When in Rome

By: Haley J. The Bat

Author's Notes: This is the clean version of this fic. If you want to read the original, really cool NC-17 version in which you actually get to read about Dawn and Andrew getting it on, well it looks Fanfiction.net doesn't want you to read it because no matter what I do, the link keeps getting erased when I upload.

My suggestion: click on my name up above and you'll be redirected to my author's page on Fanfiction.net. In my bio, there should be a link to the NC-17 version. Follow the directions there. I'm sorry it has to be so complicated to read the smutty version. I'll be really disappointed if nobody does, so if you're considering it: do it. Smuttiness is always good.

* * * * *

Andrew was exhausted; his eyes felt like they were going to fall out, his muscles were limp, and everything around him was lost in a sleepy daze. He'd gotten used to airports because as Giles' second, he had to do a lot of traveling. The first couple times he'd been excited; he had never really been in an airport except for one time when he was ten and he got to see his uncle off to Canada. He was a man of the world now. Yeah. A very tired one who was starting to get sick of airports.

All that faded just a smidge when he walked down the gates, duffel bag slung over one shoulder, and saw Dawn leaning against the railing. They caught eyes, and a smile of pure delight overtook Dawn's face. "Andrew!" she called out, waving, as if he hadn't seen her yet.

He hadn't seen Dawn for at least two months, but he hadn't realized that he'd even missed her until this moment. It used to be that Dawn was the only one nice to him, and he'd thought she was spectacular. Now that everyone was nice, he realized that Dawn really was spectacular. Something about her bright smile with no fake glint, her cheery voice, her secret fetish for RPG message boards, and the way she talked to him like he was important - and actually made him feel more important than anyone else could. Well, something about all that meant more to him than the respect he was getting from the original Scoobies and the new Slayers.

As soon as he reached her, they walked side by side with only a gate between them. When they reached the end of it, Dawn threw her arms around his neck and pulled him close. At first he stiffened. Nobody really hugged him . . . except for Dawn, that was. Dawn always hugged him when they were saying good-bye or hello. So he forced the weirdness of being hugged out of his mind and tightened his arms around her waist, resting his cheek on her head.

"Have a good flight? You look tired," Dawn said softly, pulling away with that huge smile on her face.

"I am. It's three a.m. for me, and the lady in front of me wouldn't keep the hood of the window down. I couldn't get any sleep because the sun kept shining in my eyes. And where's Buffy?" he looked around, suddenly noticing the absence of the original Slayer.

"Oh. She, uh, had to do something," Dawn mumbled, ducking her head to avoid his eyes.

"Right." Andrew sighed. That meant that Buffy hadn't felt his coming important enough to show up. "Who drove? Taxi?"

"Uh, no. I sorta drove." Dawn looked up again with a flash of excitement. "It's, like, against the law, I think. But I talked Buffy into teaching me how to drive. Y'know, since I'm seventeen now. I told her that if I still had to go to school, I'd better get all the perks of being a teenager."

"Wow! You have a car yet?"

Dawn wrinkled her nose. "It's this little car. And when I say little, I mean little. Buffy and I share it. Our neighbor, Marcus, is teaching us both."

Andrew tried to stifle the yawn, not wanting to appear rude, but in the end it escaped his mouth louder than he'd expected. "Sorry. I was listening," he said quickly.

"God, I'm such an ass," Dawn groaned, putting a hand on his arm and leading him out of the C section of the airport. "You're all through customs, right?"

"Yes." Andrew rolled his eyes. Customs, one of his least favorite things in the world.

"Do you want to get some coffee to help you stay awake? We can even get it to go if you're really tired," Dawn said, giving him one of her mother hen looks.

Andrew smiled tightly. "I hate coffee."

"Me, too," she confided, giggling.

Andrew sighed at the sound; again, he hadn't realized how much he'd missed her. "Don't you and Buffy live pretty far away?"

"It's a two-hour drive." Dawn looked at his sudden deflation and added, "But we're going to be staying in the city. It's a nice hotel room; I went to check it out before I came here. Mini fridge, satellite TV, and two doubles."

