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The Dawn Arising - Sequel to After Midnight

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This story is No. 2 in the series "After Midnight". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Xander, Angel and company survived graduation... Can they survive freshman year, the underworld and the MPD?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
NCIS > Xander-Centered
Harry Potter > General
Television > Bones
(Current Donor)DeepBlueJoyFR1828,3380195,44716 Jul 1218 Jul 12No

Searching

BtVS, HP, NCIS-LA, NCIS and any other fictional world that might appear here do not belong to me. The story does.

Thanks to my wonderful betas Inachis and Azulkan for making me look as though I am a polished author. Any remaining lack of polish is all on me!

Dialogue in italics belongs to the creators of BtVS. Dialogue tags and words in italics belong to me.



Spike and Dru hadn’t intended on going straight back to Sunnydale. Well, Spike hadn’t anyway. It was clear that mad Dru had had some interest in going back, though Spike wasn’t sure exactly what was going on inside the saner, more melancholic version of his sire.

“Why are we going there, again, Dru?” asked Spike.

“Where else would we go?” she asked, maddeningly.

“Somewhere far from Sunnydale and its bad luck,” said Spike.

“We’re on the side of good now,” said Dru. “The slayers aren’t going to go after us.”

“Probably not,” said Spike. “Still, I don’t get the attraction. You don’t really think you can drag Angel away from Xander, do you?”

“No,” said Dru. “But he is experienced with… with his soul…”

“He’s missing, Dru,” said Spike, irritation making his insistence sound almost whiny. “And you heard the white hats… Sunnydale town has soldiers and cops… and they all know about us. I’m not eager to tangle with those tossers.”

“I suppose we could at least wait until the slayers come back…”

“I think that would be the best idea,” said Spike.

Spike felt relief. He genuinely didn’t get the attraction of Sunnydale. Now Dru had her soul, she seemed to have abandoned the idea of ‘putting her family back together’, something for which he was grateful. She even seemed more focused on him. Therefore, her talk of going to Sunnydale, now they were nearing the West Coast had both surprised and dismayed him.

“Wherever would we go?” Dru said, sounding more fey than she had sounded in the weeks since they’d left the cave.

“We could pay a visit to that demon in LA that Angel told us about…” said Spike. “Seek our destiny.”


______


Buffy and Willow sauntered into the library, chatting animatedly.

“Wow!” said Buffy, looking around the enormous room with the beautiful vaulted cupola ceiling. Buffy felt slightly overwhelmed as she stared around the almost intimidating room.

“Oh my gosh! Isn't this amazing?” cried Willow.

“It's... cozy,” said Buffy, still awestruck and just a little annoyed at how thrown she felt.

“You know I never wanted to hurt Giles' feelings, but occult books aside, our old library just didn't have the greatest selection. But this!” Willow began to babble enthusiastically.

“Yeah, this is great, you know, if we ever need a place for the Nuremberg rallies,” said Buffy, drolly.

Willow was undeterred in her enthusiasm.

“This is a real library.”

Someone shushed her

“See we even have to whisper. It's like a whole new world!”

Buffy rolled her eyes, smiling to herself. There was no stopping Willow when she was on a roll. She allowed the Willow patter to wash over her. It was comforting. Even as everything was new and big, Willow was still Willow.


_______


Buffy and Willow had finally discovered the location of the bookstore and Buffy had began to collect books willy-nilly, and Willow, ever practical and lacking in super strength decided she should have a shopping basket.

“Here,” she handed Buffy a basket.

“Thanks,” said Buffy absently putting the books into the basket. “Can't wait till mom gets the bill for these books, I hope it's a funny aneurysm.”

Willow muttered to herself, “'Introduction to Psychology.' Oh, up there.”

She pointed to a stack of books piled on top of the very high bookshelf.

“I'll get'em,” said Buffy, reaching unsuccessfully for the books. “You know, this store discriminates against short people.”

Buffy was miffed.

“Oh, I think there's a protest next week,” said Willow jokingly as Buffy reached up and accidentally knocked the books off.

“Whoa, oh,” she exclaimed in dismay as they fell on the head of someone who was crouched behind the shelf with a book in his hand. “Oh, ahh. Oh god, I'm so…”

The man stood up, and they recognized him.

“Riley!” Buffy grabbed his arm. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you…”

“I'm okay. It's okay. Well, that was bracing. Were you trying to slay me for a reason? ‘Cause, gotta say, my head’s never gonna be the same!”

