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

Summary: BtVS, Noir. Black Sunrise series, part 2. While Dawn tries to learn and deal with the changes forced upon her during Halloween, enemies, both old and new, come to Hellmouth. Completed.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anime > NoirArjenFR15322,593155,10618 Jul 0422 Jul 04Yes

Competition

Part 3: Competition


 


Dawn’s master plan for 1997.


Okay, Dawn admitted to herself, maybe November was a little late for coming
up with a plan but being grounded was getting to her.


1. Get Xander interested in me.

2. Make sure I’m no longer grounded.

3. Get Xander interested in me.

4. Learn the fighting thing.



Now she hesitated, should she write down another Get Xander interested in
me
or not?


5. Get Xander as a boyfriend.


Yes, that would work. Progress was the name of the game. Now then, what else
should she make sure to do? Her main goal for the year had already been taken
care of last Saturday and wasn’t something she should write down in this diary
anyway. Christmas wasn’t all that far away so maybe she should start thinking
about that as well.


Being good probably wouldn’t cut it anymore but maybe she could get a very
nice gift for her mother. As a sort of peace offering to stop her from being
angry at her sweet and innocent youngest daughter. That might actually be a good
step to deal with point 2 as well.


Except of course that by then she would no longer be grounded and if she’d go
and buy a present before then, her mother would know that she didn’t actually
stay at home most of the time. Decisions, decisions. Well, it might at least be
useful for the next time something like this happened, write it down Dawn.


6. Get a great Christmas present for mom.

7. Get a gag-gift for Buffy, preferably something messy.



Hah, that would teach Buffy not to read her diary and the way she’d probably
be terrified of every gift during Christmas would hopefully make up for not
actually being able to do anything.


“Dawn!”


Shutting the diary she walked downstairs to where her mother was waiting.
“Yeah?”


“I’m leaving now. I want you to be good and keep your promise about the
grounding.”


“Yes mom, I promise I will be as strict about being grounded as I’ve been so
far.” And that just happened to be a promise she planned on keeping. After all,
she no more planned to stay cooped up inside now than she had before.


“Okay honey, I’ll call you in the evenings when I’ve got time. Say goodbye to
Buffy for me and I’ll see you again on Friday.”


“Okay mom, bye.” Dawn answered, kissing her mother goodbye as the woman left
for her buying trip.



“Spike, come dance?” Drusilla held out her hand while she asked this.


“Give us some peace, would you? Can't you see I'm working?” Why was he angry?
She only wanted him to dance with her. She didn’t like it when he was angry with
her. Pulling back her hand she knew she was showing that on her face and it got
the expected result.


“Oh, I'm sorry, kitten. It's just this manuscript. Supposed to hold your
cure, but it reads like gibberish. E-even Dalton here, the big brain, he can't
make heads or tails of it.” What did she care if that stupid minion couldn’t
figure it out? If Spike didn’t want to dance with her he could at least make her
well again.


All this anger was giving her a headache. “I... I, I need to change Miss
Edith.” She started walking towards the doll when the pain got worse and she had
to hold her head in her hands in order to try and stop the pain. Spike
immediately came to help her when he noticed this.


“Oh, forgive me! You know I can't stand to see you like this. We're runnin'
out of time. It's that bloody Slayer! Whenever I turn around she's muckin' up
the works.” Yes, the Slayer. It was always the Slayer but Miss Edith said that
Spike would soon find a solution for her as well.


“Shh. Shh. You'll make it right. I know.” She really did, because Miss Edith
said that a change was coming to the Hellmouth and what better change could
there be than her being strong again and the Slayer gone? But for that she
needed to get better and if that was in the book she would find out how to deal
with it. As Spike got up she picked a card from the deck she had placed for this
occasion.


“Well. Come on, now. Enlighten me.” Spike said as he walked to the minion.
What was the minion’s name again?


“Uh, well, it looks like Latin, but it's not. I-I'm not even sure it's, it's
a language, actually, I...” Not a language? What could it be then?


“Then MAKE IT A LANGUAGE! Isn't that what a transcriber does?!”


“Well, not exactly...”


Spike grabbed him in order to get more information out of him but she was
pretty sure that wasn’t the way. “I want the cure.”


“Don't...” She told him.


“Why not? Some people find pain very inspirational.”


“He can't help you. Not without... the key.” She pointed at the card that had
shown her this information.


“The key? You mean this book is in some kind of code?”


“Yeah.”


She drew another card in order to find out more about the key and once again
the meaning was clear.


“Is that where we'll find this key?” Spike asked her while pointing at the
mausoleum.”


“Yeah!”


“I'll send the boys, pronto!”


“Now will you dance?” Say yes Spike, because she really wanted to dance.


“I'll dance with you, pet. On the Slayer's grave!” Yes, that would be a
perfect spot.


* * *


As she was waving her hand over the pretty cross Drusilla smiled.


“This is it then?” Spike asked, sounding a little anxious.


She couldn’t hide her pleasure at this find and had no intention of doing so
anyway. “It hums. I can hear it.”


“Once you're well again, we'll have a coronation down Main Street, and invite
everyone, and drink for seven days and seven nights.” Spike always said the
nicest things to her, it would be so nice. She’d have to make sure Miss Edith
had a nice dress to wear though.


