Willow almost growled as she picked up the phone, “Xander, I don't have time … Oz? I don't watch a lot of TV. Alright, sure.”
Willow flipped on the TV using the remote and was stunned speechless to see Xander and Dawn on screen.
“He's polishing a car while Dawn is killing zombies?! What’s wrong with him?!”
“Yeah, it is a nice car. Yeah, Dawn is a good shot and she does seem relaxed.”
“I guess that makes sense.”
“Yeah, he called just a little while ago …” Willow fell silent as she saw Xander on the screen trying to call her and she recalled what her response had been.
Her face paled as she heard Dawn's accusation, and when Ted appeared to kidnap her friends she fainted.
* * *
“Hi!” Ted said cheerfully as he drove. “Sorry if we got off on the wrong foot last time, but it turned out my database lacked any information on the supernatural, so my actions were completely inappropriate for the situation.”
“Like the drugged cookies?” Xander asked, turning sideways to shield Dawn with his body, just in case Ted became violent.
“Drugged?!” Ted frowned. “I suppose technically they were drugged, but I used all natural and legal herbs in them. It was designed to have a calming effect, to help prevent hypertension and high blood pressure, which is prevalent in nearly everyone who lives in Sunnydale for some reason.”
“And the dead wives?” Xander asked.
“Do you know what funeral homes do to dead bodies? And that’s not even taking into account any deviants working at those places. I wasn't about to let any of those people near the bodies of those I loved,” Ted said firmly.
“How about the fact that you killed them?!”
“Once again I'm going to have to answer that you're technically correct, I did cause fatal heart attacks in all of my wives, but that was due to age and exertion, not any ill intent on my part.”
“How does that work?” Dawn asked confused.
“Well, when a man and a woman love each other very much...” Ted trailed off for a second before continuing, “and when that man happens to be able to be active for up to 56 hours before needing a recharge...”
“Ok, I get you,” Xander said, not wanting to hear any more.
“And beating up my sister?” Dawn asked.
“Have we met?”
“Dawn Summers, Joyce's youngest daughter?” Dawn replied trying to get a response.
“Sorry, being offlined by Buffy seems to have scrambled my memory a bit. I'm afraid I don't remember you,” Ted replied. “But the answer to your question about Buffy is simple, since I didn't know the supernatural existed I thought she was delusional and high on drugs; my actions were to give her someone more durable than the average human to focus her anger on until she was subdued and the drugs were out of her system.”
“Ok, that pretty much covers past actions; how about current ones?” Xander asked.
“How do you mean?” Ted asked, confused.
“I mean kidnapping us,” Xander pointed out dryly.
“It’s my car,” Ted replied. “And I thought you wanted out of town.”
Xander relaxed and leaned back in his seat. “Oh.”
Ted nodded. “I need to know more about how I should be behaving, as my programming is seriously out of date and I can't afford to stick out unless I want some scientist taking me apart and you could use some help if I'm not mistaken.”
“You'll obey our orders?” Xander asked.
“Until the current danger is past,” Ted confirmed.
Xander stuck out a hand, “Deal.”
* * *
“I really should talk to Buffy about jumping to conclusions about people,” Joyce said absently.
Giles wasn't paying attention, as he was cleaning his glasses and muttering about Willow's priorities and the idea of Xander teaching anyone how to behave properly.
A commercial for life insurance came on while a small square in the bottom of the screen showed Xander and Dawn relaxing and eating as Ted drove.
* * *
As he could drive safely using just a small fraction of his attention, Ted triggered a replay of the broadcast from the system in his basement, a bit surprised that it had followed Xander and Dawn by using local cameras and using a third of its spare cpu cycles to enhance the quality of the signal, but then it was entirely possible he'd upgraded the system and forgot when Buffy offlined him.
Occasionally the secondary attention flag sent him a few minutes of the zombie vs. rake fight that was still ongoing.
* * *
“Show the replay while keeping the ongoing events in a small window in the corner,” the station manager directed.
Turning to the program director he beamed. “Catching the layered broadcast was brilliant.”
He shrugged, not taking his eyes off the board as he spliced in commercials and broadcast instructions for their affiliates. “The gear caught it, all I had to do was hit a button. Gotta love that zombie rake fight, we can cut out a few pratfalls during that and no one notices.”
* * *
Oz shook Willow awake. “What huh, Xander?”
Oz nodded towards the TV and Willow watched the broadcast rerun from the beginning, eyes glancing to the corner occasionally to make sure the two were ok.
* * *
“Starlight Motorlodge Bar & Grille,” Ted announced, waking the two teens as he pulled in.
Xander yawned and stretched already missing the warmth of having Dawn cuddled up to his side as they pulled up to their rest stop.
It was a twenty room hotel with attached restaurant in the middle of the desert; it was perfect.
“This is far enough from any graveyards or population centers to reduce the possibility of civilian casualties while we rest. I need a couple of hours to recharge and from the looks of it so do you,” Ted explained.
“I could use a shower,” Dawn admitted. “And a bed to stretch out in.”
Xander nodded, seeing the sense in it. “Yeah, best to get some rest now while we can. I'll make some calls in the morning.”
Dawn grinned. “I'll get the keys.” Hopping out of the car she quickly hit the front desk and startled the clerk who had been staring at a TV.
“Can I... help you?” the clerk asked faintly, taking in who he was talking to.
“I need two rooms,” Dawn said, wondering at the clerk's reaction.
