Title: Of Pink Bathrobes and Kissing on Stairways

Author: Syn

E-Mail: veruca_werewolf@hotmail.com

Rating: NC-17 for underage sexual situations

Content: Dawn/Andrew

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Spoilers: Up to Storyteller

Summary: No one ever expects these things.

A/N: Mmm...Dawn/Andrew is my shiny new obsession, can you tell? Even though I don't think I can write Andrew to save my life, I gave it a try. This story starts out all angsty and gets lighter in tone as it goes along. The original version of this story didn't include any sex, but with much prompting by some awesome people, I added it in. So this is the Author's Version and the PG-13 version is no more. lol FYI, I am planning a sequel to this. Eventually.

Dedicated to Meg, because she's awesome (and because she wanted the smut!)!

Feedback: I'd love some, thanks!

*****

They didn't mean for it to happen. Who ever does?

All they knew is that it did and they weren't even aware of it. It just happened one evening out of the blue. Their whole world was turned topsy-turvy and it happened in a split second. She looked at him and he looked at her and they both knew. And there was nothing they could do about it. They couldn't even talk.

Sitting there in a maelstrom of violence and bodies, it didn't seem like they could get the words in. They sat close because they had to, not because they wanted to. Bodies were strewn about them, lounging, taking up space and oxygen. His thigh brushed hers and he guiltily glanced her way, shy aqua eyes meeting her more brazen cerulean blue. A smile played at the corners of her mouth and she pressed closer to his side on purpose.

No one noticed.

A guilty jolt shot through him. Warmth spread where her jean-clad leg pressed intimately against his. He turned his attention back to the figure standing before them, her hands on her hips and her eyes glaring at her troops. She didn't notice them; she barely looked their way. Her voice was a harsh clang and he drowned it out, all his concentration on the girl next to him.

She turned her head and a snarl of sandy brown hair clung to the place where their shoulders pressed together. His arms were folded across his chest and he wasn't quite sure what to do with them. Should he touch her, or take her hand in his own? He wasn't good at this stuff and she wasn't giving him any clue.

She bit her lip and he watched the strawberry curves with interest. His eyes trailed down her chest, where each breath she pulled past her lips expanded her lungs. Her breasts were plump round apples that fascinated him. Had he noticed them before? Why was this all so new to him?

He shifted a little, as she did the same. Both their faces went red as his elbow brushed the rounded curve of one of her breasts. Heat spread from his elbow like a spider web. She closed her eyes and he shook in place, then looked around the room. No one was watching them. They were forgotten in the dark corner, the thirty or so other people in the room staring with feigned interest at their leader. She kept talking and neither of them heard a word of it.

Their breath started to draw in together, synchronized without consent. He itched to touch her face. She itched to feel his skin on hers.

She glanced his way and studied the sharp angle of his nose. Then she studied his lips. He had nice lips. Had she looked that closely before? She liked the way his hair fell in loops and spikes across his forehead and the way his ears stuck out slightly. She let her gaze fall down to the hand he had folded over the other, her eyes taking in the long fingers that screamed artistic and creative.

Her gaze fell to his crotch, but she quickly looked away, a flush rising in her cheeks. When had this happened? She was sure she hadn't felt this way before tonight. He was just another body in the crush of the house, right? Just the guy she played games with and talked to for hours on end about inconsequential bullshit. He was just the guy who listened and made her laugh. He was just the guy who helped her with her homework and didn't mind when she didn't understand a word he said. He was the guy who made his pizza slices dance while he sang modified show tunes to go along with it. He was the guy who let her have the last of the milk and ate his cereal dry. He was the guy who always complimented her when she was trying something new with her hair. He was just her sister's hostage.

He was just that guy, right? Wasn't he? She wasn't so sure anymore.

She looked his way again and she saw him looking at her. Their eyes met and she saw confusion in his innocent gaze. Was this taking him by surprise too? Or had he known? She wasn't sure, but she was glad she couldn't talk right now. She didn't want to have to say the words.

He slowly unfolded his arms and laid his hand on his thigh, his pinky finger brushing her leg. Her own hands, which were folded in her lap, unfolded on their own. She slid one palm up her thigh until her own pinky brushed his. The contact of skin on skin was like an electric shock through both their bodies. He drew in a quick breath and closed his eyes.

He slowly slid his pinky along hers, rubbing the soft skin as they pressed into each other from either side. She did the same, her lips pressed together and her eyes nervously glancing around the room. She was waiting for someone to notice what they were doing, to see that tiny movement of his pinky and her pinky that would give them away. But again, no one looked their way.

Slowly, very slowly, they hooked fingers and it was like a sin that they hadn't held hands before this. She felt a nervous flutter in her stomach and a clanging alarm went off in her skull. She swallowed hard and adroitly kept her gaze riveted on her sister, still talking and plotting and instilling more fear than courage in the young girls clustered around the room.

"Alright? Everybody got that?" Buffy said, clapping her hands together, as if the sound were a gavel and she was adjourning the meeting with it. There was a chorus of yes and enthusiastic nods of the head from everyone in the room. Rona, who was sitting next to Dawn on the remaining cushion of the small couch, bounded up and squared her shoulders. "Okay, Spike takes this half of the room and I take this half. Xander and Anya, you guys are on demon contact patrol--Willow, you know what your job is. Dawn?"

She jumped and pulled her finger away from his, as Buffy looked her way, green eyes boring into hers. "Uh...yeah? Yes...huh?"

