In all the Old, Familiar Places.
Steve let out a breath as he sat in the front seat of the jeep beside Carter and the MP. The flag was still clutched in his hands, whipping in the artificial wind. Back and forth, never sure where it wanted to be and anchored by a single thing. He felt like that flag right now. Exactly.
He'd received a letter from Gail this morning. His girlfriend. And immediately after reading said letter, Carter had come through the barracks giving hem an assignment as she performed inspections. As soon as he got back, he was going to get a physical from Dr. Erskine and that meant visiting with Dawn again. His heart was being whipped around by a two completely different women and Steve's only anchor was the fight.
Before joining, he'd been lucky to even say hello to a girl who wasn't his mother or family. Gail had been a godsend, always smiling and talking about how safe they were back in their neighborhood. How safe Steve was and thinking about weddings after the war ended. She wanted the war to end so she could be a homemaker and get out of the factory. It had been everything Steve wanted. They'd done a bit of necking before he was taken on, and she'd posed for his paintings a few times. She never really understood his art, but she'd smiled when he showed her. She was happy when he was happy and vice verse.
Then he'd met Dawn. A brilliant girl with a smile like her name and a kind manner. Every time they'd met before training, she'd been doing something he loved. She read and she painted, she drew and those bright green eyes...He could drown in those eyes. A week ago, he never would have been thinking about this. A week ago he was only dreaming of Gail's coffee and chestnut curls and chocolate eyes, not Dawn's ever-lightening honey brown silk and emeralds.
Dawn rubbed at her eyes, finally pulling them from her textbooks. She was in the fifties, not the stone age, and she was going to college once this whole project was done. If she remembered correctly, there were a lot of ruins yet to be discovered at this time, and undiscovered ruins meant undiscovered languages. She'd be the head of her field once she got out in the dirt, woman or no. Dawn had been assured that with her connections she could go into nearly any college she wanted.
Erskine was still hunched over his serums, making notes and analyzing. Liquids ran through various tubes and vials, bubbling away and simmering in their respective containers. They'd been in the lab for no less than ten hours.
“Uncle, we should go to bed.”
The doctor paused in his efforts before raising himself up to look her in the eyes. His glasses made him look even more owl eyed. “Schlussel, you save me from myself.” He finished his task before truly stopping. “Vould you mind helping me clean up? I must see to something.”
Dawn nodded, closing her books as Erskine left the lab. She tended to clean up after him a lot, but that was what lab techs did. She turned down the burners, removed vials from the line and put lids on the petri dishes. It was while Dawn was capping blood samples that someone finally joined her. Major Carter walked into the lab; dusty, scowling, and obviously displeased with someone who wasn't Dawn.
Not that it kept Carter from taking it out on her.
“The Doctor isn't here right now, can I take a message?” She had been looming for almost seven minutes when Dawn finally asked. The only other option would have been to just lock her in the lab. That would have compromised the serum and Peggy might have found out about the 'extra' ingredient. Entirely unacceptable. Peggy Carter was already looking for a reason to throw Dawn in a cell and If she found out Dawn was responsible for the super soldier she would have drained Dawn dry.
The major didn't answer, instead taking the chair Dawn had been sitting in only moments ago. She flipped through the books, completely nonchalant as one of Dawn's bookmarks fell from it's place. There was almost a sneer on her face. What the hell had Dawn done to deserve this? Yeah, okay, she made a smartass remark that first day, but it had been almost a week. Carter could lighten the fuck up.
“If you don't have anything to say I'm going to have to ask you to leave,” Dawn crossed her arms.
“Certainly nothing to say to a civilian.”
“Well then, you should really go.” Dawn held the door open once more. “After all, none of the scientists on base are enlisted. Just a bunch of civilians.”
Carter scowled for the slightest of moments before standing jerkily from her seat. As she exited, Carter brushed against Dawn, not quite a shove but too much to be an accident. Sighing slowly, Dawn retrieved the key from her pocket and locked the door.
“Tell your uncle that the general expects to see him for lunch tomorrow.”
