Rogue Demon Hunters
"Next stop LA, we'll be stopping for about half an hour. Feel free to stretch your legs but if you're continuing on toward points on the way to Seattle don't go far." The bus driver warns.
Dawn grabs her backpack from the floor and stands up from her window seat waiting until she is in the aisle to use the backpack almost as a battering ram to get off the northbound greyhound from Sunnydale to LA. It's her Dad's birthday weekend and she plans on surprising him: got the card, got the gift, told Buffy she was spending the weekend with Janice on a Spanish club trip. The Spanish club trip did exist... it was even this weekend... Course the Spanish club thought she couldn't go 'cause of her Dad's birthday... and Buffy thought she was on the Club trip 'cause Buffy signed the permission slip that never got turned in.
Course this would be so much easier when she was 21 or when she gets a credit card and could rent a car. It would be so much easier if she was still on speaking terms with Spike and he wasn't insane. Even though he had almost raped Buffy, he would have given her a ride to LA if only to torment Angel for the weekend... if he hadn't lost his mind. Making her way over to the payphones, Dawn sorts thru until she finds one that works and calls her Dad's house.
You've reached the Summers' residence. We can't get to the phone right now but if you leave your name and number we'll get right back to you.
Dawn frowns. WE Who the hell is we? But she puts some chipper in her voice after she hears the beep. "Dad? It's Dawn. I'm in LA! Surprise! Happy Birthday! I'm just gonna catch a bus out to your place and I'll see you soon." She hangs up the phone and then goes over to the counter. "Hi. Can you tell me what local bus I have to take to get to..." Dawn gives her Dad's address.
The harried person behind the counter is about to blow her off but looks up and sees the young girl unaccompanied and sighs. "Where are you going again?"
Four transfers and three hours later, Dawn climbs off a bus in a very nice residential neighborhood. She looks around to get her bearings and then heads up the street pausing on the sidewalk when she comes to the right address. At least she thinks it's the right address. There is a stupid wooden stork bearing a blue bundle and there is a date a couple of weeks old on it with the really stupid comment.. .it's a boy! Well duh. Someone must have gotten lost. I wonder if it's like those pink flamingo things where people steal them and plant them on people they hate? Dawn crosses the lawn and knocks on the door. No answer. Rings the doorbell. No answer. Peers in the window. No sign of anybody.
"Can I help you, young lady?" The neighbor calls from over the neatly trimmed hedge.
"I'm looking for Hank Summers. I'm his daughter. He lives here." Dawn calls out reassuringly.
"Oh! Hank told me he has two girls that live south of here... go to school in... Sunnyvale!"
"Sunnydale. yeah. Right. Do you know where my dad is?" Dawn asks impatiently.
"Honey, he took your mom and the baby to visit your grandparents." Dawn is now convinced that she is at the house of another Hank Summers probably a guy who really went by the name of Henry Summers until the neighbor takes that hope away. "Your mom had been planning the trip for weeks, for your Dad's birthday you know, and worried that she'd have the baby on his birthday and mess up all their plans."
Dawn's face is expressionless and her eyes are dark pools of anger and disappointment. It isn't this woman's fault but it doesn't stop Dawn from finally flatly stating. "My mother is dead."
"I'm sorry." the woman stutters. "I just assumed..."
"Well there is a lot of that going around." Dawn tosses the present she'd brought onto the front step and then starts back the way she came. Buffy was going to give her nothing but grief about this. She'd probably be grounded for a month. Willow would probably break her vow of mystical abstinance and put a tracer spell on her until she turned eighteen. Buffy couldn't have known about this? Couldn't have kept it from her? Dawn begins the process of journeying back to Sunnydale.
Four tranfers and three hours later, Dawn is back at the central Greyhound terminal. It had seemed seedy during the day and it hadn't improved with night coming on. The security guard reads a newspaper while what looks like a drug deal happens right by the doors. A couple of slick looking guys look right out of something in a Lifetime movie about teenage hookers. Dawn walks up to the counter and puts her ticket on it. "I want to change this ticket from Sunday to the next bus going to Sunnydale."
"Next bus is in three hours." The counter person makes the change.
"Is there anywhere I could get something to eat? To kill some time?"
"Cafeteria is closed. There are some vending machines right over there. Or there is a diner three blocks north of here."
