Characters: Dawn, Buffy, a cameo by Giles, Xander, and Willow, a special appearance by Faith, and just about everyone Buffy ever dated.
Rating: PG for one swear word and, um, cartoon violence.
Spoilers: Set post-Chosen and not long before the end of “Angel”, so pretty much everything.
Summary: Buffy finally has to choose -- or not -- and Dawn gets to do some violence.
Thanks: To my beta Ainon of fanfiction.net, who knows a good farce when she sees one. I mean the story, not me.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me; if they did I’d be getting paid for this.
A (Somewhat Less Than) Forever Love
The Immortal swept into Buffy’s Paris hotel room, followed by four human-looking assistants who immediately stationed themselves at each corner of the luxury suite’s front room. Caught in the act of unpacking her suitcase, Buffy stared at him in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
“You think I don’t know your movements, my love? I have come to take what is mine! You cannot resist my charms, you know this, yes?”
“We broke up. How resistant is that?”
“A glitch, a bump in the romance road, already forgotten. My minions hold everything necessary for our reunion: The strawberry and chocolate, the lovely dress for your lovely body, the wine.”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed.
Giles stared off into the distance, as if trying to picture the scene. “So ... that’s when you smashed the wine bottle over The Immortal’s Head?”
Dawn leaned back in her chair, arms cross. “Giles -- I just started telling the story. Do you want to know what happened, or not?”
He regarded her with the expression of a man who really didn’t want the details, but beside him, Xander immediately spoke up. “Oh, yeah -- we really want to know what happened.”
On Giles’ other side, Willow nodded vigorously. “That’s right. Get with the smashin’.”
Dawn raced into the room, one hand clutching a hand-ax and the other some of the clothing she’d been removing from her own suitcase, in the adjoining room. With one quick glance she took in the scene. Then, rolling her eyes, she laid the ax on a dresser. “What’s El Bore-o want? Please tell me you two aren’t seeing each other again.”
“Ah, the little one.” The Immortal gave Buffy’s sister his most charming smile, but then it slid into a look of puzzlement. “Little one, please, if you wish to be taken as an adult you must -- how do you say -- dress more as an adult.”
Looking down, Dawn took in her white miniskirt and powder blue, baby-doll tee. “If you think mom let me dress like this when I was twelve --”
“No, no.” The Immortal snapped his fingers, and one of his minions stepped forward to take his expensive leather coat. “To feel like a woman, one must feel womanly things -- all over.” He gestured at Dawn’s hand.
She looked down again, and realized she was still holding a pair of pink cotton briefs and a matching sports bra. An instant later they were gone, tossed through the open door into her room. Well, that wasn’t embarrassing. “You don’t need to be looking at my underwear!”
He shrugged, then turned back to Buffy. “Your sister, she is endearing in her childish ways. But you, Buffy -- you are all woman, and only a man such as me can match you.”
“The last time we tried the match thing I got burned.”
“Eh?” The Immortal looked at her, both eyebrows perfectly arched.
Sighing, Buffy sank onto the sofa beside her suitcase. Her former boyfriend followed her movement, then smiled toward Dawn. “Ah -- you, little one, could take a lesson from your sister, who has learned the art of dressing to --”
Buffy slammed the suitcase shut. “you’re a pig, Imm.”
The Immortal grimaced. He hated to be called Imm, and he especially hated all of Dawn’s nicknames for him -- she had a list. She’d worked hard on it.
But he rallied quickly, as only someone who had been romancing women forever could. “Perhaps you simply need to remember the moods we set for each other.” He snapped his finger again; another minion stepped forward, with a cooler that he opened to reveal an expensive looking bottle of wine.
“Ahhhhh ...” Giles, Xander, and Willow exchanged expectant looks.
“Your favorite vintage, if you’ll recall.”
But Buffy shook her head. “I didn’t have a favorite vintage, Imm -- I just said yes to whatever they brought when you snapped your fingers. I don’t like alcohol, it makes me do things like date guys who are way, way too old for me.”
He looked puzzled, as if he’d never encountered a woman who didn’t like alcohol, then waved the cooler away. The minion, looking at a loss, set it on the dresser next to the battle ax.
“Bloody hell,” Giles murmured.
“Glad you didn’t grab the wrong one,” Xander added. “Or did you?”
“You are young, Buffy, yes, but you have an old soul. Who else could hope to equal us in spirit, in emotion, in the excitement of our togetherness?”
The door to the hallway crashed opened. Two men, both wearing black leather dusters, strode into the room, fists clenched, ready for a fight.
