Title: An Apocalypse of Monster Proportions Part 1
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters on Angel or Buffy. Nor, do I own any of the characters from Monster Inc. Only this humble plot belongs to me.
Pairings: Dawn/Connor, Cordy/Angel, Fred/Gunn, Buffy/Xander
Spoilers: The Monsters Inc. movie, Season 3 of Angel, and Season 6 of Buffy and slight spoilers for the beginning of Season 4 on Angel and the beginning of Season 7 on Buffy. This is AU so I'm picking and choosing how much of canon will make it into the story. Everything should be explained in the story, but if you have questions feel free to email me or leave your question in a review.
Summary: Ats/Btvs/Monsters Inc. crossover. Originally based on a challenge found at Your Mission. The end of all worlds is coming. The Scoobies and the Fang Gang will need to rely on old friends to stop the Apocalypse this time, and Dawn will find out there's a lot more to being the Key than she thought and more about her origins than she ever imagined.
Distribution: My site, Unnatural, Twisting the Hellmouth, Shades of Grey, Make Believe… Anywhere else? If you want it, ask first.
Feedback: Is much appreciated.
AN: There were certain things I wanted to change from canon and I was just going to include them in the author's notes but that was a little lengthy so I've chosen to write it all into the first part explaining things instead. I'm setting this after the season 3 finale of Angel and the season 6 finale of Buffy. This goes AU directly from there though I have borrowed a few bits from the first few episodes of Season 7 of Buffy and the first episode of Angel season 4. I'm not including the whole conversation between Angel and Connor in this part because others have done it far better than I could. You should also know that Lorne never left for Vegas and Cordelia was never a higher being. A couple lines in this part are borrowed from the Buffy episode Same Time Same Place.
AN 2: I've had a really bad couple of years which left me uninspired and unhappy about my writing. But, recently I've become inspired again and I'm trying to pick up where I left off. I've started writing new chapters for this and I'm also rewriting previous chapters. Enjoy, and please tell me what you think of the new and hopefully improved chapters.
Finally, after Connor was beginning to think he'd have to break the door down to get inside, Wesley answered. The door flew open and the man standing there looked as if he'd like to blast his visitor straight to hell. If looks alone could kill, Connor would already be dead. Still, he'd made it this far and he would go further still. "Wesley?"
The moment Connor said the Watcher's name, he could see Wesley's manners battle with his alcohol haze and decide it wasn't worth it. "What do you want?"
It was rude, but most days Connor and manners were acquaintances rather than fast friends so he let the ex-watcher's poor attitude slide. "I know where Angel is and we have to go get him."
Wesley snorted. "I searched for him for weeks without success. What makes you so sure you know where he is? " Wesley asked, then turned around and headed back into his apartment. He left the door open which Connor considered permission enough to come inside and keep talking.
Connor followed the sound of bottles and glass clinking as Wesley poured his self another drink. Apparently there was still too much blood and not enough alcohol in his system.
Connor rolled his eyes. It figured.
Things were not going the way he wanted them to go. Now that his conscience had finally won the battle Connor wanted to get this over with as fast as possible. He pushed rudely past Wesley causing him to spill some of his drink on the floor. The bottles laying everywhere spelled out the knowledge that Wesley had consumed enough alcohol to float a ship. Which was good, because one of them needed to know how to handle one later. There was rarely enough water in Quortoth to drink much less necessitate the skill of driving a boat. Or maybe the term was steer. Connor was still not familiar enough with this world to know the difference. During his only boating experience a few months ago Connor was more concerned with his revenge than how to operate a boat.
While Wesley waited for the alcohol to kick in with that pleasantly numb feeling he treasured, he backtracked and closed the still open door. Not that he cared if anyone strolled in with bad intentions. When Wesley wasn't angry or guilty about the state of his life, he was tired, so tired of the mess he'd made of his and everyone else's life. Still, the part of his brain that wasn't self-destructive had enough presence of mind to wonder if an open door was enough to give a vampire an invite to his apartment and nagged at him until the door was closed.
