disclaimer: These characters belong to Joss Whedon, Tim Kring, Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley, and Mark McCorkle.
timeline/spoilers: Through "The Fifth Stage" (episode 11) season 4 for Heroes. Through season 7 of BtVS and the movie Sky High.
Something had finally come up in housing. She would have a roommate, but Dawn wasn't going to be choosy. Sure, she'd love a single, but she'd registered so late. She was also starting college rather late too, but that couldn't be helped. Evil did not rest.
She'd been staying in one of those pay by the week motels and busing in. Buffy still wanted to know what made her want to go to school in Virginia. Dawn herself did not know the answer to that. She felt like having a college education on top of her watcher one, so she was going. Something about the brochure had nudged her.
She entered her new room and set all her bags on the bed. The opposite bed had a bunch of stuffed bears on it. There was also a thing for Psi Alpha Chi on the desk on that side.
"Great," Dawn muttered. "A Greek girl. Probably a cheerleader in high school."
She looked up when Oz shuffled in carrying more boxes. It was nice that he'd made it by to help her out. He'd driven that van of his all the way in from Cleveland where he was helping Faith and Robin on the Hellmouth there.
"Where you want these, Dawn?"
"I really appreciate this, Oz."
"Hey, you needed a van. I'm glad you're on campus. It'll be easier, and I got you something."
He pulled a rolled up poster from one of the boxes and handed it to her. Dawn unrolled it. It was an old Dingoes poster. It looked a lot like the one that used to be in Buffy and Willow's dorm room at UC Sunnydale.
"Oz," Dawn said, hugging him. "Thanks."
"Check out the band scene here. Keep me informed."
Dawn was about to say something when the door opened. She and Oz turned to see a petite blonde standing there. The girl looked very nervous.
"You must be Claire," Dawn said, stepping forward and extending a hand. "I'm Dawn. This is Oz."
Claire just smiled. She didn't know what else to do. She didn't want a repeat of Gretchen, but the housing department had assigned a person to the room. There wasn't a lot she could do about it.
"I'll, um, just get the rest of your stuff, Dawnie."
Dawn sighed when Oz left and went back to unpacking. One word was running through her mind... awkward.
Claire rolled her eyes at herself. She was already alienating the new roommate. She was just surprised. She thought everyone knew about her. She was practically the school pariah. Claire decided she had better make nice.
"Was that your boyfriend?"
Dawn spun around, clutching Mr. Gordo to her chest. Buffy had passed him to her when Dawn had decided to go away to school.
"Oz?" she asked, laughing. "Eww, no. He's like an older brother. He's one of my sister's friends. She lives in England, and he said he'd drive out and help me move."
"Oh," Claire said grinning.
"So... Psi Alpha Chi, huh? Please tell me the hazing is past."
Claire had no idea why she was having such a terrible time talking. It was probably because she was so nervous. If she lost a third roommate, no one would ever speak to her again, and there went any chance of her longed-for normal life.
"Please don't tell me you were a cheerleader in high school," Dawn said jokingly.
Claire gave her an awkward smile.
"Oh god. You were."
"Both in my high school in Texas and when we moved to California," Claire said with a grimace.
"Look, I didn't mean anything by it. I tried out myself once. Didn't make it. It was this whole lack of coordination thing, but my sister was a cheerleader."
"It must be nice having a sister," Claire said wistfully as she sat on her bed.
Dawn snorted. "You'd think that, but sadly not always."
She sat down on her bed with Mr. Gordo in her lap. She noticed Claire had pulled one of her bears into hers.
"You're older, right?"
"Couple of years, yeah."
"Can I ask why you didn't go to college right after high school or is that none of my business?"
Dawn grinned at Claire. How did you tell someone that you entered school late because you had been helping your sister save the world? It was definitely none of her business yet, but Dawn was trying to make nice here.
"I did a bit of traveling after high school."
Claire nodded. "Cool."
Oz carried another box in and was grinning when he saw them talking. He knew Dawn had been worried about sharing space with another person, worried about how much she would have to conceal. He had a feeling it would be all right.
His parents could not understand why he had dropped out of Standford to travel. They further did not understand why he now wanted to be a teacher's assistant at a smaller university in Arlington, Virginia. In Demonology, no less. They just didn't get it. They probably never would.
If he was going to fight the forces of darkness, Connor was going to be well-armed. He still had not figured out how to inform his biological father of this choice. Angel wanted him to have a job where he sat in a very safe office somewhere. He would at least understand, but Connor knew his father would not like it. Spike would, but Spike liked anything that pissed his father off.