“No slayage, just bookage… except… forgot to bring my extra inches this morning!”

“Don’t sweat it, Buffy! Here, let me give you a hand. It’s not like I can help you with too much else,” He leaned in and started to pick up some of the books, placing some on a lower shelf.

“So, you really are taking Intro Psych then!” he said.

“Willow. You can blame it all on Willow,” said Buffy.

“Here I was thinking you just wanted me dead,” said Riley.

“No, I think Faith might kill me if you died… besides, I have to have at least a few very tall friends…” said Buffy, grinning up at Riley. Faith was right. Riley was cute. Not as cute as Graham, but cute.

“Well, I think you guys will have a lot of fun. Professor Walsh – she's quite a character.”

“It’s so cool! I can’t believe we have our own personal TA friend,” said Willow.

“You know I can’t treat you guys any different in class, right?” said Riley.

“Of course not,” said Willow.

_______


Buffy opened the door to her new dorm room, noticing her new roommate had arrived. She felt a shadow of apprehension. Something about this girl really bugged her even though their conversation seemed innocuous enough. The exchange that followed felt almost like it was scripted. Buffy’s internal tension ratcheted up and she couldn’t say why.

“Hi.

”Oh, hi! Are you Buffy?” the young woman chirped in a voice that felt to Buffy like too-happy chalk on a chalkboard.

“Yeah,” said Buffy, less than enthused.

“Kathy,” said Kathy.

“Hi, it's nice to meet you,” said Buffy politely.

“Yeah!” said Kathy.

She set her things down on one of the desks, and sat on the bed she’d chosen.

“So, it's, ah... it's a pretty nice room.”

The room felt airless as Buffy struggled for conversation. She really should have thought things through before leaving and arranged to share with Willow.

“Hmm! I was surprised, 'cause you hear horror stories about freshmen housing. You took the right side?” asked her too perky roommate.

“Yeah, umm, but if you want it...” said Buffy, trying for magnanimity even though all she felt was intense irritation.

“No, no. I just wanted to make sure that's what you wanted. Excited for classes tomorrow?”

“Painfully,” said Buffy, trying not to grind her teeth together.

Kathy laughed, her laugh nervous and just a little bit manic.

“I bet there's going to be a lot of parties to go to this week, too. Not that I'm a crazy partier. Oh, and I'm not always this hyper, either. I'm just excited.”

“Yeah, me too,” Buffy said awkwardly.

“I am really glad they put me with somebody cool... I can tell that you're cool. I just know that this whole year is going to be super fun!”

Buffy forced herself not to roll her eyes. She watched Kathy crisscross the room, picking up a poster and unfolding it. Buffy tried not to show her dismay as the poster turned out to be of Celine Dion. Now, Faith’s taste in music was beginning to seem quite superior by comparison. Maybe she should have lived off campus like Xander and Faith? Of course, they didn’t have a choice. Sunnydale College didn’t have dorms and anyway, Xander would have lived at home, regardless.

Buffy fell asleep slowly, feeling uneasy and irritable. As she stared sleeplessly at the ceiling, Kathy snored and mumbled, and made smacking sounds with her mouth. Buffy wondered just how she was going to adjust to this for an entire year. Fortunately, she was now free to spend at least a few nights with Graham without having to finesse it with mom… Graham. She was so looking forward to his return to town. She’d talked to him on the phone, but they’d missed each other as he’d headed home for his grandfather’s funeral while she readjusted to life in Sunnydale. Tomorrow would definitely be an improvement she thought, as she drifted off.


_______



Buffy wasn’t really late, but the professor was already talking. She headed over to the nearest open seat, which just happened to be next to Cordelia. Guess Cordelia had decided to allow Wesley to help her pay for classes, Buffy thought, smiling at her. Either that or her promotion to buyer had put enough money in her pocket to cover in-state fees.

“Hi Cordy!” she said.

“Hey, Buffy,” said Cordelia.

Neither girl paid much attention to the professor since they hadn’t seen each other for most of the summer.

“The point of this course is not to critique popular American culture. It is not to pick at it, or look down upon it. And it is not to watch videos for credit. The point is to examine...” The professor droned pompously.

“You made it!” said Buffy, giving her a hug. “I’m so glad.”

“Me too,” said Cordelia.

“Do you think he’ll sign my override?”

“Don’t know. I’m thinking of dropping…”

“Why?”

