Title: Chapter 2
Series: The Key, the Dark-Hunter, and the Link
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me. Joss Whedon owns anything Buffy or Angel while Sherrilyn Kenyon owns everything Dark Hunter. I am just playing with them.
A/N: I want to think all my reviewers, they motivate me. And for my loyal readers (hugs you all) that don't know the DH verse, this is a link to Sherrilyn Kenyon's website if you wanna get familiar with the verse. http://www.dailyinquisitor.com/hunter/
She's supposed to be home, studying for the stupid math test that she's probably not going to pass. That's another thing that hasn't changed in the past five years; she still sucks at the math. It's why calculators were invented; as long as she can press a button, why does she actually have to understand what she's doing? But instead of doing what she's supposed to, she's doing the exact opposite; what Buffy told her not to. She's slaying, on her own.
Her sister would kill her. Okay, maybe not kill her but maim her. There would be maiming. But it is so the vampires' fault. She was minding her own business when he approached her and tried to put the thrall on. He's pretty good, so much more subtle than the normal vamps she meets. Cute too. Blonde and all buff. Too damn bad he's evil and about to be dust.
She follows him like a docile lamb into the poorly lit alley and has to bite her tongue to keep from giggling. It's so clichéd; beautiful, young girl dragged into an alley by an older man where he attacks her. So, when he spins her around and growls, she lets loose.
"What are you laughing at?" Richard Beltrix, a sixty year old Daimon can't help but ask though his baser instincts are screaming at him to just take her soul.
"I'm sorry." Dawn apologizes between giggles. "It's just…don't you have an imagination? An alley? How lame is that? You so failed the arch evil test."
Richard's mouth drops open in shock. "You don't know what you're messing with, little girl."
"Yeah, yeah, you're evil." Dawn rolls her eyes and leans back against the building behind her. "You're going to kill me, painfully, with a song in your heart and a smile on your face."
"Yes." Richard agrees.
"See, only problem with your little scenario, I have a math test to study for." Dawn removes her laptop case and sets it on the floor. "So, we'll have to make this quick."
"I don't think you understand." Richard advances on her. "You're going to die."
Dawn kicks him across the face. "Nope, I don't think you understand, fangy. You're going to be nothing but dust in the wind."
Richard falls back a step and wipes the blood off his lip with a smile. "I've always loved a fight."
"Yeah, I know, it gets the blood boiling." Dawn drops down into a crouch to avoid his kick and rotates to sweep his feet out from under him. "But meanwhile, I really have to go. I'm going to fail."
"You're insane." Richard launches to his feet and smacks her across the face, taking gleeful pleasure in her shriek of pain.
"Very possibly." Dawn falls back and then kicks her foot up behind her like Buffy taught her; it's the one good thing about the six months she spent being watched over like a premature baby. She's been trained to fight like a slayer. "But that's not really the issue, is it?"
Richard throws hard punches at her and is completely shocked when she blocks them all. She's not a Dark Hunter but she fights like one. Except they're usually more cautious and not as insane. Most of them anyways. She's a better fighter than she should be for a teenage girl.
"Okay, this has been fun and all but it's time to call it quits." Dawn roundhouses him across the face.
Richard goes with the kick and kicks her back, tossing her a few feet down the alley. He can hear her head hit the building and advances on her with a hungry smirk. "Looks like you're right."
Dawn stumbles to her feet and then screeches, pointing over his shoulder. "OH MY GOD, WHAT IS THAT?"
Richard spins around to see what she's pointing at and then groans when he feels something pierce his back. The last thing he's aware of before he dusts is her giggles.
"Dumb ass." Dawn giggles. "For evil, old monsters, they're not the brightest…." She feels something behind her and pushes off the ground with her left foot, spinning around with her right in a perfect roundhouse.
Ash catches her foot and then reaches out an hand to grab her arm, keeping her from falling.
"Oh." Dawn wobbles slightly until she can get her left foot planted firmly on the ground. "Hi."