“Hey!” Buffy yelled. “They’re going to put the damage on my bill!”
Xander slid his finger down a long printout. “Here it is; line fourteen.”
“Buffy.” Angel walked into the center of the room, stopping a foot from The Immortal, who looked mildly irritated. “Are you all right?”
Spike, after taking in the other occupants of the room, looked at Dawn. “Bit.” Apparently he was wondering if she’d forgiven him for that little incident with her sister.
She nodded a greeting. “Asshole.” Just so he knew.
The vampire looked crestfallen for an instant, then moved up beside Angel and stuck his chest and chin out, at about an equal distance. “So, what have we here? Looks like certain Immortal types have traveled outside their comfort zone.”
“Spike,” Angel growled, “I’ll handle this.”
“Cause you handled it so well the last time, when you got blown up and run over and -- oh yeah -- didn’t handle it.”
“I believe,” The Immortal purred, “I was handling the situation just fine without the, how you say, second stringers.”
Now Buffy stepped forward, her expression full of menace. “I don’t need any of you men -- I can handle myself!”
Everyone in the room stared at her, mouths hanging open.
“Whoa.” Xander sat back. His eyes glazed over, so Dawn snapped her fingers in front of his face to prevent a drool incident.
“But -- how did Angel and Spike end up there?” Willow asked.
“They had spies watching both Buffy and The Immortal,” Giles guessed. “When it seemed Buffy’s path would cross with their old nemesis --”
“They fired up the Wolfram and Hart private jet and took off.” Dawn nodded. “We knew they’d followed Buffy to Rome once before, so it wasn’t really surprising to see them there now. The surprise was yet to come.”
Everyone was getting an image, including Dawn, only with her it was way high on the ick factor. Since no one else was speaking, and the image wasn’t going away, she reached out to grab the cooler, then drew out the wine bottle.
“Aha!” Xander cried.
Dawn tossed the bottle onto the sofa, making the minions gasp. Apparently it was very expensive wine. Ignoring it, she shook the cooler, making the ice inside rattle. “We’re here to establish a slayer base, not to play catch up with old boyfriends. So here’s the thing -- if you guys don’t get out of here, I’m going to grab that ax and start putting body parts in this cooler until your ability to handle anything becomes a moot point.”
The three men looked at each other. Buffy, her face still red, looked at Dawn. The minions started backing away.
Then the moot point factor really kicked in as the window shattered, and a man dressed in dark green fatigues, his face masked, crashed through. At the same moment a similarly dressed man came through the main door, and another one entered through the door to Dawn’s room.
“This is ruining the atmosphere,” The Immortal muttered.
Xander glanced down at the list. “Sixteen, seventeen and twenty-two.”
Two more entered through the main door, making it five, and all carried Star Trek looking rifles. Brandishing the weapons, they silently took in the two women, two vampires, four sort-of humans, and one Immortal.
“Figures.” Buffy gave a long suffering sigh. “We know who you are, take off the friggin’ mask.”
The tallest of the soldiers did so, although his first visible expression was substantial annoyance. “How did you know --”
“You’re like, ten feet tall,” Dawn reminded him.
Frowning, Riley Finn tossed the mask aside and looked to Buffy, although he kept his blaster trained on the cluster of ex-lovers at the center of the room. “We’ve been tracking you --”
“Of course you’ve been tracking me. NASA’s tracking me. Gallop is tracking me. I’ve got groups of Boy Scouts following me through the streets --”
“Well, at least two,” Spike said, pointing at Angel and Riley. “And I expect the bloke who gave you a lay in college will be showing up, any minute.”
“Spike --” Angel growled.
“You’re a pig too, Spike,” Dawn interrupted. “And I know you didn’t save that little girl you found in the coal bin.”
The blonde vampire turned to her, looking wounded. “What? These blokes are all jealous, because out of all of us, I gave Buffy the most --” His eyes widened, as if he’d just now realized who he was talking to.
“The most what?” Dawn asked, then she put it together. “Never mind!”
“Wonderful,” Giles murmured, “a reunion. That bloke from college didn’t show up, did he?” The Head Watcher sucked in a deep breath. “Willow, how many bugs were located?”
“Four in Buffy’s luggage, one in her shoes, one in her cell phone, two on her rental car, and one in her carrying case for ... um ... personal ... conveniences.”
“Huh?” Dawn shook her head. “Oh.”
A voice from behind Dawn made her look around. “Jeez, Dawny, hasn’t anyone given you that birds and bees talk?”
