A/N: So, this is it! The very last chapter of this story! I hope it answers the last questions (and I know, there’s at least one new, but I just couldn’t resist) and that you like this conclusion. However, I know that not many people have read the story, but I’d like it anyway, if you who have stayed until the end left a small review to let me know you’re out there? Thanks a lot! Epilogue
Buffy couldn’t stop the tears that were running down her dirty cheeks, as she was tightly wrapped in Spike’s strong and warm arms. Arms she had thought she would never feel again and a voice she had thought she would never hear again – at least not on this plane.
“Hush, pet… Everything’s goin’ to be alright…” Spike murmured comfortingly. “I’m back… The battle is over… we’ve won…”
“I know…” Buffy only whispered, as she buried her face deeper in Spike’s chest. She was so tired and everything hurt so much. Right now she really wanted some sleep and strong painkillers – and not necessarily in that order.
“Look pet,” Spike suddenly said and she could hear the smile in his voice. “That tall guy is back and he brought two someones with him.”
Groggily, Buffy raised her head, but her eyes snapped fully open, when she heard a girl call out, “Buffy!”
“Dawn…” she murmured with a smile and just a second later, she was engulfed in another hug. New tears began to leak from her eyes, as she tried to return the hug with as much strength as she could muster. “You did great, Dawnie… I’m so proud of you…”
“Yeah, me and Pan really rocked!” Dawn announced grinning. “But you didn’t do too badly yourself, as I’ve heard.”
“Oh no, she really did a great job,” another voice suddenly joined in. Goku knelt down next to them – he was grinning, too. “Only now your pretty clothes are all ruined.”
“Damn,” Buffy murmured with a weak smile. “I really liked them.” She winced, as she moved a bit. “Uhm… you don’t have any painkillers with you, by any chance?”
“No, sorry… But I’ve got something much better. Here, eat this.” Between his thumb and forefinger he was holding something that looked remarkably like a bean.
“Is this…?” She had heard of these beans and their miraculous effects, but hadn’t eaten one before.
Goku only winked at her, however, and dropped it in her palm. Buffy looked at it a bit skeptical, before she finally put it into her mouth and swallowed it. The effect was instantaneous. All the pain, all the weariness and all her wounds disappeared at once. Surprised, Buffy jumped up and looked at her body in disbelief. “This is… wow… thanks!”
“You’re very welcome,” the Saiyajin grinned. “Okay, now I’ve got to take care of the others. They need those beans, too. I just thought, you needed it most… We’ll talk later, okay?”
While Goku was taking care of and talking to his family, the other Scoobies slowly emerged from the forest and joined Buffy. Hugs were exchanged, tears flowed and laughter could be heard. The only thing that was missing was the Bronze or the mall to celebrate a ‘Yeah, we survived another apocalypse!’. Only that this wasn’t strictly true. This time, people had died and they had only come back because of the Dragonballs.
It was thanks to the Dragonballs that her friends had another chance at life… Spike and Xander and… “Has anyone seen Faith?” Buffy suddenly asked, as she looked around her circle of friends and didn’t see her fellow Slayer.
Dawn frowned, as she followed her sister’s gaze. “No, and I can’t feel her either… But she should be back. We wished that everyone who has been killed by Drusilla and the other vampires since they had arrived in this dimension should be brought back to life.” “Geez, finally… I thought you guys would never miss me…”
they suddenly heard a voice in their heads.
Their heads all snapped up and they turned around in surprise. “Faith?” Buffy asked. “Where are you?” “Still on Donkey Kong’s planet… DK Jr. allowed me to talk to you through him. But don’t worry. The wish worked, I’m alive. Halo’s gone and all.”
“Halo?” Xander asked with a laugh. “You had a halo, too?”
“But why aren’t you here, with us?” Dawn wanted to know. “I asked to stay a bit longer to train. After all, after all the special training B got, I didn’t wanna be left out. And the guys up here are really cool. And who knew that aliens could be so hot! No offense, Mirai!”