"Hi?" Ash repeats, his hand tightening around her ankle. When Tabitha was hunting on her own, he was always worried. Partly that she would yet again attack a Dark-Hunter but mostly about her. She was human; Dawn is human. She shouldn't be fighting a Daimon so easily and acting like it's nothing. She should be scared. She shouldn't be conversing with a Daimon while she fights it; she shouldn't be fighting it to begin with.
"Um, yeah, sorry about the kicking thing." Dawn starts and groans when she sees the group behind Ash. "Professor A, what's up?"
"Dawn." Julian just stares at her in shock. They caught most of her fight, most of them stopping in shock. He's hunted and killed his fair share of Daimons over the years; she shouldn’t be doing it so easily. She's supposed to be just a girl; she should be scared.
"You're probably wondering why I'm in an alley." Dawn says, still balancing on one foot. "And if I can have my leg back, I'll be happy to explain."
Ash releases her foot and waits until she's steady before releasing her arm.
"Thanks." Dawn grins up at him. "And my mom always said you can tell a lot about a neighborhood by its alleys. So, I decided to get to know New Orleans on a more intimate level."
All she gets in response are blank, disbelieving stares.
"Yeah, I wouldn't have bought that either." Dawn mutters. "Oh, there was a cat."
"A cat." Julian repeats.
"Uh hm." Dawn agrees. "And I followed it. And then there was another cat. And then they fought, the cats. And then they went away."
"Would you believe I'm a drug addict looking for a dealer?" Dawn tries. "A prostitute looking for my pimp?"
Dawn sighs and walks over to where she set her laptop down. She slips it back on before walking back to the group. "Look, for your own sanity, just pick a reason and stick with it. Then, walk out of this alley and pretend you were never here."
Julian's mouth opens to protest.
"Trust me, Professor Alexander." Dawn says, her tone deadly serious. "You don't want this touching your life. It's a stain that'll never come off." She starts to leave when Ash steps in front of her again. With a shrug, she presses her stake into his hand. "Oh, and Ash, you're way too cute for me to have to stake one day cuz you get your butt turned; do me a favor and stay out of the alleys at night."
Ash drops his gaze to the wooden stake in his hand and then back up right as she sneaks past him.
Dawn casts a look behind her and then takes off in a dead run, burying herself amongst the crowded street. She can hear them running after her but with the crowd on the street, she knows they won't be able to spot her.
"Damn it." Ash mutters under his breath. He's not used to being unable to track someone. She was standing right in front of him. He can smell her on his hand and the wooden stake she pressed into his hand. But he can't track her.
"This doesn't make sense." Vane growls in frustration, also unable to track down the teenager. "Is it some kind of spell?"
"No." Ash tucks the stake into his pocket. "I would have felt the magic."
"Is she human?" Grace asks.
"She's not a dark hunter." Ash replies.
"She's not a were." Vane adds.
"And she's not a demon." Ash says.
"Then what the hell is she?" Julian asks.
Ash sighs and starts down the sidewalk. "I don't know."
"Kyrian, you know what the hell this is about?" Sundown props his boots up on the former Dark-Hunter's coffee table. "Why are we here?"
"Ash needed someplace to meet." Kyrian replies. "I volunteered."
"Could you've volunteered up some grub?" Sundown complains. "Unlike some, I've actually done…." A strong wave of barbecue sauce hits his nose and he looks up to see Kyrian's wife carrying a gigantic platter of chicken wings. "Well now darlin' what're the rest of them going to eat?"
Kyrian kicks Sundown's feet off his table. "Could you stop flirting with my wife and keep your dirty boots off the table; my children eat off that."
Sundown ignores him and takes the plate Amanda hands him. He fills the plate with wings and grins when she hands him some hot sauce. "Thanks, darlin'."
The doorbell rings and Sundown tenses, the hair standing up on the back of his neck. "You invited the weres?"
"No, Ash did." Kyrian replies.
Vane and Bride walk in first followed by Fury and Fang Kattalakis. A few paces behind them are Wren and Marguerite Tigarian. The entire group looks on edge, small, feral growls escaping the throats of most of them.
"Ash here?" Fury leans against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.
"Not yet." Kyrian shakes off the nervous energy of the room and walks over to wrap his arm around his wife.