Dawn looks at the fare in the vending machine and grimaces. It wasn't even decent food. No chips, no candybars. It was sandwiches and fruit. Who the heck knows how long those things have been in there but from the look of the apple it was at least a week too long. She checks her pocket for Mr Pointy. Or as Buffy called him Pointy jr or Son of Pointy depending on her mood. After Buffy finally started taking her training seriously she'd helped Dawn make her own weapons. Dawn bites the inside of her lip. The smart thing to do would be to starve and stay here in the building for THREE hours waiting on the bus to Sunnydale. Her stomach growls.
The smart thing would have been to stay in the terminal Dawn thinks again when she is halfway to the diner. The hair goes up on the back of her neck. She zips up her leather jacket to her throat and then feels for the stake in her pocket. Course now I'm half way there.
"Oh look at the little lost lamb." A feminine voice comes out of a dark alleyway to the right.
"Finders keepers." A masculine voice counters with a sigh. "And you did see her first."
Two of them. Buffy finds out about this I am so grounded. Dawn picks up her pace.
"Don't run away, little lamb." A woman appears in front of Dawn. "You look like you could use a good hot meal."
"Yeah, so do you." Dawn says grimly.
The woman slowly smiles. She sees the knowledge in Dawn's direct gaze. "Aren't you going to run?" She says in a teasing singsong voice drawing near and then vamping out.
"Nope." With a swift motion, Dawn pulls out her stake and goes straight for the heart. There is a brief look of surprise on the vamp's face before she falls to dust.
"You're gonna pay for that. Pay for it in pain!"
Dawn pivots to face the furious vampire. She covers her wince. Great, a guy who looked to be a football player in a previous life. "Didn't like the odds."
"I'm gonna grind you to a pulp and then suck the life out of you, you little bitch."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I figured you for a fresh squeezed kinda guy." Dawn rolls her eyes but keeps her body bladed toward the vamp that has her outweighed by about 70 lbs. "Are we going to do this or are you going to talk me to death?"
Just then there is a swoosh of movement and something drops on the vampire from above bringing him to the ground with a boy on top of him. First the boy grabs the vamp by the hair and pounds the ridged face into the concrete of the sidewalk. With a roar of fury the vamp rises to his feet and shakes off his assailant swinging and connecting with the boy's chest. The blows come fast and furious with kicks and elbows going in all directions. Dawn keeps her back to the wall finally she sees a break in the action. She gets the boy's attention and tosses him her stake and then winces realizing that she'd left herself defenseless. But damn that's the way you did it in Sunnydale. Gave the stake to the guy closest to the heart. That's it damnit. No matter what the freaking security measures she wasn't traveling again without the crossbow.
The boy stakes the vampire and then grins at Dawn like a happy puppy waiting for his praise.
"Can I have my stake back?" Dawn says coolly. If there is one thing she'd learned from Anya. Boys live for pain. And you have to hurt them before they hurt you and then they'll keep coming back for more. Oh my GAWD!!! he's way cuter than Leonardo!
"I just saved your life!" Conner declares kinda ticked at not being admired. What was with this girl? Didn't she realize how close she came to dying?
"Wait until you're asked next time." Dawn holds out her hand. "My stake."
Conner slaps it into her hand and Dawn starts walking again toward the diner this time with a little bit of swing to her step. Amazing how killing something evil can do wonders for pulling you out of a funk. Conner falls in behind her and then moves up beside her, then in front of her walking backwards. "Who are you? What's your name?"
"You shouldn't be out here by your self it isn't safe."
"Yeah, right." Dawn nods. "Like you should. So..."
Dawn points to herself. "Me Dawn, you..." She points at Conner and makes kind of an insisting motion with her hand.
"Well, Steven Conner, this is my stop." Dawn stops outside of the diner. "And since you did gimme some help... not that I needed it... but since you did... I suppose I could buy you a coffee or something." Conner shrugs and follows Dawn into the diner. Dawn hands him a menu from behind the paper napkin dispenser.
A tough looking cookie comes up to take their order. "What can I get you, sweetie?" She doesn't look up from her notepad.
Considering her bad day and the hell she's gonna get when she gets home Dawn sighs. "Actually I'll have a hotchocolate but only if you have the little marshmallows and... a bowl of soup I guess. What kind is it?"
"I'll have the soup then."
Conner watches the two of them carefully. There was a code here that he wasn't reading. The waitress turns to him. "What about you, handsome?"