“Strangest damn thing I've ever seen,” Patton told the doctor over coffee the next day. The general had shown up first thing in the morning and sent Elsa into a panic. As the maid bustled to make a presentable breakfast, Dawn sat with her uncle and the general, serving coffee and listening close. “A bunch of people keep finding bodies outside of the base. Drained and ghosty. Locals from what they've told me.”
Dawn swallowed carefully as she listened to the report. The base was located next to a tiny little town, or perhaps the town was located next to the base. Either way, a puzzle had popped up and no one knew what to do. Especially now that the Sheriff was one of the victims.
Except for Dawn. She knew a vampire when she heard one.
“If this is some kind of Nazi attack we need to know Doc,” Patton leaned forward onto the table. “We're bringing in one of the bodies for you and the other guys to inspect.” The general continued on, telling Erskine to make the serum his top priority while lending a hand to the investigation. The discussion shifted when Elsa came in with biscuits and gravy, back to the project and the predicted finishing date.
“Excuse me uncle,” Dawn rose from her seat. “I have something I must attend to.” Erskine looked at her with a questioning brow. “Something from home.”
“Ja, go, see to your plants.” Erskine returned to his conversation. She'd tell him the full story later tonight. Right now, she needed to make some stakes. Possibly find a crossbow.
“Mein schlussel, are you quite certain we must stand watch?”
Erskine was standing watch with Dawn, carrying a cross and a bottle of holy Water while Dawn wielded a stake. She was standing with the stake directly over the corpses heart, hammer at the ready. Everyone else had been dismissed for the night, and Dawn could feel the magic inside of the corpse. The darkness associated with demons. But these creatures didn't feel like the vampires from back home. They felt smoother, the magic felt velvety.
“I can feel it,” Dawn nodded.
A finger twitched, causing Erskine to cry out in German. Another finger twitched and when the vampire's eyes opened, teeth bared and hissing, Dawn drove the stake into it's chest.
The execution of vampires in her new world was nothing like back in her original universe. It was rather like a water balloon. Blood washed across the walls and the living creatures, an explosion of flesh and bile and other unnamed excretions. But the creature was dead. And there was one less vampire roaming the state of New York.
As Dawn flicked the blood from her fingertips and her stake, she noticed her uncle in quite a state of shock. The whole thing was on tape of course, a small camera up in the corner of the room. Erskine would show it to the general in the morning no doubt and Dawn could return to her duties as a lab tech.
But when Dawn checked in for her afternoon shift, fully prepared to cap more vials and donate a bit of blood, she was quite surprised by the general's appearance. He was deep in discussion with Uncle Erskine, who was becoming more and more of a uncle than Giles had ever been. Yes Giles had been a second father to Buffy, but that was Buffy, everything he'd done in Dawn's interest was really for Buffy's benefit. Giles wasn't like Erskine, a scientist who knew her truth and purpose.
She jerked out of her musings to see the general and her uncle looking at her. One with some amusement while the other looked too tired. Dawn adjusted her labcoat as she made her way over to the two men.
“The good doctor is telling me that you've encountered these things before.”
“Yes.” Dawn answered him carefully. He'd seen the reel of Dawn staking the vamp; lying would do more harm than good. “In India. But, my father told me that they existed across the world.”
The general gestured for Dawn to walk with him and Erskine went back to his work, speaking to a different assistant. They walked about the entire facility as Patton asked Dawn about the fanged menace. Was it possible the Nazis were sending them over? Maybe, most vampires were opportunists. Was it possible they could be working with the axis? They were likely working in the axis, taking advantage of the slaughter. How did one go about slaying a vampire? Heart and Head. Destroy them and you destroyed the leech.
“Anything else they might decide to send our way?”
“I'd have to research it, the vampires I'm used to are quite different. They feel different if that makes any sense.”
“There ain't a damn thing about this situation that does,” Patton scowled as they entered his office. He walked around the desk to sit down, pulling a sheet of paper and a pen in front of him. “Now this ain't something we want getting out of control Miss Summers. I want you to tell me everything you might need to get rid of these bastards before they get to my base and threaten my men.”
“I really don't think I'm the best choice sir.”
“I think you are. Now tell me what you're going to need. As of this moment I'm making you an agent.”