The three Watcher’s Council members looked as surprised as Dawn did. “Faith, how did you get in here without us hearing?” Xander demanded.
Faith leaned against the door, arms crossed. Her leather pants and jacket didn’t make a sound, which made Dawn wonder if she oiled them, or something. More ick. “I may not like meetings, but you know me, Xan Man -- I just materialize when people start talking about the nasty.”
“It gets worse,” Dawn admitted, so agitated that she had to get out of her chair to pace. “It was like testosterone central in that hotel. But don’t worry, beanhead from college didn’t show up -- he’s assistant manager at a Double Meat Palace in Albuquerque.”
“Hey!” Riley pushed forward. “You don’t talk that way about a lady, and besides, I’ve got plenty of notches on my gun!”
The soldier who’d entered beside him reached out with a blaster to poke him in the ribs. “Ouch! What --?” Looking mortified, he straightened and took a step backward.
Buffy gave the other soldier a small, embarrassed wave. “Hi, Sam.”
“Hi, Buffy,” said the soldier, revealing himself to be a herself.
“Gentlemen, if I may ...” The Immortal remained as cool as ever, although Dawn noticed he smoothly distanced himself from the two vampires. “Buffy is not a prize, she is a woman -- desirable, of course, warm and full of love, but not for us to choose -- rather, for her to choose from us.
“And yet, what have we each to give her?” The Immortal held a hand out toward the other men. “This one is married, not to mention a public servant with low pay and a highly suspect retirement plan.”
“I get great benefits,” Riley protested.
“This one is the CEO of an evil law firm branch, sited in the midst of an overcrowded, polluted city whose greatest cultural gift is no doubt the boogie board.”
“Cookie dough, Buffy,” Angel reminded her. When she hesitated, he added, “Rodeo Drive!”
“This one is a twice-dead vampire with no home, no job, and no way to look in the mirror and see how truly horrible his dye job is.”
Spike raked a hand through his hair. “Bugger -- I’ve got a soul, now!” He jerked a thumb toward Angel. “A better one than his! Newer model --”
“And me?” The Immortal held his hands out to take himself in: dimples in full force, white teeth flashing, blue eyes imploring. “I have mansions, limousines, artwork from throughout history, the finest in clothes and food, a personal masseuse ... and of course ...” Now he leaned in, his voice barely audible. “The Venus Butterfly.”
Buffy’s spine stiffened, and she began to fan herself. “Oh. My.”
Xander and Willow looked at each other. Then they looked away.
“Hey!” Enraged, Spike thumped his own chest. “The Venus Butterfly is mine!”
“Please.” Angel gave him an aggravated glare. “I perfected the Venus Butterfly. I learned it from Darla. you learned it from Dru --” He leaned in, with the expression of a man wanting to do some damage. “-- And she learned it from me.”
“you bloody piece of --”
“What’s a Venus Butterfly?” Riley demanded.
Dawn heard a voice -- her voice, she realized with horror -- blurting out: “It’s this trick a man, or a woman, can use on a woman, where you take your --” She clamped her mouth shut, and slapped a hand across it for good measure.
But it was too late. Everyone was looking at her. Staring. Thinking.
“I’ve never done it!” she protested, and then, because she apparently hadn’t dug herself in deep enough, she added, “And none of you introduced it, either! Buffy found out about it from a book when she was fifteen!”
“Good Lord!” Giles gasped.
“Oh, Goddess ...”
“Say, I’ve read that book -- never mind.”
Faith, her eyes wide, tried to attract Dawn’s attention, but Dawn was in the mouth-before-thought stage again and didn’t catch it.
Face red, Buffy turned on her sister. You read my diary.”
“Um ...” She was going to die, Dawn realized. Would they bury her in Paris? Or fly her body back to the States?
“How?” Buffy advanced on her, teeth gritted. “Willow set up magic wards ... nobody should have been able to open it.”
“Faith helped,” Dawn squeaked.
Everyone jerked their gazes to the conference room’s doorway -- but Faith was gone.
A low, guttural growl came from Buffy as she shuffled forward like the Evil Dead.
“She helped me break into the magic room,” Dawn continued, desperate to place blame elsewhere. “We found this spell that kinda-
sorta activated me as a key that could get through wards and there was this glow and popping sound and it was actually kinda cool and at least Glory didn’t come back so that’s good, huh?”
Then, just when Dawn needed it most, a miracle happened. The Immortal laughed.
He choked it back immediately, but it was too late. Buffy turned toward him.