At the mention of beds, Andrew's steps beside her became less sluggish. "How long till we get there? I might fall asleep right here," he whined.

"It's a five minute drive. Promise." She took the bag from his shoulder and stubbornly refused to relent when he tried to snatch it back. "No. You're tired. I'm not. Therefore I am the carrier of the bag. Got it?"

"Whatever," Andrew mumbled, pouting even though he was grateful. "Do you even know your way around this place?"

"Yup. I've been here for two hours waiting. By the way, remind me to thank your pilot for the delay." Dawn perked up as they passed a cluster of stores. "On the bright side I bought some tax free magazines."

"Oooh. Fun."

"Totally! It's so funny to read about American superstars in Italian. The only thing is that I think I paid more for them tax free than I would in the store." Dawn frowned.

"That's the jinx of buying things tax free. You always end up spending more." Andrew looked at a liquor store. "I've never seen beer more expensive than in airports."

"Hey! Wanna buy some? Another three months and I'll be eighteen, so we're technically not cheating . . ."

Andrew just smiled and shook his head. "Nah. I hate beer."

"Party pooper." She stuck her tongue out at him.

"As your elder and second-in-command to Rupert Giles," Andrew said mock-proudly, "I think I have to set a good example for underage girls trying to get me to buy them illegal substances."

"You make it sound bad. It's only illegal to me." Dawn suddenly stopped at a door, reading the sign. "Okay. I think this leads to the parking lot."

"You don't know for sure?" Andrew asked, alarmed. Would they spend the next hour trying to find Dawn's car? She did mention it was really tiny . . .

"Relax. I am so under control girl." Dawn pushed the door open and stepped into a garage. "Hah! See: cars. Now we just have to find mine . . ."

"What does it look like? And if I fall asleep right here, you're going to have to carry me."

Dawn looked like she was thinking really hard. "It looks like a . . . car. Only smaller."

Andrew felt his eyes prickle slightly, just further depressing him. He was never going to get to sleep.

"C'mon." Dawn took his hand and dragged him through a few rows of cars. They were walking less than a minute when she shouted a cry of triumph and marched him over to a mini. "See? Cute, sure. Convenient, no."

Andrew opened the side door and watched as she shoved his bag into the back seat. Well, the sort of back seat. He sat down and scrunched up, his knees up as high as his shoulders. He was about to wonder how on earth he could survive the two hour drive when they went to Dawn and Buffy's home, but a wave of sleep hit him, and he just rested his head on his crossed arms, trying to make himself as comfortable as possible.

The car started as Dawn shut the door, and she backed it up with a huge jerk, knocking Andrew's head against the window. "Ow! Dawnie!"

"Sorry, sorry," Dawn said quickly, looking at the rearview mirror. "Did I mention I've only been driving for two weeks?"

* * * * *

Somehow they managed to drive to the hotel room. Dawn was immensely proud of herself as she grabbed his bag and got out of the car. Marcus had only been teaching her for two weeks, and she could already drive like a pro.

"Are we still alive?" Andrew asked numbly, shutting the door of the car behind him and stretching his arms.

Dawn wrinkled her nose at him; he shouldn't insult her driving like that. But it was Andrew, and he was here, and things were good. She hooked her arm through his, gave him one of her smiles, and led him into the hotel. Because they'd already checked in, they got to go straight back to their room. Dawn pulled the key out and shoved the door open, dragging Andrew along beside her.

"See? Total first class. In the, y'know, non-first class way," Dawn said, sweeping her arm around the small room. "Anyway, you can have the bed of your choice."

Andrew sat down heavily on the closest bed and started taking his shoes off. She sat down across from him and watched him. It was strange seeing Andrew so tired. He looked almost . . . mature or something. Older. He'd changed a lot in the past year, even if he still acted like the resident geek. Something in him had clicked into place. In a way she missed his naiveté, but they all had grown up after that day last May. She shuddered as the memories started to play through her mind.

"Will the TV bother you?" she asked quietly, getting up to turn it on.

"I could sleep through another apocalypse. Do whatever you want," Andrew murmured, and she heard him shifting around on the bed.

Dawn grabbed the remote and went to her bed. Andrew was snuggled under the covers, his head turned towards her. "G'night, Andrew."