Connor watched him make his way to the sofa in that careful way some drunks have without falling. Wesley ran a hand over his face, which looked like it hadn't been shaved in days. "I'm too drunk for this or maybe not drunk enough," he said quietly staring into the amber liquid. The drink in his hand provided no clarification as he considered the level of alcohol he needed in his system to handle this situation. Alcohol had filled the hole lately left by his friends abandoning him, two murder attempts, and his failure to put things to rights with every attempt.
Wesley was asking the wrong person for sympathy. At the moment Connor had none. "Then you'd better do something about it, shouldn't you?" It was probably a good idea anyway. He'd seen a commercial on the TV yesterday that extolled the dangers of drinking while boating. Apparently they didn't mix. Not that he cared much. If the boat capsized and Angel was still left in the sea… well Connor had tried then hadn't he? Nobody could blame him if he didn't succeed. Immediately after he had that thought Connor's newly awakened conscience regarding Angel objected. Who knew the unnatural child of two vampires could have one? His father would be surprised. No. Not Father. Holtz.
It was still hard for him to accept that the man who raised him and taught him how to survive in Quortoth was wrong and deceitful about his vampire father. And if there's anything Connor had learned from staying at the Hyperion, he reluctantly had to admit that it was the truth. No matter how much it hurt that the truth wasn't what he thought it was, Connor couldn't push it aside. Contrary to his previous beliefs, Connor had meant nothing to Holtz and everything to Angel. He hated realizing that he was nothing more than a dark weapon that Holtz lowered himself to using in his holy war with Angelus. No more though. He was no longer like the pawn in the chess game that Fred had taught him a few days ago. Interesting game that. Connor could think for himself now. And all that thinking had led him here. To the apartment of a man that looked like he hadn't cleaned his living space in weeks much less cared about his personal hygiene.
Connor headed into the kitchen and looked around for the coffeemaker. Lorne had assured him after a night of what he called heavy schmoozing that coffee was an essential part of the hangover cure if you wanted to function with your head on. Gunn had then interrupted their conversation by pointing out that just because Lorne could still live without his head didn't mean that he was capable of doing much without it. Lorne had agreed and then proceeded to teach Connor how to make a proper cup of coffee while telling him all about the time his head was cut off in Pylea.
Connor started the coffee and waited impatiently for it to brew. He searched the cupboards for a clean mug and Tylenol. He soon realized that all the mugs Wesley owned were currently taking up residence in the sink and would have to be washed. He let out a frustrated sigh. Every delay meant one more minute in which Angel was buried beneath the ocean. By the time the mug was washed, the coffee was done, and the Tylenol found Connor was vibrating with barely restrained energy.
He shoved the mug and the drugs rather rudely at Wesley, but he couldn't bring himself to care much. He was on a mission and eager to see it done. He couldn't bring himself to think about what would come after. What Angel would say. What the others at the hotel would say when they found out what Connor had done to Angel. He knew that this was the right thing to do and part of that was dealing with everyone's reactions when he was done.
He would have to leave L.A. Angel and his friends wouldn't want him there after what he had done. Look at how they had treated Wesley, a man they were good friends with and had known a lot longer than Connor. Fred had said that Wesley used to be considered family. If this was how they treated family, how much more would they treat Connor? He was only Angel's son with a soulless vampire. Connor had not just betrayed Angel and everyone else like Wesley had. He hadn't been able to kill him, (he supposed he knew even then, but just couldn't admit to Angel's innocence) but he had sentenced Angel to a slow death and exiled him from his family below the sea. Connor wasn't expecting any of the same treatment he had enjoyed before. Hanging around with Gunn like a little brother, letting Cordelia and Fred fuss over him, and Lorne teach him about the wonders of this dimension, even alcohol when Fred wasn't looking. Connor would be lucky if they just threw him out like they had Wesley. Having a conscience just sucked.