“What about the Slayer? She almost blew the whole thing for us. She's
trouble.” The minion said, she still couldn’t remember his name. Oh, that wasn’t
important anyway. She knew what needed to be done to the Slayer and she was sure
that Spike did as well.


“You don't say? Trouble?!” She could hear him start pacing behind her but she
was still looking at the pretty cross that would make her strong again. “She's
the gnat in my ear! The gristle in my teeth! She's the bloody thorn in my BLOODY
SIDE!”


As he then kicked the table however she tore her attention away from the
pretty cross on its pretty pillow. “Spike?”


“We gotta do something. We'll never complete your cure with that bitch
breathing down our necks. I need to bring in the big guns. They'll take care of
her once and for all.” See? She knew he would know what to do. Miss Edith had
already told her they would come, although Miss Edith was scared about something
as well.


“Big guns?” Oh, the minion didn’t understand yet. When she was strong again
it might be best if she got rid of him, it wouldn’t do if he didn’t understand
what they were talking about. Oh, that cross was really pretty. Why did
something as pretty as that have to hurt if she touched it? There had been a
time she could touch a pretty cross like that without it hurting but that was
before Daddy came.


“The Order of Teraka.” Yes Spike, we’ll call on the order of Teraka and
they’ll deal with the Slayer.


“The bounty hunters?!”


Ignoring the minion’s frantic question she started dealing the cards to see
which ones would come. A Cyclops, that one wasn’t good enough and would die
first. A centipede, the bugman, he would be there at the end. And a panther, the
last of them to reveal itself.


“They're coming to my party. Three of them.”


“Uh, yes, but... The Order of Teraka, I mean... isn't that overkill?” The
minion still didn’t understand.


“No, I think it's just enough kill.” Spike did understand. But suddenly it
was as if she heard something. Spike seemed to notice her behavior and asked
about it. “Dru? What is it?”


“Someone else will come.”


“Someone else? Who?” Instead of immediately answering though she turned back
to her deck of cards and flipped another one, a skeleton carrying a scythe.


“Death.” She looked up at Spike, unable to disguise the horror in her face.
“The Green Lady will come, but she’ll be too late for my party.”


“The Green Lady? What kind of nonsense is that?”


“The Green Lady with the black hands. Miss Edith says she’ll never stop
killing and that she hates magic.”


“Really? And who is this Green Lady?”


“Miss Edith doesn’t know. Nobody knows who the Green Lady is until she kills
them.” That last part did manage to get through to Spike and she saw a flicker
of fear run through his eyes as well.


“But you said she’ll be late for the party?”


“Yes, she’ll arrive after the party. She can’t come before.”


“Well then, that means she is a problem for later and by then we’ll both be
able to deal with her.”



“So Giles is sure that the vampire who stole his book is connected to the one
you slayed last night? Or is it slew?” Willow asked.


“Both are correct, and, yes, I'm sure. Du Lac was both a, a... a theologian
and a mathematician. This article describes an invention of his, which he called
'The Du Lac Cross'.” Giles answered her while he came down out of the racks.


What a ridiculous name, couldn’t he have thought of something better? Xander
decided to make his opinion about that known. “So, why go to all the trouble of
inventing something, and then giving it a weak name like that? I mean, I'da gone
with 'The Cross-o-matic', or, uh, 'The Amazing Mr. Cross'.”


Neither Buffy, Willow or Giles seemed to think it funny but a short giggle
came from further in the library.


“Dawn! I thought you promised mom you wouldn’t take advantage of mom’s
absence?” Buffy shouted at her sister who then showed herself.


“No I didn’t. I promised I wouldn’t do anything I hadn’t done during the
first days of being grounded. And since I didn’t stay at home then, I haven’t
broken my promise.”


Okay, in some twisted way that was probably a logical explanation, although
he doubted something like that would hold up in court. “Ehm, Dawn? I don’t think
it works like that.”


“Why not?”


You know, that was actually a good question but luckily he didn’t need to
answer it since Buffy decided it was time to get rid of her sister. “Because
I’ll tell mom.”


“No you won’t because then I’d tell her about the Slayer thing.”


“Y-you would tell Mrs. Summers about that just to spare yourself?” Giles
asked incredulously.


“You’ve never seen mom angry have you?” The pitying look the girl threw at
Giles told him exactly what it meant to have Mrs. Summers angry at you. “Trust
me, I’d do anything to keep her from getting even more angry with me.”


“Except do as she told you to.” Buffy muttered with a sullen look on her
face. Despite his own reservations about the situation Xander couldn’t help but
be impressed by the way Dawn had outmaneuvered her sister.


“But you were talking about ‘The Amazing Mr. Cross’. Don’t let me stop you
from doing so.”


“Quite.” A still shocked Giles answered the little girl, before he launched
into his explanation. “The cross was more than a mere symbol, it was used to
understand certain mystical texts, to, uh, decipher hidden meanings and so
forth.” He then handed the magazine he had been carrying to Willow so she could
look in it.


“So you're saying these vampires went to all this hassle for your basic
decoder ring?”


“Uh, actually, yes, I, I suppose I am.” The Brit told Buffy.


Willow who naturally couldn’t stop from reading the text in front of her then
spoke up with the information she had found there. “According to this, Du Lac
destroyed every cross except the one buried with him.”