Professor Whitney's class was about to start, so Connor was getting things ready. He had graded pop quizzes to hand back. He frowned when he noticed the first person to enter class. There was something about the guy Connor didn't like. He couldn't put a finger on it. Maybe it was the flames tattooed on the guy's forearms or the always wearing black or the long hair with the read streaks in it. Could have been the scowling glare.
"Peace," he said to the guy, handing him his quiz with the perfect score on it. "Good work."
Warren Peace just did the nod of acknowledgement before taking the paper and going to his seat.
Connor shook his head. Then again, maybe it was crap like that that annoyed him. Why couldn't Warren Peace talk? And who on earth named their kid Warren Peace? Then again, he supposed Connor Angel wasn't all that great either as far as names went. Not that he went by that. He was still Connor Reilly, but his his insides knew who he really was. He remembered.
As other students filed into the class, Warren watched the T.A. The guy didn't like him, that much was obvious. Part of Warren, he assumed it was something he'd gotten from his father, liked the fact that Connor Reilly got so annoyed with him. His friend Layla would scold him, but Layla wasn't here. She was studying Botany at the University of California at Riverside. She was on the whole other side of the country. That meant Warren could have a little fun without the Hippy's glare-of-reproach making him feel like an asshole.
He had other things to think about, though. There was possibly a super villain at work on the campus. A freshman had been pushed out of a window in one of the dorms. The circumstances seemed a bit suspicious to Warren, but he'd yet to catch the roommate alone to discreetly ask her questions. The death had been ruled a suicide, but then the dead girl's roomie had seemingly run off a second roommate.
It warranted checking out.
Especially since he'd heard she had a third roommate now. Warren had not been able to catch her, though. She'd pledged a sorority and always seemed to be doing something. He hated those types. If she was overly peppy, he'd toast her like a marshmallow.
They were already having sign-ups for the spring semester. Claire did not know who she'd let Dawn talk her into taking this kook class for demonology, but Claire did not want to say no. Dawn had been really nice to her, albeit a bit evasive about her past. There were a lot of stops and starts with explanations or stories. Claire felt like Dawn was hiding something.
She could not complain too hard though. She was hiding things from Dawn. Lots of things.
Claire met her father for lunch at a cafe just off campus. She frowned in confusion when he slid a file folder across the table to her.
"I looked into to your roommate. I think maybe the dorm isn't the best place for you."
"Just read it, Claire. There's something not right. Destruction follows that girl everywhere."
"Do you not want me to have friends?"
She was trying so hard to be normal, and it's like no one would let her. Not even her own father. A waitress brought them the sandwiches Noah had obviously ordered for the both of them.
"Can I get that to go?"
She didn't even wait for the waitress to respond, she just left.
Dawn was reading the campus paper online.
Someone had said something to her today about rooming with Claire Bennet and how she better watch her back. It got Dawn curious. Now she was a little horrified. She was currently in full research mode. She needed to find this girl Gretchen Berg, the previous roommate. One girl was dead, ruled a suicide, but Dawn was not so sure. Something didn't add up. The article in the paper stated that her roommate did not believe it a suicide.
There was also the fact that someone from Claire's sorority was missing - a Rebecca Taylor. It was as if someone were messing with Claire, and a part of Dawn did not like that at all. She didn't believe for a second that her roommate had done these things, but it did have to do with her. Dawn was pretty sure. From being around Buffy, she knew how bad things could happen to all the people around you when you were a supernatural being. But if Claire was a slayer, she was a poor one. She slept all through the night. Didn't patrol at all.
Dawn did know this, though, it was likely no accident that she had ended up here.
Claire slammed into the dorm room, making Dawn jump.
"Sorry. Bad day."
Dawn pointed to Claire's bed where the sealed manila envelope lay. "Some guy brought that for you. Older, glasses."
Claire bristled. She grabbed the envelope and put it in the trash. She was not going to look. She didn't want to know. Things were feeling normal again. Sure she was not as close to Dawn as she had been with Gretchen, but she was not going to allow herself to be. Stuff like that got you hurt, and Claire was done with being hurt. Everyone outside of her family that she had ever trusted with her secret had been left behind or left her behind. Zach, West, Elle, Gretchen. It was a pattern.
Dawn raised her eyebrows but went back to her laptop. She wondered what was in that envelope that Claire would not even look at.
The Psi Alpha Chis were having a mixer, and Warren was going to crash. He knew this Claire girl would probably be there. Those types had a required number of social events they had to attend. He was dreading it, but a little research had also led him to the fact that in addition to having a dead roommate, she also had a missing sorority sister. He was pretty sure she had something to do with it.
