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Chapter One: Dawn
Fan Fiction: Never Look Back
Chapter One: The Cavalry Arrives
SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2002, 9:35 AM (GMT)
Dawn Summers blinked drowsily and covered her mouth to stifle another enormous yawn. "Aren't we there already?" she asked, well aware that she was whining but not alert enough to care. They'd been on the move since Giles found Wesley missing at some ungodly hour the day before, and all she really wanted to do at that point was find a bed and collapse. "What are we waiting for?"
Buffy sighed and leaned sideways in her chair to rub a strong hand over her sister's back. "We can't crash 'til we've got a room, Dawn," she said, then stifled a yawn of her own. "Giles is trying to find out what room Wes is in and book ours on the same floor. Only thing is, he didn't tell Cordy what name he's using, so..."
"Great." Dawn scowled. "So why didn't he? And why not just tell us which room to begin with? Why's he treating this like some kind of double-oh game? It's not like we would have told anyone else." She shifted in her seat again, then shot another half-hearted glare across the lobby at the back of Giles' head.
"Because he thinks we've got a spy, that's why," Anya said, matter-of-factly. Out of the nine travelers, she was the most rested; she'd refused to fly coach, insisting instead that she'd meet them when they arrived in London. True to her word, she had appeared without warning twenty minutes ago when they'd entered the hotel and was now sitting primly in a seat on the far side of a weary Xander.
"A spy?" Willow asked, sounding baffled. "How? I mean, it's not like there's all that many of us to infiltrate." She sketched a hand in the air, indicating their small group, and frowned at Anya. "And if he thinks one of us would take money from the Council, he's crazy. Well, I guess Giles does, but I mean, that's only because of Buffy."
Tara stirred against her girlfriend's shoulder, responding to the sound of distress in Willow's voice. She had fallen asleep in that half-sitting, half-leaning pose almost as soon as they'd sat down, but there were some things that could reach her even in the middle of a dream. She opened her eyes a little, breathing out a soft question. "Willow...?"
"Shhh, honey, it's okay. We're just talking, nothing's happening yet." Willow threaded her fingers through Tara's golden-brown hair almost absently, her green eyes still fixed on the justice demon.
"I didn't say he thought one of us was the spy," Anya said acerbically, crossing her arms in front of her with a frown. "Just that someone's been listening in. And I mean, it makes sense. You tell me how many things have gone wrong since we started moving to L.A. That remodeling crew, the first one, that tried to cut out a retaining wall? Or the boxes of store stock that mysteriously went missing? How about the three buyers that suddenly dropped out? We still haven't managed to sell Buffy's house."
Cordy groaned. "Oh, and that's the least of it. You guys have been in Sunnydale half the time, you haven't seen everything that happened to us. You know that paint we used for Lorne's club? Totally not my first choice. We had a custom batch specially made; just the perfect shade of moss green, and it bubbled up and slid off the walls six hours later. As if that wasn't enough, it turned into a mess of nasty little sludge demons and took up residence in the old swimming pool. It wasn't pretty."
Despite her exhaustion, Dawn couldn't help but smile at the familiar outrage in Cordy's voice. The former cheerleader may have been Sunnydale's Bitch Queen, but she'd been pretty cool to "mini Buffy" after she'd become part of the whole slaying gig. Dawn was sure half the stuff she said was just a smokescreen, as much as Xander's jokes were: misdirection.
"The new paint is also beautiful, Princess," Groo put in, smiling warmly at the Seer. "And sludge demon free. Please, do not fret."
"Anyway," Anya interrupted, throwing Groo an irritated look. "The point is that something is going on. I don't blame Wesley for being suspicious."
"Well, there'll be time to figure that out when we get back to L.A.," Buffy said, firmly. "In the meantime, we have Faith to worry about."
Her hand stilled on Dawn's back, prompting the younger girl to look up and see what she was staring at: Giles. Their Watcher had turned away from the counter and was walking in their direction, a fistful of plastic rectangles clenched in one hand. Keycards, probably.
"Looks like G-Man's figured it out," Xander said, then stood up, stretching lazily. "Finally. I'm dying for a nap and a change of clothes."
Dawn followed his example, wrinkling her nose at him as she stood. "A nap? Then what do you call what happened on the plane? A fainting spell? I heard you snoring."
He rolled his eyes at her, with a fond smile. "You can never have too many naps, Dawnster. Seriously, though, the easiest way to reset your time sense when you travel is not to crash until night, local-time. I'll just do the cat-nap thing, recharge my batteries, then see what Wes is up to."
"Sounds like a plan to me," Buffy put in, with a wan smile. "Slayers don't need that much rest anyway."
Older Slayers, maybe, Dawn thought with an irritated growl. She'd started breaking things accidentally a week and a half ago, right on schedule, but she hadn't noticed any major change in her sleeping patterns yet. Or in everyone else's attitudes; if she was suddenly a supernaturally enhanced warrior, wouldn't it make sense to lift her curfew? Ugh.
The others were all up and moving now as well, although Tara still didn't look entirely conscious. Bags were lifted, purses clutched, and they all shifted toward each other, forming a loose semi-circle facing towards the reservations counter. Giles had stopped to discuss something with a man halfway across the lobby, and from the expression on his face Dawn could tell it wasn't anything pleasant. He was wearing a variant of his Ripper look, and the air was starting to thicken around his shoulders and hands with little green sparks. That was never a good sign.