Later, after Wesley had sobered up, things began to go fast enough to suit Connor who just wanted to get this all over with. He had quickly explained who he was and what he had done to the ex-Watcher. Connor had held himself tense waiting for Wesley's words of recrimination and disgust. They hadn't come. Instead, Wesley had said that he understood that Connor was trying to do what he thought was the right thing while struggling with the evidence he'd seen since he came here as it fought against what his beliefs and promises to Holtz demanded. Connor hadn't known Angel for years like Wesley and the others. He had spent years trapped in a hell dimension under Holtz's evil tutelage and knew no different. He was nothing but the product of Wesley's good intentions and Holtz's blind lust for vengeance. Sometimes you made terrible mistakes when trying to do the right thing. Wesley had no stones to throw when his good intentions had done the same.
It was a relief to know that after this rescue mission was over that at least one person wouldn't be wishing Connor was dead. He felt like there was at least one person who understood him.
Connor had originally come to Wesley's apartment with a slightly Angel Investigations colored view of him. Lorne and Fred had slowly filled him in on what happened when Gunn wasn't around. However, he had known Wesley was the best person to help him and was probably the only one who might be willing. So Connor had snuck onto the computer Fred taught him how to operate and found Wesley's address.
So progress was being made. Connor knew how to find Angel once he got out onto the sea. Much as vampire Sires and Childre knew when each other was near or where they were, so did Connor know exactly where Angel was. The only problem was getting there. Neither Wesley nor Connor happened to own a boat capable of hauling Angel back up. Connor couldn't use the same one he and Justine had. That one belonged to a friend of hers who wouldn't be too happy to retrieve the vampire he had happily buried. In the end, they settled for Wesley using some of his money and contacts to ensure the use of one. It was set. The rescue would happen tomorrow night. Connor would stay with Wesley until it was time to go. Unfortunately that left them the rest of the night and all of tomorrow to think of what Angel would do after his rescue.
The ride out to retrieve Angel was silent. Connor and Wesley were both lost in their own thoughts.
Wesley was preparing himself to face Angel again after the volatile reaction Angel had shown him the last time they saw each other. Connor was wondering where he would go after this. He couldn't help comparing this to his last boat ride. He knew Angel wouldn't want him to come home with him and neither would Cordelia, Fred, Gunn, and Lorne. Justine, the woman Holtz had said would have been his mother, wanted nothing to do with him. Connor was going to be on his own again with nowhere to go. He let out a sigh. He wasn't looking forward to it.
Connor was surprised to hear a matching sigh to his left. He and Wesley both looked surprised for a second. Then Wesley's voice, still unused to being utilized lately, cut through the silence. "Not looking forward to this either?"
Well, that was a small comfort. Very small. "No. He's not going to want to see me."
"My presence probably won't go over well, either."
Connor suddenly burst out with the thought that had been plaguing him ever since he realized he was wrong. "I can't go home again."
That hung in the air for a while. Finally Wesley broke the silence once more. "No, I suppose not."
Left unspoken was the fact that Wesley hadn't been welcome either after his mistake, although it was ringing in both their ears as if it had been said.
"You can stay with me." Surprised, Connor looked to see if Wesley was serious. He was! Huh. Connor said the only words he seemed capable of at the moment. "Thank you."
Wesley nodded as if he hadn't expected any different. Then they both faced out to sea again anxiously waiting to get this over with.
The box came out of the water with a loud, almost sucking sound. As if the sea was reluctant to part with its victim. Wesley and Connor guided it over the side and carefully lowered it to the deck. Angel seemed to be unaware of what was going on. If the fact that a vampire was only truly dead when he turned to ashes hadn't proclaimed otherwise, Wesley and Connor would have both thought him dead.
Angel looked horrible. Just like the corpse Holtz had always said they were. He was covered in sores, and so thin. Bones were visible, and the sight of him was making Connor's stomach feel queasy and full of knots. He looked at Wesley, but the ex-Watcher wasn't showing any sign of his emotions. He was wearing the same stoic face he had shown all day. If the sight of Angel was bothering Wesley, Connor couldn't tell.
Out came the rest of the equipment. And by the light of their torches, Connor could see in Wesley's eyes that this was just as awful for him as it was for Connor. It was loud and messy and halfway through came the moment they were dreading. Angel opened his eyes.