“I -- uh --” Imm held his hands out. “I saw the humor. I’m sure you will laugh later, no?”
“No.” Buffy glanced around, her gaze coming to rest on the ax. The minions and soldiers exchanged nervous glances.
“But -- your sister, she is so little, so immature. This magic was no easy trick, for one so -- little.”
Dawn was so used to being called little by El Greasy -- even though she was taller than Buffy -- that at first she didn’t see her Heaven-sent opportunity. But then ...
Oh! An excuse! Heading for the first thing she saw, Dawn vaulted onto the sofa, scooped up the wine bottle, and used the sofa springs to bounce back toward The Immortal. She was still in the air when she brought the bottle down on his head with all her strength. “Don’t -- call -- me -- LITTLE!”
Shards of glass and a shower of spray erupted across the room. The Immortal, his carefully styled hair drooping to reveal a bald spot, gave her a blank look. Then he keeled over, landing face first on the carpet.
The nearest two minions reacted first, running up to grab Dawn by the arms. She’d expected that and had no plans to resist, but Buffy had been teaching her to react to attacks instinctively, and her body kicked in before she could control it. She leaped up, using their attempt to hold her for support, then slammed two heels into two shins. As they went down, one of the soldiers reached Dawn and, apparently thinking she was the main threat to peace in the room, tried to hit a nerve point on her neck. But she was on the move and he missed, chopping into the top of her ear instead.
“What?” Dawn demanded, thinking she’d been insulted.
“You got your ears boxed!”
Everyone stared at him.
“It used to be a common form of punishment for young children who misbehaved. Hurts like the devil.” He rubbed his own ear. “I should know.”
It hurt like the devil. Dawn dropped to one knee, crying out at what felt like a thousand hot needles being driven into her ear. The sound of her agony was all it took -- the vampires attacked her assailants, resulting in defensive action from the other soldiers and minions, and the fight was on.
Buffy grabbed her sister by one arm and hurdled her across the room, then turned to attack a minion who’d leaped on Angel’s back.
The Immortal did ... nothing.
What happened next seemed to occur in slow motion to Dawn, at least slow to her racing thoughts. She knew Buffy was attempting to throw her out of the danger zone, but she hit an advancing soldier and spun off him, and found herself flying, head first, through the shattered window.
We’re, what -- nine stories up? Yeah. This isn’t going to end well.
But an instant later she found herself stopped, hanging head first, caught by something wrapped around her ankle. She had to reach up and move her skirt aside to see Spike, one hand on the sill and one on her ankle, struggling to hold on.
“I’m sorry I called you an asshole,” she told him.
His grin turned into a grimace, but after a moment he was able to regain his balance. A table lamp flew past him out into the night, but he maintained control and looked down at her. “Forgive me, and I’ll bring you in.”
“What?” she squeaked.
“You sister forgave me. I died to save the world, you know -- she told me she loved me ‘n everything.”
“She doesn’t love you,” Dawn gasped. Boy, I’m stupid.
“I know. She doesn’t love anybody in that room but you, not even the poof anymore. But it’s the thought that counts, in’t it? Point is, I screwed up bad, and maybe I can’t ever make up for that, but she forgave me. That last part, there, in Sunnydale? I didn’t help to make her love me. I helped because she needed me. D’you see?”
“Are you looking at my underwear?”
Spike grinned. “Granny panties don’t do anything for me, bit.” He pulled her up until she could reach his arm, then upturned her and dragged her through the window.
The room was full of bodies, most of them unmoving. Buffy had just skidded to a halt by the window, her eyes wide. “Spike! You threw her through the window?”
The vampire rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe I missed the bloody fight.”
Giles cleared his throat. “Well. The American military disavows any knowledge of this incident, Wolfram and Hart has paid the damages, and the hotel has politely requested we not be their guests in the future. Our contacts with the Immortal have informed us he’d rather forget the entire affair, but he’d also prefer that whoever heads up the European office not be named Summers.”
“What about Buffy?” Xander asked.
Willow shook her head. “She’s in some place called the Isle of Mann. All she’ll say is that she doesn’t want to talk about it with anyone -- and now I know why she specified Faith.”
“Well.” Closing his file, Giles looked to Dawn. “It was a regrettable incident, but in my view it didn’t occur during the performance of your duties, so I see no reason for it to be a Council matter.”
“Did you forgive him?” Willow blurted out.
“Yeah,” Xander added, “Did blondie get a pass?”
Dawn just smiled. “That’s personal.” Then she headed for the door. “See ya -- I’m going shopping.”
It was time to update her wardrobe.