“Non taken,” Mirai chuckled, as he wrapped his arm around Pan’s shoulder just a bit tighter. “But B,”
Faith’s voice suddenly sounded serious. “I’ll probably get hell for it from the big guys up here, but listen… Ever since the moment my halo’s disappeared, they’ve become a bit edgy… Worried. I get the feeling that they’re keeping something from me… Yup, DK Jr. looks all guilty, so I’m right.”
She paused for a moment, before she continued, “Me senses are telling me that something’s coming, B. Something fucking big. So we better be prepared.”
“I understand,” Buffy replied. Inwardly, she sighed. If Faith was right, then they’d never get a break. But that’s why they were Slayers. There was always a big bad out there, just waiting to be slayed. “Just, train hard and be sure to come back in time.” “Will do, B. DK Jr. is getting a bit restless, so I better end my call. So, take care guys and say hello to Giles and the others from me! And don’t be too hard on the new mini-me! See ya in a couple of months!”
A chorus of ‘Bye Faith’s and ‘Take care’s answered and then the connection was broken. A somber mood settled over the Scoobies, as they wondered what the high gods could be worried about, but it didn’t last long, as suddenly the last missing group stepped out of the forest.
Buffy could see the bright smile lit up Goku’s face, as his eyes settled on his wife. “ChiChi!” he called out, overjoyed, but the older woman only stared at her husband for a moment, before dropping in a dead-faint. Videl was, fortunately, quick enough to catch her, before she hit the ground and ChiChi woke up again only a few seconds later. Now, everyone seemed to expect a happy reunion, but they were once again surprised, when ChiChi just stalked up to Goku and began to slap him and yell at him for a few minutes, before she collapsed in his arms with happy tears streaming down her cheeks.
Now that everyone was there in the clearing, and everyone who had needed it had gotten a senzu, it was time to return to the Western Capital. It had been a long few days and everyone was in need of some rest and also something good to eat. Mirai and Pan had agreed to fly ahead to Capsule Corporation so that Goku could use their kis to bring everyone else to Capsule Corporation at once. Even Vegeta and Bulma went with them, though it was probably mostly due to the fact that Bulma refused to let go off her mate’s hand and that Vegeta was still shaken from the whole experience himself.
Once at Capsule Corporation, ChiChi had immediately disappeared in the kitchen and returned just a short time later with a huge feast fit to feed all the Saiyajins and their guests. The sun was slowly beginning to rise in the east, but even though they were all pretty exhausted – despite the effects of the senzu – everyone was still too awake to even consider going to bed.
However, there was one thing this fight had done. It had brought the two groups – Z-fighters and Scoobies – closer together. When they had met in Sunnydale those few months ago, the only thing connecting them had been Pan and Mirai, but now that they had fought side by side against a common threat, they found themselves mingling with each other during breakfast, talking and exchanging stories. Laughter could be heard often and even some funny reenactments of older battles could be seen.
Everyone was very busy, so no one noticed when one or two of them slipped away sometime to get some fresh air. This was also the case, when Buffy decided to take a walk in the garden to get away for a moment. So much had happened and while it had just been a couple of days for the others, it had been two years for her. She had changed so much in that time and yet she was still the same. It took some time getting used to.
She inhaled deeply, the fresh morning air filling her lungs. It was such a treat to breathe this air after having been in the Room of Spirit and Time for so long. Everything had been so hard in there, and now everything seemed so easy. The battle was won and they could go home. Actually, they needed to go home as soon as possible. Giles and the others must be worried sick. Especially with the news of a new Slayer – the ‘mini-me’ as Faith had called her. So it would be best if they left later today, best would be directly after that huge breakfast feast that ChiChi had prepared for them.