"Night, Dawnie."

His eyelids fluttered a few times before settling on his cheek bones, and she turned back to the TV. It was actually morning for her, so she wasn't the least bit tired.

The next few hours passed by with mindless TV and the soft breathing of Andrew on the bed beside her. When it was well into the afternoon and her stomach was growling, Dawn leaned over Andrew's form to try and wake him up. He shifted away from her as she shook his shoulder, and she giggled and shook him more roughly. "Wake up, Andrew."

Suddenly his eyes opened and he looked at her strangely. "Hi."

"Hi." She studied his eyes, surprised at their splendor. Then she had more surprise that she found his eyes splendorous at all. "You've been asleep for a few hours. I wanted to see if you were hungry."

Andrew considered. "Will I have to get out of bed?"

"Not if we order room service."

"Then I'm definitely hungry."

Dawn sat on her bed and started flipping through the menu. "What sounds good?"

Andrew pulled himself up against the headboard. "I'm really not particular. Besides, I can't even read that menu. Did it take you long to learn Italian?"

"Not really. Buffy still struggles, though." Dawn finally decided spaghetti would be a nice, calm lunch choice. Spaghetti was always comforting, and everybody liked it. She picked up the phone and ordered their food in Italian. When she hung up, Andrew was looking at her in awe.

"That was so awesome. Like, it was you talking, but I couldn't understand it."

"Sort of like when you speak all those old demon languages?" Dawn suggested as she put the menu back and settled back on her bed in the same position he was in.

"Sorta. So is the TV different here?"

"It's in another language."

"That would be why I can't understand a damn thing Ross and Rachel are saying," Andrew said, nodding at the TV. "You get American shows here?"

"It's satellite, but the TV is set to Italian. I could probably get them to change it-"

"No, that's fine. I've seen this episode a million times. Just like all the other ones. What did you order?"

"Spaghetti. We'll get into the real Italian stuff later; I wanted to ease you in with something familiar."

"Ah." Andrew sighed. "Uh . . . so, what's been going on? I mean, I know about all the Slayerege stuff, but what's happening on the Dawn scene. Are the Italian guys crawling up your window by your . . . hair or anything?"

Dawn giggled at the idea. "Please! Besides, I'm not really into the normal teenager stuff. It just seems so insignificant now." Dawn trailed off, thinking back to that day. Before the memories got too painful, she snapped herself out of it. "The school I go to is very academic."

"Straight-A's?"

"Well . . . I have a C in my science course. It's not all that interesting," Dawn admitted. "But it's really cool because everyone else seems as focused on school as I am."

"What are you going to do when you graduate? Are you and Buffy going to stay in Italy?"

Dawn sighed; she and Buffy hadn't really discussed this point. There were so many things Dawn wanted to do, but none of them felt right. "I don't know. I've still got another year left at this school."

"I didn't know what I was going to do either. Look where it got me." Andrew frowned, eyes fixated on his lap.

Dawn caught the pity look and immediately set to knock him out of it. "Yeah, look. You're a man of the world, traveling and-and training. You're helping to set up the new Counsel with Giles. You're doing all kinds of good things."

"I was referring to my Buffy-hunting days two years ago," Andrew said, giving her a shy look. "You really think I'm a man of the world?"

"Totally."

"Because I tried to tell Spike this, but he didn't believe me."

"Well, that was before you became all worldly. If he was alive now, he'd definitely think so," Dawn assured him, ignoring the pang in her heart at the mention of Spike. She'd disliked him along with everyone else those past few months, and after his startling finish, she felt just as guilty as everyone else.

"Oh, right," Andrew mumbled, suddenly tensing his shoulders.

"What?" Dawn asked after scrutinizing him for a moment and deciding he was trying to hide something from her. "What's wrong?"

"Um . . ."

There was a knock on the door, and Dawn rolled her eyes at the interruption. It wasn't so bad though, because as she suspected, the room service guy was waiting with a cart filled with lots of yummy-smelling food. She gave him a tip and pulled the cart into the room. "Do you want to eat in bed or at the mini table?"