"Research mode. I need to know what this thing is and fast. We've got a big yellow demon that likes to eat kidneys. Find out what it is and how I can kill it while we look for it. Got it?"

"Got it." She said with a nervous sigh. Everyone's eye was her and she forced a tight-lipped smile on her face, hoping none of them had seen. Beside her, he shifted so they weren't touching quite so much, his arms once again crossed over his chest.

"Alright. Let's move it out people, we don't have a lot of time." With that, the Slayer turned on her heel and started arming herself. The Slayers-in-Training did the same, grabbing their designated weapons and following their leaders out the door. Dawn watched as Xander and Anya put on their coats, talking about hitting Willy's Place and a couple other demon bars around town. Willow kissed Kennedy goodbye as she followed Spike out the door and then put on her own coat.

"Where are you going?" She asked as the redheaded witch took a deep breath.

"I need some supplies that I don't have here and the new magic shop should still be open. Will you be okay here alone?" Willow asked and then barely waited for a nod in reply before she hurried out the door.

The tiny house on Revello Drive was suddenly, frighteningly empty. They were still sitting there, so close to each other there was no separating them. She took a breath as he did the same, turning her face around to meet his gaze. He looked up through his short eyelashes; his mouth closed tight, his shoulders hunched.

"Hey."

She wanted to say a million and one things--none of them the right words--but she only managed to smile weakly and scoot two inches to the left. Her right hip and thigh were suddenly chilled in the fresh air. She immediately missed the hot press of his body against hers.

"I've got to...research this demony guy thing." She said in a shaky voice as she stood up. Her knees felt weak.

"O-okay. I'll just sit here and...sit."

She walked away as quickly as she could, feeling his gaze burning into her back as she went. The computer was in the dining room and she rounded the corner with a huge, pulse-pounding sigh. She clutched at her head and sank down into one of the chairs with a dull thud.

She heard him move around in the living room, picking up books and old parchments. She took another deep breath and turned to the computer. Immediately she logged onto Demons!Demons!Demons! and started her search for Buffy's mysterious yellow, kidney eating demon. Slowly, she lost herself in the demons on the pages, clicking furiously until they were a blur of woodcuts and descriptions on the screen.

"Dawn?"

"Yeah Andrew?" She said too quickly, jerking her head up to see him standing stiffly in the doorway to the dining room, a huge book in his hands.

"I think I l...I mean, I found something. On the demon Buffy's hunting."

"Oh." She glanced up numbly as he walked forward and put a large book down on the table. She read the short description beside the crude woodcut of a huge demon with gnarled claws and bumpy horns on its arms and back. He hovered over her shoulder and pointed to a passage near the bottom.

"It's called a Xanthomite and it eats human kidneys because it provides the necessary nutrients it needs before it goes into heat. And after it mates, it can lay up to three thousand eggs."

"How do we kill it?"

"You have to shove something bronze between it's eyes, or it'll just keep on moving. See?" He flipped the page and pointed to a diagram of the skull, showing the weak point in the bony armor of the skin. He leaned in closer and she bit her lip. His skin gave off a heat that made her want to touch him again. She leaned away from him instead and cleared her throat.

"Good job."

"Th-thanks. I'm glad I could help you. One more step on my path to redemption and all..."

She ignored him and picked up the phone, punching in Buffy's cell phone number. Her sister answered immediately and she told her how to kill it. Buffy hung up and Dawn was left staring at the computer screen, her lip tucked between her teeth and her shoulder touching his unconsciously.

She closed her eyes and leaned into him. He touched her hand just as the front door opened, spilling Willow into the foyer. They broke apart guiltily as the witch bustled into the room. She never even noticed.

No one ever does when it comes to these things.

*****

Hours later, everyone was back in the house, crowding the hallways with a tight press of tired bodies. The demon was dead and there was nothing to do but wait for something else to turn up about the First. Dawn, scrunched in her bed with Molly, was restless. Slumber hung heavy over the house, but it didn't reach her mind.

Nothing could reach her but the frantic panicky feeling that breathed down her neck and made her limbs crawl. Molly turned over in her sleep, her cold feet connecting with hers. She felt goosebumps rise up along her skin, shuddering through her cells and settling just behind her womb. She ached in all the proper places.

But she didn't want to. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not with Andrew.

She squeezed her eyes shut, wondering what he was doing downstairs, his body stretched out on the floor in the dining room. Was he asleep or was he awake, looking up at the ceiling and wondering what she was doing?

Molly shifted again, invading her personal space with her cold hands and feet. There were suddenly too many bodies close to hers, too many in the house, too many in the place she had once claimed as her own. There were seven girls on the floor and more in other parts of the house. Claustrophobia sunk in and she gasped for breath.

She had to get some air.

Downstairs, Andrew rolled over and stared at the dining room window. He could see the streetlight reflected against the gauzy white curtain, turning it into a creeping orange ghost that shifted and twisted as the heater kicked on and the vents blasted heat into the house. Soft sighs escaped a dozen throats, filling the air with a silence-that-wasn't.

His mind wanted to mull over things best left un-thought of and yet...there was a gut-wrenching twist in his stomach that told him he couldn't ignore it if he wanted to. Every time he closed his eyes, the image of her face was burned into his eyelids. Every time he took a breath, he imagined the way she had breathed with him, her lungs filling with the same air he'd been drawing in.

As he watched the twisting orange ghost that was normally a curtain, he wistfully wished she were there beside him, the hard floor beneath her back and her head resting on his chest. He wished he'd said something as soon as everyone had left, but he wasn't good at these things. He'd never felt like this about anyone--except Warren, and he knew he hadn't felt the same. He was sure she did though.