Dawn grumbled as she walked through the cemetery, a silver cross hanging from her neck and a gun in her hands. Cross engraved silver bullets, blessed by the same priest who gave her the holy water. She didn't have backup. She didn't have protective gear. She didn't even have slayer senses.
It kind of sucked. Or chaffed or got her dander up or whatever the hell it was girls said in the forties.
No. It sucked.
Until she felt a tingle. The tingle turned into a twinge. And the twinge, it turned into a cramp. Slayer senses. Maybe. It wasn't really a cramp so much as a sharp tugging behind her navel.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
Well, there was only one thing to do wasn't there? Dawn squared her shoulders and walked over to the freshly dug grave, following the feeling. But, as she waited for the fledgling to rise, she could feel another undead creeping up behind her.
Silver bullets worked a helluva lot better than stakes. It was messy and a tiny bit loud, but it was quicker than a crossbow and she didn't have to get as close as she might with a stake. She didn't bother to pull the stringy red mass of the sire from her clothes and hair; The fledgling was rising and the moment his read rose from the earth, she had it right back down.
“Buffy can keep her stake,” Dawn breathed as she held her gun up in the moonlight. “I like this.”
Only when the sun began to rise did Dawn stop patrolling and head back to the jeep. She'd managed to take out five vampires tonight, but she hadn't found any nests or big bads. Everything she took out tonight was a minion or a scout. Jackson was sitting behind the wheel, reading a magazine as he listened to the radio. He wasn't given the specifics of the mission but he had been assigned as her transporter and acquisitions expert. Patton hadn't used the words Personal or Assistant, but Jackson had picked up on the details and he looked too thrilled with the idea.
“Back to base Agent Summers?” he smiled, staring the engine. It was quieter than the jeeps she'd been riding in lately, newer and less bouncy. The perks of being a special agent were starting to become noticeable. Brown Suit at least did something right. Maybe she could start using his name now. Dr. Stark...stark raving mad...honestly, a brown suit? Dawn shook her head when she realized what was going on. She was starting mental fights with people over imagined insults; she was getting tired.
“I need bed and a bath.” She was getting gore all over his seats and the door, marring the quiet jeep Stark had sent them out with, he was going to throw a fit when it came back and send some poor private to clean it up. She didn't envy whoever did her laundry either. Unless Patton wanted her to wash her own and that sounded...gross.
“You don't want to switch those?” Jackson glanced over, pulling out of the parking lot.
“Nope. I want bed. I want a bath. I want coffee.”
“I think you might have to cut the first one out. Major Carter is coming to check on the project at 0700 today.” Jackson made a turn, driving much saner than he normally did and glancing at her bloodied form. “She wants to check out the doc's files on Fury.”
“The Doctor's last success. Nicholas Fury.” Jackson was on the main road now. The lights of town were fading behind them and the yellow line of the road soon proved to be the only color.
“I never knew his name.”
Dawn had enough time to put on a clean dress and grab a cup of coffee from Elsa before her uncle was pulling her out of the house. She'd managed to rinse her hair out before she fell into bed for a grand three hours, but there was still dried blood under her nails. She's picking it out as she reads Fury's file. A war criminal from the south, he's in trouble for thinking about stealing art. Never mind that the Canadian he was with only got a slap on the hand.
“Bullshit,” she muttered, closing the file and leaning back in her seat. Her coffee is too hot to drink right now and her uncle has asked her to wait for Carter so he can continue to meddle with the serum. He wants to find a way for it to work without Dawn's blood.
“You've read the file then?”
Dawn closed her eyes when the prim British accent sounded from behind her. She hasn't had enough sleep or caffine to deal with Carter. “Yeah.”
“It's rather unfair isn't it?”
Dawn was not expecting that. “He was a soldier, risked his life for his country and most of Europe, and now he's a wanted criminal.”
“The general sent me to collect your report as well.”
Dawn watched as carter walked into her sight to collect the file Dawn just closed. “I haven't written it up yet.”
“I suppose you haven't started recording Roger's data either.” There was the Carter Dawn was used to. The sneering annoyed officer who regarded Dawn with distaste.
“No, because he isn't due for another hour.”
“Well, you should start on your report shouldn't you.”