Cordelia didn’t get to answer because a change in the professor’s voice got Buffy’s attention. Suddenly, every eye was on her and Cordelia.

“And there are two people talking at once, and I know that one of them is me. And the other is... a blonde girl. You, blonde girl. Stand up. I'm very excited to hear what you have to say that's worth interrupting my lecture for.” the professor’s voice was mocking and disdainful.

Buffy stood up, feeling mortified.

“I was just trying to figure out if I could get an override, Professor,” she said politely.

The professor held up a clipboard.

”If your name isn't on this sheet then you are wasting everyone's time. Are you on the sheet?” he asked, his tone bellicose and hostile.

“They told me that if I just...”

The man cut her off, his tone becoming belligerent and angry.

“Do you understand? You are sucking energy from everyone in this room. They came here to learn. Get out!”

“I didn't mean to... suck,” Buffy felt exposed and embarrassed.

“Whoa! You don’t have to be so mean!” said Cordelia, standing up, and beginning to collect her stuff noisily.

“Leave!” grated the professor, gesturing toward the door.

“Gladly,” said Cordelia, acidly. “I wouldn’t spend a whole semester putting up with someone with such an enormous bug up his butt.”

There was scattered laughter.

“How dare you! Don’t you know who I am?” the professor demanded.

“Oh, give it up! You think you’re important? You have no idea what important is. The world isn’t gonna end if we don’t take your stupid class,” Cordelia declared, haughtily.

“What? You think it’ll end if blondie here doesn’t get her way?”

Cordelia pretended to think about this, a finger to her cheek.

“You know… It just might,” smirked Cordelia, grinning at Buffy, who grinned back; suddenly feeling a lot more confident. “You know what? You’re not worth a single press-on fingernail on this woman. Come on Buffy; let’s blow this Popsicle stand! We have much better things to do!”

“Yeah, like lunch!” said Buffy, grinning.

“Or getting our nails done,” said Cordelia, chuckling as she inspected said nails, which were, of course, quite perfect.

The entire class laughed with her.

“Get out!” the professor screamed, his face purple with rage.

He advanced on them rapidly, but stopped in his tracks, when Buffy turned around, setting her books down gently and standing her ground. Her posture was relaxed but completely alert.

“Or you’ll do what, exactly?” asked Buffy in her sweetest tones.

Buffy crossed her arms across her chest, gazing up at him with her best helpless-adorable-blonde look. He would definitely have to make the first move. Buffy had spoken softly, but no one missed it. The room was so quiet you could almost taste the anticipation.

“Get out of my classroom,” he said, but his attempt at sounding menacing came out hoarse and raspy for some reason. He cleared his throat roughly.

“Oh… hush!” said Buffy, collecting her books from Cordelia who had picked them up, and following her out of the room.

There was silence for a moment, then class erupted in applause and hooting, drowning out the professor’s feeble attempts to restore order. Several more people followed Buffy and Cordelia’s example and left the lecture hall.

“That was fun!” said Cordelia.

“Yeah, except now we have to find another class,” said Buffy sounding dismayed.

“It’s a big campus, Buffy, I think we’ll manage it…” Cordelia grinned at her.

“You know what, you’re right! I think you’re right!”

“Of course, I’m right,” said Cordelia, grinning at Buffy, who rolled her eyes and grinned back.


______



“God, I can’t believe how expensive all these books are,” said Xander.

Angel, if he ever came back would have a fit… Xander didn’t mention him, though he suspected Faith knew where his mind was. After a pause, Faith jumped right in to fill the silence.

“No shit. If I didn’t have daddy givin’ me money for school, I could never do this,” said Faith.

“Yeah, well, I still think the council should be payin’,” said Xander. “It’s not like they’re overly generous or anything.”

“Yeah, well. We both know that ain’t never gonna happen,” said Faith.

“And I still can’t believe you got a higher score on the English portion of the SATs than me,” said Xander, shaking his head.

“Is ‘cause I actually studied, yo!” said Faith.

Xander made a face and punched her in the shoulder gently.

“Just sayin’,” she said cheerfully, carrying her entire pile of books in a tall, precarious pile as if they were marshmallows in a bowl. Xander’s smaller pile was sitting in a cart in front of him.

“Yeah, Yeah,” said Xander. “Well, you’re still down here in the gutter with me.”

“Sunnydale College is not a gutter,” said Faith. “I hear their nursing program has a better boards pass rate than UC Sunnydale!”

“You’re thinking of going to nursing school?”

