The Prodigal Son
Almost a month later, Brian was helping Dom muscle a rebuilt engine into one of the newest Watcher’s clunker when a throat cleared behind them and they both jerked, the engine swinging from the cherry picker.
“Sorry,” Dawn said when they turned to look at her, looking chagrined. “I, uh, need a ride to the airport and I still don’t have my license…”
Brian blinked and looked at Dom, who looked shocked.
Jesse, though, was the one who demanded as he rolled out from behind his desk towards her, “How old are you?”
She smiled brightly. “I’m 19. I’ve got my permit, but everyone’s been a little busy to teach me the actual, you know, mechanics of it.” She shrugged. “I’ve only driven a couple of times, but I’m pretty sure I’m already better than Buffy.”
Jesse’s fingers drummed on the arms of his chair, then he said, “I’ll teach you.” He fished around in his pocket and pulled out a set of keys, surprising Brian. He’d known that Jesse was working on something but he hadn’t known it was a car. “You can drive my car.”
Brian’s eyebrows rose when she took the keys, looking surprised.
“I, uh, the airport?” she stuttered, glancing at Dom.
“No time to learn like the present,” Jesse said, ignoring her startled look. He started rolling, reaching out to quickly tug to her belt loop, before moving ahead of her. She started to smile as she followed him, keys clutched tightly in her hand.
Brian looked to Dom and asked, “What just happened?”
Dom grinned at him, nudging the engine. “I think Jesse just snaked Vince’s girl.”
“This place,” Brian said, shaking his head and grabbing his side of the engine, helping guide it into place. “I think it does something to people.”
“It’s good for him,” Dom said, shrugging. “It’ll give him something to focus on besides the fact that he can’t race anymore.”
“Plus, if both Summers sisters are dating one of us, maybe they won’t be quick to toss us,” Letty piped up, wheeling out from under the car and nudging Brian’s ankle with the toe of her boot. “We’re not exactly their kind of people.”
As she wheeled back under and started tightening bolts, Brian said, “They know we’ve been racing.” Everybody else in the garage stilled, looking at him. He shrugged. “Xander said they knew, anyway. And he said they don’t care. And they don’t really seem to care what kind of people we are as long as we do what we’re paid to do and don’t hurt anybody.”
“Better than prison,” Dom announced, shrugging.
His shoulders seemed less tense, though, and Brian thought for the first time maybe this thing could actually work, maybe they could stay at the Council.
Brian was surprised when Xander followed Dawn and Jesse back into the garage and then thought, ‘Oh, yeah. Airport. Memorial tonight. Of course.’ Xander was watching with fond bemusement as Jesse awkwardly flirted with Dawn and she giggled and flirted back. He looked at Brian and smiled, flashing him a thumbs up and Brian was maybe beginning to figure out why he always seemed to be surrounded by people.
“Alright,” Xander said, grinning when everyone looked at him. “I’ve gotta go help with set up. Dawn, I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be doing something, too.”
She pressed a hand to Jesse’s shoulder but followed Xander out of the garage and Jesse sighed, voice a little dreamy when he said, “She drives like a dream.”
“The girl or the car?” Dom asked, entirely too amused.
“Both,” Jesse said a little giddily.
Brian took a drink of his Corona to cover his amusement.
Little kids were racing through the crowd laughing, traveling slay teams had come in and were circulating around, visiting with friends, and the Originals had staked a corner and were in serious conversation.
Faith smirked at him but kept her seat on Osbourne’s knee, hand reaching out to tug at Xander’s coat until he paid attention to her.
“Freak of nature,” Speed murmured as he stopped by Brian. DiNozzo, on the other side of him laughed.
“I thought we’d decided it was a mass hallucination,” he said as Xander said something and gestured and everyone around him laughed as Rosenberg turned red and covered her face, Kennedy snuggling into her even as she laughed.
A snort came from behind them and they all turned to see Captain Finn and his second-in-command, Miller, smiling at them in a way that let them know that, yeah, they were laughing at them on the inside.
“They’re Scoobies,” Finn announced and Brian blinked because what? He smirked and said, “They save the world a lot. And they’re family. Of course they look weird from the outside. They look weird from the inside, too, but at least it’s normal there.”
Dawn hailed Finn and he left with a little lift of his beer bottle, sweeping her up and twirling her around, making her giggle.
“He dated Buffy for a while,” Miller said, shrugging when they looked at him, astonished. “Dawn’s like a little sister to him and visiting them is like coming home for him. Still, he’s probably the expert on standing on the outside looking in when it comes to the Scoobies.”
“They really call themselves the Scoobies?” Speed asked, smirking.
“They were fifteen, sixteen years old,” Miller said, giving him a hard look. “They took prom more seriously than destiny.” He looked back at the tightly clustered group. “Buffy died before Spring Formal and Xander brought her back to life. Willow almost ended the world but she didn’t because he loved her that much
. Buffy died again and Willow raised her from the grave. The things they’ve seen and done would have broken normal men.” He looked at Brian and Speed and DiNozzo. “It has, actually. So they call themselves a silly little name and they talk rings around people and they never really stray far from each other because nobody else will ever understand them as much. They’re heroes.” He pursed his lips and conceded, “And also freaks of nature. But you get used to that after a while.”
Mia wandered over as Miller walked away and she said, “That looked serious.”
A clock somewhere in the building signaled that it was midnight and everyone seemed to still, watching as the Red Witch stepped forward, Xander with his arm around her waist and Summers holding her hand. She lifted her head and her eyes glowed and everyone gasped as clear, glowing stones rose around them, voices murmuring from them and laughter, some long forgotten, greeted them before they rose too high for anything to be heard. The stones drifted, then settled on a stretch of wall and seemed to sink into them, the golden glow scrawling out into a name that seemed to thrum with a heartbeat.
Brian wrapped his arms around Mia and murmured, “I think I could stay here.”
She settled against him and agreed, “It’d be nice to call someplace home.”
He watched as Xander kissed Rosenberg’s cheek, reaching across her shoulder and squeezing Summers’ arm. Xander looked up then and caught his eye. He raised an eyebrow and Brian jerked his chin at him. They were home.