The door opens again and the loud, cheerful voice of Tabitha breaks up the tense atmosphere of the room.
"Man, you all look like the world's about to end or something." Tabitha pulls her husband over to her twin's side.
Julian and Grace walk in next, the Greek moving to his friend's side and speaking quietly in Greek to the other man.
"Does anybody want anything?" Amanda asks politely.
Everyone but Sundown shakes their head.
"You have any Bud?" Sundown asks.
"I'll get you a bottle." Amanda smiles at the dark hunter and then walks back to the kitchen. She opens the fridge and pulls out a beer.
"Do you want me to take that?"
Amanda shrieks and almost drops the beer. "Ash, you're going to give me a heart attack one of these days."
Ash takes the beer from her with a small smile. "Where are Marissa and James?"
"My parents'." Amanda replies. "We thought it would be best with everyone coming over."
Ash nods his agreement though he's rater disappointed. He always looks forward to seeing his godchildren. He waits until she closes the door and then follows her out of the kitchen.
"So, is he showing up?" Sundown tosses down a bare chicken wing and grabs another. "I have damians to hunt before morning."
"You will." Ash says.
"You been here the whole time?" Sundown holds out his hand to catch the beer Ash tosses him.
"Right there beside you." Ash leans against the doorframe.
"Thought I smelt something." Sundown smirks.
"Ash, you want to get on with this?" Fury questions with a slight growl.
"There's a girl in one of Julian's classes." Ash begins. "And to get to the heart of the matter, she killed a Daimon tonight."
"Good for her." Sundown replies. "Doesn't explain shit."
Ash tosses the wooden stake at him.
Sundown automatically catches the stake, a frown forming his lips. "You building a tiny fence?"
"She used that to kill the Daimon." Ash says.
"A little unconventional but if it works." Sundown tosses the stake back to him.
"That's it?" Fury growls in disbelief. "Some girl kills a Daimon and you call a meeting over this."
"Some girl that we couldn't track." Vane waves between him and Ash.
"You couldn't track her." Fury repeats.
"No." Vane replies, frustration still evident in his voice. "She was standing right in front of us, twice. I remember what she smells like but we couldn't track her."
"How is that possible?" Sundown questions between sips of beer.
"I don't know." Ash replies, shocking those that weren't there. "It's never happened before. I should be able to find her without any problem but I can't and I tried."
"Do you think she's a danger?" Fury asks.
"I think she's a teenager that stumbled onto Daimons." Ash replies. "I think she's read too many vampire books. She thinks it's a game. She doesn't understand what's really going on and it's going to get her killed. Or.."
"Or what?" Julian prods.
"We can't track her." Ash says. "She can fight and she wasn't the least bit intimidated by us or the Daimon. She could be a plant."
"By Stryker?" Sundown asks.
"Ash, I don't think….I've had her in class for three months. I don't think she's a threat."
"And you also thought she was a ditz." Ash points out. "I'm not saying she is or she isn't. I don't know that. I can't know that until I see her again."
"She's a student." Marguerite says. "Can't Doctor Alexander get her address from the college?"
"She doesn't have one." Julian replies. "The only thing on her file is her name, birth date, social, and a P.O. box; I emailed administration about it. All students are supposed to have a physical address in case something happens."
"And I have some squires looking into her social." Ash adds. "Julian is going to get some pictures printed off her I.D. It'll be daylight soon. Tomorrow night, we're dividing the city up and searching for her."
"We are?" Fury arches an eyebrow.
"I don't like the idea of a human out there that I can't track." Ash says. "Do you?"
After a few seconds, Fury shakes his head. "We'll meet back here after sunset?"
"Yes." Ash agrees. "And we won't stop until we find her."
"I was out, Buffy." Dawn props the cordless phone on her shoulder as she digs through the fridge.
"Doing what, Dawn?"
"That's none of your business." Dawn opens a container, sniffs it, and then tosses it back into the fridge. "Do I call and demand that you tell me what you were doing?"
"Dawn, I'm just looking…."
"Buffy, I know you're doing this all out of love and everything but…back the hell off."
