Title: Cat's Cradle
Pairing: B/A, B/S, A/C, X/Anya, W/T (pretty much all show pairings get mentioned)
Spoilers: Season 6/3 in general, after 'Older and Far Away' for BtVS and 'Provider' for AtS
Summery: This is the first story in a series. When Dawn visits her estranged father and Buffy refuses, Dawn ends up at the Hyperion. From there truths come into the open, visons appear and a new prophesy concerning the end of days is revealed.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction created strictly for enjoyment. No profit was made. All the characters in here belong to Joss Whedon and ME. No infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: I previously published this on another list under the pen name Paradox, with the title 'Cat's in the Cradle.' Since there was already a fic on this site with that title I altered the name.
Chapter 1: Skeletons in the Closet
Threading his way through the streets of L.A., Hank followed the directions that his daughter gave him. He felt terrible about dropping the girl off early, but he was still not within the good graces of his firm. He had to obey the order to come into work. As he turned another corner, he glanced over and apologized again.
“Look Princess, I am so sorry about this, but I don’t want to end up losing my job,” which with his firm, would be the least of his worries. “Once I get all of my backlogged bills paid up, I intend on sending you guys support checks. Make sure you tell your sister that. Or, I’ll pay her tuition so she can go back to school, or pay off the repair bills for that water leak in the basement. Anything I can do to help.”
“Dad, can you please watch the road,” was all the girl said in reply.
He deserved her cold shoulder. When he got back in the country, the first thing he had done was go groveling back to his firm. The second was to call his ex-wife and daughters. Only his ex-wife had been dead for almost a year. His daughters, especially the oldest, were not especially glad to hear from him. He understood. It had taken him weeks to convince them to see him, and then only his Princess ended up going through with it. Her sister still wasn’t sure she could be civil with him, and none of them wanted the first visit to turn into a huge fight. So a friend had dropped her off last night, and her sister would be picking her up at another friend’s office tonight. No contact, and for now his youngest got to be the mediator.
“Really Dawn,” he went on keeping his eyes on the road this time. “I don’t want to do this, but I have to. I’m not exactly in the best of terms with my firm either. And if they wanted to, they could-”
“Turn here,” she said. “Dad, can we not do this, I said before I understand. Your work is more important to you right now. That’s okay. It’s not like Buffy’s any different.”
“Is she not taking care of you?” Hank asked somewhat concerned.
“No, she’s fine, she just…has a lot on her plate right now, and I don’t see her that often. Sometimes it bothers me, a little.”
Dawn really did understand that her sister was busy. She had to put food on their plates, and then there was the whole saving the world thing. It hurt that she was never around. After the whole birthday fiasco, they had talked and came to a somewhat shaky understanding. Buffy made it clear Dawn needed to start taking responsibility for her own actions and how they affected everyone around her. If Dawn started to shape up, Buffy said she’d start playing the role of sister a little more and surrogate mother a little less. That was part of the reason that Dawn was here now, she had wanted to see him, even if Buffy was still royally pissed about his disappearing act. Not that Dawn was all ready to forgive him either, especially when he ditched her three hours earlier than they had planned. She checked the directions that Willow had scrawled down for her. Buffy had never actually been to the hotel.
“Make a left at this street up here,” she said, glancing to the west. It was still a couple hours before sunset. There might not be anyone around when she got there.
Something about this neighborhood was familiar to Hank, but he couldn’t quite place it. He had heard all of the street names, and seen many of the buildings. He just couldn’t remember where. Then it hit him.
“The hotel’s right up here,” Dawn said, pointing out the Hyperion.
It was the hotel. His hotel. How on earth did his Dawnie know any of the people who resided in that place, and what was she doing associating with them now. It would not be good thing if his firm found out that his girls were connected with this place and him, even by coincidence. Everyone around the office was still smarting over the last incident. Besides, he didn’t want his daughters caught up in all the demons, darkness and such that he had been surrounded by since he took what he thought would be his dream job.
“Now who does Buffy know here? I don’t want to let you out in a strange neighborhood,” he asked hoping to get a little more information from her.
“One of Buffy’s high school friends, Cordelia Chase works here,” Dawn told him, smiling at the fact she had just called Buffy and the Queen of Mean friends. “As well as one of her old teachers from High School.”