Buffy enjoyed the walk for a few minutes, allowing her mind to drift, until she rounded a corner and suddenly tensed. There, under a patch of trees, hiding in the shadows, was Vegeta. He was leaning against one of the trees, his arms crossed and his eyes closed. She was surprised to see him here, mostly because she hadn’t thought that Bulma would have let him leave her sight again so soon.
She wondered for a moment, if she should just turn around, hoping that he hadn’t noticed her. She really wasn’t sure how to act around him – after all, they had just fought to death a couple of hours ago. However, her thoughts were interrupted, when she heard his deep voice. “Slayer…”
Swallowing once, Buffy gathered her courage and walked up to him. “Hey Vegeta…” His eyes were still closed, his face unreadable. She wished she knew what was going through his head. She had only witnessed twice how people reacted, when they had lost their souls and had them returned again – and both times had been vastly different from each other. “How are you doing?” she eventually asked carefully.
Vegeta, however, only snorted, “Fine.”
Buffy was still feeling uncomfortable, so as she opened her mouth, all that came out was a nervous babble. “You know, you don’t need to tell me. But I just thought, hey, maybe I could help you a bit. And even if not, I know two people who have experienced something similar. I’m not sure if you know, but Spike, you know, my boyfriend? He used to be a vampire, before the Dragonballs turned him human and Drusilla turned him again into a vampire and you killed him. So, he could relate to what you’ve experienced. And another friend of me, Angel, he was one of the most sadistic and cruel vampires to have ever walked the earth until he was cursed with a soul and eventually turned human, so you could talk to him too, if you ever come to my dimension again…”
Whatever reaction she had expected from Vegeta, was neither the amused chuckle nor the words, “I really appreciate your concern, Slayer. But your mate and I, we’ve already talked. He’s just left a few minutes ago, actually.”
“Really?” Now Buffy felt even more stupid. “Now then… I guess there’s nothing I can say anymore. Just… don’t blame yourself for what’s happened. It was the demon doing this, not you. Even with your past, even I can see that you’re a good person now. You wouldn’t have done any of those things, if your soul had still been there. Always remember this.”
Buffy just wanted to turn to go, as Vegeta stopped her again. “Slayer?”
“Even if it was the demon you fought, I remember that you fought truly well. Maybe we could spar again, when we meet in the future?”
Buffy grinned. “Sure thing.”
At about the same time, shortly after his very interesting conversation with Vegeta, Spike found the second person he thought he had to exchange some words with. The boy had managed to sneak away pretty early into the party and no one had really noticed him leave, mainly because he wasn’t part of either group. Which was really sad, because though it was just a small part, he had done his part in this battle. He had first protected Dawn and then later fought against other, stray vampires.
“Mind if I join you?” Spike asked, though he didn’t let the boy answer, as he sat down next to him. Connor only acknowledged his presence with a quick glance, before staring again straight ahead. Spike smirked – if he hadn’t known it before, the brooding made it pretty obvious whose son this boy was. “So, Junior, what’s on your mind?”
Connor didn’t say anything for a long moment, but eventually he sighed, “I just don’t understand.”
“Care to elaborate?”
Suddenly, he jumped up and began to pace. “How everyone can just be so forgiving! One moment, they’re fighting each other to death and then, they’re suddenly best friends again! This guy, this vampire, was evil! And you and his wife let yourselves be turned into vampires as well. And now that you’re human again, everything is well? How can that be?”
“That’s the difference between being a soulless demon and a person with a soul. Usually, it’s the soulless things, the demons, that we hunt and kill, though there are exceptions as well. You wanna know why we do this? Because they have no conscience. They don’t know right from wrong and they like to be evil and do evil things. Usually, a soul changes this, though there’s enough scum out there that does evil things despite having a soul. I daresay that Vegeta and I are pretty decent guys and that Bulma is a very nice lady on a normal day, but take away the soul, you have a couple of killers on your hands. I only managed to fight the demon because of Buffy, but I had taken a great risk. Could have gone wrong, but it didn’t.”