"I feel more awake now, so table." Andrew got up and turned the TV off as he went to the table and sat down. Dawn put the plates of food in their designated spots and sat across from him. "Mmm . . . smells really good. Is it as good as American spaghetti."

"Probably better." Dawn picked up her fork and stirred up the noodles and sauce. "The noodles are so good here. Much better than the boxes they sell in America."

"Do you miss America?"

Dawn took a bite of her food to avoid answering the question right away. She'd tried hard not to think about her old life what with all the bad memories attached and her being so involved in her new life. "Sometimes."

"Me, too," Andrew whispered, staring at his plate, but his eyes looked very far away. There was a pause as Dawn watched him staring at nothing. "But there are a lot of things I want to forget."

"And it's so easy to forget," Dawn continued seamlessly, "with this new life, but really it's part of the old. All Buffy can focus on is forgetting, but I think in doing that it makes her remember more. Me . . . well, I don't mean to forget. But the bad memories, those I try and block."

Andrew lifted his gaze to hers, a small smile in place. "We really need to hang out more."

"It's like one mind," Dawn teased, gesturing between them. "I missed you."

"Yeah. I missed you, too."

It seemed like the proper response, but the way Andrew said it, all warm and stuff, made her think that he really meant it. That set a glow that grew from the inside out, and she started digging into her plate to cover the flush of her cheeks. It had always felt good to be with Andrew. At least, after she got over him being annoying and realized he was just Andrew. Harmless Andrew with his stupid jokes and geek speak and awkwardness and that strong feeling that he just wanted to do good.

Good guys were nice. "So, where've you been?" Dawn asked after a few minutes of silence as they ate.

"All over," Andrew said, suddenly looking eager. "I got to go to Africa, which was really cool. Most of the tribes still have some belief in magic, and I actually learned a lot. I stayed with this one tribe because they had a Slayer, and their language was similar in structure to a demon language I knew pretty well. I got to hear their beliefs and learn new spells and stuff." His eyes were dancing with excitement as he finished quietly, "It was really cool."

Dawn bit her lip. The idea of traveling and adventuring was very appealing. Learning new things, meeting new people, accomplishing things for the betterment of the world . . . "It sounds awesome. What was the Slayer like?"

"She was nice," Andrew said, shrugging. "I felt bad having to take her away from her family and tribe, but she seemed to understand."

"Did you go alone?"

"What? God, no. I may be a former super!villain, but I can't do some of these Watcher tasks alone. Giles always lets me bring some of the Slayers with me."

"So you're always around girls? Why didn't any of them come?" Dawn asked, wincing as she heard the words. She hadn't meant to ask them, and she hadn't meant for that twinge of jealousy in her voice to unfold in her chest like it was currently doing.

Andrew shrugged. "This is really just a 'hey how are ya' visit under the pretense of something important. Giles wanted to check in himself, but he couldn't get away."

"It's okay. I'm glad you're here," Dawn assured him, big dopey smile in place. When she realized how stupid she sounded, she stacked their plates and put them back on the cart, reaching for the dessert. "I figured we could splurge since Giles is paying."

"He's such a nice fellow, that man," Andrew said as he caught sight of the dessert. "What is it?"

"Not quite sure, but the description sounded good!" Dawn giggled, took a bite of the food, and turned that giggle into a light moan. Good? This was the best thing she'd ever tasted in her life!

They finished dessert with a few mumbled appreciations at the wonderful food. When Dawn was done convincing herself not to lick the plate clean, she shoved them aside and leaned forward on the table, hands folded on the edge, and looked at Andrew through a curtain of hair. "You tired?"

"Not as much as before."

"You wanna go do something?" Dawn gave him her best 'look at poor innocent me and give me what I want' look.

"Uh . . . yes. Yeah. Something. What?" Andrew asked, studying her intently.

"I don't know! I don't usually get to go to Rome. I mean, I do, but never for fun. Let's do something crazy. Let's party like it's 1999."

"How do you suggest we go about doing that?"

"Let's just go outside, walk, and just . . . do whatever strikes our fancy."