“Why destroy your own work?”


“Perhaps he feared what might happen if it fell into the wrong hands.”


Giles was probably right about that and Xander thought it best to underline
that. “A fear we'll soon get to experience for ourselves up close and personal.”


“U-unless we can preempt their plans.”


“How?”


“Uh, by learning what's in the book before they do. Which means we can expect
to be here later tonight.”


“Goody! Research party!” Oh Willow, that is not the right way to answer
something like that.


“Will, you need a life in the worst way. So Dawnie, are you helping as well
tonight?”


“Can’t. Mom said she’d call in the evenings and if I’m not there when she
does I’ll be in trouble.” She then looked at her watch and appeared shocked when
she saw the time. “I’ll have to go now actually.”


“Speaking of, I really have to bail too, but I promise I'll be back bright
and early tomorrow and ready to slay.” The other Summers girl said.


“This is a matter of some urgency, Buffy.” Right Giles, like that will work.


“I realize that. Well, you have to admit, I kinda lack in the book area. I
mean, you guys are the brains, I'd only be here for moral support anyway.”


“That's untrue, Buffy, you totally contribute. You go for snacks!” He didn’t
want to be alone here with the bookpeople! Buffy stay, please! Xander wished but
he soon found out that it was a wish he wouldn’t be granted.


“She should go. Y-y'know, gather her strength.” Willow added her five cents
after a look from Buffy. The traitor.


“Perhaps you're right. There may be fierce battles ahead.” No Giles, not you
too.


A last ditch effort before she left then. “But Ho-Hos are a vital part of my
cognitive process!”


“Sorry, Xand. Someplace I have to be.” Damn, that hadn’t worked either. But
where did she have to be? He looked at Giles who only looked back before he then
turned to the source of all things Buffy.


“She’s going ice-skating with Angel.” Dawn told him from where she sat
propped up on the table.


“Ice-skating? How do you know?”


“I heard them talking last night. He had snuck into her room while she was
doing the patrol thing and when she returned she’d forgotten that I was home.
Talking of which, I gotta go as well.”



“Hi Dawn, Sara’s already here.”


“Good, so what are we gonna watch?” Dawn asked while stepping into the house
of her friend.


“We’ve got a couple of nice movies selected. I’m sure you’ll like them.”


“Okay.” She followed Jane into the parent-less house where Sara was indeed
already waiting.


“Hey Dawn. Jane tried to explain it to me but I didn’t really understand how
you can be here, what with being grounded and all.”


“You know my mom is in LA, right?” Her friends nodded, as they should since
she had told them that before. “Well, since both she and Buffy aren’t home
tonight I just switched the telephone through Jane’s.”


“What do you mean?”


“When mom calls me at home, the telephone will ring here. Which means I’ll
have to answer all calls and you have to be quiet okay?”


“Sure, no problem.”


“Good, let’s watch some movies then.” And she let herself sink back into the
comfy couch. Happy with the fact that once more she was proven smarter than her
mother. The knowledge that she was breaking practically every rule of her being
grounded wasn’t something she paid any attention to.


* * *


When the sound of the telephone suddenly rang through the room pandemonium
broke out. “Put the movie on hold and be quiet.” Dawn shouted while running to
the phone, waiting with answering it until all was quiet.


“Dawn Summers.”


“Dawnie? It’s Xander.”


“Xander.” She said with a smile on her face.


“Oohh, did you hear that Jane? It’s his Royal Highness Xander.”


“I did hear that, can you see how Dawn is blushing?”


“Shut up.” She hissed at her teasing friends.


“What?” Her future husband asked from the other side of the connection.


“Not you Xander, you can say whatever you want. I-I mean, you can talk.”


“Can I talk to Buffy?”


Great, make her feel loved. “I told you she’s doing the ice-skating thing.”


“No, she came back from that when someone tried to kill her.”


“When someone tried to what? Is she okay?” Dawn shouted into the phone,
immediately silencing her friends who had thought it necessary to give a running
commentary on her conversation.


“She’s fine and as to what happened, well it’s complicated actually. But she
isn’t home?”


“Ehm, I don’t know.”


“Dawn?” He asked warily. “Where are you?”


“With a friend?” Okay, it might not have sounded as confident of herself as
usual but really, who could expect that when someone had just tried to kill her
sister? That was not something she could easily forgive and she felt a little
shaken that she hadn’t been able to prevent it from happening.


“Oh Dawn.” Xander sighed disappointedly. “Do you ever actually do what your
mother tells you?”


“Sure, all the time.” No, she didn’t want her love to be disappointed in her.
But she just couldn’t stand being locked up and that took precedence here, even
if she didn’t know why she couldn’t deal with it.


“I’ll believe that when I see it.” Now, that wasn’t fair was it? “Although
now I that I think about it, it might actually be a good idea for you to stay
there. At least it’ll be safe.”


What? First he’s disappointed and now he thinks it’s a good idea? But she
didn’t believe it was a good idea. Hell, she was pretty much certain it wasn’t a
good idea. “I can’t do that. I have to be home before her parents get back or
they’ll tell mom.”


“Dawn, there are assassins after your sister and they’d probably use you as
bait if they found you.”