Warm air swirled up from the vents and filled him with a longing for something to drink. He swallowed, his throat dry, and sat up. Slowly, he made his way through the dining room, picking his way across the minefield of teenage girls who were spread out in every direction.

He stopped as he passed the stairway, the hair on the back of his neck rising. His heart stopped as he looked up the carpeted stairs and saw her standing there, her hair disheveled and her face in shadow.

"Dawn?"

"Shhh."

She stepped onto the stairs as he did the same. Slowly he climbed toward her as if in a dream. Darkness was a clinging shroud as it sucked away the light and the sight of all the bodies on the floor below them. They were plunged into another world that filled their vision and narrowed everything down to just the two of them. He stopped a step below her and smiled as she nervously played with the hem of her pink bathrobe.

She gave him a look that silently asked, What are you doing up?

He shrugged and she let a smile spread across her lips as he sent her the same message. What are you doing up?

She shrugged this time and he touched her mussed hair, feeling the thick, silky strands run through his fingers. She reached up and twined her fingers with his. Another jolt went through them both as skin met skin. She shuddered and closed her eyes, feeling the scorching heat of his body so close to hers.

Funny, before today, being this close to him was never this painful. Or maybe it was all along and she just hadn't noticed? She opened her eyes as his free hand tentatively touched her cheek. His eyes asked a million questions and were laced with fear and apprehension. He wanted to know what was going on. She knew it was his way to play follow-the-leader and he was waiting on her for some sort of signal. The problem was, she wasn't sure what she was feeling.

She dropped his hand and he let the smile melt off his features. What was she doing? He missed the feel of her fingers against his and he wanted say something, but he knew he couldn't. She sighed and pushed his shoulder, telling him to go back to bed. Hurt blossomed in his heart. Maybe he'd read her wrong?

He faltered and she pushed him again, her face cast in shadow. He looked at her for a moment and then turned to walk back down the stairs. His stomach dropped so low he was stepping on it as he walked. He was so sure...the way she'd looked at him and this evening on the couch...

He looked back over his shoulder and saw her watching him go, light now across her face. Her eyes were huge and her lips were pressed together in a tight line. There was longing all over her. He turned back around and stared her down. He knew he wasn't nearly as brave as he thought he was. He wasn't much of anything, actually. But here she was, looking at him, daring him and he was just standing there.

With heavy feet, he climbed back up the stairs and stared her down, faces inches apart. She smelled like vanilla and girly things. Very slowly, he walked forward with menacing steps, his face a mask of fury. What did she want from him? She took a step back and then another, remembering all to well the things he could do. He wasn't one of the good guys yet and she felt a thrill go up her spine as his body pressed close. Her back hit the wall as he leaned in, his face filling her view, close and near and confused.

Without thinking, she tilted her mouth up to his. When their lips met, he felt like singing, but he kept the contact, his heart beating a million miles an hour. He hadn't had a lot of practice at this sort of thing--at least not on real live girls--and this was a thundering, crashing reality that made his stomach do flip flops and caused a familiar tightening in his groin.

She leaned in and nearly smiled as everything inside her melted and the outside world did the same. There was nothing but her, him and the heat radiating between them. He kissed very gently, hardly touching her mouth at all, but it made every nerve in her body sing. She pressed for more, tilting her head in entreaty, her mouth seeking his as he pulled his face away.

"Got to bed Dawny." He whispered in her ear so low she could barely hear it. A shiver coursed down her neck and she groped for him. She clutched his shoulders, feeling his cheek slide against hers. "We can't..."

"Why not?" She whispered back as he worked his hand into her hair. He opened his mouth to tell her and stopped as someone downstairs sat up and coughed. They both went still against each other as they watched one of the girls stand up and amble toward the downstairs bathroom.

"Hurry...before she gets back..." He whispered and then landed a kiss on her forehead. He turned around and crept back into the dining room, making no more noise than a mouse. She watched him go with tears in her eyes and then turned around and went back to her bedroom. Molly didn't even notice as she climbed back into the bed.

All she could think about was the way his mouth had tasted and the liquid fire that roared through her veins. She shivered and buried her face in her pillow. Downstairs, he curled into a ball and cried silent tears that wracked his body in violent shudders. He couldn't understand why someone like her would want to look at him--not after what he'd done. He wiped his eyes and stared at the ceiling, where he knew she was lying far above him.

Neither of them slept that night.

*****

Morning brought with it cold rain and a drafty house. He tried to make himself useful by fixing a huge stack of pancakes for everyone and he even got a few thank you's for his trouble. He waited on pins and needles, but she didn't show at the breakfast table. It was Saturday though, so he thought perhaps she'd slept in.

He was sleepy and quiet, which prompted a comment from Xander about his disposition. Normally he listened to everything Xander told him, but this time he shrugged the older boy's comments off and went back to washing the breakfast dishes for everyone.

After that, he picked up one of the big books they used for research and lost himself in its pages for a few hours. He was endlessly fascinated by the different types of demons and he slowly memorized each page for easier referencing at a later date. He desperately wanted to be useful to Buffy and he saw this as his way to do so.

The household boiled around him, girls training, girls talking, more speeches. He ignored them all and poured himself into the pages of the book with fervor, losing track of everything that was going on around him. Still, he noticed when she entered the room, her head cast to the floor and her hands shoved into the deep pockets of a wet purple hoodie. Her cheeks were pink and she had her hair up in a ponytail that glistened with rainwater.

