Trying to sneak into the Cleveland slayer school just wasn’t possible, but Dawn gave it her best shot. That being said, she wasn’t surprised to find most of the Scooby gang waiting for her. “Where have you been?!” Buffy demanded to know.
The entire Scooby Gang were all in the kitchen, some obviously having just gotten up for the day and others just coming in from the last patrol of the night. Xander was passing out cups of coffee while Andrew was beginning the heroic effort that it took to keep all of the students and staff fed. Giles was having his usual cup of tea. Dawn could see the end of his tea ball draped over the side of his mug. Willow and Tara (it had turned out that Sunnydale Hospital had a bad habit of reviving recently legally dead people who hadn’t been completely dead and selling them to the highest bidder – and hadn’t that been a struggle to keep Darth Willow from making an appearance) were huddled together at the breakfast bar that separated the kitchen from the dining room in robes and slippers. Buffy and Faith were standing next to Giles, covered in demon gore and vampire dust, which wasn’t unusual for them coming in from patrol.
She really did not want to get into this with everyone watching, but it looked like she didn’t have much choice. “I was out Buffy. You know, Friday night – go out and have fun?” Dawn asked.
“You ditched the mini slayers,” Buffy growled. “You could have…”
“Been kidnapped, sacrificed, eaten, mugged, raped, and on and on and on,” Dawn interrupted her sister. “I know the list Buffy, but I’m not fourteen anymore and it was Friday night, not Tuesday.”
“The fact that you are eighteen doesn’t mean that you can ignore the fact that you are in danger Dawn, or ignore the rules,” Buffy scolded. “We’re supposed to know where you are, even if it isn’t Tuesday. You ditched the minis you promised to stay with!”
“I never left the club!” Dawn protested. “I met a guy and we talked all night, and none of you,” she pointed around the room, “are going to talk to him, threaten him, or even look at him! He doesn’t know who I am and just once I’d like to find out what it is like to have a guy like me or hate me because of me instead of you!” Buffy flinched at that, but Dawn didn’t take it back. Far too many times slaying had gotten in the way of her having a life and as much as Buffy went on and on about Dawn having a normal life, she really needed to let her out long enough to have one.
“Are you sure he doesn’t know who you are?” Willow asked skeptically. “That place is mixed you know, and not many people who go in there don’t know about what goes bump.” Tara nodded worriedly.
“He knows what goes bump, but he’s only knows the main Scoobies and that’s mostly through gossip,” Dawn explained, putting her purse down on the counter. “He thinks that I’m one of Willow’s students and a Watcher in Training.”
“Hey! You’re a Scooby too! Don’t count yourself out,” Xander scolded, waving his finger at her.
“Yeah, I know, I’m Scrappy, but he’s totally old school. He might have heard that The Sister exists, but that’s it,” Dawn said as she was handed a plate with breakfast. “And can I say just how hard it was to not speak Scooby when talking about what goes grrr in the night? I slipped when I talked about Glory guy, but that was before I knew he didn’t know.”
“Are you tellin’ me that you met a guy and all you did was talk all night?” Faith asked. “Girl, we got to get your priorities straight,” she joked.
“FAITH!” Buffy squeaked.
“Relax Buffy, I’m not interested in jumping in the sack with anybody,” Dawn promised her. “Even if it would keep about half my kidnappers from wanting me and leaving me with yet more reasons to hate bikini season.” When Buffy looked puzzled she sighed. “Virgin sacrifice, ring a bell?” Leaving Buffy, and Giles from the frown on his face, to deal with that particular rock and a hard place, Dawn took her plate off to her room. She needed a shower and at least four hours of sleep before hitting her homework. She still had that Sumerian to Latin to English translation to get to.
“Dawn, you up yet?” Willow asked, quietly knocking on her door. She didn’t want to wake the Key turned human if she wasn’t.
“Yeah, I’m up,” Dawn called out, distractedly. She was neck deep in musty old tomes, several scrolls and the computer files that she kept for her own translations.
“Hey, I’ve got something for you,” Willow said as she came into the room. Dawn’s room was just as big as any of the rest of the Scoobies’ suites, mostly because she had flat out refused to room with one of the baby slayers. The new slayers were divided up into four groups – the babies - ages thirteen to fifteen who were newly called, the minis – ages sixteen to seventeen, junior slayers – who were over eighteen and recently given their first Watchers and first assignments, and full slayers, who had their permanent Watchers and field assignments. “I’ve been working on a way for you to have a locator and a 911 button. I came up with this.” She held out an amulet.
“You’re lo-jacking me?” Dawn protested.
“No, it’s more like Xander’s ‘My date is about to eat me, come slay her’ code,” Willow told her.
Dawn glared. “You’re lo-jacking me. I’m never going to get rid of the virgin sacrifice deal.”
Willow grinned. “I thought you weren’t interested.”
Dawn snorted. “Of course I’m interested, I just can’t find a guy with all of you hanging over my shoulder and handing out shovel speeches at the drop of a hat.” She sighed and took the amulet from Willow. She did understand why she needed it, but she really was getting sick of needing to be rescued every week. “Plus I’ve got the Scooby romance curse. The first guy I ever kissed was a vampire who tried to turn me and I had to stake him.”
