Sitting in a city park Xander, Willow, and Dawn watched people walk by as they ate their snow ball shaved ices. Combing flavors they ate from all three bowls trying different combination.
“What were you doing in Boston?” Xander asked holding his bright red ice still for Willow.
“A friend of mine is based there with his job. We’ve helped each other out before and when he decided I needed to learn some self defense and other skills he took me home with him and got his coworkers to teach me some of their specialties.” Dawn said with a spoon of only the blueberry flavored ice shavings.
“Nice guy. What all did you learn?” Willow asked.
“Self defense and fighting to win, including fighting dirty. Lock picking, getting out of handcuffs, and rigging a rope and harness for rappelling.”
“In our line of work those are all good skills to know. Could you teach me?”
“Me Too!” Willow quickly demanded.
Laughing Dawn agreed.
“You left Rome and Buffy is still there.” Xander said, trying to act all indifferent about Dawn’s response.
Thinking a moment before answering Dawn filled her spoon with ice from all three cups. “Living in Rome, going out and living the young attractive party girl life is what Buffy wants to do. After a long loud weekend of arguing and fighting over it we decided a few things. She’s not going to live and party in Rome for ever, in fact not much longer, and it was time for me to leave. The party girl life wasn’t for me and I was miserable living it. I was looking at colleges in the sates when I ran into Eliot and he invited me home for lessons. I’m going to get some more school and work for Giles part time. I’ve got scholarships and I’ll get a job of some sort. Buffy’s going to leave Rome and travel to hot spots or where she’s needed and Giles is working on getting the council back up and running. I need to find what’s right for me and it starts with going to college.”
“Good for you.” Willow said.
“Our little girl’s all grown up.” Xander said pretending to choke back tears.
“What?” Dawn squawked confused at their reactions.
Smiling Willow explained, “We were waiting for you to say that and we’re in the same boat as you. We crossed oceans, found slayers, and sure we’re working on rebuilding that old hotel spa place in Cleveland but what after that? Be den mothers to slayers the rest of our lives?”
Xander’s face twisted confusion as he saw a slight blond woman walk up behind Dawn and sniffed her when she got close enough.
“What?” Dawn asked. When Xander pointed behind her Dawn turned to look. “Parker!”
Xander and Willow watched confused as Parker circled the trio sniffing each of them as three men and a lady walked toward them.
“Parker taught me how to pick locks and get out of handcuffs.” Dawn introduced her.
“Nate says we need your help on something.” Parker said giving Dawn another sniff.
“Hi. Willow, Xander. I want you to meet Nate, Eliot, Parker, Sophie, and Hardison. They have a business called Leverage and Associates.” Dawn pointed as she introduced everyone.
“Parker’s right. We could really use your help on a job. You’ll be working with Eliot the entire time.” Nate started to explain.
Eliot saw Dawn was about to agree to help but decided to say something first. “Your paycheck will cover a bachelors degree at the any of the top four schools you looked at.”
Dawn’s eyes got huge and she jumped to hug Eliot as Willow and Xander laughed. “Yes!”
Dawn knew they ran their business on an alternate revenue source and Eliot was basically offering to pay for her degree. Leverage’s jobs were always to help the little guy and Dawn would help where she could, and working with Eliot she knew that he would do everything to keep her safe. The offer of getting schooling paid for was an absolute amazing bonus.
Delighted to see Dawn so happy Willow and Xander looked at each other then at Parker, “Teach us how to pick locks and escape handcuffs please.”
“Got everything Dawn?” Eliot asked sipping a mug of coffee as Dawn ran around Nate's apartment looking for all of her things.
After fighting against Sophie, Eliot, Parker, and Hardison invading and moving in and loosing Nate didn't argue in the least at Dawn showing up and making her self at home. Rightly thinking that Eliot would want a few minutes by them selves before Dawn left Nate herded Sophie, Parker, and Hardison out of the apartment
“I think so. If I didn't get something I can come back and visit.” Dawn said zipping up her duffel.
“Or I could visit you at college. Make sure you're eating right.” Eliot said already planning to drop in time to time.
Dawn quickly moved to wrap Eliot in a tight hug, “Thank you so much for college. I didn't dare to dream that I would be able to go to college with out having to work three job. I can go and study and not freak out about paying tuition. Thank you for breaking me out of that cell when you found me and thank you so much for everything you've done since then.”
“Someone accused me of finding a family, and you're part of it Dawn. You're welcome and thank you for all you've done too.”