Connor and Wesley both froze.
Angel's eyes landed first on Wesley, then Connor. The widening of Angel's eyes was his only reaction when he realized who his rescuers were. It was an awful sight, given how huge his eyes seemed in their sunken state. It seemed like an eternity passed where they all just stared at each other. It stopped just as suddenly as it had begun and in the opposite manner. Angel closed his eyes.
Connor and Wesley shared one glance as they tried to control their racing heartbeats then went back to their task. They both finished at the same time. Connor motioned to Wesley to stand back. Then he picked up the heavy lid and threw it easily onto the deck. Connor's ears barely picked up the low sigh Angel gave at freedom. Wesley stepped forward with the cooler of blood they had brought for the next stage of their plan. He cut a small hole with his pocketknife and then held it over Angel's mouth. They went through two packets before Angel's sudden grip on Wesley's arm startled them all. Wesley only showed that one small jump in reaction. He just waited to see what Angel would do. Surprisingly, it wasn't ripping off Wesley's arm and beating him over the head with it. All Angel did was take the packet away from Wesley and quickly finish it on his own. He held up his hand for another. That continued until all the bags were gone. As Wesley dropped the last empty bag back into the cooler, Angel said the first words he had spoken to them in weeks. They weren't the ones anyone was expecting though. "I'm sorry."
Connor's mouth left his control and blurted out what he was thinking. "That's my line!"
By the time the boat reached dry land again apologies had been made and given. Relationships were tenuous at best, but on their way to being repaired. It would take a while but Connor and Angel would try to work on their relationship. Likewise would Wesley and Angel work on reviving their friendship. It wouldn't happen at the Hyperion though. This tentative truce was too new for that. Instead, Wesley and Connor would be staying at his apartment while Angel went back to the hotel. They would try working cases together or hanging out. And Connor and Angel would spend time getting to know each other for real this time around. It had all gone better than Connor or Wesley expected.
But first, Angel had to be brought back to the hotel and things would need to be explained to Fred, Gunn, Cordelia, and Lorne.
Not surprisingly, the explanation didn't go well.
"Are you nuts? Maybe that seawater pickled your brain Angel but they can't be trusted!" Gunn was shouting at the top of his lungs.
Both Angel and Connor winced at the assault on their sensitive ears.
"He tried to kill you Angel! More than once!" Gunn pointed his finger at Connor just in case Angel's addled brain cells didn't recognize whom he was talking about. "And him!" This was also said with a helpful glare and another point in the right direction. Namely at Wesley who stood next to Connor with an unreadable expression on his face. "He betrayed you Angel! He stole your son and just handed him over to your enemy! He attacked Lorne!"
Angel just gave a weary sigh and continued sipping on the glass of blood Cordelia had heated up for him. He was nearly completely healed.
"This is lunacy Angel!" And the rant continued.
For now, Lorne and Fred just sat on the couch next to each other in the lobby glaring at Wesley and Connor mistrustfully while Gunn said everything they were thinking. They had been quite vocal in their disagreement in the beginning but Gunn's loud voice and angry words soon took over the job of yelling some sense into Angel.
Cordelia was standing near Angel silent, only Angel and Connor detected the fine tremors running up and down her body as she shook with the force of her emotions. Surprisingly she hadn't said a word yet.
"You're a fool, Angel!" This was screamed so loud the glass in the front doors shook.
Angel finally reached the end of his patience and roared, "Enough!"
Fred jumped, Lorne winced, and Gunn's mouth hung open, frozen in mid-word. "Connor is my son, and Wesley is my friend. And I will be seeing them as often as I want. They would be staying here-"
"Hell no!" This interruption came from Gunn with a simultaneous "No!" from Fred and a "No way, sweet cheeks!" from Lorne. Cordelia was still silent, just taking it all in.
"As I was saying," Angel bit out between clenched teeth. "They would be staying here, but they're not ready for it and neither am I. I tried to jump start a perfect relationship with Connor without knowing who he is or how he'd changed. And living in a hell dimension does change you. I kept thinking he was that little baby who loved me unconditionally, but he's not. And Wesley's actions led to one of the most painful moments in my life. They both screwed up. I can't forget that."