“Well, what about this new guy?” Willow asked, trying to be supportive. She really did understand about the trials of trying to find someone decent to date in the supernatural world. “How does he score on the yummy scale?”
Dawn closed her eyes and thought. “Eight point five with a side of scruffy, but he’s a solid nine for personality.”
“So, cute and headed into hot,” Willow mused. “Why’d you give him such a high score for personality?”
“How many guys do you know who aren’t language geeks would willingly listen to me talk about ancient human languages and complain about the fact that there isn’t a Rosetta stone for ancient demon languages for two hours without complaining, changing the subject, or having their eyes glaze over?” Dawn asked seriously.
“Why didn’t you give him a ten?” Willow wanted to know. “After that, he really deserved it.”
“He hates magic and magic users,” Dawn said. “He got bit by someone using serious black magic.”
“Once bitten, twice shy,” Willow quoted.
Dawn nodded. “He’s seriously in hate. I don’t blame him though. It was a total Ethan.”
Willow winced. “Well, at least he isn’t taking it out on you.”
“Yeah, but I still think I want to try the friend thing first. If it goes there later, I’ll deal with it then,” Dawn said.
Jack was in the process of getting them dressed when he finally gave up ignoring his brother’s agitation. The vampire wasn’t talking to him, wasn’t willing for some reason to come forward and use their body to communicate. He walked over to Black’s dresser and placed his hand on the mirror. “Reveal,” he snapped, and the mirror changed. Instead of his own reflection the mirror now showed Black pacing back and forth. “What is wrong with you?”
The vampire continued to pace. “The girl,” he admitted. “I want her.”
“She’s not a meal!” Jack said, leaning in towards the mirror.
“Not like that!” Black protested, throwing up his hands. He crossed his arms over his chest and finally stopped pacing. Jack was relieved. Black’s internal pacing had kept him up for hours and he really hadn’t gotten enough sleep by the time the alarm had gone off. “I want to claim her,” Black admitted quietly.
“We only met her last night. She’s too young. She’s only eighteen,” Jack said, a little too quickly. “If you tried she’ll get pissed off and so will the Red Witch. The last thing we need is to have two powerful magic users gunning for us.”
“You like her too,” Black said. He slipped out of his agitated stance and turned to face his brother.
“Of course I like her too,” Jack said. He thought that Black’s knowing grin was a bit much. “That doesn’t change the facts. She’s still too young and claiming her is a bad idea.”
“She won’t be too young forever,” Black pointed out. “She’ll be old enough for your tastes in less than a decade.”
Jack paused. He’d been so busy coming up with reasons to put Dawn in the off limits category that he hadn’t thought about the fact that they didn’t age. They hadn’t aged a day since they’d woken up thirty years ago. That little fact turned the entire situation into something completely different. He grinned right back at his brother. “You’re right. More importantly, seven or eight years gives us enough time to convince her that we’re serious when we finally ask her. We need to become friends with her and then we need to court her. When she’s old enough, we’ll ask, both of us. You’ll claim her.”
“And you’ll marry her,” Black finished.
“We’ll have to take this slow, but the first thing we need to do is to make sure that she doesn’t forget us.” Jack thought for a moment. “We need to send her a gift if she doesn’t come back tonight.” He returned to buttoning up his shirt.
“Doesn’t Glimaok come in tonight?” Black asked. Jack nodded. They weren’t sure exactly what demon species Glimaok was, but he was one of their regulars at the club. He owned a book shop, one that catered to both humans and demons. “I bet he’d know something that a Watcher in Training could use.”
“She was complaining about not having translations for ancient demon languages remember?” Jack asked.
Black nodded. “I bet there are spawn’s lessons books or scrolls out there, something like human’s children’s books or something that they use to teach young scholars.”
“Nothing too easy though,” Jack warned. “The last thing we want is for her to think that we don’t take her seriously. Remember her reaction to you getting out the milk and cookies?”
Black grimaced. “You saved our hides there, telling her they were for you and if she wanted some she had to get herself a glass. I thought that all young humans liked milk and cookies.”
“They do,” Jack told him. “The trouble was that she’s an adult, not a child and that is what you offer children. She’s also only recently become an adult so she’s probably rather sensitive about still being treated like a kid.”
“And then she goes and starts a war over who got the most Oreos.” Black shook his head. “I’m never going to understand humans.”
“You’ve got to admit it was fun,” Jack said. He began looking around their bedroom for their boots.
“It was the most fun we’ve had in years,” Black said softly. “I don’t want to lose her.”
“We won’t,” Jack said firmly. He finished lacing up their boots and moved back to the mirror. “If we have to be there every second of the next eight years and help her out with keeping the apocalypse from happening then that’s what we’ll do.”
“Oh hell, we’re going to end up one of those Scoobies aren’t we,” Black groaned.
Jack made a face, but nodded in resignation. “Return,” he said, placing his hand on the mirror once more. The mirror returned to its original state. “If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. She’s worth it.”
“No question,” Black agreed.