"Soup and ...water." The waitress shrugs and goes back behind the counter to make the hotchocolate. When she comes back she has not only the drinks but also the soups. There has been no conversation at the table in her absence... as the two teenagers just stare at each other trying to figure the other out. Conner watches with interest as Dawn stirs her hotchocolate.
"You're acting like you've never seen hotchocolate before."
"Where are you from? There is no way you've never heard of hotchocolate."
"Never heard of it."
"It's not around here." Conner shrugs. He pulls the soup to him and wraps an arm around it and starts shoveling the soup into his mouth not even bothering to taste it.
Dawn looks at him with a dropped jaw and then a piting look. She slides the hotchocolate in his direction. "Here. Try it. But you have to sip it slow. And the little white things... they are marshmallows... they are the best part. You have to like... let them dissolve in your mouth."
Conner sniffs at the beverage suspiciously. Then it takes a sip. Then he takes a slurp sucking in one of the marshmallows. He waits for the marshmallow to dissolve. "It's good."
"It's the best. When you have a suck day there is nothing that makes it all better like hot chocolate. Me and my mom.." Dawn falls silent. Then lifts her chin defiantly. "It's the best. Go ahead and finish it. So Quortoth. Where's that?"
Conner looks over at her and decides what the hell. She knew about vampires maybe she wouldn't be freaked... "A hell dimension."
"Really?! No kidding. I was raised on the hellmouth that makes us like... neighbors."
"I'm not kidding."
"Neither am I." Dawn starts spooning her soup wrinkling her nose. Not the best clam chowder she'd ever had. Tara made better...used to make better. "So how long you been fighting vampires?"
Conner frowns. "Not long. I grew up slaying demons. But my father, he taught me about vampires. He knew that someday I'd be fighting them."
Dawn nods. "I think it's better to know when you're little and train for it. Buffy, my sister, didn't find out until she was a teenager and then everyone thought she was wacked. Way hormonal check into the funnyfarm psycho. It was the burning down the gym thing." Dawn looks down at her watch and sighs. Two more hours to go.
Dawn shakes her head. "Let me guess you didn't go to school either."
"There weren't any schools in Quortoth."
Dawn snorts. "And you think that was hell?" She sighs. "I guess I should go back to the bus station."
"Yeah, I got to get home. My sister thinks I'm at Spanish Club... nevermind. Yeah, I got to get home."
"To this... hellmouth."
"Well it's closed now... mostly. They built my school on top of it which when you think about it makes perfect karmic sense."
The door to the diner opens and a trim unshaved man enters. "Report." He snarls at Conner.
Conner rolls his eyes. "Vampires zero, Conner two."
"Scuse me. Vamps zero, Conner 1 and moi-- 1."
The man looks at the young girl and frowns. He almost squints looking at her. "Dawn?"
Dawn's eyes go wide. "Oh MY GAWD! Wesley! I mean Mr Wyndam-Price. Wow! You've really changed."
Wesley comes over to Dawn and tilts her head back so he can look her in the eye and study her nonverbal cues. When it starts getting weird Dawn looks away. "Buffy doesn't know you are here." Wesley declares flatly and then steps away.
"Of course she does. It's my father's birthday." Dawn goes for the bluff.
"Bully for him. Buffy can't stand your father. She would never allow you to come to LA unaccompanied and she would never come herself and be a hypocrite. It's one of the few things I respect about her."
"Well back at ya, bub. There wasn't much she respected about you either! She always was muttering about you having a stake up your butt!" Conner spews hotchocolate across the table narrowing avoiding Dawn.
"Conner, take her home."
"You told me I could see Justine if I cleaned out the vamp nest at the bus station." Conner protests suddenly angry.
"You'll see Justine when you earn it and if I decide."
"I could always just kill you." Conner rises to his feet and encroaches on Wesley's space.
"Then you never shall see Justine. You might be stronger than me, young man, but remember I was the one who found your father. You'll never find Justine. Not unless, of course, I allow it."
"I could make you tell me." Conner threatens getting even closer.
Dawn jumps up and out of the way her eyes wide. "Um... no.. you can't. There was this girl named Faith and she like tortured Wes.. Mr Wyndam Price to an inch of dying and he didn't say anything." Dawn pulls Conner aside. "He's freaky that way."