He looked towards Connor and Wesley both standing together, their tense frames braced against the fury of the rest of the Angel Investigations team.
"But I can forgive it," Angel said as his face relaxed slightly into a smile.
Connor gave a small tentative smile in return, and Wesley still had a serious expression on his face, but Angel could see in his eyes he appreciated everything Angel had said so far.
"So, I will be working with them. And I won't ignore them because of you." Angel looked back at Fred, Gunn, and Lorne in turn. "You don't have to like it, but you will be civil." This was said with a determined stare. "And you will ignore your feelings while there's a job to be done. Our work is more important than holding a grudge. If you're going to hold their mistakes against them then you might as well hold all of mine against me too, and I've had hundreds of years to make some really big ones."
The hotel was silent.
Angel finished his glass of blood. He turned toward Connor and Wesley. "I'll see you guys tomorrow." They nodded in unison and left. Angel looked back toward the group. "I'm going to go take a long shower now. Goodnight."
Fred, Gunn, and Lorne watched him leave and turned to Cordelia to see what she thought of all this. She dismissed the discussion with a wave of her hand. "I don't want to talk about it," she said. Cordelia headed to her room. She had a lot to think about.
Cordelia spent the night trying to wrap her mind around the concept that the baby she had helped take care of, the one she had fed, and changed diapers for, and sung to sleep, was the same person who had shoved Angel into a box and left him on the bottom of the ocean. Then he had just come home and went on like nothing had ever happened like a good little sociopath. Connor had spent the summer being so nice, wanting to get to know them, to learn about Angel and this new world. He had even helped search for Angel! Cordelia felt so betrayed and enraged. She could only imagine what Angel felt, but she imagined she was feeling a little of the same. She felt like her own son had betrayed her, and then lied about it. It was hard to tell if any of the things he had told her that summer were real. It felt like he had rejected all that she and the rest of them had tried to offer him. Just taken their hearts and stomped on them without caring about the damage he caused. She was so hurt and angry! And even more so on Angel's behalf.
Angel who had thought he could never have children. Angel, who had been so excited after Connor was born and eager to share all that he knew with his son. Angel, who was so giddy about spending time together and fighting demons with Connor when he came back from Quortoth. Angel, who had bought all of those baby toys and clothes he never got to see Connor play with or wear. Angel, who had felt so blessed when Connor was born. And so very heartbroken when he was handed over to Angel's worst enemy and condemned to a hell dimension.
Yet, Angel had welcomed Connor and Wesley back once more. Not even caring about the damage they had done. Or the horrible fate Connor had left Angel to and the gaping wounds they had both created on Angel's and everyone else's hearts. Cordelia couldn't comprehend it. Why was Angel so trusting, so forgiving? So willing to hand his heart back to Connor and Wesley to break again? It wasn't right. Sometimes you had to stand up for yourself. You couldn't always let people back in to hurt you, no matter how much they said they've changed. Had she let Xander just waltz all over her heart after he had cheated on her with Willow? No! She had stood firm and taken care of herself. That was what you had to do sometimes.
The thing was, she wanted to see Angel happy and she was reluctant to admit it, but she had missed Wesley so much. Maybe, Angel was right. People made mistakes. She may have cared for Xander, but she knew his heart wasn't completely hers. So maybe just a tiny little bit of the blame in that situation fell to her and the way she had treated him almost all of his life. She still cringed, every time she remembered the wish she had made back in Sunnydale to Anya that Buffy had never come to the Hellmouth. That one was a class A blunder. And Angel had kicked them all out for a time when Darla was back before he slept with her. He had shut them out which was a really stupid action on his part. But she had forgiven him because he was her friend and she cared about him. She couldn't blame him for wanting his friendship with Wes back or a real relationship with Connor if he could. Not when she wanted the same things for him. It was just that she was so angry and hurt too.