Connor sighed in frustration and kicked at the ground. “I hate this!”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “Pretty strong emotions for people you really don’t know, but I guess this isn’t about Vegeta or Bulma and even me. It’s about your dear ol’ dad, isn’t it?”
“The first sixteen years of my life, I was told that my father was a killer and that even though he was human now and had a soul, he had done all those things in his past. The man who raised me even expected me to live with Angel, but how can I do that and call him my father, when I know what he’s done!”
“Look, Connor… Listen, because you will never hear me admit this again. Your father, Angel, is a good man. He’s been trying to find redemption for everything he’s done, for the hundred plus years of carnage he left behind, ever since those gypsies have cursed him with that soul. By now Angel’s been good and soul-having almost as long as he’s been evil and soulless. Though, as I’ve heard, before he’s been turned, he’s been a pitiful excuse for a human, but then again, so have I, only in a different way. So, I’ve gotta say, having been evil has given us some perspective and Angel is working really hard to make up for all the bad things. You’re working with him, you should have noticed that.”
“I have…” Connor only murmured. “It’s just difficult to accept…”
“I never said it’d be easy. ‘m just saying to give your ol’ dad a chance. He’s got his heart at the right place. He’ll be a good dad, if you let him.”
“I’ll… think about it…”
“That’s all I can ask of you…” Spike rose again and clapped Connor on the shoulder. However, before he left, he whispered, “If you repeat anything of what I’ve just said to you to anyone else…” He let the threat hanging, knowing fully well that after having spent sixteen years in a hell dimension, there probably wasn’t much that would scare the boy.
It was about noon that the Scoobies decided it was time to leave. The Z-fighters understood their need to go home as soon as possible, knowing the circumstances under which they had arrived. Pan and Mirai especially, both knowing how Giles could get if he was worried. So it was a goodbye with promises of ‘see you soon’, as neither of them didn’t want to wait so long again to see their friends from the other dimension again. And, after all, as Pan had pointed out, she and Mirai still wanted to get married in Sunnydale.
After one last round of hugs – no one was surprised, when Buffy shared a very teary goodbye with Goku, after they had heard that he had trained her in the Room of Spirit and Time – the Scoobies stepped through the portal that would bring them home.
Just as for the Z-fighters months before, the portal opened in a crypt so the Scoobies disturbed the beauty sleep of some vampires, as they stepped out of it. However, these vampires never stood a chance, not after what the Scoobies had to fight in the other dimension, so they were dust just seconds after being woken.
Buffy grinned. “I love being home.”
Fortunately, the cemetery was pretty close to the main street and also to the Magic Box, where they expected the others to be at this time of the day, so it was a short walk. The bell above the door jingled – and Buffy winced as she heard the sound; in the past two years she had almost forgotten how annoying it was, always reminding her of that stupid time loop and the mummy hand – announcing their entrance.
“Welcome to the Magix Box, how can I… Buffy!” Cordelia cried out in surprise. “Hey everyone, it’s Buffy! They’re all back!”
“Hey!” Anya suddenly called from the behind the group, as she pushed her way forwards. “What are you doing? This is my job! Go away!”
However, no one heeded her, as Giles, Angel and Wesley, who had been sitting in the back of the shop, all jumped up and stormed to the front. Giles was the first one who got to Buffy and was hugging her tightly. When he finally let go, he took off his glasses to clean them, as he said, “Thank god you’re back… We’ve been so worried about you… What happened…?” He put the glasses back on his nose and suddenly frowned. “You look different…”
Buffy shrugged with a sheepish grin. “Long story. You might need a whole pot of tea until we get to the end of it. Oh, and you might wanna sit down, too.”
“This is… incredible…” Giles could only mumble, as he was once again rubbing his glasses for about the thousandth time since the Scoobies had begun their story. It was already close to sunset and they had had to order some food, despite the fact that they had had this huge feast in the other dimension. “And Faith… she’ll really be back? I mean, the Council called us about a new Slayer being called, so is she really alive?”