"By all means, boy. Take me on." Wesley taunts in a low growl. "But you have never been known for subtle. And Torture is a subtle art."
total testosterone overload. Just cause Dawn hasn't been exposed to it on a regular basis doesn't mean she can't recognize it. It's the flipside of communial PMS and it didn't look like chocolate and a heating pad was gonna bring this one around. "I'm just going to leave now. Nice seeing ya again, Mr Wyndam-Price-- I'll tell everyone you sent your regards. Nice meeting you, Steven." Dawn slings her coat on and then her backpack. She goes over to the waitress at the counter and pulls out enough money to cover the check and tip.
"Take her home." Wesley orders tersely, capturing Conner's gaze and holding it until Conner breaks the stare and looks away. He starts stalking after Dawn who is already outside the diner and heading back up the street to the bus station. Wesley calls out just as Conner gets to the door. "Don't ever make me repeat myself again."
Conner slams the door behind him and then runs to catch up with Dawn. The waitress walks up to Wesley. "What can I get you, handsome?"
Wesley looks at the diner with disdain. "Nothing."
Conner catches up to Dawn before the end of the block and walks silently, furiously beside her occasionally reaching out and tearing off the sideview mirrors of cars or punching street signs into submission. As they near the bus station, after Conner hadn't hit anything in a couple of minutes, Dawn finally asks. "Feel better now?"
"Wesley has changed... a lot." She says softly.
Conner shrugs. "Been a mean son of a bitch as long as I've known him."
"I wonder if it was what Faith did to him."
"Probably what Angel did to him."
"You know Angel? Well duh. Of course you do. Angel used to date my sister. He moved to LA when they broke up."
"Your sister dated a vampire." Conner's eyebrows go up.
"Well two... sorta. I don't think Spike counts really. It wasn't exactly flowers and chocolate before he got his soul back and lost his mind. Now I can't even stake him. It wouldn't be fair."
"Fair? He's a vampire. There is no fair. The only thing that counts is dust." Conner had been so busy talking that he doesn't notice the change in atmosphere as they walk together into the bus station. Then it hits them both like a wave.
"Oh boy." Dawn's eyes go wide. The security guard is slumped over in his chair with the paper still clasped between his dead hands. Half of his neck is gone. The clerk who'd given her directions is nowhere to be found but there is a spray of blood on the counter. "This is so not good."
Conner looks up at the arrival departure board. "Bus from San Simeon. Figures. Place is lousy with vampires. They are always coming in for a weekend in the city. A little dinner, a little dancing, get home before dawn."
"At this rate they will." Dawn zips her leather coat all the way to her throat and steps into the bus station. "Guess you cleaned out the wrong nest, Steven."
"Should have figured that Wesley wouldn't have sent me down here for just two vamps." Conner starts surveying the scene and strides into the bus station figuring that the vamps if they are still there won't attack until he is away from the door. Dawn eases away from the door as well but keeps her back to the wall and her eyes open. All of a sudden a group of young vampires, too young even to have the option of vamping out but rather perpetually wearing their game faces, attack Conner.
Conner goes to work kicking demon ass while Dawn deals with the single vampire who'd come after her. As soon as he is dust Dawn starts working the stragglers. Stake them as they fall away from the battle with Conner. Really gonna have to bring the crossbow next time. As the last vampire falls, Dawn stakes them and then brushes her hands of its dust and puts Mr Pointy away. Grimacing she goes over to the dead security guard and starts searching him for his wallet using two fingers and trying to avoid the blood and gore splatters.
"What are you doing?" Conner asks.
"Finding out who they are. It'll save time in staking them later." Dawn says absently. She looks up from what she is doing toward Conner who is just standing in the middle of the station surrounded by dust. "There were two people behind the counter, a drug dealer and I think two pimps here when I left earlier."
Conner nods and starts searching the building always keeping an eye and ear in Dawn's direction in case there are any returning vamps. Although the girl seemed able to handle herself. Kinda like Fred but not as talkative or obscure. He finds the drug dealer in one of the men's room stalls. Makes note of his name and then steals the cash out of the dead man's wallet and shoe, leaving the drugs. He finds the pimps-- one by the ladies room and one back by the lockers and repeats the process. He comes back and doesn't see Dawn immediately. "Dawn?"
Dawn pops up from behind the counter. "Yeah? Did you find them?"
"Two pimps and a drug dealer." Conner nods.
