Family Part III, Chapter Two
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
After their fight and the marathon shower session Buffy had to take back at the hotel to get sand out of her hair, the stuff was almost as bad as Vampire dust, Buffy was starving. Dawnie, trying to make peace, offered to take her for a meal and then looked uncomfortable about the whole thing.
Walking down the streets of Amethyst, looking for a Chinese restaurant Cassie had told them about, Buffy got the same wiggy feeling she used to get just before patrolling in Sunnydale, only not. Back then, when something big was going down, even when nobody talked about it the whole town knew something was up. You could feel it in the atmosphere, the way people rushed home just that fraction faster. The looks people shot around, expecting a demon to jump out of any corner.
The difference was here people were talking about it. Openly. They passed two kids, students at Buffy's guess, re-enacting some fight between Dawn and these demons. On one street corner a shop was selling postcards of grainy, blurred images of the Rangers fighting hordes of demons, or of their giant robots. "We should get Andrew something." Buffy said nodding at a poster sized image.
"Really?" Dawn asked.
"Yeah, I know he's a pain, but I kinda feel sorry for him." Buffy admitted. "Some of the time."
"It might not be a bad idea." Dawn grumbled "He's been on my back for months, wanting to know every little thing. It might shut him up."
"What you tell him?" Buffy asked, a little peeved Dawn was answering his messages and not hers.
"I haven't gotten round to it. Been kinda busy."
Buffy let herself smirk. "Saving the world and home work."
Dawn rolled her eyes. "Yeah and the whole, Sorry sir I was busy getting my butt kicked argument doesn't go down well.' Buffy smothered a laugh and got a black look from her sister. "You think it's funny?"
"Preaching to the choir. That's all I'm saying." Buffy laughed again as she looked around some more. It was all sort of surreal to the long active Slayer. The whole place was part war zone, part city and part souvenir shop all rolled in to one.
"I know." Dawn told her after Buffy mentioned it to her. "But if it keeps the City going it can't be all bad, right?"
As Buffy tried to answer she saw a group of kids arguing in front of an electronics shop. The TV's in the window showing different parts of what had happened that morning. "See I told you green was the best!" One of them shouted to the others.
"I still say no way, all she's got is a load of toys. Anybody will tell you the Black Ranger kicks ass."
A third kid shook their head; "You see the Blue one this morning? She can throw lightning bolts! She's defiantly the coolest!"
Buffy chuckled under her breath. "Not bad for the ego either." She tilted her head in their direction.
Dawn tried a smile, but it came out more like a wince. "It's not about that, it can't be about that." She sighed. "There are these rules, never escalate a fight unless you are forced to, never reveal your identity and don't use Ranger powers for personal gain."
"So that's why you don't just stomp in there with a robot and squash them as soon as they show up?"
"Yep, you see it's all about protecting people, not thrill seeking. Being a Ranger shouldn't be about proving anything to anyone. It's a duty, not an ego trip." Dawn said seriously and Buffy gave her a sharp look. Since when did her little sister think about things like that? Dawn looked up and grinned. "Ahh we're here. Alright, before we go in I want a promise from you."
"You want a what?" Buffy blinked
"Promise, we're done fighting. Alright?"
Buffy wasn't sure what her sister was getting at, but agreeing was a lot easier than arguing. "Alright, fine. No more fights."
"Yeah right." Dawn muttered sarcastically under her breath and opened the door. Inside wasn't crowded, but it still wasn't empty. There was a young couple on one corner bench, the girl sitting so close she was almost on his lap. They looked up and waved her over. "Jenny, Michael!" Dawn said "How's things?"
The girl jumped up and gave her a hug. "Dawn, it's great to see you! Dawn! that's a great name, don't you think?"
The young man, Michael, looked as if he'd just had a shock, that or someone had concussed him. There was also something odd about Jenny's cheerfulness, as if she was forcing it. Dawn recognised the uncomfortable silence too;
"Well, urm, it's good to see you here. I'd like you to meet my sister. Buffy, this is Jenny and Michael. They're medical students with Cassie. They're the ones that told us of this place."