* * * * *

It was cold outside, so Dawn and Andrew stuck close together as they walked down the streets of Rome, hands stuffed in their jacket pockets. Nothing was said for awhile as they walked. Andrew pointed out a few sights, but he never seemed interested in going in one of them. The afternoon slivered itself into the sheath of night slowly, inch by inch of the blue sky turning a murky yellow.

"Are you tired?" Dawn asked, noticing his sleepy eyes and slow walk.

Andrew looked at her, cocking his head. "No, not really. Just tired of walking."

Dawn looked around for a place that they could go into, and her eyes finally settled onto what looked like a theater. "Want to catch a movie?"

"What kind of movie? Are they going to speak in Italian?" Andrew asked, looking at the sign she indicated suspiciously.

"I don't know, and probably." Dawn grabbed his hand and started towards the theater. "It'll be a learning experience for you. I'm actually surprised you don't know Italian considering all the languages you boast about."

"Demon languages, Dawnie," Andrew corrected, giving her a small smile. "Can you explain scene by scene what's happening so I have some grasp of what's going on?"

They stepped up to the ticket window, and Dawn asked for two tickets of the nearest show. They were directed to the theater their movie was playing in.

"No popcorn?" Andrew mumbled, tumbling behind her as she used her long legs to get to the door of their theater.

"Guess not," she said as they opened the door. "Where do you sit?"

"Huh?"

"Well, everybody has a row that they sit in. What's yours?"

"Oh. I never go to see movies unless it's, y'know, Spiderman II. Which is coming out soon, I might add."

"Fine. We'll sit in my row."

"Which row is that?"

"Three," Dawn proclaimed, leading him into the darkened theater. It looked like the movie had only been going on for a minute or two. They shuffled into the row and sat in the middle seats. Dawn was surprised to find that she was still holding hands with Andrew, but neither of them pulled away.

Something itched at the edge of Dawn's mind, and she looked at him discreetly out of the corner of her eye. It was nice holding his hand. She wondered if he thought so, too, but he didn't even seem to notice. When she realized she was worrying over nothing (it was just Andrew, after all), she turned to the screen to start her deciphering.

"Okay, they're talking about ordering a pizza. It looks like they're having some kind of slumber party. At least, I think." Dawn frowned and looked at the two girls on the screen speaking in fluent Italian.

"Do girls really have slumber parties in their underwear?" Andrew asked, looking at her hopefully.

Dawn giggled. "No. Girls walking around in underwear usually results in comparing to everyone around you and suffering low self-esteem."

On screen somebody knocked on the door, and the blonde girl went to answer it. A pizza delivery guy stood there with a box. "Extra large pizza with lots of meat?" he asked.

"Uh, they're flirting," Dawn said, frowning at the sultry look the blonde was giving the guy. What was this movie anyway? Probably just a stupid, low-budget . . . oh, god. "And now they're kissing. Or rather, sucking each others' faces off, from the looks of it."

Andrew scrunched his brow as he watched the brunette watch a little too interestedly from the couch. "Uh, Dawn . . ."

Dawn gulped. "She just asked if they had any problems with a-a third . . . uh, make outee."

Words ceased by that point, so Dawn's translation skills weren't needed. When the brunette stood up and ripped her bra off, strutting forward to join the make out session, Dawn was suddenly very aware of Andrew sitting beside her.

"Is this . . .?" Dawn looked at him with wide eyes. His were riveted to the screen, his expression one of awe and shock.

Andrew nodded. "I-I think-"

Suddenly the theater filled with the sounds of moans and heavy breathing as the other girl started stripping while the brunette took the guy's shirt off, laying kisses all over his chest.

"Yes. Definitely. This is one hundred percent porn," Andrew finished, blushing as he turned to look at her.

"Oh, goodie," Dawn mumbled, looking back at the screen, completely unsure of how she should handle the situation. Should they leave? Should they stay? On one hand she was kind of interested to see what an actual porn movie was like. But that wasn't nearly as important as the fact that she was watching it with Andrew.

One of the girls ripped the man's pants down, and his penis sprung forward proudly. Dawn yelped at the sudden intrusion on the screen. Then the blonde knelt before him and-

Dawn stood up and yanked her hand out of Andrew's. "Let's go, huh?"