"Where were you?" Buffy asked as she walked by with an armload of weapons.

"I went for a walk."

"Oh." Buffy said distractedly and then she went on back to her work. Dawn bit her lip and he watched her with bated breath, waiting to see if she'd look his way. She did, but only for a split second. Their eyes met and she looked away just as quickly, her jaw set and anger written over every exquisite line of her body. She left the room without saying another word and he went back to his book, not wanting to think about what had happened.

In the other room, Dawn shook her wet hair free of its ponytail. She leaned against the wall and swallowed huge lungfuls of air. The feel of his eyes burning into hers was a fire that laced like potent poison through her veins. She'd gone on a walk, losing herself in the rain and the feel of water sloshing over her sneakers as she failed to avoid one puddle after another. Her mind had run in numb circles, but she no closer to a solution for whatever it was that ailed her.

Her mouth still held the ghost of his kiss. She licked her lips, as if she could taste the last dregs of his mouth on hers.

"He's just Andrew, stupid! You're not supposed to feel that way about him! It's just...wrong." She muttered to herself as she combed her fingers through her wet, snarled hair. She sat down in a chair and fumed for the rest of the day. No one noticed and she was glad they left her alone. She was doubly glad he left her alone too.

When night came and the exhausted Slayers-in-Training settled into bed once more, she hesitated on the edge of sleep, fighting it and yet wanting to walk downstairs and see if he was still awake. She ached to see if it was real and that she hadn't dreamt it all. He'd kissed her...she knew it, but her mind was an emotion clouded haze and she couldn't pick out one thing from the other.

As Molly rolled over and let her icy feet touch hers, she jerked the covers back and vaulted out of the room, her frustration at the whole world boiling over into anger. She didn't care if he was asleep; she was going to wake him up and make him understand that she wasn't interested in whatever it was he wanted. She put the blame all on him. He's the one that sat down next to her on that couch and started this whole thing.

She was already down three steps when she saw him sitting on the landing halfway down the stairs, his head in his hands. Her angry expression faded and she silently crept down the steps. He looked up and saw her standing above him, her pink bathrobe gaping open to the hip. He saw a peek of her boy-cut panties and swallowed hard as she crouched down before him.

A single tear tracked down his cheek and she immediately pulled him into her arms. She sank between his knees as his head nestled in the crook of her neck, his breath warm and sweet on her skin. His arms went around her and he clutched her against him as his body shuddered. She laced her fingers in his hair as she caressed his back with her other hand.

She didn't know why he was crying, but her own tears were close to the surface as he shook silently against her, clutching her like she was the only raft in a vast, stormy ocean. She groped for some way to make it better, but before she could make her mind work, she was kissing him, or he was kissing her. Whoever started it didn't matter though, because they were kissing and she didn't want to think.

Their mouths didn't quite fit at first, but quickly they readjusted and she tilted her head upward as he hungrily pressed his lips against hers. Kiss after kiss came and went with barely a lungful of air interrupting them. His hands roamed with a life of their own and she didn't stop him. Through the layers of aching want and confusion, he was writhing with wonder as she pressed herself into his hands. He hadn't guessed that he'd want her this much or that she'd want him.

It was dark and blustery outside, but inside they sweated through layers of clothing and skin. She drew in a shuddering breath and pulled her mouth away from his, her eyes dazed and her mind a maze of questions that had no answers outside the deep void of his eyes. The single tear still glistened on his cheek and she leaned forward, kissing it away. Saline spread over her lips and she let her tongue slide slowly across the swollen curve.

He smiled tentatively and kissed her lips with that same gentle, apprehensive movement he'd used the first time. His fingers gripped possessively around her neck and beneath the layers of pink terrycloth that shrouded her body. She tensed as his fingertips skimmed the silken flesh on her thighs, her breath caught in her throat. She was very disappointed when he pulled his hand out of her robe and pulled her against him.

She laid her head on his chest, her legs curled under her on the stairway landing. His heart was pounding beneath the layers of muscle and bone beneath her ear and she felt a charge go through her body with each breath he drew into his lungs. They just sat there in the dark, not talking because they couldn't. The house shook and rattled and clanged and shuddered and creaked and moaned around them, but they didn't make a sound. He petted her hair as she ran her fingers just beneath the hem of his shirt, smoothing over soft belly muscles that moved and jumped as he breathed.

They sat there, daring fate, for an hour. There was too much to say. Too many words he couldn't form and too many wishes she couldn't vocalize. Only when someone downstairs coughed (possibly the same girl as before), did they slowly disengage their limbs and stare at each other with an agreement of sorts.

They stood and he started downstairs once more. She grabbed his arm and made him turn around, his face tilted upward as she kissed him once, her hair falling like a curtain around his face. His mouth slid gently off hers and she kept her eyes closed, not wanting to see him go.

When she opened her eyes, it was just her on the stairs, a dark house sleeping silently around her. Slowly, she turned around and went back to her room, where Molly accepted her weight in the bed with only a soft sigh and a turn toward the wall.

*****

Days passed. Night came on with a lover's grace, granting them minutes and moments snatched from sleep and silence. They met on the stairs at first, but when Chao-Ahn stumbled her way past them toward the kitchen, they decided it was time to move things to a different location--they just weren't sure where to go.