But, if she was going to blame Wesley for not coming to them with the prophecy and letting Holtz kidnap Connor, or Connor for sinking Angel to the bottom of the ocean then she might as well blame Angel for his mistakes, and herself for her own. Wasn't forgiveness and redemption the whole point of Angel Investigations? How could you seek redemption or forgiveness if you weren't willing to give the same? Mistakes were what made them human. So she could forgive Wesley and Connor. But she would still be watching them closely. Forgiveness didn't mean you had to be stupid. Because the second they stepped out of line and hurt Angel or anyone else, they would wish they could live to regret it. They didn't call her Queen C for nothing.
"Ok, I'm ready to pick up Willow."
Buffy and Dawn looked up from their breakfast to see Xander holding a big sign.
There had been a lot of changes this summer, not just the fact that Xander was now a member of the Summers household and in a relationship with Buffy. Scooby research operations had been moved to the Summers house while the Magic Box was being rebuilt. When it was finally done Buffy and Willow would be co-owners and Dawn would help out occasionally when needed. Giles had opted to stay in England after Willow's rehabilitation was complete and Anya was off somewhere granting wishes leaving the Magic Box to the remaining Scoobies in Sunnydale. They still didn't know what had happened to Spike. He had taken most of his belongings from his crypt and had never returned to the Hellmouth since.
Soon they would be leaving to pick up Willow from the airport. She was arriving home today after months spent in England recuperating from her end of the world attempt and learning magic the right way.
Buffy squinted at the sign in Xander's hands. "Is that writing, Xander?"
Xander grinned proudly. "Yep. It says Welcome Home Willow!"
Dawn stepped close and eyed the sign so she could verify that it did indeed say something. "You can hardly tell what it says. Is that-? Xander, did you use a yellow crayon?"
"Yeah. You know, sort of a visual reminder of how much I love her."
"Really," Buffy asked skeptically. "And the fact that it's a reminder of how you saved the world has nothing to do with that?"
Xander frowned. "No! It doesn't! The yellow crayon was part of a wonderful speech about our friendship. And yeah, ok it did save the world but that has nothing to do with it!"
Buffy smiled. "I'm just kidding Xander. That was a beautiful and heroic thing you did. We're all proud of you."
Dawn gave Xander a hug. "Yep, it's true." She stepped back with a teasing look on her face. "But, if I hear one more time about how you saved the world…" She trailed off with a grin. "You stop one apocalypse by yourself, and we never hear the end of it."
Xander got a superior look on his face. "I saved the world with talking from my mouth. My mouth saved the world. You could learn from me."
Dawn reached for a notepad and pen off of the table. "Right, I should start taking notes of everything you say." Her pen was poised above the paper ready to write. "Give me your gems of wisdom. I'm ready." She suddenly got a sly look on her face. "Hey, Xan refresh my memory, what was that you said the other day about Buffy's cooking? That she could poison demons and be done with it or use her cookies for missiles? I want to be sure I get everything you've said down. It could save the world someday."
"Uh, um." Xander got a panicked look on his face and slowly started backing away. "I didn't say that!" He laughed nervously. Buffy had a dangerous look in her eyes. "Buffy, my friend, my best friend, the love of my life, you know I would never say that about your cooking! I love your cookies! They taste great! To die for, really!"
She didn't look convinced. She matched him step for step. Desperate, Xander searched for something else to say that might save his life. "In fact, I would really love to eat breakfast now. Did you cook that? It smells great."
"Sure Xan, how about some pancakes." Buffy lobbed some pancakes at him which Xander tried to duck and dodge. "Wait! Don't forget the syrup!" Buffy grabbed hold of his jeans and squeezed the whole bottle down his pants before leaving him standing uncomfortably in the kitchen while syrup dripped down his legs and leaked into his shoes.
"I don't suppose you'd want to help clean this off," Xander called after her retreating back.
"Not a chance," Buffy gleefully denied.
Xander sighed and looked to Dawn for help.
She merely grabbed the last of her toast and smiled wickedly at Xander. "That'll teach you to keep me up all night with the sounds of you boinking my sister!"
"Oh God," Xander moaned in embarrassment as Dawn left the kitchen.
