since you guys have been so generous with the reviews. Real life can be a bitca and the last few months have been crazy. I don’t promise that my updates will be any more timely, but I do promise to really try.Last Chapter:“Thanks again, Riley, I owe you one.”
“Just remind Graham if you see him, he promised the girls he’d come visit for their birthday,” he requested.
“I haven’t said yes to their offer yet,” she countered.
“I think the fact that you used the word ‘yet’ speaks volumes.”
When Dawn finally hung up a few minutes later, she couldn’t help but smile.
Despite what Riley seemed to think, she had a decision to make.
She was really going to do this.
After two days of careful consideration that had included weighing her options and enough lists and charts that would have made the inner organizational geek in Willow giddy with approval, Dawn had made her decision.
Granted, she didn’t know anyone other than Major Davis and Graham Miller in the Stargate Program. And even then, Major Davis wasn’t really based out of Cheyenne. And she couldn’t exactly ask anyone about Graham, seeing as she wasn’t supposed to know he was there. But being involved with the Stargate Program would open up a whole new world of opportunity for her. Actually several new worlds of opportunity if you wanted to get technical about it.
It wasn’t that Dawn was unhappy with the work she’d been doing. In fact, she was quite proud of her career and knew that she had played a vital role in helping people in need. As a translator she had traveled to nearly every country at least once and had been involved in everything from providing medical aid in Ghana to digging irrigation systems in Gujarat.
But hidden somewhere deep within her heart, Dawn had to admit that she had never completely gotten over being pushed out of the fight. And even though she wouldn’t exactly be on the front lines, she was at least being allowed to join this fight. The terrain may be different, but the importance to the world was just as great.
It was still pretty early in the morning as she made her way further south through Colorado Springs on Highway 115. She was probably going to be really early in getting to the mountain, but her experience with security at the Pentagon had taught her that she would probably need the extra time. As it was, the sun was just making its presence known in the east as the tell-tale streaks of red and orange light crested the tops of the mountains in the distance.
Once she’d made her decision and contacted Major Davis, she had told him in no uncertain terms that it would be a month before she was available to join the program. Due to the transient nature of her work, she didn’t have a lot of personal belongings to deal with, but she hadn’t wanted to rush through anything either. So, she took the first two weeks to make the arrangements for her things and the second two weeks for herself.
The Air Force had offered to fly her to Colorado and ship her vehicle, but Dawn had decided to use the extra time to make the drive herself. It had been a while since she’d spent any amount of time in the States and she wanted the opportunity to rediscover the land of her (sort of) birth. Driving wasn’t something she got to do often and she found that it actually relaxed her.
The Range Rover she drove was about a decade away from being considered ‘new,’ but it was comfortable and reliable and allowed her to take the long way to Colorado and do a little sight-seeing along the way. Just yesterday she’d spent nearly the whole day hiking the trails in the Garden of the Gods. And when she’d returned to her motel room that evening, she gathered the courage needed to make the call she knew she could no longer avoid.
“Council Headquarters, Layla speaking. How may I direct your call?”
It didn’t surprise Dawn that she didn’t recognize the name or voice of the woman who’d answered the phone. Even when she was still involved with the Council, the turnover had been pretty high. Apocalypse season tended to play havoc with the steno pool. After taking a deep breath, she finally answered the receptionist.
“Hi. I’m trying to reach Xander please.” Dawn hated the uncertainty that had managed to take her voice hostage. She sat on the edge of the hotel bed, twirling the phone cord around her fingers until they started to turn white from the lack of blood flow.
“I’m afraid Director Harris is unavailable at the moment,” came the crisp reply from the receptionist. If the woman’s tone hadn’t been so annoyingly superior, Dawn might have given in to the urge to giggle at the formality of Xander’s title. It was so at odds with her memories of the brother-figure she had grown up with. As it was though, she had to fight the urge to knock the receptionist and her attitude down a peg or two. Some days it was just too easy to revert to the bratty little sister role.
“Look, I know he’s busy, but I really need to talk to him, Layla. Can’t you just see if he’s got a free second or two?” she asked instead. It would actually be easier if Xander was too busy. That way he wouldn’t have too much time to freak out on her or try to talk her out of it.
“Again, I’m sorry Miss...?” the receptionist said, although it didn’t sound to Dawn like the woman was the least bit sorry.