“They don’t have to know I’m going home. And you don’t understand, getting
killed only takes a moment. Being grounded is forever.”


“I thought it was that being dead was forever.” See, that was one of the
reasons she loved him so much. He always tried, even when it was obvious he
couldn’t possibly win.


“Not when it comes to mom, it doesn’t.”


“Look Dawn, will you please do as I ask you to? It’s important to me that
you’re safe.”


“Maybe I could stay at your place then?” When she asked that she could see
her friends turning shocked faces to each other.


“Ah, I don’t think you’d like to stay there Dawn. But will you please do as I
ask?”


“I’ll think about it okay? But I won’t promise anything.” And with that she
hung up the phone. Like any two bit assassin wannabe would be able to keep her
out of her own house. “So, what are we waiting for? Put the video back on.”


Despite the fact that she could almost taste the questions they wanted to ask
it seemed like her friends had decided not to actually want to risk posing them.
Which was more than okay with her. She needed some time so she would be able to
think about those people who thought they could come after her sister and, more
importantly, how she could take care of them.



“I can't believe you. You dragged me out of bed for a ride? What am I, mass
transportation?” Did she have to be that difficult now? It was early for him as
well, if Giles hadn’t called him he’d still be in bed.


“That's what a lot of the guys say, but it's just locker room talk. I
wouldn't pay it any mind.” Maybe that would shut her up.


“Oh, great, so now I'm your taxi and your punching bag.” Or maybe not.


“I like to think of you more as my witless foil, but have it your way.” But
they had arrived at their destination. There didn’t seem to be anyone there,
maybe Dawn had actually listened him?


Trying the door didn’t get him anything, so he simply decided to shout for
Buffy. When that didn’t seem to work either he walked to the window.


“C'mon, Cordelia. You wanna be a member of the Scooby Gang you gotta be
willing to be inconvenienced every now and then.”


The brunette didn’t seem convinced that was a good enough reason to be
dragged out of bed and so answered him with another bout of sarcasm. Not that he
really paid any attention to it though.


Finally, he got the window open and stepped through. “Buffy could be in
trouble.”


“And what if she is exactly? What are you gonna do about it? In case you
haven't noticed, you’re the lameness and she's the super chick, or whatever.”
For a moment he debated whether to actually let her inside or not but decided to
do it after all.


“Well, at least I'm the lameness who cares, which is more than I can say
about you. And besides, Dawn could be in trouble as well and she isn’t a super
chick.”


“I thought you said you told her to stay with a friend?” Cordelia sounded a
little worried now, apparently she really did like the little girl although he
couldn’t imagine what the two of them could possibly have in common.


“I did, but at the moment Dawn seems to live in a world where nothing but her
own wishes seem to really matter.”


“And what’s wrong with that?” Oh yeah, that’s what they had in common.


“Never mind, I’ll check upstairs. Buffy!”


Walking up the stairs he kept shouting his friend’s name until he heard
something from behind him. “Don’t you think this would draw the attention of the
people trying to kill her?”


Turning around he could see Dawn standing there, holding a kitchen knife and
dressed only in an overlarge t-shirt. “Uh, hi Dawn. Did I wake you?”


“You can wake me up anytime, you know that.” She smiled at him but the normal
picture of a cute little girl with tousled hair was kinda ruined by the knife
she still held.


“Uh-huh, so what’s with the knife?” She blinked and for a moment she looked
confused as if she had been thinking of something else, and he really didn’t
want to know what, before she looked at the knife.


“Oh, that.” She uttered a fake laugh. “That’s nothing, I was ah, you know
about to make myself some breakfast.”


“In your room?”


“Ehm, yes?” It was amazing how good she was at turning up the innocent look.
So good actually that had he not been subjected to similar looks from Willow
over the years he might have actually believed her.


“And it has nothing to do with the fact that people are hunting your sister?”


“NO! You know she has forbidden me to fight.”


“Right, let’s assume for a moment I believe you. Is Buffy home?”


“No, she never arrived. Don’t tell her about the knife please? She’ll be
angry and would never understand.”


“In your own words of last night, I’ll think about it. Because I must tell
you Dawnie I am disappointed you came home after all.”


The crestfallen look on her face almost made him take those words back but he
figured the girl needed to learn that sometimes it was actually important to
listen to what people told her.



It just wasn’t fair. She liked him, well that was an understatement, but that
didn’t give him the right to criticize her actions. Dawn watched Xander walk
down the stairs before turning back to her room in order to get dressed. She had
been ordered, ordered!, to come back with him to the library. Not that she
hadn’t planned on going there anyway but she did not like being ordered.


At least he wasn’t alone, Cordelia would probably help her in letting him
know he couldn’t tell people what to do. Putting the knife on her desk, with the
other five she had taken out of the kitchen last night, she shed the t-shirt and
looked for what to wear. Or should she take a shower first? A smile appeared on
her face. Why not? Let him wait for her. That should teach him not to try
ordering her around.


After a long and relaxing shower she finally went downstairs, half surprised
Xander hadn’t asked her to hurry up even once. Oh well, Cordelia probably kept
him busy. Walking into the living room she couldn’t see them, although there was
a case of make-up articles. Checking the name on the bag she realized it was
probably some salesman who had been invited in by Cordelia. So that’s why Xander
hadn’t come, a grin formed as she realized how the poor guy must have been
tortured by having to watch as the older girl undoubtedly had wanted to try
everything.