The major walked out and Dawn wanted nothing more than to smash her coffee cup over the woman's head. Carter has seen the reel of the staking, there's no way she couldn't have, and it's obvious that the woman feels she should have been made into an agent instead of Dawn. After all, she's been trained in military procedure.
The stupid woman doesn't get that Vampires use guerrilla tactics.
“Dawn.” Erskine's voice broke Dawn from her growling. “I am in need of your assistance, Ja?”
“Of course uncle.” Dawn wasn't going to write a report. Carter could suck it.
Her uncle dismissed the rest of the lab techs when Dawn walked into the lab. He was shooing them out, telling them to get some coffee and stare at a wall for a few moments. Dawn herself went to sit down on Erskine's desk, rolling up the sleeve of her lab coat while she waited for the last of them to leave. When the door finally shut behind them, the doctor locked the door and came over to the waiting teen. She yawned as he pulled the tray of needles and vials over to her. The prick of the needle in her flesh made her wince ever so slightly.
Steve would be coming in soon. The red liquid pouring from her veins would go into his and perhaps countless others. But those nameless others didn't matter so much. Not like Steve did and certainly not like Nick Fury. The major who carried her essence in his veins. If she focused on him long enough, on his name and his image, she could almost feel him. Once Friday hit, she'd be able to feel Steve too. Wasn't that a strange idea? Feeling her blue eyed boy in a way beyond sheepish fingertips along skin. Feeling the spirit of her crush while he spent time with his girlfriend Gail.
Dawn grumbled. Of all the stupid luck in the world.
“You need rest,” Erskine noted, pursing his lips as he looked into her face. “You are cursing again.”
“I'll nap when we get home.” Dawn flexed her hand when her uncle pulled away. “Will the tester serum be ready when he gets here?”
“It vill,” Erskine nodded. “Are you sure you want to be here mein Schlussel?”
“Ja,” Dawn nodded. She explained to him what she'd been getting from Fury. The feeling of the man being there. Of being far or near. “I'm wondering if there might be some sort of connection between us. Or maybe I'm hallucinating.”
“Perhaps.” Erskine nodded with a slight smile. “Ah! I see our young man now.”
Steve entered the room as Dawn rolled her sleeve down. His eyes were focused on her when he entered. The light of concern inside of those baby blue orbs made her heart ache is the name Gail floated in the front of her mind. Every time she ended up in this situation, with a boy who liked her, but didn't like her quite enough or in the same way she liked him. With a boy who was just so brilliant and handsome, and he was smart and kind and he loved art and books, and he was so determined to do the right thing...
He was sitting in front of her now. His sleeve was rolled up and he looked almost as tired as she did.
“PT that bad?” Dawn asked him as she tried not to rub at her own eyes. A yawn came out instead.
“And worse,” Steve nodded. He was smiling faintly. “You yawn a bit like a cat.”
“Well, I'd be a very cute cat.” She took the tray from Erskine when he came over.
“A tabby,” Steve extended his arm for the doctor.
“Hmm,” Dawn nodded. “You'd be a tiger of course.”
“Of course. Once the serum kicks in you'll be a tiger.” Dawn handed another needle to the doctor, this one filled with the first dose of serum; Dawn's blood turned the colorless liquid into a glowing green. “Covered in stripes and just as fierce.”
Steve seemed to enjoy hearing that. Dawn could see the bright green of her energy flowing through his veins. She could feel it as it passed over every muscle. She really hadn't been hallucinating when she'd felt Fury. Erskine patted Steve on the shoulder before excusing him. He was to come back the following day for his next set of shots. Then he turned on Dawn, speaking to her rapidly in German that if she didn't go to bed before three then she wasn't going to sit in on things. She tried to argue with him, but her yawn had Steve looking at her again and her uncle crossed his arms.
“And my point is proven Schllusel,” Erskine waved them both from his lab. “Steven, you will walk my niece straight home so that she may shower and sleep. Ja?”
“Ya,” Steve mimed, nodding his head. “Straight to bed. I mean, her to home, where she can go to bed. After her shower, alone.” Steve was turning a funny shade of pink and the serum in his veins was tingling along Dawn's spine. “I'm going to...”
“C'mon Romeo,” Dawn snickered. “Time to walk Hermia home.”