“Summers. It’s Miss Summers,” Dawn replied.
“Oh, Miss Summers!” The change to the welcoming tone in the woman’s voice was so abrupt that for a moment Dawn thought she might be speaking to a different person. “I didn’t realize it was you,” she continued. “Director Harris left standing instructions to put you through to him immediately whenever you call.
As pleasant as the change in attitude may have been, Dawn didn’t feel right about letting Xander’s receptionist continue to think that she was someone else.
“This isn’t Buffy, Layla. This is her sister Dawn,” she said apologetically. “There’s no emergency and this isn’t Council business.”
“Oh I know who you are, Dawn,” the woman replied and Dawn thought she could detect a note of humor in her voice. “When Director Summers calls, she doesn’t really ask so much as demand to speak to Director Harris.”
Even with the slight dig at her sister, Dawn grew a little misty-eyed thinking about what the woman’s words meant. It was just so sweet and so Xander to value her friendship enough to put everything else on hold when she called. She didn’t have long to think about it though, as she heard a quick click of the line and she knew that she was being transferred.
“This is Harris.” Again, Dawn was forced to try and reconcile the all-business, no nonsense voice with the goofy, Twinkie-eating fiend that she knew so well.
“If this is a bad time, I can always call back, Xand.” Although she wasn’t actually sure when she would have another opportunity to call again, from the harried tone of his voice, she knew that her friend must be in the middle of something important.
“Dawnie! Dawnster! Oh she of the morning light! How are you?” And for just a moment it was like coming home. He was using his Xander voice. That special blend of wry humor and genuine affection that always felt like he saved it just for her.
“I’m fine, Xand. How are you?” she replied.
“Oh, you know how it is,” he drawled. “A little voodoo love spell here, a little demon insurrection there – the usual.”
“Voodoo love spell?” she asked. No matter how many years had passed or how important his position with the Council had become, Xander’s love life was still the stuff of legend. Cringe-worthy, chock full o’ demons and angst, sure to end in a bloodletting legend anyway.
“Why is it that everyone seems to fixate on the love spell part?” he asked and she had to laugh at the touch of indignation in his voice.
“Because everyone knows that Xander and love spells are un-mixy things,” she said with a laugh, though she was only half-kidding.
“I will have you know that the love spell had nothing to do with me this time,” he said. “There were no awkward encounters with anyone’s mothers or scary women bearing of the axes for the Xand-man this time, thank you very much.”
Dawn felt herself leaning back relaxing into the pillows on the motel bed; their comfortable banter easing some of the tension that had worked its way into her body. Somehow they always managed to revert to the California-speech of their childhood, sounding more like the teenagers that they had been than the mature adults that they were supposed to be now. She toed off her sandals and stretched her long, denim-clad legs out in front of her.
“By the way, I don’t know who was more creeped out by that – you or my mother,” she said. Time and distance had left them all with fond memories instead of the pain and sorrow that used to go hand in hand with thoughts of her mother.
“Hey! Joyce told me she didn’t remember anything that happened that day,” said Xander.
“Yeah, well, she also said she didn’t remember anything from the band candy incident either, but she still blushed like crazy every time Giles came within three feet of her,” she drawled in response.
His answering laughter was immediate and hearty and brought an instant smile to her face. But it only lasted a few moments before it died down and Dawn was once again reminded that her friend was a very busy man. She pulled herself to a sitting position on the bed, her back straight against the headboard, as she bent her knees and wrapped her arms tightly around them. She still had something to tell him.
“You know that I hate to cut you short, Dawnie, but I was only partially kidding about the whole demon insurrection thing,” he said. “I’ve got meetings and negotiations coming out the wazoo for the next couple of days. Did you just call to give me the latest coordinates or was there something else?”
Her relationship with Buffy had stretched and strained over the years to the point where it was actually easier for both of them to be distant with one another. And Dawn knew that by extension, that same distance would carry over into her relationships with the rest of the Scooby Gang. To her surprise and good fortune, Xander had been unwilling to accept that idea.
No matter how it affected his relationships with the others, he had been unwilling to drift apart let alone sever all ties with her. The pair had stayed relatively close and unbeknownst to the others, Xander always knew where Dawn was located. She called him before and after every job that she accepted and always gave him the particulars about where she would be assigned and emergency contact information. And although she would never ask it of him, Xander had always kept that information to himself; separate from her sister and the others.