Buffy had specifically told Dawn not to mention Angel. He was actually the person whom Buffy had spoken with to get permission for Dawn to get dropped off here. Even though she had been irritated that Buffy was flat out refusing to see their father, she was kind of touched by the fact that Buffy went to the trouble, and inner turmoil, to make the arrangements with her ex-boyfriend. Dawn always saw firsthand how any contact between the two tore Buffy up inside. She knew that since their little meeting after Buffy came back, her sister hadn’t spoken with the vampire. So it took a lot of effort for her to pick up the phone and make this request.
Not that Angel had hesitated. No that wasn’t right, she had overheard Buffy and Willow talking one night when she was supposed to be sleeping. Angel had seemed distinctly unnerved about having Dawn, and subsequently Buffy around, although she didn’t really know why. Willow had suggested that is was something about the meeting, but Buffy shrugged that off. There was something more, Buffy just wasn’t sure what.
That knowledge, coupled with the fact that technically she really hadn’t met any of the people she was going to be around for the next few hours, made her nervous. She had even made an illicit call to Giles, from The Magic Box so it wouldn’t show on he home phone bill, to ask him whether the Monk’s mojo really affected everyone, even people who were long gone from Sunnydale before she came into being. Giles’s reassurances were at the front of her mind as they pulled up to the old hotel. It helped her stay calm.
Hank on the other hand was even more nervous, after his daughter’s reply. Buffy and Dawn knew one of the principle players. No less than the Seer herself. He was never going to be able to keep this quiet.
“I didn’t know she kept in touch with any of her old School friends, besides Willow and Xander of course,” he said, trying to glean just a little more information to reassure himself, and potentially his firm his girls were far outside the realm of this dangerous game. “After what happened at her graduation, and everything.”
The near Ascension, of Sunnydale’s Mayor at his daughter’s graduation was as close as he ever wanted his girls to be to the forces of darkness. After he had heard what had happened from the rumors flying around the office, he had been frantic until he found out that Buffy was okay. He was relieved that his daughter seemed to want to block the supernatural aspect of the whole incident out of her mind. He drifted back to what Dawn was saying.
“Buffy and Cordy don’t talk much, actually. Willow is in contact with her more,” which was even more of a surprise since Dawn knew how much Willow liked Cordelia in the not-at-all sense. “But Buffy trusts Willow, and Willow trusts Cordy, so her office is deemed a safe place, I guess.”
Dawn hoped her Dad would stop asking all these questions. She didn’t like lying to him, but she knew that Buffy was right when she said their Dad would not be able to handle the whole ‘my daughter the Slayer’ gig. He had always been vehement in his denials of the existence of anything supernatural. He would wig if he found out that not only was the world full of assorted demons, monsters, and vampires, but his eldest Daughter was the ‘One in Every Generation’ (okay so technically two) who killed the evil ones. Oh and the fact that Buffy had once dated a vampire would really blow his mind.
So she decided to cut the whole visit short, even though she was kind of reluctant to let it end. She had actually had a good time, once they had both relaxed a little. It wasn’t like old times, but it was nice.
“Dad, I should get going, let you get to work. I want to try and get a hold of Buffy, let her know I’m here already,” both she and her Dad winced. Buffy was not going to be pleased with Hank for cutting this visit short.
“Are you sure you’re okay being dropped off here. I could let you sit in my office at work, while I’m in the meeting. I’ve got cable and everything. If you’re not comfortable with people you don’t know so well,” the offer was risky, but so was letting the girl out at the vampire’s hotel, even if she didn’t seem to know that he was the one her sister’s friend’s friend worked for. What was quiet little Willow doing in touch with the Seer anyway? He flashed Dawn a sincere smile, to let her know he meant the offer and was sorry for cutting into their visit.
“Dad, it’s okay, really, I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself. I tried to tell Buffy I could take the bus home so she wouldn’t have to drive here, but she wouldn’t even listen. I’ll be fine until she gets here. It’s only a few hours,” She grinned back at her father, “But I’ll tell Buffy you were worried, and you offered to let me stay at work, it might help a little.”
“I’m so sorry about this Dawnie,” he said, deciding that Dawn and Buffy’s ignorance would be enough to keep them safe, “I promise that it won’t happen again. I love you, Princess.”
“I love you too, Dad,” and she gave him a hug and a peck on the cheek before grabbing her bag and getting out of the car. She waved as her dad turned the car towards downtown, and his precarious position at The Law Offices of Wolfram and Hart. With trepidation, she turned and began to walk towards the current home of Angel Investigations.