Before any of them could come to his rescue, though, the discussion was over as quickly as it had begun. Giles went white, then red, then spat something that made Dawn wish she could lip-read and stalked over toward the group with a lot more urgency. There was a brief flare of light behind him, and the other man suddenly shook his head with a confused expression and started walking slowly towards the doors of the hotel.
"Giles," Buffy greeted him, with a frown. "Talk to me. What was that all about?"
He frowned at her, then glanced around at the others, his gaze lingering on Dawn for a moment. He shook his head. "Nothing. It's nothing. Just, just a childhood friend. A, a Watcher. He's never forgiven me for taking up with Ethan, I'm afraid, and as it happens, Ethan was spotted in this hotel earlier in the evening. Jeremy was apparently under the impression we were up to old tricks, and I... disabused him of that notion."
There was more to it than that, even Dawn could tell that much, but it didn't look like he was going to say any more while she was there. God, sometimes being fifteen really sucked. Even being a Slayer didn't help at all, not with an older sister who could still beat her up and a Watcher who was more of a father to her than anything else.
"Ethan, huh?" Xander grunted. "Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? 'Cause I'm thinking, the last thing we need on this trip is his idea of fun."
Tara shivered. "He sure seemed like an oogly-boogly when I met him."
The comment seemed to break Giles' mood up a little, and he gave the blonde witch a ghost of a smile. "I'm not certain. His being here seems a bit too coincidental, but whether he's currently jobbing for the Council or if he simply followed Wesley, I can't say. With our luck, he'll be on the same floor we're on, and we can bother him about it in the morning. Er, in the afternoon, I suppose."
"So what name did Wes use?" Cordy asked, stepping forward a little. She'd been a little miffed and a lot curious since the ex-Watcher's cryptic phone call. "I'm betting it's some variant of Connor, but I'm dying to know how he finished off the name."
"Connor MacLiam, actually," Giles said, with a nod. "All things considered, it's rather appropriate. A bit transparent, but I doubt the Council will recognize it yet; I doubt Quentin or Richard Wyndam-Pryce have made the tale of Wesley's origins common knowledge."
The dark-haired Seer lifted her chin, looking smug. "I knew it!"
Willow nodded slowly. "Connor, son of Liam, huh?" she said, looking thoughtful. "Guess he doesn't know what Angel's last name is, either."
Dawn shot her a startled look, then giggled. It came out as an undignified little squeak, which she quickly choked down, trying to look innocent; trust Willow to go off on a tangent.
Giles sighed. "And on that note, we had best adjourn upstairs. I've procured us four rooms. Cordelia, you and the Groosalug will have one to yourselves, as will Willow and Tara; Buffy and Dawn will share with Anya, and..."
"...our illustrious leader will nobly suffer the indignities of rooming with moi," Xander finished the sentence for him, looking amused. He took his door card with a smile as Giles handed them around, studiously ignoring the man's irritated expression.
"Quite," was Giles' only response.
Buffy frowned as she took her card, glancing over toward the center of the lobby where the man Giles had argued with used to be. "Aren't you at all worried about that Germy guy? If he belongs to the Council, and he knows you're here, that just totally blew our cover."
"Oh, he already took care of that," Anya said off-handedly, before Giles could answer. "Didn't you see the green flash? Nice Obliviate, by the way." The last comment was addressed to Giles directly.
Obliviate? Now where had Dawn heard that before? "So you were the one borrowing my Harry Potter books," she accused, narrowing her eyes at Anya. "I wondered why they suddenly turned up with creases and smelly dust all over them."
"Children," Giles sighed, in his best put-upon librarian voice. "Yes, I took care of it, Anya; and no, it wasn't an Obliviate spell. Where that blasted woman gets her ideas...."
He trailed off, brow furrowing in concern as he glanced toward Tara, then seemed to suddenly notice the bored, exhausted expressions on everyone's faces. (Only Groo looked interested, and in Dawn's opinion, that just reinforced his basic weirdness). "Right. We're on the fourth floor; the lifts are this way."
"Fifth floor, you mean," Buffy groused, as she turned to follow him. "What's with the numbering system, anyway? And, lifts? Sounds like shoes gone wrong. Why not just say 'elevators'?"
"Because we're in England," Cordy answered, as if that would explain everything. "What, didn't you ever travel?"
Xander snorted. "You can take the girl out of high school..."
"You're one to talk," Cordy sniped back, but the corners of her mouth were twitching.
The good-natured bickering abruptly reminded Dawn of the people they'd left behind, who weren't quite suited to a daytime flight across the ocean. Spike would have been highly amused by the whole situation, and thrown in lots of little comments of his own. She missed him already - and she thought he probably missed them too, or at least her and Buffy. She doubted he was having nearly as much fun in his current company.
"Do you really think it was a good idea to leave Spike alone with Angel?" she asked, directing the question at no one in particular as they filed into one of the lifts.
Xander snickered somewhere behind her, then went quiet as somebody elbowed him.
"They have to work together sometime," Anya said pragmatically. "Either that, or kill each other."
On that note, the lift doors closed, and they jolted into motion.
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.