"Hi." Buffy nodded. "Nice to meet you guys. What was that bit with the name about?"
Jenny's grin was really forced now, "Oh I was looking for the right time, but now's as good as any. I'm pregnant!"
That certainly explained a lot Buffy thought. Dawn though beamed a smile. "That's great, and your totally right, Dawn is a great name. So is Marie, if it's a girl."
"Marie?" Michael asked blinking.
"Her middle name." Buffy told them. "Along with 'pain in my sister's butt'." Dawn rolled her eyes and it was almost as if they were never apart.
Michael and Jenny laughed a little, more out of politeness, but Buffy chalked it up as a win. Dawn and Jenny chatted for a moment, asking if they'd told Cassie yet and how long she had known. Buffy tuned them out and gave the boy an encouraging nod. She wasn't sure their age but in her opinion they were too young to be thinking of this sort of thing.
Maybe they weren't. Two medical students, that usually meant they knew what they were doing. Didn't it? The door opened and Buffy turned her attention to it. A young man had walked in. It looked like he had tried to make some sort of effort to look presentable. Shirt, jacket and polished shoes, all way to much for a place like this. Whoever he was he was trying too hard.
"Marcus!" Dawn squeaked, "You made it!" This was Marcus Buffy looked at him again. He was cute, in the way his face had the right proportions. So not a demon, that made it harder. She couldn't just kill him outright.
In fact there was nothing remarkable about him at all. Nothing to suggest why Dawn would be attracted to him. She gave him a kiss on the cheek and he blushed from head to toe. "This is my sister, Buffy. Buffy please don't kill him, you did promise."
The boy swallowed nervously. "Hi. Hello Miss Summers." He offered his hand and Buffy shook it, careful not to let Dawn see her put the tiniest amount of pressure. The kid had the nerve to keep smiling. Buffy was definitely going to kill him.
Tommy Oliver sat in his living room. He hadn't had the time to just sit and rest in so long he had almost forgot what it was like. Things were coming to a head and soon, one way or another, it would be over.
Sitting there Tommy reflected that when you'd done this sort of thing for long enough you got used to the rhythm. You could feel it in your gut. The calm before the storm. That was where they were right now. The girls, and Connor, knew it too and were ready as they were ever going to be. That didn't mean there weren't going to be lose ends. One of which was dangling over his head, and had been for a long time.
Thinking about it that had been his problem all along. Unfinished business, the biggest of which was rearing it's ugly blue face. The others moved on, got normal jobs and normal lives. Kim was teaching Gymnastics now, Jason was an ambulance driver, Billy… good old dependable Billy was married all the way on Aquatar. All the other Rangers had put it aside, ready to hear the call if needed but otherwise turning a blind eye. The current gang would do the same one day, not so far away. Make way for their successors as it was supposed to be.
So why couldn't he put it all to one side and move on? He'd tried, time and time again he'd hung up his morpher, only to be called back one way or another for one more one last adventure. The Ranger museum was supposed to be the capping stone on his career, instead it became a whole new battle. Another challenge and another sacrifice.
Reading Zordon's records he was surprised to find his mentor felt the same way. Rita and Zedd weren't the first members of the United League of Evil that he'd fought and Earth wasn't the only battlefield. There was a reason Andros respected the legendary wizard. Reading those files Tommy had found an even deeper respect for his personal hero.
Tommy had learnt that the main reason Zordon couldn't end was he had the same feeling of unfinished business. That no matter how much he did the universe seemed to conspire against him. Always handing him those lose ends. Zordon felt responsible for them, that he could have done better and dealt with them as they came up. That was Tommy's problem right now.
Taking a breath he looked up at the Katana hanging over his door. A gift from Kat when she broke up with him. Tommy let himself smile, remembering the second Pink Ranger, she was now married and coaching the Australian Olympic swimming team.
She'd left it him, knowing that him better than he knew himself back then. She couldn't have had the life she had now if she'd stayed and he wouldn't have asked. It was a shame, he could have done with her advice right about now. He needed another solution.