But where were they now? Maybe the kitchen, she walked in that direction
while shouting their names when she noticed a man standing before the door to
the basement. “Hey! What are you doing there?”


“Dawn! Run! He’s one of the assassins!” Was that Xander who shouted? What was
he doing in the basement? Then the actual words penetrated her brain. This was
one of the people trying to kill her sister. Which meant she had absolutely no
intention of running away. Especially since she was carrying the knives she had
intended to return to the kitchen.


By the time the man took his first step towards her, the first knife had left
her hand, moments later followed by the others. Leaving her only with the knife
she still carried from Halloween, the same one she had used for her first real
kill. Time seemed to stretch on indefinitely as she noted the flight paths of
the knives. Of the six she had thrown, two were clear misses, once again
demonstrating her skills weren’t yet at the desired level. The other four though
would more then compensate for it.


She knew two would impact in his right shoulder, one in his left and the
other somewhere between those three. All more or less where she had aimed them
and thrown in a way it would be difficult to dodge. Not that he actually tried
to, which was surprising but she figured that was due to a slow reaction time.
However, when the first knife hit him she found out there was another reason.


“Shit.” She wasn’t used to being surprised like this in a fight and it once
again underlined her hatred for magic. The knife just passed through his body,
tearing the man’s clothes but, instead of leaving behind a bloody wound, the
hole it created was filled up by worms. And that was the moment she decided that
running might indeed be the best solution after all.


* * *


She had run all the way from her house to the Sunnydale Highschool and
despite her burning lungs she had no intention of stopping. Bursting through the
doors she crossed the hallways on her way to the library. The principal, a man
she had met only once before, stuck out his arms in order to stop her but she
dove underneath them and with a perfectly executed roll she was back on her
feet, not paying any attention to the shouts from the insignificant little man.



She needed help, because for the first time she could remember she had
encountered something that she couldn’t kill. And that fact scared Dawn far more
than anything else could ever do. She had known that it would happen one day,
there was no doubt in her mind that despite all the books in the library there
had to be some creatures that weren’t mentioned in them. But she had hoped that
she wouldn’t encounter anything like that before she’d actually had the chance
to read all the books. Let alone be a little further along in her training.


The library doors. Good, she felt as if she was about to explode from
fatigue. Not bothering to stop and open the doors the way they should be she
threw all her weight against them, causing her to fall into the room.


“Giles!” She shouted not even bothering to find out if there was anyone else
in the room. There were lives at stake here, and not just any lives, the lives
of someone she started to think of as a good friend and the one she had a crush
on.


“Dawn?”


“Who is dat?” What? Who’s the dark girl?


She tried to answer them but she couldn’t speak. Getting air inside her body
took precedence despite what she wanted to happen. “Xander… Cordelia… Bugman…”


“Calm down Dawn and then tell me what’s going on.”


“Dis girl knows as well?” The still unknown girl asked. Despite what was
going on Dawn started sizing the girl up. The accent indicated she was from the
Caribbean, probably Jamaica. She was standing as if she expected the need to
start fighting any moment now, and it looked as if she was very proficient in
it. More information needed to wait however.


“Xander, Cordelia, my house. Came get Buffy and me. Buffy not there.” She was
still hardly able to breathe clear enough for her to construct long sentences so
she made sure to say as much between the panting as possible. “Was taking
shower. Came downstairs. No Xander, Cordelia. Look in kitchen. Saw stranger.
Shouting from basement. Xander told run. Tried fight first. Man was worms.
Couldn’t hurt. Ran. Go help, please.”


“You’re saying that Xander and Cordelia are trapped inside your basement? And
there was someone else there, made of worms? And you came here for help.” Giles
tried to understand.


“Yes. Go help.”


“One of de assassins?” The girl asked Giles.


“I think so yes.”


“Who she?” Dawn stammered out.


“Oh yes, you don’t know. This is Kendra, the Slayer.”


Slayer? But there could be only one? No! “Buffy?”


Giles seemed to understand what she meant. “She’s alright. Kendra was called
when Buffy died fighting the master.” Oh, good. She knew about that, although it
didn’t explain the girl’s presence.


“And who is she?”


“What? Oh, this is Dawn. Buffy’s sister.”


“She even told her sister?”


“No, Dawn was caught in a spell. Or not caught actually, it’s a little
complicated and we obviously don’t have time for it. We need to…” He was cut off
however by the sound of gunfire.


“Buffy!” Dawn shouted, once again standing up in order to run to her sister’s
aid. One of the assassins was in the school and this one used a gun, which meant
it was probably human and could therefore be killed. Before she was even through
the doors however, Kendra passed her, obviously a lot faster than she herself
was.



Stepping inside the library Xander asked the question burning on his lips
since he had entered the school. “Who sponsored career day today? The British
Soccer Fan Association?”


“Xander! You’re okay.” Dawn shouted as she came running over to him and
wrapped her arms around him. “We were just going to save you. How did you get
out? Are you hurt? What happened? How did that thing get inside the house?”


“Wow Dawnie, easy. I’m fine, we’re both fine. And after you had run we
decided to try the same thing.”