During the days, she sat in school drawing stupid little hearts on her notebooks and daydreaming around yawns. He spent his days like he always did, trying to learn something useful. The First hadn't attacked yet, but he knew it was just biding it's time, waiting for something big. Whenever Dawn was home, they would haunt each other, following each other into rooms without noticing. She sat at the computer and went through file after file of Giles' transcribed notes as he did the same with the real text.

No one noticed though.

She bent her head to the keyboard, two-finger typing in words and numbers and all manner of information that Giles had written down for her, while he pulled up a chair next to her at the table. She glanced his way once, feeling that now familiar flutter in her stomach as he smiled that lopsided, sheepish grin at her. She returned the smile and let her hand slide under the table. His hand was already waiting and she felt his palm rest lightly in hers, fingers curling up around her own. The very contact of his skin was a shock to her system that wasn't getting any easier to endure.

She continued to type in words with one hand as he flipped the pages with his thumb. Outside, they could hear Buffy barking commands at her troops as they went through the simple kata Kennedy had taught them. The others were around, going about their daily lives with anxious faces.

Tonight was another Friday and she knew that Buffy always took the girls out on Friday's. They would have time to themselves if they wanted it. They could finally talk. They hadn't even done that yet and they were bursting with things they wanted to say. She glanced up at him again as he tightened his grip on her hand, then dropped it altogether.

She snapped to attention as Spike walked into the room, his black coat shining dully in the lamplight.

"Hey Nibblet. What's the smile for?" Spike said as he took a drag off his cigarette. He sat down across from Andrew, not even glancing at him as he tilted his head in her direction. She quickly let the smile go and shrugged.

"Nothing. Just glad I'm almost done here. How are the girls coming along?"

"Dunno. Buffy's going to test them individually tonight."

"Individually?" She asked, tensing as she felt his knee brush against hers. She flicked her gaze in his direction and saw he still had his head bent over the book before him.

"Got a little game set up. We're going to let 'em loose and see how they do."

"Cool. Like in Gladiator when Russell Crowe...nevermind." Andrew said and then quieted as Spike turned his gaze on him.

"Yeah. Like that. Buffy and me caught a whole nest. They're tied up down at the old factory near the docks. We're gonna run em in teams first and then individually. Should be a sight." Spike flicked ashes down onto the white tablecloth and then stood up.

"So...will everyone be going to watch?" She asked casually, her eyes on the computer screen.

"Should. Xander, Anya and Willow are going to judge."

"Judge? Like a game?"

"A game where you could lose your life, yeah." Spike said with a grin and then swirled out of the room. Andrew watched him go with a frown.

"I don't know about this..."

"Spike was exaggerating. Buffy wouldn't put anyone at risk if she didn't think they could handle it. And besides, she'll be right there if things get out of hand." She said with a shrug as he sighed.

"I know, I just remember what happened in Gladiator. Vampires could rebel and band together...I wouldn't want anything to happen to the girls is all."

"I'm not going."

"I know that. Just..." He sighed and closed the book with a snap. He took a deep breath and said in a low voice, "We're gonna talk and...I don't have my speech memorized."

Dawn laughed and took his hand again, squeezing it quickly before anyone else could walk in. He smiled and watched her go back to typing, her lip tucked between her teeth and her fingers flying over the keyboard as she glanced back and forth between the screen and the notes laid to one side. She looked very pretty and he felt a tug go through his whole body as he watched her.

He nearly opened his mouth right then and there and spilled it all out. He wanted to tell her everything that had been stewing in his brain for the past week. But he kept his mouth closed and went back to the book. Things could wait until tonight.

The rest of the day passed by in a haze of nervous girls and whispered planning between the adults of the group. Dawn didn't feel as left out as she usually would have. No one was really noticing her these days and she was fine with that. The less they looked at her, the better. She had a feeling they might see it in her eyes.

Out in the backyard, the sun was setting, turning the clear blue sky a bloody red that leaked through the branches of the trees around the yard. The girls were nervously clutching weapons and looking around as Buffy gave yet another speech to goad them into action. Dawn sat on the porch steps, her chin resting on her fist as she watched them. When the sun was gone, Buffy turned to her friends and gave the command to pull out.

"You sure you're not coming?" Buffy asked her as she picked up a sword and handed it to Spike as he walked out of the house, safe in the gathering gloom. She picked up her own sword and glanced at her sister.

"Yeah, lots and lots of homework to do."

"You know the drill then. Money's on the kitchen counter. You can order a pizza or something. Keep the doors locked and if anything happens, I've got my cell with me, okay?"

"Okay! Sheesh, you act like I've never been home alone before. Besides, Andrew's here." She felt a blush creep up her neck at the mere mention of his name.

"Yeah. Call me if anything goes wrong." Buffy said forcefully and then turned on her heel and followed the girls out of the backyard. Dawn watched them go with a nervous flutter. Something warm and familiar suddenly materialized next to her and she drew in her breath.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"So...we're alone. We can...talk."

"Yeah."

Silence fell over them and this time, it was a true silence. It seemed that nothing stirred there in the gathering darkness and both of them finally understood the meaning of the phrase 'silence is deafening'. He tentatively put his arm around her shoulders and drew her close, suddenly very unsure of himself.

"Why were you crying?" She asked as she nuzzled his neck. "Truthfully."

"Buffy told you about Jonathan, right?"

"Yeah. But you...you confessed. You feel bad. I don't blame you..."

"I still do."

"Is that why you were crying?"

"Yes. I wanted to talk to you about it...you seem like you'd understand, but I couldn't go upstairs. I didn't get why...why anything, ya know? I didn't expect this. Not...this." He gestured to them both and took a deep sigh and blushed. "I've never been in love with a girl before."