Right now he had two, the first was to take up his sword and end a life. The other was to let Goldar go. If he did his old nemesis would be free to do what ever he wanted and whatever happened would be Tommy's fault for not stop in him. At the same time he didn't know if he could out right kill a living being, even Goldar.
Buffy had resolved to kill the boy at the table with them. There was no other choice. He seemed like a nice guy, a bit nerdy, nervous and trying desperately to impress. Thing was there was nothing remarkable about him, he wasn't drop dead handsome or really ugly. Just a normal guy, maybe with some hidden depths and if the glasses were anything to go by a bit of a book geek.
If anything he sort of reminded her of Giles, something she refused to even think about let alone acknowledge.
She hated him instantly.
Buffy knew his type. The Parker's and the Riley's of this world. They'd seem perfect at first and then break her little sister's heart. Glaring daggers at him across the table all the while Dawn kept playing referee. "We met through history class." she said, trying to strike up a conversation.
He smiled nervously. "Dawn was late in class and started arguing with Mr Walker, our tutor, right from the start."
Buffy raised an eyebrow. "He was wrong!" Dawn protested. "I knew he was, you knew he was." Marcus smiled and nodded
"You should have seen his face, he went bright red." he finished her story. "Then a few weeks later she missed a lesson."
"Which so wasn't my fault." Dawn chipped in.
"So I offered to let her borrow my notes. When she came over to pick them up I found out she was a python fan too."
"And it all developed from there." Buffy finished for them.
"Kinda." Dawn shrugged.
Buffy got the distinct impression that she wasn't going it be able to get her sister to see sense in this and she wanted to talk with Marcus alone. "Dawnie, why don't you call Cassie and tell her about your friends good news." She nodded at the young couple at the table over her shoulder.
"Alright, but remember what I said. No fighting." Dawn gave her a glare and left the table, phone in hand.
Buffy gave Dawn a moment to get out of earshot before going on the attack. "Alright, Marcus what's the plan?"
"Plan?" he asked back.
"It's a good act, really it is the whole nice guy thing. You must have spent a lot of time on it, but you're not going to fool me. Let me guess you're going to keep her around for a bit and then throw her to the curb."
"No." he snapped, those hidden depths bubbling to the surface. "Never."
Buffy let herself smirk. "I know your type. The whole take a chance, being nervous thing. It's hardly original, she's just not got the experience. You'll use her and then break her heart."
Marcus shook his head, almost in disbelief. "I'd do anything for Dawn, Anything. I swear. She's… I love her I really do. I've never felt this way about anyone before, I can't imagine anyone else."
"Oh come on. It's just you me and the table, or do you really expect me to believe that she'd fall for someone like you? What did you tell her, that your mother was dying and you just wanted someone to be close to?" Buffy remembered Parker all too well. She didn't really think that, she just wanted him to get angry, slip up and make a mistake. Something she could use to open Dawn's eyes to the fact she was being played.
Instead he just looked into the middle distance, an obscure sadness creeping over him. "You're wrong about me Miss Summers. I don't know why she want's to be with me, I can't understand it myself, but she does, I do really think that she cares for me and I promise, I promise I would never hurt her. I'd rather die and if… If one day she does decide to move on I won't be surprised, but I can only hope on that day she finds someone worthwhile."
"What the hell does that mean?" Buffy snapped.
He looked up. "If I'm not the one that's her choice, not yours and certainly not mine. I won't stand in her way."
Buffy gave him a critical look, Riley had felt the same and that had ended badly for both of them. "That's not filling me with confidence. What's to say you're not just going to get tired and skip out on her when the going gets a little rough? If you really think she's so far out of your league you might think it's the best for both of you."
Marcus shook his head. "Like I said, its her choice. I'll always be there for her. The only thing I want is for Dawn to be happy."
"That doesn't answer my question." Buffy pointed out, it was a small victory but it was her foot in the door.
"And I can't. All I can tell you is how I feel and how I hope right now." Buffy tried to find something wrong with his answer, but couldn't.
Before she could try another track Dawn came back. "Well Cassie just about screeched my ear off." she grinned forcefully. "You two talk about me behind my back enough, or should I get a separate table?"
End Chapter Two