“Single or double?” the clerk stuttered.
“Two singles,” Dawn said quickly.
The clerk slid two keys across the counter and tried to straighten up, sure he was being filmed. “On the house.”
Dawn blinked and then realized she was armed and that might be scaring the clerk. She quickly handed him a couple of twenties. “The guns are part of a costume, keep the change.”
The clerk cursed himself as Dawn ran out the door, he should have gotten her autograph.
Dawn handed a key to Ted and held another one up. “Two rooms, they only had a couple of singles available.”
Xander and Ted looked at the nearly empty parking lot and back to Dawn.
“They're doing some remodeling on most of the rooms this weekend,” she lied, causing the two men to nod in comprehension.
Dawn quickly pulled Xander into their room.
“I guess I can sleep on the floor,” Xander muttered.
“Why would you do that? We always sleep together on the couch and that’s much smaller. Besides I'm worried I'll have nightmares if you're not there to hold me...” she trailed off quietly, turning around and looking down at the floor; trying to appear as small and vulnerable as possible.
“Dawn,” Xander breathed and quickly wrapped his arms around her from behind. Only the camera caught her evil grin.
Dawn was just about to try her hand at the ‘not wanting to die a virgin’ speech when there came a knock at the door breaking the mood.
Xander let go and straightened up while Dawn ripped the door open, revealing a zombie that was all but desiccated slowly banging on the door.
Dawn cross drew both pistols, firing as soon as the barrels cleared the leather. Her shots stitched up the zombie’s side, taking out hips and shoulders before shattering its skull, almost as thoroughly as if she'd used Xander's shotgun.
She holstered her guns and closed the door, already figuring out another plan before she turned around to face Xander again.
She gave him her best smile. “You give me strength. You made sure I knew what we faced and could handle it. When you're with me I feel like I could take on the world.”
Xander found himself smiling back, stunned at her sudden turn about, but happy that Dawn was happy.
Dawn threw herself at him and hugged him tightly before declaring, “First shower!” and grabbing the bathroom.
A thoroughly confused but happy Xander started stripping himself of all weapons and anything he didn't plan to sleep in so he could grab the shower next.
* * *
“Ten bucks says she nails him within the next 24 hours,” Faith bet.
Linda nodded as they both prepared for some sleep, having arrived at a hotel in LA. “No bet, she could probably have pulled off a decent 'don't want to die a virgin' speech and seduced him right there if not for the zombie.”
“I pulled it off at her age and I wasn't half as slick,” the Watcher admitted absently, before turning red as she realized what she'd said.
“Oh really, do tell!” Faith snickered.
* * *
Dawn finished her shower and let Xander have the bathroom, flipping off the light and getting in the bed when the door shut behind him.
In the dim light you could just make her stripping under the covers and tossing her clothes on the chair.
A few minutes later Xander came into the dark room nervously.
“Come to bed.” Dawn ordered with a grin in her voice.
Xander groaned, “Your mom is going to kill me.”
“For keeping me safe and not leaving my side?” Dawn asked and even in the dark you just knew she was rolling her eyes.
“Ok, maybe I'm being a little paranoid,” Xander said with a chuckle.
“Lose the shirt,” Dawn ordered, causing Xander to tense up again.
“Since we don't have a change of clothes we have to air out what we can or the zombies will be tracking us by scent. Toss your shirt on the chair and come to bed,” Dawn said reasonably.
Xander sighed and did as she ordered, tensing up as she snuggled in to him. “Dawn … where's your
“On the chair. Relax I'm wearing a half shirt/sports bra thingy. I'm not topless.”
“Ok...” Xander relaxed and wrapped an arm around her.
“Wow, I didn't think it was that long it’s like a foot and a half and I could have sworn it was flexible, now it’s like steel!” Dawn said in amazement.
“Well... You gave it to me and I didn't want you to feel bad.”
“Then you should have said something so I could help you get it off.”
“Next time I'll mention something sooner, for now let’s get some sleep. You can play with it in the morning, ok?”
“Ok,” Dawn agreed. “As long as it doesn't hurt or anything.”
“It'll be fine,” Xander promised.
Dawn snuggled into him. “Night, Xan.”
* * *
Oz stared at the screen with one seriously raised eyebrow and glanced over to find that Willow had passed out again. Shrugging he stretched out onto the sofa with her and took a nap.
* * *
“I'm not sure what to say,” Giles admitted.
“Neither am I,” Joyce agreed. “I mean, I knew Dawn was precocious, but I think she's bitten off more than she can chew.”
“I'm sure we're missing something,” Giles offered.
“Maybe,” Joyce agreed. “We'll know in the morning. Let’s go to your room and get some rest. They have my cell number but they're going to need to talk to you so we'll need to stick close together.”
“Yes, quite,” Giles said nervously.
* * *
“A foot and a half?!” Harmony exclaimed. “Man, you should have asked for a million in addition to the house and car.”
Cordelia groaned. “My parents weren't supposed to pay it, they were supposed to back off!”
“Glad they got guns.” Harmony sighed.
“Because that girl is going to be limping for days!
I don't care how many years of gymnastics she took.”
Cordelia smacked Harmony in the head with a pillow and Harmony grabbed another pillow to retaliate.
* * *
“Now I really want to meet this guy,” Faith grinned.
“No doubt,” Linda agreed absently and then groaned when Faith laughed.AN: Thank godogma for the typing, because if it was just me doing it you wouldn't get more than an update every couple of months!