"Aha." She said with a grin.

"Aha? What does 'Aha' mean? Or are you referencing that eighties band?"

"I just had a feeling you were bisexual, is all."

"Does it show?"

"Only a little."

"You're not...freaked?" He asked as she sat up and grinned.

"I lived with two lesbian witches who acted like my surrogate parents for a summer. Do I look freaked?" When he shook his head, she went on, "And the aha was also for something else..."

"What?"

"You said you loved me."

He went pale and pressed his lips together. "Did I actually say that?"

"Yeah...unless you wanna take it back." She frowned and leaned away from him. Her heart pounded in her chest and she swallowed hard as his head flew up.

"No! I just...didn't want it to slip out so soon. The last time I said it, I kinda got played." There was sadness in his eyes and he looked down at his hands, remembering all too well the words and lies that were spun in his ear. He looked back up as she touched his cheek.

"At least you've been in love before this. The last time I even...well, let's just say it was a spell and I was almost splattered all over the bottom of a train." She grinned, as his eyes got wide. "You know, I'm...not sorry that it happened."

"Why?"

"Because...time's running out. There's gonna be a big battle and I have a feeling we're going to lose. Buffy can train all she wants, but the First Evil has been around longer than...everything. If it wants to win, it will. I'm seventeen and I don't wanna die without ever feeling or doing...ya know?" She looked away, tears in her eyes. She felt fear clench around her heart as she stared into the darkened backyard. She went limp against him as he gathered her up in his arms.

She smiled as he kissed her forehead, his lips moist and warm. She tilted her face upward, catching his mouth with her own. They kissed slowly, the world rushing past them in a sea of silence. Her tongue teased his lip and he opened his mouth and suckled it inside, letting his own tongue slide like a serpent over hers. That sparked something low in his belly and he dug his fingers through her hair, pulling her face closer to his and drawing her body flush against his.

She leaned into him, her arms around his neck and her whole body on fire as his free hand dipped daringly into the back of her jeans, fingers sliding smoothly along silken skin and the lacey material of her panties. He kept tugging at her until she straddled his lap, her thighs cradled against his hips and her breasts crushed to his chest. She was warm over his crotch and he felt that all too familiar ache go through his body.

Unconsciously, she ground her hips against his, making him gasp and let go of his death grip on her lips.

"Whoa. This is...we're going way too fast, Dawny." He said even as he cupped one of her breasts in his hand and kissed her neck, dipping his head until his mouth was between her breasts. She shivered as he kissed her skin slowly.

"And?"

"And I was just making sure..." He went to kiss her again, his flicking to the darkness over her shoulder. His body went stiff and he clutched her too him. "Oh God..."

"What?" She glanced over her shoulder and her eyes widened. A big yellow demon with gnarled claws and bumpy horns on it's arms stood just at the edge of the backyard, its head tilted, sniffing the air. Andrew recognized it immediately as Dawn swallowed hard. "That Xantac-thingy Buffy killed..."

"We gotta get inside..."

Too late, as the demon turned it's big ugly and sniffed the air in their direction. It's eyes narrowed and it gave a low growl deep in it's throat. Andrew clutched at Dawn in fear, his stomach doing a flip-flop and his throat seizing up. The big yellow demon started stalking in their direction, it's movements deliberate and deadly.

"Ssslayer..." It said through a forked tongue, voice is a garbled hiss. "Killed my mate."

"No Slayer here! Why don't you just go...kill something else..." She said as she slid off of his lap. There was a pile of unclaimed weapons close to where she was sitting. She eyed them and gestured to a fear-stricken Andrew to reach for something. He glanced in the direction of the weapons and nodded his head.

"Sssmellsss like Sssslayer."

"She's not here. Maybe if you came back later?" Andrew suggested as he inched closer to the pile of weapons.

"Fresssh meat."

"Or not." Dawn said as she stood up. Andrew dived for the weapons and tossed her a sword just as the Xanthomite reached the porch with one last bound. She swiped at it and then rolled as the sword glanced off one of the bumpy horns covering it's arms. One of the long claws slashed at her as she rolled away. It leapt in her direction as she jumped back to her feet and hacked at its side.

The sword edge sliced through the skin, leaving an oily black path in the yellow hide, but it couldn't penetrate the hard, armor-like bone all over its body. The demon howled and knocked Dawn away from it with one punch from its gnarled claws. She rolled and landed in a sprawl against the steps of the porch. It dived after her again, but stopped as something leapt onto it's back.

Andrew held on tight as the demon tried to dislodge him from it's back. He felt his hand slip away from the hold on one of its bumpy horns and he flew over the demon's back. He hit the ground with a thud, the wind knocked out of him. The demon immediately bore down on him and he scrambled for his dropped weapon. The demon landed on top of him and tore at his stomach, ripping his shirt down the middle in its attempt to get to his kidneys.

He gave a yelp of pain and fumbled for the weapon again. He saw Dawn get up and start hacking at the creature's back with the sword again, only inflicting scratches to its hard shell of bone. The demon reached around and knocked the sword out of her hands and started to go after her again just as something cold and metal brushed his fingers. He gripped the weapon in triumph.

"Hey, stupid! You big ugly...thing!" He shouted, getting the demon's attention again. It swiveled around and then screamed in pain as he jammed the bronze dagger between its eyes. Bone splintered and oily black blood splattered him as the thing screamed once and then collapsed on its side.