“Alive and kicking, only in the Afterlife for now. She said she’d be back in a couple of months. And Giles, this isn’t everything… Faith said something…”
But what it was that Faith had told them was something that Giles would first find out later, because at this moment the bell above the door jingled again – Buffy truly resisted the urge to rip it off, especially when she saw, who it was.
She got up nervously and walked up to the plump red-haired woman. “Hello Ms. Kroger… How are you?”
“Miss Summers,” the social worker said in a clipped voice. “How nice of you to finally return. Ah, and I see your sister is here, too. Would you care to explain your sudden absence? Her teachers at school have been worried and eventually told me that I might find you here, when you weren’t at home or at work. Besides, is it true that you haven’t shown up at work either in the past few days?”
Buffy froze, not knowing what to do or say. This was bad, so very very bad. “There’s been an emergency. A family emergency and we had to leave immediately.”
“Is that so?” Ms. Kroger raised her eyebrows in disbelief. “Miss Summers, I’ve already given you a warning, just a few days ago. We had believed that you and your boyfriend took your sister and moved away from Sunnydale. You both could be charged with kidnapping of a minor, if this proves to be true.”
“No, this isn’t what it looks like,” Buffy protested. After everything she had gone through, why couldn’t she and her family get a break for once?
“Is there a problem?” Spike asked, as he and the other Scoobies stepped forward. Dawn glared at the social worker, as she took Buffy’s hand and squeezed it tightly.
“No matter what it looks like, Social Services have decided that for now it would be better for Dawn, if she went into foster care immediately. There’s a nice family in Los Angeles, willing to take her in until we’ve cleared this matter. There will most likely be a hearing.”
“No!” Buffy replied again. “You can’t do that… She’s…”
“Buffy…” Dawn said softly, as she once again squeezed Buffy’s hand.
“No Dawn… I can’t…”
“It’s okay…” Dawn reassured her. “I’ll go with her to that family. And once they know that everything is alright, I’ll come back. And even if it doesn’t work out… It’s just a bit more than one year and then they can’t stop me from coming back…”
But Dawn didn’t listen to her sister, already feeling her own tears in her eyes. “I’ll come with you, but I need to go home to pack a few things.”
“This sounds reasonable,” Ms. Kroger nodded. “I will pick you up in one hour. The next bus to Los Angeles leaves in two hours. I will accompany you on this trip and bring to you to the Bakers in person. I’ll call them to let them know to expect us tonight.”
“Alright.” Dawn swallowed hard.
“Don’t do anything stupid that could worsen the situation, Miss Summers,” Ms. Kroger warned Buffy, before she again turned to Dawn. “One hour.”
No one moved until the social worker had left the Magic Box. The bell jingled again and this time, Buffy walked up to it and ripped it off for good.
“Is she a demon?” Xander asked with barely suppressed rage. “Can we kill her?”
“No,” Dawn said forcefully, pushing the tears away. “This is for the best. You know it is, Buffy. At least for now. Let things settle down, let them find out that you’re a good guardian for me. And then I come back, I promise.”
“I don’t like it…” Buffy mumbled, hugging Dawn tightly.
“I don’t like it either… but, can we go home now? I need to pack.”
“Okay…” Buffy sighed, as she let go. “Sorry, guys…”
“We’ll come with you, of course,” Giles told her. “Let that… that… woman… see that you have friends who are willing to stand by you.”
“But we’ll better leave,” Angel told them. He hugged Dawn briefly. “If you need anything in LA, drop by at the Hyperion.”
“I will… See, Buffy? I have Angel and Connor and everyone else in LA.”
“Thanks, Angel,” Buffy said, as she squeezed his hand.
No one was talking much, everyone just sitting or standing around at 1630 Revello Drive. Buffy and Dawn were upstairs, packing some clothes and personal belongings for Dawn. Should Dawn really need to stay with that foster family longer than planned, they would need to send her more, but for now, it should be enough.
