Chapter 7 - Home Sweet Hellmouth?
Just a bit Old Fashioned – Chapter 7
Cordelia reclined back into her bath water, dialing Buffy's home phone number and after several rings the person on the other end picked up. “Hello?”
Joyce answered the phone, “Hello.”
“Morning Mrs. Summers, can I speak to Dawn?” Cordelia asked cheerfully.
Joyce walked upstairs and passed Dawn the phone. “Phone for you, sounds like Cordelia.”
Dawn accepted the phone. “Thanks mom, I got it...” She put the phone to her ear. “Hi Cordy!”
“Don't you 'Hi Cordy' me you ex-boyfriend stealer,” Cordy playfully scolded.
Dawn flopped onto her bed. “How did you find out?”
“I saw him in LA, he is so into you! Do you know how hard it was to convince him to come back to my place?”
Dawn gasped, “Your place?!” She snarled indignantly.
“He's my ex and he was single, it’s allowed; he didn't even know you guys were dating yet, but relax I clued him in and although he was shocked, he warmed up to the idea instantly.” Cordy grinned at the phone as she relaxed backwards into the water. “You are so lucky I trained him.”
“What?!” Dawn growled, not liking the tone of this conversation at all, whether she appreciated the content or not.
“You didn't think he came naturally that way, did you? Or haven't you had a chance to find out yet? No if you had he'd know you were dating.”
“You … you … you had sex with my Xander!”
“He was mine before he was yours,” Cordelia giggled. “You make it sound so sordid.”
“Thank you!” Dawn huffed, “but you had sex with him last night!”
“And would have again this morning, but he was up and gone by the time I woke up,” Cordy acknowledged her younger counterpart with a grin.
“You are so EVIL!”
“But evil and on your side, it’s not like I'm working against you after all,” Cordelia replied thoughtfully, as she added a measure of bath beads to the water around her.
“Really?!” Dawn asked perplexedly.
“Unless you're going to hurt Xander, of course.”
“I'd never hurt Xander!” Dawn declared in an offended tone, “Bite, nibble, maybe some muscle strain... But I wouldn't hurt him! At least on purpose anyway...”
Cordelia nodded, even though Dawn couldn’t see her. “That's good enough for me. I don't expect you to be a saint, but Summers’ girls haven't always done right by him.”
“I AM NOT my sister,” Dawn growled.
“I know, otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation; I'd have kneecapped you already.”
Dawn blinked and looked at the phone incredulously. “You'd kneecap my sister?”
“After some of the shit she's pulled, she's lucky I haven't done it already; I mean seriously, believing a vampire dressed in a Versace knockoff was me when they were using it as bait?” Cordelia heard bubbling laughter from the other end of the line as Dawn cracked up. “But on a more serious note, as long as you treat him right you've got my support. I certainly can't drag him here for myself, much as I'd like to and at least this way someone gets him who'll appreciate him.”
Dawn nodded solemnly, though she knew Cordelia couldn't see it. “I certainly intend to,” she stated in a wicked tone of voice, causing Cordelia to crack up.
Xander walked into the bar smiling and laughing, with some of the inductees who swore up and down the place had the best food anywhere remotely close to the MEPS station, his eyes scanning the light airy room only to stop as he saw someone he'd recognize anywhere; after all the man had been the catalyst for a greater number of changes in his life than anyone save Willow, most of which had been beneficial.
He and Ethan Rayne certainly weren't friends, but according to the statistics he'd dug up, the Halloween incident certainly hadn't resulted in any more deaths than had happened on any other Halloween in Sunnydale and the heroes and villains, which while balanced between themselves, had dealt with a number of vampires and demons who had planned on a snack in much the same vein as Spike that evening.
Ethan wasn't looking remotely jocular or as if he had anything planned at this point, that was certain. The man looked more like he'd lost his only friend and been diagnosed with cancer of the puppy on the same day.
Xander darted a look to the bartender as he made his excuses to the men with him and walked over. The bartender shook his head as if to indicate he had no idea what had Ethan looking so down. Ethan had certainly made a dent in the bottle of top shelf scotch before him however.
The sign on the door said the place opened at noon and if Xander was correct, and he'd bet a month of his substantial salary that he was, the man had been drinking steadily since the bar opened.
As Xander arrived at the table, Ethan raised a glass to someone insubstantial, “'Ere's to friendships dead and gone, mates long forgotten!” and drained most of the water glass in his hand, before reaching for the bottle, only to have Xander gently remove it from his grasp.
“It won't help you know,” Xander said, as he slid in across from the obviously inebriated man.
“Bloody hell mate, are you starting a franchise 'ere in LA then?” Ethan asked warily, his eyes taking in Xander's concerned look with a raised eyebrow. “I don' see yer Slayer about thankfully enough 'owever.”
Xander sighed and patted Ethan on the shoulder, motioning for another glass and pouring just enough to have some scotch to sip on in it, before replying, “Ethan, I'm not here to add to your misery; you seem to be doing well enough at that yourself.”
“Well as ye've helped yerself to my booze, how about you answer me a few questions then mate?” Ethan ground out, as Xander sipped the scotch in his glass before nodding resolutely.
“That's certainly fair enough,” Xander replied and waited for the man to gather his thoughts.
“How would you deal with being totally alone then, your friends all moved on or died off?” Rayne asked, seemingly sobering swiftly.