“Actually, Xan, it’s a little bit of both,” she said, hoping that she had managed to mask the nervousness that she felt from her friend.
“Okay I’m really going to try not to be paranoid about that tone in your voice,” he replied and she knew that she hadn’t managed to hide anything.
“I’m actually taking a job stateside for a while,” she told him vaguely.
“Long or short term?” he asked and she could tell he was not so patiently waiting for the bomb to drop.
“Well, I didn’t have to sign a contract for this one,” she said. Just a non-disclosure agreement,
she added silently. “But I think that it has the potential to be a long-term, maybe even permanent job.”
With every word she uttered, Dawn knew that she was causing increasing concern for her friend. She had never accepted any assignments that lasted longer than a year. She had always claimed that in order to do the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people, she needed to be able to spread herself around. In the darkest part of her heart, though, she could admit that shorter assignments made it harder to make friends and therefore harder to lose friends. If Xander had ever suspected the truth, he’d never called her on it.
“I see,” he replied noncommittally. Dawn had heard the expression about tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. Until now, she hadn’t realized it could ever apply to a phone conversation. “And where would this long-term maybe even permanent type job be taking place?” he asked.
“You know usually you’re a lot more forthcoming with the details,” said Xander. “The whole lack of the coming or the forth is not making paranoid Xander feel any better. What’s going on, Dawnie?”
So – gauntlet thrown. The question demanded an answer. The moment she had been dreading was at hand and just like her conversation a month earlier with Riley, she had no idea what she was going to say.
“Okay, well…the job would be in Colorado; Colorado Springs specifically. It would be another translation job obviously. And the um reason for the long-term or maybe longer is that I’m really interested in this one. I would still be working to help people and I’m excited about the stuff I’ll be doing.”
And it was true. She was more excited about this job prospect than any other she had ever received (for obvious, alien-type reasons).
“Well that's great, Dawn, but even though I can’t see it, I know you have but-face.”
“Did you just call me a butt-face?” she laughed, but it sounded weak even to her own ears.
“Quit stalling and get with part that comes after the but,” and his tone left no more room for negotiation.
“Okay, the part that you’ll probably hate is that I would be working for the military,” she said. The slight hiss of air coming from the other end of the line told her that she hadn’t been wrong.
“But before you say anything or fly off the handle, hear me out,” she continued. “The group I’ll be working with is legitimate; Riley even says they check out. And I won’t be doing anything any more dangerous than any other job I’ve taken. In fact, it will probably be less dangerous. And I already know someone there, cuz Riley said that Graham Miller is there, and okay maybe he was the one that lured Riley away from Buffy, but I think everyone agrees that that actually worked out for the best and it’s not like I haven’t thought it through or anything because I have and it’s really something that I want to do and-“
“Dawn!!” She could vaguely hear Xander shouting her name and realized from his tone that he had probably been calling her name at least a few times during her rant.
“Yeah?” she asked, waiting for the impending implosion.
“Just be careful, okay?” he requested.
That was it? Just be careful? What the hell?
“That’s all you have to say?” she asked. “No trying to talk me out of it or threatening to have a team of slayers key-nap me away?” He was way too calm. If anything, it was making her even more tense.
“What else should I say, Dawn? You’re a grown woman, and a smart one at that; you can make your own decisions,” he said. “Will I worry? Yes. But I do that anyway. If you’re sure, then that’s all I need to know.”
“Well – that’s kind of anticlimactic,” she said; having no idea what else she could say. She really had misjudged him and now she felt embarrassed for having done it.
“Take care of yourself, Dawnie. Call when you can, all right?”
“Hey, now that I’ll be in a non-third world country, I can call and email whenever I want. I might even go all mainstream and get myself a cell phone now,” she joked.
“I love you, Dawn. You know that, right?” he asked.
“I love you too, Xand,” she said, trying not to get all teary-eyed and mucus-y until after she hung up. “I’ll call you with an address and my phone number when I get one, kay?”
They had drawn out their good-byes for a few more minutes until Dawn could hear his secretary interrupting apologetically in the background. With that, he was back to his demon insurrection and she was back to her quiet motel room and a quick change before dropping off to sleep.
She had been awake for what felt like forever and the drive had been long, so she decided that stopping for one more cup of coffee would give her enough energy for the final push to Cheyenne Mountain.