“Here,” Buffy said at last, just as Dawn wanted to close her bag, and handed her sister a small stuffed pig.
“Mr. Gordo…” Dawn mumbled. “But he’s yours…”
“I’d rather you have him now. He can watch out for you, especially on Tuesdays.”
“Ha ha, very funny, Buffy…”
The doorbell rang. Too soon for both of their liking.
“No, Buffy… I’ll be back. If it’s in a few weeks or next year, when I’m eighteen. You won’t get rid of me that easily.”
“I know… You’re too annoying for this…” Buffy whispered with a small grin, as she let her fingers run through Dawn’s long hair. “Let’s go…”
The others were waiting downstairs and Giles had already opened the door for Ms. Kroger. She seemed surprised by the amount of people wanting to say goodbye to Dawn and they didn’t pay her any attention, as Dawn embraced everyone and exchanged a few words with them. It was first ten minutes after the appointed time that Dawn was ready to leave and sitting in the passenger seat of the social worker’s car, still holding Mr. Gordo in her hands.
“Everything will be alright, Dawn,” Ms. Kroger said in what Dawn thought was supposed to be a comforting voice. Honestly, it was just grating on her nerves. “The Bakers are really nice and they will take good care of you. Nothing will happen to you in LA, I promise.”
“You’re making a mistake, you know?” Dawn said in a cool voice.
Ms. Kroger glanced at Dawn, waiting for her to say more, but the teenager remained silent. So she stayed quiet as well.
Buffy had retreated to Dawn’s room once her sister had gone with the social worker. She was lying on her sister’s bed, clutching one of her pillows to her chest. She didn’t react, as the door opened behind her and the mattress sank under some additional weight. She welcomed Spike’s arms around her and his comforting words, just as she had already done earlier this morning.
“Did I make a mistake?” she murmured.
“We all made a bloody big mistake,” Spike replied quietly. “We should have known before this mess that Dawn was having problems. We should have stepped in before Social Services found out about it. But we can’t change it now. All we can do now is wait and hope for the best… I think…”
“I kinda like Xander’s idea of killing that woman…”
Spike chuckled. “So do I, but unfortunately, she’s human.”
“I know… And there’s really nothing else we can do right now?”
“Short of going to the bus station and getting Dawn out of there, no…”
Suddenly, Buffy sat up, a look of determination on her face. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and got up.
“Luv? What are you doing?” Spike asked confused, but inwardly he already knew it. And he liked it.
“I’m getting Dawn back,” she announced forcefully. “That woman has no right to take her from me. I’m her sister. Mom asked me to take care of her and that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Spike got up as well and grabbed Buffy’s shoulders. “Good. Go and don’t come back without Dawn!”
Once at the bus station, Ms. Kroger bought two tickets for them – she wished she could make the trip in her own car, but she didn’t trust the old thing to run all the way to Los Angeles and back again, so the bus it was – and went with Dawn to a bench to wait for the bus. It was dark by now and they were the only people at the station. She grew a bit uncomfortable in the darkness. Maybe she should have waited until morning, but the orders from her superiors had been clear. Remove Dawn Summers from her sister’s care immediately.
Everything was quiet, too quiet, so she jumped, when there was a noise right behind them. “Hello?” Ms. Kroger asked warily. If only the bus came soon. “Is someone there?”
“Stop talking,” Dawn suddenly hissed next to her, the first words she had spoken since in the car. “Or do you want to draw attention to ourselves?”
“Now, now… look what we’ve got here…” a voice chuckled.
Dawn turned into the direction of the voice and rolled her eyes, as three vampires stepped out of the darkness. “Too late…”
“Excuse us, gentlemen,” Ms. Kroger said nervously – the fear was more than evident in her voice – “we’re just waiting for the bus.”