He decided to ignore the snort from Cordelia that indicated she didn’t
entirely approve of his summary but he did notice that Dawn released him and
looked at the brunette.


“Cordelia? Why are you dripping?”


“Because your hero over there decided a hose was the best way to get the
worms away from me. Not that he stopped spraying once they were gone though.”


“Yeah, yeah, you’ve been complaining about that since we left. But I ask
again, what happened here?


“We had a, ah rather violent visit from the Order of Taraka.” Giles finally
told him.


“Oh, yeah I know what that feels like but…” Girl! New girl, pretty new girl.
“Hello.”


“Oh, forgive me. Uh, Xander, Cordelia, this is Kendra. Uh, i-it's rather
complicated, but she's also a Slayer.”


“Yeah, it seems as if the Highlander code was broken.”


He looked at Dawnie, wondering what she could possibly mean. “Huh?”


“You know, there can be only one? Buffy died and now there can be two.
MacLeod never tried that tactic.”


“Right.” Sometimes it was freaky that the little girl could make references
even he had trouble understanding. “Or your sister could have been using it as
an attention-getter.”


“Just say hello Xander.” The blonde Slayer told him.


Right, he’d do that. “Welcome. So! You're a Slayer, huh? I like that in a
woman.”


“Uh... I hope... I tank you... I mean, sir, um... I will be of service.” This
beauty was nervous while talking to him? Talk about strange.


Oh well, let’s put her a little at ease then. “Great! Good. It's good to be a
giver.” Okay, maybe not the best words but still a good attempt, even if he said
so himself.


“Xander, um, this, this, uh, assassin you encountered, what, uh, what did he
look like?”


“Hey, I already told you what he looked like? Don’t you believe me?”


“O-of course I do Dawn, but it’s better to get a second opinion in these
matters.”


“You never ask one when Buffy tells you what something looks like, and with
her you actually need it!” Oh, a Dawn that feels slighted.


He was distracted from that discussion by Cordelia who found another part of
the assassin in her hair and freaked out before shouting something about a
shower and running away. The worm however had dropped on the table and he simply
pointed to it. “Like that.”


“See? I told you it was a guy made of worms.” A vindicated Dawn told Giles.


“You and bug people, Xander. What's up with that?” Buffy asked him while
ignoring her sister’s comments.


“No, this dude was completely different from praying mantis lady. He was a
man of bugs, not a man who was a bug.” Yep, and more to the point he was a man
and therefore totally incomparable to the other situation. Taking the open book
the worm was on he slammed it shut, thereby taking care of that.


“The, uh, the important thing is everybody's alright. Still, it's quite
apparent that we're under serious attack.”


“These Teraka are definitely serious. Fortunately for me, so is Kendra.” Huh?
Was she here to save Buffy then? Oh no, probably not, but it’s better to do the
fighting thing together of course.


“And, uh, I fear the worst is still to come. I've, I-I've discovered the
remaining keys to Drusilla's cure. The, uh, the ritual requires that, the
presence of her sire, and it must take place in a church on the night of the new
moon.” Oh shit, so that’s what this was all about. Wait a minute, Drusilla’s
sire? There was something about that. He knew who that was but who?


“The new moon. But dat is tonight.” Tonight? Why couldn’t they ever find out
about things when they had at least a week to figure things out?


“Exactly. And I-I'm sure the assassins were here to kill Buffy before she
could put a stop to things.”


“They need Drusilla's sire. You mean the vamp that made her?” She knew as
well didn’t she?


“Yes.”


“Buffy, what is it?” Willow figured something out as well.


“Angel. He's Drusilla's sire.” Oh yeah, now he remembered.


“Of course, that’s who it was.”


“You knew about that?” Everybody seemed to ask him surprised.


“Yes, he said so during Halloween, remember.”


“He did?” Buffy looked confused. “I must have missed that.”


“You were probably busy being scared of a car or something.” Dawn muttered.


“Hey! I heard that.” Buffy told her sister who merely stuck out her tongue.
“Will this ritual kill him?”


“Yes, I'm afraid it will.”


“We need to find this church. We need to find where this ritual is gonna take
place!” Have no fear Angel, Buffy comes to the rescue Xander thought before he
suddenly realized something.


“Do you think this is what that Slayer Dream was about, you know, the one you
had after Halloween?”


* * *


“Yeah, yeah, we got monsters, we got demons, but no bug dude or police lady.”
Was there anything more boring than research? And this was when it was
important, well sort of. He had to agree with the new Slayer about what the
priority was in this case. The pretty new Slayer, but then, Cordelia was
beautiful as well. No! Bad thoughts Xander, that was an accident. People under
stress and that sort of thing.


“Well, you should have better luck with this one. There's a whole section
devoted to the Order of Teraka.” Giles said as he placed another book in front
of Xander. Wonderful, another book that looks to be full of boring things.


“Here let me have that, I read faster than you do.” Dawn said as she took the
book away from him and began reading, well at a speed like that it couldn’t
really be called reading could it?


It was only a couple of minutes later when the girl spoke up again. “Found
it.”


Looking over her shoulder he recognized the picture, hey he could have found
a picture just as fast, but hurt pride aside he agreed with her that it was
indeed the one they were looking for. “Oh, yes here we go! I am the bug man, coo
coo ka choo.”


