“Richard!” Dawn shouted, jumping at the eighteen year old man in front of her.
Just a few seconds ago she'd opened the front door to see him standing there with a grin and a backpack. The winter sun was casting a cold light across the world, but Richard's smile was so warm.
“Hey Dawn,” He laughed, hugging her tightly and spinning her for a few moments.
“What are you doing here?” She asked, allowing herself to be set down.
“Winter break,” he answered. “I managed to talk my mom into letting me out of the house.”
“You must have been pretty smooth if she let you come here,” Dawn grinned.
It was a well known fact that Mrs. Zeeman held no love for Sunnydale with its high population of super and preternatural beasties. In fact, last they'd spoken, Richard's mother was trying to talk him into getting a lycanthropy vaccine.
“I made a bargain with her. I get the vaccine, she lets me come see you.”
Dawn didn't quite know what to say, it wasn't very often boys made sacrifices to see her. Or anything for her in general. “Why don't you come in? I was about to make some cocoa and everyone else is at work.”
A few moments later, Richard was sitting in the Summer's kitchen, laughing with Dawn as she told him about school and the Scoobies. He was also trying to bat away the marshmallows she kept trying to taint his cocoa with. Chocolate didn't need extra stuff, it was perfectly fine on its own.
“So how have you been?” Dawn asked. “Any girlfriends?”
“Not as such,” Richard answered. More like slim brunette girls he met at parties and pissed of by saying the wrong name. “I don't really click with the girls back home. Sort of have a thing for California girls with blue eyes.” Dawn stopped mid-throw and Richard smiled wide as she blushed. “Dawn, I really like you. I mean, my aunt moved two months ago, you know I came for you.”
“Richard, are you sure you don't mean Buffy or, or someone else?” Dawn had to ask. “I mean, I'm no where near as mature or smart-”
“Dawn,” Richard cut her off. “I have tried pushing you out of my head, but, you're stuck in my soul and no matter what I do, I'm always doing it to make you proud.”
“You're older...” Dawn began. Secretly she was elated by Richard's confession. She'd always been hoping and praying that he might see her the same way, but now that it was happening she was worried.
“I know,” Richard nodded, letting out a breath. “And it's been trying to say the least, but I want to be with you, and if it means waiting a few months...”
“A few years,” Dawn corrected. “I'm still only sixteen, and you're already in college...”
“Are you saying no then?” Richard asked, leaning back in the chair. He wiped his face with a hand and had to shake his head to clear the growling in his mind.
“That's not what I'm saying at all,” Dawn spoke as she placed a cool hand on his. Her touch chased the shadow away and he could think clearly once more. In particular he could think about what she'd just said to him. “I just, I don't want you to be unhappy while you're waiting for me.”
“I know you're worth the wait,” Richard leaned forward, kissing the knuckles of the hand on his.
“I think, what I'm saying is that I'm giving you a hall pass.” Dawn pulled him forward so the table edge dug into his stomach and her face took on a very serious air as she leaned forward. “You only get until my eighteenth birthday and no girlfriends.”
“Yes Ma'am,” Richard grinned before darting forward and stealing a kiss. She was so cute when she was angry. “Come to St Louis this spring.”
“I'll think about it,” Dawn blushed. “Do you think, maybe we can go into the living room and you could kiss me again?”