He got a lot of odd looks form all the Skippers looking at him as he walked in. There was only one blonde he was interested in though.
"Claire Bennet?" he asked, flashing his exceptionally white teeth.
Layla had always told him that his smile was lethal, that it made girls forget themselves. The girl currently before him just giggled and pointed. Why did no one around here have any substance to them?
Warren frowned when he saw Claire, though. She was standing off in the corner by herself looking like she'd rather be shot than be there. She was not even drinking like so many of her other sorority sisters. Well, she was, but a bottle of water. Not what he expected. Warren smirked and grabbed a beer out of one of the coolers before approaching.
She didn't look like a super villain, but then again, neither had Gwen Grayson.
Claire gave a mental sigh when the guy leaned on the wall next to her. He didn't look like any of the other frat boys here. His hair was almost the same length as hers was currently. In fact, it seemed like some of the brothers had spotted him and were planning a removal.
"Look, I'm not interested, and they like to humiliate crashers, so you should probably take off."
"Not interested in what," he asked, smirking.
Her tone had been a bit forceful. Not a Barbie in sight for it. All right. Sassy and not what he expected at all.
"Dancing, hooking up, whatever you had in mind. I'm only here because I have to be."
"Actually, I was going to ask you about Annie and Becky."
Claire turned and looked at him in shock before taking off. She heard one of her sorority sisters calling her, but she did not stop. She was walking furiously and twisting the cap on her bottle of water. Why did people always want to watch the freak show? Why couldn't she just have a normal life? That was all she wanted.
She shouted in surprise when someone grabbed her from behind. That turned into a full-bodied scream when she felt something puncture her neck.
Dawn was walking back to the dorm when she heard a scream. She fumbled for her stake in her messenger bag and ran in the direction the screams came from. She was horrified to see a vampire throw Claire to the ground.
"There you are. We heard the slayer's sister was here."
Dawn bristled. She was surrounded. The first one that rushed her got a solid kick to the face. He should have recalled what he had said. After all, her sister was a slayer. Most vampires still referred to her as the
slayer. Did they not think Buffy taught her how to fight?
Claire shook her head to clear it and sat up. She blinked. Dawn was surrounded by guys and fighting them and doing pretty well. Claire scrambled to her feet and rushed to help. The guys didn't have normal faces. They were all monster-y. Claire was just shocked enough that one of them grabbed her arm and broke it.
He seemed shocked when she didn't howl in pain like a normal girl would, but reset it herself then punched him with the same arm.
Dawn grabbed another stake from her bag and had two hands going. She dusted three easily. Buffy had been training her since she was sixteen. This was cake for her. They were all newly-turned and not very strong.
"Claire," She called, tossing her roommate a stake. "In the heart."
Claire caught the wood and punctured the chest. There was only one thing she knew of that you stabbed in the heart with wood. The reality of it was making her freak out. The guy before her exploded into dust and Claire was pretty sure some got in her mouth, but she was too shocked by what had just happened to have a proper freak out just now.
The last one of the bunch was about to grab the little blonde. Dawn was rushing to stop him as Claire turned in a daze to see what was wrong. Suddenly, the vampire burst into flames. Dawn jerked Claire out of his grasp. He burned quickly then ended as a pile of dust.
Dawn saw a shape run off into the night. She would have chased, but Claire seemed to be in shock. She put an arm around the blonde.
"Yes, vampires are real. So are a lot of things. We should talk. Especially since I'm pretty sure you should be dead and have a broken arm and you don't."
Warren watched from behind a tree as the two girls went into their dorm. He was completely thrown. None of this was as he thought.
Claire Bennet had the ability to regenerate. He'd watched her broken arm mend itself. He had suspected something like that, but he'd been mistaken. She was not a super villain. She was a bona fide hero with hero support. At least that's who he figured the skinny brunette with the amazing roundhouse kick was.
They'd been fighting vampires, of all things, and they'd had it well under control until the end. Villains did not dispose of things that went bump. They teamed up with them.
Layla would be proud that he had helped them. There was always that unanswered question in his mind of if he was more like his father or mother.
He supposed he now knew.
Claire and Dawn were sitting on the bed and staring at one another. The dust was still settling from their round of truth, and both girls were a little in shock.
"So," Dawn said. "Not a slayer."
"Just a cheerleader."
"I think I'm going to throw up," Claire said suddenly.
"Because of what I said?"
"No, because I got vampire dust in my mouth."
Claire rushed for the bathroom. Dawn had been there. It happened to everyone their first time. You're so in shock that you forget to close your mouth. She grabbed a soda from their little mini fridge and headed down the hall to check on her new buddy.