"Dawn Marie Summers."
"Fine, you want to know what I was doing?" Dawn slams the fridge shut. "I was making with the slaying."
Dead silence follows.
"I remember telling you no slaying." Dawn can hear the barely controlled anger in her sister's voice and it only makes her angrier. "Dawn, I think it's time you came home."
"And I think if you step foot in New Orleans, my butt will be gone so fast you'll never see me." Dawn drops down on her couch.
"Are you threatening me?"
"Not a threat, it's a promise."
"No, Buffy, you just don't get it. I have to live my life the way I want to live it, not the way you want me to live it." Dawn interrupts.
"At the cost of your own life?"
"My life." Dawn repeats. "Hell, Buffy, we don't even know how long of a life I'll have."
"Preachin' to the choir, here, sister."
"No, it's not the same. You know what you're up against. You have a chance to fight it." A bubble of laughter builds up in her throat. "God, Buffy, we don't even really know what the key is, what I am. Do you think my eyes turned colors because of magic? No, it's me, the key."
"We can fight that…"
"We can't." Dawn shouts. "Because we don't even know what we're fighting. I mean, for all we know the key comes with a countdown and I'm ticking towards zero. Maybe the key can only stay on earth for six years, ten years. Or maybe, I disappear into nothing right now. We don't know."
"And that's why I want to protect you."
"You can't protect me from what I am." Dawn says sadly. "Nobody can. And that's the reason I fight you so much. I don't know how much time I have here and I want to do what I want to do with that time. Call it selfish, but there it is. And I know of all people, you'll understand. Remember, live, for you."
"I'm still here." Dawn listens to her sister sigh and braces herself; she's shocked by what she gets. "Be careful and don't get cocky. I know you can fight, you were after all, made from me and trained by the best, but please be careful. And call me when you go out and when you're done so I'll stop worrying."
Dawn closes her eyes in relief. "Thanks, Buffy."
"You're welcome, sweetie. I love you."
"I love you too. I'll see you Tuesday."
Dawn hits the end button and tosses the cordless on the table. She pads back to her room, her stomach growling slightly but too lazy to make anything to eat. As she crawls into bed, she realizes it's almost daylight and she didn't get any math studying done. She really is going to fail.
"What's the deal with T-Rex and this girl?" Talon asks Valerius, amazed by the change in the asshole since he married Tabitha. He's by no means nice but he can get along with him somewhat.
"There is no deal." Valerius replies, his arm wrapped around his wife's waist. "She's just a human girl that may or may not be working for Stryker."
"Oh, that's not a big deal." Talon rolls his eyes.
"She's pretty." Sunshine comments. "What's her name?"
"Dawn." Tabitha replies with a grin. "Sunshine and Dawn; you two could start a band."
"If only she could sing." Talon teases his wife.
Sunshine rolls her eyes.
"How many people does he have looking for her?" Talon asks the former Roman solider beside him.
"Julian, Kyrian, Sundown, Vane, Fang, Fury, myself and you." Valerius replies.
"Her hair's different than it is in the picture." Tabitha warns them. "It's what Val, red, black, blue, and blonde streaked?"
"Yes." Valerius agrees.
"Huh, sounds like T-Rex's kind of girl."
"Go straight to the Sanctuary." Simi mocks as she walks into the bar. "Don't barbecue anything. Don't talk to any boys. Akri no want Simi to have any fun."
"Hi, Simi." Dev says as she enters the bar.
Simi gives the were-bear a once over but doesn't speak to him. Instead she walks straight over to where she sees Aimee. "Aimee."
"Hello, Simi." Aimee smiles at Ash's demon. "Where's Ash?"
Simi shrugs. "Akri told the Simi to go straight to the Sanctuary, no barbecuing and not to talk to boys. Akri doesn't want the Simi to have any fun."
Aimee casts a look at her brothers and father. "I know just what you mean."
"You worry about Fang." Simi comments as she follows the bear over to a booth. "He fine."
"You've seen him?" Aimee whispers, sitting down across from the demon.
"He is with my Akri." Simi taps her fingers on the table. "The Simi is hungry."