“For one, I wouldn't attempt to drown my sorrows in a bottle,” Xander replied sternly, before continuing in a gentler tone, “and maybe I'd try to rebuild some bridges, instead of scorching them out of existence.”
Ethan sighed expressively, taking another drink – thankfully a smaller one than before, before replying, “I would if I bloody damn well knew how.”
Xander pondered for a moment. “Here's how I see it Ethan, do you mind if I call you Ethan?” he asked the formerly besotted Chaos Mage.
Ethan waved a hand airily. “Don't see why not, I'd certainly prefer not being called Mr. Rayne,” he replied with some distaste toward the end of the statement.
Nodding Xander ran his hand through his hair. “I can see that... honestly, I'm guessing the … antics … for lack of a better word,” he carefully said, in deference to their public place of discussion and the incumbent military personnel slowly filling the bar, “were mostly a cry for attention and camaraderie from Giles? Judging from your actions you don't bear the people of Sunnydale or even the Scoobs any real malice; Halloween had one of the lowest fatality rates on record in the last five years for example, and I highly doubt you knew exactly what they were planning --”
Here Ethan interrupted, his voice rising angrily, “Of course I bloody well didn't know what those bloody, halfwitted, poofy bastards had in store! I was just in it for some harmless fun; maybe get my old pal Ripper to loosen up a bit.” He rubbed his hands down over his face attempting to hide a sudden haunted look about his eyes. “Haven't slept especially well since that piece of pish nearly went down either; I've done some shite in my time lad, and I admit a lot of it was bad, but sacrificing children to demons isn't my thing...”
Xander raised an eyebrow skeptically at the last comment, causing Ethan to elaborate with another drawn out sigh, “I'm no saint boy, and I was running scared hoping that Slayer of yours and your crew could stop Eyghon where I couldn't; I kept practicing after Randall died and still had a far firmer link to him than Rupert.”
“I'm willing to accept that,” Xander acknowledged and took another sip of his drink. “You have good taste,” he complemented the man across from him as he stared into the candle on the table between them for a moment. “Fear does strange things to the best of us … you could still rebuild those bridges, you know?”
Ethan considered that thoughtfully while rolling his glass between his hands. “Thanks … and how do you propose I go about doing that lad?”
“We're always in need of help at the Hellmouth,” Xander replied, the current noise level providing a much larger degree of anonymity than previously when the bar only had a few patrons.
“Turn all white hat just like that? Ripper'd never go for it, much less that gormless slayer he supposedly guides about.”
“Buffy hasn't got a leg to stand on with that one mate,” Xander declared firmly, his voice picking up a bit of Ethan's English inflections and terminology as he sat talking to the man, “after that bit with Angelus and the re-ensoulment shite she can't hurl stones about second chances.”
Nodding wryly Ethan replied, “Aye, she would come off as more than a bit of a hypocrite there.”
Xander drained the remaining fluid in his glass and shook his hair out of his face, motioning for Ethan to top up his glass. “Wouldn't be the first time mate, but look at it this way you can still cause a right bit of chaos in amongst the group and I'll referee when you meet back up with Giles and the girls. Hell, I'm going to have to do it for Faith anyway; speaking of which, I'll be needing your help with an issue or two where that's concerned as well, if you're in.”
Ethan pondered and then finally nodded. “What the hell pup, it’s not like I've anything to lose sitting here on my arse, getting pissed out of my gourd.”
Xander grabbed a napkin and wrote out his new cell phone number. “Give me a call in a few days; I've still got a few more days of running through hoops at the MEPS station before I get back to Sunnydale.” With a chuckle and a roguish grin, Xander patted the other man firmly on the shoulder. “Besides I have one hell of a tale for you when next we speak.”
Ethan watched as Xander wandered back over to the group of military people he'd entered with curiously and shook his head. “What a fine mess you've gotten yourself in this time ol' boy, but crazy must be catching,” he murmured, before ordering a meal and contemplatively watching the teenager interact with the men with interest. “At least the lad's not boring.”
Boris and Doris sat in a decent looking apartment in Boston that had been systematically taken apart and searched carefully by the two agents. No real signs were found indicating their daughter had been there, save for a few fingerprints some of which belonged to Dana; the others they weren't sure of, however a search had been running for hours back at the lab linked to their laptop, which they were currently watching avidly for results as it scanned through various databases.
“Damn it! This close and nothing, sometimes I wonder if we'll ever find her!” Doris cursed and then broke into tears.
Boris put his arm around her. “We're getting closer, that's all that matters … we'll find her, and then we'll slowly eviscerate the ones who took her, now wont that be fun?” he tried to cheer his weeping wife.
She sniffed. “Stop trying to cheer me up.”
“Is it working?”
Suddenly the computer beeped indicating results on another search, and a small and grainy security video of Dana sneaking onto a bus appeared when Doris eagerly clicked the blinking icon, however neither of them could tell where the bus was headed.
“See honey, we're getting closer. We'll find her, I promise.”
“But who knows where that bus was headed?” she demanded frustrated.
“The bus driver and the bus station,” he replied with a grin. “We have time and place and the bus station keeps records. There’s no guarantee which stop she got off on, but we’ll have the route. We’re getting closer every day, just be patient. We’ll find out who took her and why, and what they told her to keep her from contacting us. I promise.”