After the kitchen was cleaned and Xander had showered and changed the three had still managed to make it to the airport on time.
Willow had loved the sign.
Her welcome home was spent with everyone catching up. Calls to England were expensive and Internet time wasn't always available so they had a lot they wanted to talk about that night. There were tears and apologies on all sides before they got down to serious celebrating. The Summers house was a noisy one that night. The neighbors just sighed in resignation. They had gotten used to strange and loud noises at all hours of the day or night at the Summers household, not to mention the weird occurrences.
The next morning they were all gathered in the kitchen. Buffy was making omelets (she really wasn't that bad a cook since she'd started taking cooking classes, but Dawn still missed Tara's funny shapes whenever they had pancakes) Willow was helping Buffy, Xander was reviewing plans for work later that day, and Dawn was reading the paper.
"Hey guys, the obits are longer than normal today."
Buffy looked up from the skillet. "What do you mean?"
"Well instead of the usual three or four pages there's fourteen."
"And so it begins." Xander started putting away his plans. This was more important. "Is there anything else in the paper?"
Dawn reached for the main section. She had gotten in the habit of checking the obituaries first for potential problems instead of starting with section A like normal people. "There is. It says gangs on PCP are now making break-ins to people's homes at night now. In addition to the usual safety measures when leaving the home people are urged to upgrade their home security."
Willow looked up concerned. "They're breaking in now? How is that possible? They're supposed to need invitations!"
Buffy turned off the heat on the stove, and quickly transferred the last omelet to a platter that she set on the table. The platter made the rounds as everyone swiftly dished up. "Dawn does it say how they're getting in?"
Everyone was now intensely focused on Dawn and what she was saying. "No, it says police are baffled."
Xander interrupted. "Well that's nothing new, when aren't the police baffled?"
Dawn continued. "Sunnydale residents have reported massive numbers of break-ins in the last two days. Sixteen people alone were killed on Tuesday night, police Chief Stevens informed the press this morning."
This time it was Buffy who interrupted. "How did we not notice that?"
"Ah, Buff Tuesday was the night the Chaos demons were robbing the Dairy Queen and making one big slimy mess," Xander reminded her.
"Oh yeah," Buffy made a disgusted face. "I had to take five showers that night just to get rid of all the slime."
"Oh, eww. Change of subject," Willow called as she brought the toast to the table. "Dawn, finish the article!"
"A lone survivor of a family of seven when questioned revealed that their attackers had jumped out of the closet and attacked unexpectedly. The victim and his family had been completely unaware of the gang's presence in the house before the attack. The victim stated that a gang of six attacked and slaughtered his family that night. He is currently recovering in Sunnydale Memorial hospital where the man's status has been recently upgraded to critical. His attackers had left him for dead and only the concern of a neighbor saved his life when they called 911 at the sounds of the screams. Police are uncertain at this time of the identity of the attackers or the connection between all of the victims targeted. People are urged to heighten their security to limit the possibility of gangs hiding inside homes and causing another round of attacks similar to those just seen." Dawn finished and passed the paper to Willow when she reached for it.
"Six vampires hiding in a closet? Sounds like a bad joke to me." Xander reached for the toast and loaded his plate, then held his hand out to Buffy for the jelly.
"I highly doubt they were actually hiding in a closet, Xander." She handed him the jar and received a smile of thanks.
Dawn looked up and grinned. "Raises interesting questions of how they passed the time if they had, don't you think?"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "What I want to know is how they got in without an invitation through a closet door."
"Research?" Willow asked.
Buffy nodded. "Research."
Dawn jumped up. "I'll get the books." Now that Buffy was letting her be an active participant in the research process Dawn was eager to help out at every opportunity.
"No," Buffy handed Dawn her backpack. "You've got school."
"Rats." Dawn took the bag. "You sure? This looks awfully important."
"We can do this without you till you get home."
Xander carried his empty plate to the sink. "I'll give you a ride, Dawn on my way to work."
"Great," Dawn said with a sigh. "I'll see you after school." She and Xander left a few minutes later.
End Part 1