He scrambled away from its sharp claws and watched as it slowly died in the grass.

"Wow. Good job." She said as she walked stiffly over to him, looking with interest at the dead Xanthomite.

"Thanks. I'm usually not good at stabbing things, but I think I did okay. Maybe we should call Buffy."

"Why? Nothing's wrong. Demon's dead and we're okay." She replied with a grin and then reached over to wipe the blood off his face with her sleeve. "You are okay, right?"

"Couldn't be better." He said and then caught her hand. She leaned her head on his shoulder and sighed.

"Wanna go up to my room?"

"Yeah, okay."

Dawn immediately dragged him into the house and up the stairs. She lingered once on the landing, turning and surprising him with a quick, excited kiss that wound up getting more passionate than she'd meant it to be. There were ghosts lingering on the stairway, reminding them of the quiet nights of the past week. She felt an odd heat in her stomach as she backed up the stairs, Andrew attached to her mouth.

Caught off guard, he stumbled forward as his shin hit the steps. He fell into her and his weight knocked her down onto the stairs. But they were still kissing. She managed to pull her mouth away after a few moments and laughed as he shook his head.

"Oops." He said with a grin as she grabbed his shirt and managed to slip her fingers underneath to caress along his smooth stomach and back around to his spine. He tensed over her and laid kiss after kiss on her forehead. She shifted between his body and the rough edge of the stairs under her back, wincing a little as he pulled away. "Come on."

He pushed her toward the top of the stairs and she crab-walked backward with him one step behind. She hit the hallway and stood, grabbing his hand and pulling him up with her. It was a short walk to her bedroom, where she pushed him inside and closed the door, paranoia making her wish for a lock on the damned thing.

She turned around just in time to see him dive for her bed. He jumped on it and immediately bounced off of it and onto the floor on the other side.

"Andrew?! Are you okay?"

"I'm good! I'm good!" He said, leaping to his feet and glancing around her room nervously, his fingers twitching as he clasped them in front of him. "So...we're gonna do it?"

"Yeah." She replied, chewing on her bottom lip. Things had been much easier earlier, but now, faced with actually going through with it, she was filled with a billion butterflies in her stomach. As she watched him, several of the tiny butterflies escaped, stroking painfully past her heart and into her throat, where she choked up. What was she supposed to say? How did you start these things?

"So...shouldn't we have like, protection? A..c..condom?" He said, stumbling over the word as a deep blush spread across his cheeks. She smiled at this shyness and went to her dresser drawer, where, buried beneath her underwear, was a condom she'd stolen from Buffy's hidden stash not more than two days before.

"Got one." Dawn said with a tremble in her voice as she handed it to him.

"Would you look at that?" Andrew said as he read the package. "Lubricated and everything. The Trojan Man's a good guy."

"Andrew?" She asked as she stepped up to him and drew him down onto the bed. She straddled his hips like before and pushed him down onto the bed. He was surprised at how bold she was, but he could see the fright in her eyes as she drank greedy kisses from his lips. He managed to put the small package in his fingers down on the nightstand and push her down beneath him, his hands molding over her body. "Let's go slow, okay?"

"Got it. No rushing. I'm kinda new at this..." He muttered to her throat as he kissed the sensitive skin at the hollow of her ear.

"Me too..." She said as she sat up a little, reaching her hands around to her back to unsnap her bra. With some maneuvering that amazed him, she pulled it out of one of her shirtsleeves and dropped it on the floor. She lay back down with a grin as she saw the amusement in his eyes.

He slid his hands under her shirt, cupping her breasts in his palms. She was warm on his nervous, clammy skin and the feel of her beneath him seared up through his body. Her fingers hooked at the hem of his shirt and she slowly pulled it off, her mouth gliding feather-like across the pale skin on his shoulder. He pressed into her, feeling the warmth between her legs as she pressed her thighs to either side of his hips.

Her shirt went next and he threw it to the side, then turned back to kiss her forehead, moving his mouth downward to her eyelids, the tip of her nose, across her lips and to her chin. He moved to her neck, goosebumps rising on her exposed skin as she reached between them and unbuttoned his jeans. A nervous shudder went through both of them as she tugged them down, his yellow boxer shorts peeking out as she pulled. He wriggled out of them and then did the same for her, pulling her pants down her legs very slowly. She swallowed hard as he did the same with her underwear, tugging them down her legs and tossing them on the floor.

His boxer shorts went next and suddenly, there was no barrier between them. Nothing to keep her or him safe. Nothing but the feel of skin on skin and the certainty that things were about to change.

He moved back up her body, daring to kiss her stomach once and then her breasts, his mouth hovering between them as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Their eyes met and she reached over to the nightstand, where he'd dropped the condom. She pressed it into his fingers and closed her eyes. She heard the tear as he opened it and sighed, her eye squinting open to look at him, his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth as he rolled it on. When he looked back up, she managed to smile and lift her mouth to kiss him.

He sank into her embrace and jumped as her hand worked between them, wrapping around his erection with tentative fingers. They both went completely still for a moment as she took a shuddering breath, then lifted her hips against his. Very slowly he entered her, wincing as her body adjusted to him.

She gave a low gasp of pain as he settled inside, her lip quivering a bit.

"Are you okay?" He asked, seeing the look of pain on her face. She pressed her body into his and kissed the tip of his nose.