“Thought about it for a hot minute,” said Faith, shaking her head.

“So what are you gonna do?” asked Xander.

“Hell if I know!” said Faith. “First, I have to survive freshman English and a whole lot of remedial math.”

“Yeah, no shit!” said Xander. “At least we have those two classes together.”

“We could have had more classes together, but you had to go and take intro to art history and fucking color theory. Who cares about color theory, anyway?”

“UC Sunnydale, if I’m gonna transfer to their BFA program,” said Xander.

“Well, I’m taking intro to psych,” said Faith. “Buffy and Willow are taking it and they’re using the same book.”

“What do you know about psychology, Faith?”

“Less than nothing,” said Faith, “But Riley’s TA-ing for the psych teacher at UC Sunnydale.”

“Why did I know this had something to do with Riley?”

“Don’t you think I should at least learn something about what he’s studying?”

“Why is monster hunting marine studying psychology anyway?”

“He can’t tell me,” said Faith.

“I don’t like the sound of that,” said Xander.

Faith shrugged.


_________



Xander let himself into the mansion. He couldn’t believe how silent it was. He dumped his bags of books at the foot of the stairs before heading back into the kitchen to make dinner. He took one look at all the frozen stuff in the freezer, and decided yet again that he couldn’t face cooking for one. Now he stood in front of the open door of the fridge staring unseeing at the left over Chinese food that he’d bought three days ago and the left over pizza he’d bought five days ago. Suddenly, he came back to the present. He couldn’t obsess about Angel. He had to stay focused. He had to believe Dru that Angel was alive, that Angel would return.

He took a swig of orange juice from the carton and pulled out the leftover ‘Happy Family’ and the ‘everything’ pizza, spooning out about half of what was left of the meat, seafood and vegetable dish and stuffing it in the microwave. He manhandled the oversized slice of pizza into the toaster-oven - toaster combo Angel had bought after discovering how much Xander hated microwaved pizza.

As simple as it was, it had been one of Xander’s favorite toys. A wide mouth toaster at the top and a decent oven on the side meant it made great toast and saved heating up the huge oven on the big Viking range for one small item. That was when Xander started to weep silently. He bent the corner of the pizza and carefully closed the door of the little oven, turning up the temperature before sprawling at the kitchen table to wait.

“Oh God, Angel, where the hell are you?” he found himself suddenly sobbing. He whispered, “Please come back…”

Now Xander found himself wishing he’d taken Faith up on her offer to eat with her and Riley, even though it would have meant being a fifth wheel – or a third wheel. Whatever! At least, last night it had been both he and Buffy playing chaperone. He needed to talk to the girls about some sort of patrol schedule now everyone else was back in town. Of course, he would only slow them down, but he needed to do something besides go to school or he’d lose his mind. Maybe he could talk Wesley into patrolling? Where was a good demon crisis when you needed one?

After eating without tasting the food and crying into the sink as he washed his single plate by hand, he took his books up to the library and put them neatly on his desk – the desk where his brand new laptop sat, screen dark. He remembered how Angel had surprised him with it after graduation – enlisting Willow’s help to get the perfect one with everything Xander could possibly need. Everywhere there were reminders of how much Angel loved him – or had loved him. Loved him. Xander wasn’t going to think about Angel in the past tense. He was going to come back. He had to come back.



"Walking After Midnight"

by Patsy Cline

I go out walkin' after midnight
Out in the moonlight, just like we used to do
I'm always walkin' after midnight
Searchin' for you

I walk for miles along the highway
Well, that's just my way of sayin' I love you
I'm always walkin' after midnight
Searchin' for you

I stop to see a weepin' willow
Cryin' on his pillow
Maybe he's cryin' for me
And as the skies turn gloomy
Night winds whisper to me
I'm lonesome as I can be

I go out walkin' after midnight
Out in the starlight, just hoping you may be
Somewhere a-walkin' after midnight
Searchin' for me

I stop to see a weepin' willow
Cryin' on his pillow
Maybe he's cryin' for me
And as the skies turn gloomy
Night winds whisper to me
I'm lonesome as I can be

I go out walkin' after midnight
Out in the starlight, just hoping you may be
Somewhere a-walkin' after midnight
Searchin' for me

___

(In spite of the time that has passed, this story has NOT been abandoned - sorry for the delay. Blue 11/13/2014)

The End?

You have reached the end of "The Dawn Arising - Sequel to After Midnight" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 18 Jul 12.

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