Aimee waves a hand at her mom and gestures to the demon. Her mom nods and heads towards the back. "Mom's getting you some barbecue."
"You quality people." Simi chirps. "But you are sad."
Aimee nods her agreement.
"I could barbecue them." Simi offers, a hopeful glean in her eyes.
"Thanks, but no." Aimee laughs. "Besides, won't your Akri get mad at you?"
"Yes, Akri gets mad when the Simi makes barbeque of things." Simi sighs deeply.
Aimee pats her on the hand and then stands up. "I have a few tables to get but I'll bring out your barbecue as soon as it's done, okay?"
"Okay." Simi picks up the napkin dispenser and pokes it.
"It'll hurt your teeth." Aimee reminds her.
With another sigh, Simi puts it back down.
Dawn smiles at the bouncer outside the biker bar and walks past him, a hand held against her neck. She spots the flashing bathroom sign and walks towards them, hoping this place really is a sanctuary. She can't believe she let a vamp get close enough to nip her. In her defense though, she was outnumbered three to one. The bathroom is empty, to her relief, and she puts her backpack on the sink to dig out her first aide kit. After she wipes the blood away, she realizes it's nothing more than a scratch. A little anti-bacterial crème and a Spongebob band-aide, and she's good to go. After she pees of course.
Then as she walks back into the bar, she takes it in. All in all, it looks like a normal bar except for the cute as hell help. Like totally, crème your pants (as Faith would say) cute. This many attractive men in one place should be illegal. As she starts walking through, she wonders briefly if it's not a gay bar. Would explain all the hotness. Something catches her eyes and she moves towards it with a grin. Sitting in a booth, chowing down on the largest platter of barbecue ribs she's ever seen, is a beautiful dark-haired teenager. Her long hair reaches the middle of her back and it looks like she's wearing a mini skirt with stripped tights under them. And she has little horns; she's a demon. That's not the part that has her walking over though; this many people in the bar and the demon is eating ribs, probably not evil and therefore not slayable. It's the purse sitting on the table; a coffin purse. She so has to get one for Willow and Buffy. So, plastering a huge smile on her face, she stops next to the demon. "Hi."
Simi looks up from her ribs to see a human teenager beside her. "Hi."
"Um, I just saw your purse and I was wondering where you got it; I so need to order one for my friend and sister." Dawn says. "I'm Dawn, by the way."
"Cool name." Dawn comments. "I like it."
Simi smiles widely. "I think you may be quality people, Dawn."
"I try." Dawn smiles back, Simi's way of talking reminding her of Anya. She always loved the way Anya talked, when she wasn't being annoying, of course. "Can I sit down?"
"Okay." Simi picks up another rib. "My Akri bought the purse."
Dawn's heart stops. She knows what that word means. 'Lord and master'. Maybe her made up language isn't actually made up. Maybe it's a demon tongue. "Akri? Is that like your boyfriend?" Okay, that's gross if her boyfriend makes her call him 'Lord and master'.
Simi giggles. "No, my Akri is my daddy."
"Oh." Dawn sets her bag on the seat next to her.
"Simi, is everything okay?" Aimee stops at her table, slightly shocked to see a human girl sitting with the demon. Most humans veer from her path, finding Simi's way of speaking and personality to be rather….scary.
"The Simi is fine." Simi gnaws down on the rib in her hand. "Aimee, this is Dawn; she is quality people too."
"Hi." Aimee smiles at the teenager. "Can I get you something?"
"Potato skins, cheese sticks and some peanut butter?" Dawn asks. "Oh, and a diet coke."
Aimee jots the order down and heads back to the kitchen, returning to deposit Dawn's drink and a refill for Simi.
"So, Simi, are you in school?" Dawn asks curiously, hoping to get the demon to talk more in her not-a-made-up language.
"No." Simi wrinkles her nose in disgust. "Is Dawn?"
"Yeppers." Dawn replies. "I like school though; I'm a nerd."
Simi stops eating and looks up at the girl. "You smart?"
"Sometimes." Dawn replies.
"Then, tell the Simi." Simi leans forward and whispers. "What is an ecological disaster?"