"Fine. Just..." Her voice trailed off as she adjusted beneath him, her hips sliding along his more gently. The pain lessened a bit and she actually began to feel something, her insides slick as he pushed in and out with short, smooth strokes. His hands smoothed over her breasts, still unsure, but growing steadily hungrier as he traced the dips and hollows of her body. Her head tilted to the side and he kissed the hollow of her ear, enjoying the shudder that went through her body and the way she drew in a gasp of air through her teeth.

The house settled around them and the silence was only punctuated by the whisper of his breath and the small, throaty sounds she made as he pushed inside. She began to tighten around him and he pushed harder, his hips aching from keeping his motions small and not pushing too far. Something persistent pushed on the back of his skull, swirling through layers and layers of emotion and want until he shuddered inside her and gave one final push. She gave a gasp that was only half pain-filled and clung to his shoulders as he collapsed to one side of her.

They both shuddered, trying to catch their breath, bodies sticky with sweat. The room was suddenly cold and she felt a shiver go across her skin. He noticed and, with tiny movements, he disengaged from her and collapsed against her again.

"Wow." She said, running her fingers through his hair as he lifted himself up, hands braced to either side of her.

"That was way better than the movies." He said with and impish grin that made everything inside of her ache and swirl with emotion. He dipped his head down and kissed her lightly, lingering as they shared the moist air between them. "So like, I love you."

Everything inside of her stopped. Their eyes locked and she felt a smile drawing slowly across her face. "I love you too."

That immediately dissolved in a kissing and wrestling match that ended up with her on top and him trying to ward her off as she managed to find all his weak spots. Finally, she stopped tickling him and rolled over, drawing the covers up around her. She watched as he got up and went to the bathroom, taking her bathrobe with him.

Sleepiness slipped over her a bit. Her legs ached, her abdomen ached and even her heart ached. But she was happy. She was in love. With Andrew.

It wasn't long before he came back and settled into the bed beside her. She rolled over and he accepted her weight in his arms with a kiss and a soft murmur of contentment. She fell asleep talking to him in a soft voice, escaping into her dreams with a smile and his warm body against hers.

Just before sunrise, he disengaged from her arms, leaving the warmth of the bed behind. He was tired and happy and completely exhausted. In her sleep, she reached for him, fumbling for his warm body, her face peaceful in the dim light of her bedroom. He watched her for a second and then grabbed the nearest article of clothing he could find.

As he pulled it on, he wondered what was going to happen now. He wasn't sorry the past week had happened, or that tonight had happened. They'd both needed it and both of them had gone slowly, learning as they went along. He'd heard that first times were bad, but he couldn't claim that it was for himself. Everything had been perfect and comforting and right. He loved her. She loved him.

And they didn't know how much time was left before the big battle. All they knew was that they had each other. And that was enough for now.

He bent over and kissed her forehead, then drew the covers back up over her shoulders. Then he turned and walked downstairs, yawning exhaustedly. He walked into the kitchen just as the back door opened and everyone spilled inside. His heart thumped in his chest. What if they knew? But no one glanced his way and for once he was glad. Exhausted girls trooped past him, bloody and bedraggled. He counted heads and found that everyone had made it home safely. They all collapsed in the living room as someone brought out a First Aid kit.

He spotted Buffy outside and turned around to leave as quickly as possible, but her voice called him back. "Why the hell is there a dead demon in my yard!"

"Uh, it stopped by for a house call?" He said with a small grin, twitching in place. Buffy walked into the kitchen, her face a mask of fury.

"Where's Dawn?"

"She's asleep! Been asleep for hours--since we killed the Xanthomite actually."

"Is she okay?"

"Yeah! She's fine! We're both fine." Buffy gave him a look that clearly said she didn't care if he was all right.

"Why didn't that idiot call me?" She said as she threw up her hands in annoyance.

"There wasn't time and after it was dead, we didn't want to bother you and interrupt all the important Slayer stuff." He explained as Willow and Kennedy slunk into the room. They both stared at him and then glanced at each other with wide eyes.

"Fine. I'll yell at her later. I'm going to bed." Buffy said as pushed past him. He watched her go and then turned back to the girls.

"Hi! Did everybody kill something?"

"Yeah...I guess everybody did." Kennedy said, glancing back out the door at the dead Xanthomite that Xander and Anya were discussing what to do with. She glanced back at him and cleared her throat. "I'm going to bed."

He watched her walk away and then turned back to Willow, who had a closed expression her face. "You look good in pink."

"Huh?" He asked, his eyebrows drawing up as the witch stared at him with stony eyes.

"That's Dawn's bathrobe. Why are you wearing it?"

His eyes got wide as he glanced down at the robe he hadn't even noticed he'd put on. "I...there weren't any...umm...towels left and I..."

"You're a bad liar."

"Don't kill me!" He said with a tremble of fear in his voice.

"I'm not going to kill you. It's none of my business, but you're damned lucky Buffy is so distracted right now or you'd be a big stain on the floor. You think no one notices you and you're right. But I've been watching Dawn all week. You break her heart and I will end you. Got me?"

"Yeah."

"Good and I'd change before anyone else notices. Especially Xander." With that, Willow walked past him, leaving him standing alone in the kitchen, his heart thumping in his chest. He took a steadying breath and crept back upstairs to retrieve his clothing while Dawn slept on, blissfully unaware.

If she'd been awake, she would be thinking of morning and how her world was going to change. She would be afraid of the uncertain future and the things she felt. Things were going to get very interesting once the sun rose and she had no idea what lays ahead for her and him. But she does know one thing.

They didn't mean for it to happen. After all, who ever does?

(end)

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