The others gathered around as Dawn began to read out loud. “He can only be
killed when he's in his disassembled state.”


“Disassembled. That means when he's broken down into his liiittle buggy
parts.” Xander decided to, ah, bug Cordelia.


“I know what it means, dorkhead.” She bit back.


“Dorkhead! You slash me with your words!”


The others just looked at the both of them until Dawn asked. “Should I
continue or do you want to try and annoy the guy to death?”



When Kendra entered the library alone Dawn felt a pang of fear, had something
happened to Buffy?


Giles apparently had the same idea as he asked her. “Where’s Buffy?”


“She is running to save her boyfriend. I believed we needed help but she
didn’t want to wait.”


That figures, somehow Dawn had a feeling that if there was a building
somewhere with a giant sign that said ‘Trap here, walk this way to get killed in
a most unusual manner’ that Buffy would be the first to enter.


“I think you were quite right there actually. Although it might have been
better if the two of you hadn’t split up.”


“She would not come with me.” And she was right about not wanting to go with
Buffy, after all who is willing to walk into so obvious a trap?


“A-alright, we’ll need to go after her then. Have you found out which church
it is?”


“No, de man he said he would lead Buffy dere.”


“Oh, that complicates matters. Willow?” He turned to the redhead that was
still busy on the computer.


“I think I know which one it is.”


“Good, we’ll go there then. Xander, you and Cordelia can deal with the bug
creature?” Of course they did, hadn’t she just told them what needed to be done?


As Xander indicated that he was indeed able to deal with the creature they
decided it was time to go. When Dawn stood up however she was told she couldn’t
come.


“What? Why not? I can help!”


“No, you are too young to fight.” Giles explained.


“But.”


“No buts.” Geez, he sounded like mom. “That was the deal, remember? You could
help with the research but you wouldn’t fight.”


That wasn’t fair, but there was nothing she could do so she watched them walk
away from the school until they were out of sight. And then, once again ignoring
everything else in favor of the only thing that counted, she followed them.


* * *


This was annoying. She had followed the group to the church they were going
to and had seen Kendra jump inside but there wasn’t a good spot for her to look
at the fight. The only thing that was obvious to her was that they had been in
time to save Buffy from her own foolishness. Which was definitely of the good,
of course.


Now if only she could see what was going on inside. But at least it seemed as
if part of the plan was going as it should. She could see Cordelia pouring the
liquid adhesive that was meant for the bugman all around the doors.


“Hey, larvae boy! Yeah, that's right, I'm talkin' to you, ya big cootie!”
Well, not exactly the way she would have tried to get the assassin’s attention
but from the way Xander exited the church it must have worked.


“Welcome, my little pretties!” Yes, it definitely worked. As Xander and
Cordelia began to stomp the little worms crawling out from under the door she
circled the church in order to find someplace from where she could look inside.
Climbing in a nearby tree she managed to look through the windows. While the
colors didn’t make what happened inside any clearer she did get a look at what
was happening.


Buffy and Kendra were fighting two others. One she recognized from
descriptions as the vampire Spike and from the way the woman fought she figured
that to be the other assassin. When Buffy then threw Spike away she could see
the vampire going after some man, it wasn’t someone she recognized but since
nobody made a move to save him he probably deserved it.


She looked back at her sister then, only to see her trying to save her
boyfriend. After all, that was the reason she was there, wasn’t it? Okay, that
wasn’t really fair since in saving him she also stopped the ritual. Because it
just had to be done with magic, didn’t it? It was always magic, as if good
old-fashioned normality was out of style. Stopping herself from whining she
looked around in an attempt to try to see more of the fights. Leaning a little
forward in the tree, which she hoped would be able to handle that, Dawn could
indeed see Willow and Giles fighting a vampire as well. The little man suddenly
ran by them however, drawing her attention back to the rest of the fight.


By then, Buffy was busy trying to free Angel and Spike had come to take
Drusilla away. It looked as if there was some talking involved in all that but
since she couldn’t hear anything that was going on she couldn’t be certain.
Where was the assassin though? Searching for the woman she could see that Kendra
was still working on her until the assassin went flying through the air and
crashed into a cabinet. Good work Kendra! She mentally praised the Slayer, now
all that the Slayer needed to do was finish the assassin and she would be free
to go home before anyone could find out she wasn’t there.


But no, she was a Slayer and therefore hesitant about killing people. Ah,
Spike was trying to take his girl away but it seemed as if Buffy had no
intention of letting that happen. Her sister threw something at the vampire,
causing him to crash into the organ which then fell on him. That was one way to
handle a vampire. But it had come a little late as he had already managed to set
the church on fire. That was not good but as she noticed the others leaving she
decided it wasn’t enough to stop her.



She was strong again. Drusilla couldn’t stop a smile from forming on her
vamped-out face as she relished once more the feeling of power. All she had to
do now was get Spike away from here and allow him to get better as well. The
moment she planned to do that however she heard the door of the church open
again and she froze. Miss Edith had warned her what would happen if she was
discovered by this person.


The Green Lady. She had no idea what could be so dangerous about this being
especially she didn’t even know what it was. The sounds of the footsteps were
the same as she’d expect from a human, a short human at that. But she dared not
look at who it might be so had to rely entirely on her ears to find out
everything she could about this Green Lady with the black hands.