"K. Got a list started. What are their names?" Dawn scribbles them down as Conner calls them out from memory. "If I were home, I'd give them to Willow... she keeps track of the obituaries for Buffy. I guess I should call Angel." She winces knowing that if she does as soon as she hung up the phone Angel would be calling Sunnydale and she'd be so busted.
"No. Call them into Wesley." Conner goes over to the counter and sees the phone sitting there. He reaches over and dials a number and then hands the phone to Dawn.
Dawn depresses the phone and then dials another number... information and then cleans up the phone with a rag behind the counter... she sees a thing of window cleaner and sprays the whole phone down. "Let me guess. They didn't have televisions in Quortoth either. Don't you know anything? We can't call from here. We need a payphone... and one not too close to the bus station either cause the cops will probably check. If we use the one here it will lead right back to Wesley when the cops show up to investigate."
"And I care because?" Conner looks at her and shrugs.
"Justine?" Dawn says the name not knowing who it is but knowing that Conner appeared to care earlier.
Conner growls and then steps away from the counter. "Come on. Lets find a payphone."
"Two of them and they can't be close to each other. We have to call the cops too." Dawn says cheerfully as she stuffs the list in her pants pocket.
"When is your bus again?" Conner asks wanting to put her on it and get back to patrolling.
Dawn glances down at her watch. "Ninety minutes but it might be late once the cops show up." When she looks back up she swears. "Ah hell."
"What now?" Conner asks impatiently.
"Security video cameras." She points at the camera. "We have to find the office and hope that those damn things aren't going out by remote to somewhere else." Figuring that the most likely place is the office behind the counter she tries the door and shakes her head when it's locked. Conner comes up behind her and kicks the door in. "Oh great that's obvious." Dawn walks thru the broken doorway and finds the recording VCR. She ejects the tape and then turns around. "Now we can go."
"Are you sure there isn't anything else?!" Conner asks sarcastically.
"Nope. All good."
From a roof across the street from the bus station, Angel watches his son and a young girl leave the station. Once they are clear he jumps down and walks into the station to see what had kept Conner so long inside. He quickly double checks that no evidence of his son's presence remains and then returns to the rooftops where he can more easily surveil the streets below. Conner hands the girl a phone but she shakes her head and keeps on walking. Not until they are eleven blocks from the bus station does the girl finally pick up the receiver. Conner dials the number and then the girl does all the talking. After she hangs up she looks both ways and then changes direction. Conner doesn't even bother with any of the phones until they have gone eleven blocks. This time the girl dials the number and the conversation is short. Within minutes there is the sound of sirens all heading in the direction of the bus station.
Wesley arrives back at his apartment after checking in with his various operatives around the city. He is greeted at the door by Justine who has a scotch neat in one hand, slippers in the other and the paper under her arm. Wesley ignores her and takes a seat in his favorite chair. Justine waits until he is settled and then sets the drink and paper on the table next to the chair. Getting down on her hands and knees she removes Wesley's shoes and replaces them with the slippers.
After Angel had been recovered from the ocean, Wesley freed Justine tossing her the handcuff key as he'd driven away with Angel.. taking him back to the Hyperion. But like a stray, Justine had been waiting as his apartment when he returned. Sitting on the floor of the hallway not looking at anyone... especially him. When he'd unlocked the door she'd followed him in and been there ever since. Wesley takes the paper and begins to read the front page. Justine instead of going into the kitchen to get his dinner waits at his feet. "Yes, Justine?" Wesley doesn't look up from the paper.
"You had a phone call. It was from a girl but it was about Steven..." Wesley drops the paper and glares at the woman at his feet. "... I mean Conner. He ran into a bunch of weekenders from San Simeon at the bus station. The message is still on the machine."
Wesley turns the page of the paper. "After dinner."
Justine rises from the floor and goes silently into the kitchen.
Conner watches the bus south leave the Greyhound terminal. Then a little voice runs thru his head. Take her home. Conner swears. He hadn't taken her home but put her on a bus. It's a sure bet Wesley would use that as another excuse for him not seeing Justine. Running after the bus, Conner catches up to it at the stop sign and then climbs up the back of the bus and gets comfortable sitting on top. Get Dawn delivered to her home in Sunnydale and then Wesley would have to let him see Justine. He had to find out if it was true. If Justine had killed his father and set up Angel. He had to hear it from her own mouth.