“We’re just waiting for the bus
,” one of them mimicked cruelly. “No, you’re not waiting any longer. Now, you’re just an easy dinner.”
Ms. Kroger screamed, as all three vampires slipped into their gamefaces. “Ah, I love it, when they scream,” the third one hissed, however, when he saw that Dawn was just watching them coolly, he stepped closer to her. “But you don’t scream, little girl. Why’s that?”
Dawn smirked. “Because I have this.” She pulled a stake out of her belt and pushed it right into the vampire’s chest, piercing his heart. He turned to dust right after she pulled her stake out again. “And you’re dust.”
“Wrong girl,” another voice replied. “Cause that’s me.”
“Buffy!” Dawn cried out in surprise and joy. “What are you doing here?”
“Saving your ass, apparently,” Buffy quipped, as she quickly evaded the blow of another vampire.
“I don’t need any saving,” Dawn countered, fighting her own vampire. “I can take care of myself.”
Rolling her eyes, Buffy pushed her vampire away. “I know that, but as your big sister, it’s my job to save you.”
“Blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda,” Dawn mocked her, kicking her vampire in the chest and sending him stumbling to where Buffy’s was just regaining his composure. Both vampires snarled at their opponents, but it was their last snarl, as just a split second later, both exploded to dust and the two sisters were hugging tightly.
“I’m sorry, Dawn. I just couldn’t let you go,” Buffy murmured.
“And I really don’t want to go…”
Buffy and Dawn were still hugging, when Ms. Kroger’s terrified voice asked, “What’s going on here? What were those men? I demand an explanation!”
“My sister and I just saved your sorry a—uh, behind from a couple of vampires,” Dawn told her coolly, leaving the embrace but not letting go of Buffy’s hand. “If it weren’t for us, you’d be dead by now.”
“Yes, they’re real along with all the other monsters from your nightmares,” Buffy explained. “And I’m one of the persons who’s killing them. Actually, that’s the real reason why we had to leave for a few days. There was this big bad who wanted to destroy the world and we had to stop him. You don’t believe us? Tough! Fact is, Dawn isn’t going anywhere except home with me. Call the foster family and your superiors and tell them it’s all one big mistake. Dawn belongs with me and my family.”
When Ms. Kroger didn’t say anything, Buffy smiled and wrapped her arm around Dawn’s shoulders.
“You think we broke her?” she asked innocently.
“Nah… I think she’s just realizing a few things she has never noticed before in this town,” Dawn replied equally innocently, but then, with a tired voice, she asked, “Buffy… can we go home now?”
Squeezing her shoulder, Buffy said smiling, “Yes… Let’s go home…”
They turned away and left a very astounded social worker behind, who was watching their retreating backs with something akin to understanding and fear in her eyes, and listening to the carefree banter of the two walking girls.
“And by the way,” she heard Buffy say in an annoying big-sister voice, “don’t forget to move Mr. Gordo back into my room. Now that you’re back home, I don’t need him to watch out for you anymore.”
“Yeah, right… admit it. You just want him back to snuggle with him, because Spike doesn’t give you any,” Dawn taunted.
“Dawn Summers! I just didn’t hear you say that! You’re way too young to think about something like that!”
“Really? Because I’ve been having some thoughts about a certain doe-eyed seventeen-year-old.”
“Ew!” Buffy shrieked. “You’re not having any thoughts about Connor! He could’ve been your nephew!”
Laughing, Dawn quickly assured her, “Just kidding! Just kidding! We’re just friends, or at least, will be, once we get to spend some more time together. We really started to bond in the other dimension, before this whole thing with Vegeta happened.”
“Alright. But if there’s any chance that you two might get closer than just being friends, I’ll never let you visit him in LA again, be sure of that!”
A slow smile appeared on Ms. Kroger’s face, as the voices of the two bickering young women faded away. Maybe, letting Dawn stay with her sister, wasn’t a bad idea at all.