 “Who are you?” Came weakly from the last living of the assassins, Patrice
she remembered the name to be.


No answer was forthcoming although she could clearly hear both the Green
Lady’s breathing and her heartbeat.


“You’re the professional Norman encountered.” Patrice coughed and Drusilla
could smell fresh blood. It seemed the Slayers had hurt the assassin more than
she had believed. “The Order knows of you now.”


That didn’t seem to impress the Green Lady however and soon thereafter she
heard the sound of a throat being slit and one of the heartbeats disappeared.
The only sound she could hear after that was that of someone searching for
something, until finally the footsteps retreated and the doors opened one last
time.


Drusilla tried to piece together what she knew of this incarnation of Death.
Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of information she could use. The main thing
she knew was that her enemy was short but that was about all she could say,
especially since she hadn’t said a single word, which meant there was no way she
might be able to recognize the voice even if she encountered it again.


With the Green Lady finally out of the still burning church Drusilla dared to
move again and walked over to look at Patrice. For some reason she couldn’t
understand the Green Lady had taken the ring. She then tried smelling to see if
she could determine the Green Lady’s scent but the overwhelming odor of blood
and ashes made even that impossible.


Giving up on that she turned back to where Spike was still lying on the
ground and picked him up. “Don't worry, dear heart. I'll see that you get strong
again. Like me!” She started walking towards the exit as well. “And when that
happens we’ll take care of the Green Lady.”



On her way to the library Dawn crossed the halls of Sunnydale Highschool
during the next day. When she then suddenly heard the voice of Cordelia coming
from a classroom she stopped however, wondering what her friend was doing. “As
if! You've probably been planning this for months!”


She had no idea what that was about but as it seemed the girl was talking to
Xander she was pretty sure she’d find out. “Right, I hired a Latvian bugman to
kill Buffy so I could kiss you. I hate to burst your bubble, but you don't
inspire me to spring for a dinner over at Bucky's Fondue Hut.”


NO! NO! NO! She must have misheard. It couldn’t be true. “Fine! Whatever. You
know, the point is: don't try it again!”


“I didn't try it! Forget about the bugs, okay? The memory of your lips on
mine makes my blood run cold.” It was true, how could they have done this to
her? She liked both of them but Xander belonged to her, not Cordelia.


“If you dare breathe a word of this...” At least it seemed as if neither of
them wanted this to continue. She could forgive them then and she started
breathing more easily again. It had probably just happened when they were under
stress and everyone knew that kind of thing never lasted, yes that was it so
there was no need for her to worry.


“Like I want anyone to know!” See? It wasn’t all that bad.


“Then it's erased!”


“Never happened!”


“Good!”


“Good!”


“Good!” That last good had sounded very final the way Cordelia had said it so
Dawn was pretty certain one or both of them would soon be leaving the room and
she might as well wait for them. When that didn’t happen however a feeling of
impending doom came over her and she decided to go and take a look inside.


NOOOOO!!!!!! Tears welled up in her eyes at the sight before her. The two
teens were locked in a passionate embrace and hadn’t even noticed her opening
the door.


Having no more need to be tortured this way Dawn turned around and fled the
school. Why had this happened? Xander had been the only positive thing to come
out of Halloween and now this… Why? It wasn’t fair. She felt like stomping her
feet like a little kid but managed to control that impulse. How come the
universe hated her so much? Was it something she had done? If so there must be a
way to turn it around.


Maybe she should kill Cordelia? No, tempting as that thought was, the chances
of Xander then falling in love with her didn’t improve. But surely there had to
be a way for her to get his attention? Mireille might have actually had some
ideas about how to go about that but Kirika had been even more innocent than she
herself was. Ask Buffy for help? Yeah, right. Maybe mom? Not while she was still
grounded since her mother would want to know how she knew about the two of them.


No, while it was possible that time would provide an answer until that
happened she might as well continue with her master plan. Yeah, because that one
was still useful. Half of the entries were about that cheating… No, she couldn’t
even claim he was cheating since he had never even thought of her that way.


There was another way to deal with this, for the second time in less then a
week the seducing voice in her head spoke of the emotionless state that would be
so comforting. But dare she take that option? The dangers connected to it were
after all very high.


Yes, she dared…


As her emotions became more and more repressed she felt peaceful in a way she
had not even achieved while dealing with Ethan Rayne. No, this was how that
state was supposed to be. Back then the hatred had interfered with the feeling
but now everything was as it should be. Looking out through her slitted eyes she
felt the ghost of a smile tugging at her lips as she fondled the ring she
carried in her pocket. That too was something she might need to deal with soon
and she was almost looking forward to it. For a moment she felt her minds in
total agreement once more and she raised her fist to her heart. Extending two
fingers she then whispered the mandate she had been born to.


“Noir, it is the name of an ancient fate…”



Post-fic comments: Thanks to everyone again for reading and reviewing.
Remember, the things you tell me are important to the rest of the series. I
always read them all and if I see something that sparks an idea I’ll probably
use it.


Don’t worry about this being the last story either. I already have a number
of other stories in this series planned so it’s far from over.

The End

You have reached the end of "Dark, Darker, ...". This story is complete.

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