Andrew nodded quickly several times and followed her out of the row. She wrapped her arms around her middle and left the theater in a slight sprint, not stopping until she was a block away.

"That was . . . weird."

"Weird. Definitely weird," Dawn affirmed. She closed her eyes, remembering that last bit. "Oh, god. Why was it purple?"

"What?"

She blushed, realizing what she'd asked, but decided that knowing was better than being embarrassed. "Why was it purple," she gritted out, avoiding his eyes.

"Oh. Oh. Y-you . . ." Andrew stuttered around his words for a couple seconds. "I-I don't know. They just, um . . . turn that color. Wh-when a guy is really turned on. I think it has something to do with the blood and the rushing. B-but I didn't exactly memorize information from that part of the male anatomy."

Dawn spotted a dessert shop and nodded towards it. "We're going to get some ice cream. Ice cream is-is good. Just the thing to wipe our minds."

"Yes. Good idea. Ice cream."

They walked in awkward silence to the shop, and inside they sat down, ordered, and avoided looking at each other. When Dawn's knee accidentally brushed against his, she jumped at the intrusion, feeling a tingle go down her spine.

"Sorry, sorry," Andrew mumbled.

"Look, that was awkward."

"I think I'm a little bit above the awkward stage," Andrew said seriously. "I've never watched porn with a girl before. Especially not, y'know, you."

Dawn wrinkled her nose at the implication that he watched porn but tried to shrug it off. All guys watched porn, especially geeky ones. And Andrew was definitely geeky. "Just . . . uh . . . why is that interesting?" she blurted out. "I mean, watching other people have sex. Wouldn't you rather just go find some-some . . . ugh. Never mind. Can we forget that ever happened?"

There was a pause of silence, and she looked up to see why Andrew wasn't agreeing with her. His lips were pressed firmly together, and his eyes were dancing, laughing. Against her will, a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Andrew unleashed the first bout of laughter, and then the whole table was filled with it.

The waiter came with their orders, and they managed to sober. Dawn wiped at her eyes and grinned at Andrew. "Okay, that was pretty funny," she admitted. This was the way to deal with it: laugh. It was better than avoiding his eyes and jumping whenever they brushed arms.

Andrew started spooning up his ice cream. "This tastes so good! Way better than ice cream in Sunnydale. Except maybe Baskin Robins. They have good ice cream."

Dawn was amused by his joy in the ice cream, and she found that when she started to eat hers, it tasted even better than she could remember. "So now that that embarrassing chapter of our lives is over . . . what do you wanna do next?"

"Can we just go back to the hotel room?" Andrew asked, scrunching his face at her. "I'm tired of all this walking, and . . . well, I'm just tired."

"Sure. I don't think Rome is that interesting, anyway. I'll have to take you to the library of my school. If you dig deep enough, you can find tons of interesting books. I read one on Suomaf demons, which is really rare because nobody really knows what they are."

"Right! They passed through a portal in the fourth century and live in caves in the highlands, right?"

"Yes!" Dawn was surprised actually. Buffy had rolled her eyes for days as Dawn went on and on about the demons, but Andrew looked just as excited.

"You know, many people think there's no such thing as a peaceful demon, but there are theories that there's an entire dimension made up of them. Nobody kills. I think they're all vegetarians or something."

"Are there humans there?"

"I don't know. It's just a speculation from research done on some demons who may have come from that dimension. There's a text back at the library Giles is working on accumulating. Do you think you could read something written in Ekahs?"

Dawn nodded eagerly. She could read anything if given enough time to read it, and she was getting better at it, too. "I think. That language is similar to Egyptian, right?"

"That's a common mistake people make. Actually Ekahs has a completely different verb structure that's hard to understand. It reminds me of some of the texts from B.C."

"Good, a challenge. I haven't had one of those in forever," Dawn said, actually grinning at the prospect.

"Do you still read about Magic?" Andrew asked.

"Yeah. I can do a little magic, but I'm not nearly as good as Willow o-or . . . Tara." Dawn looked down at the table. "How is Willow doing? She doesn't email as much as she should."

"I think they're doing all right. She prevented an apocalypse a month ago! Kennedy is thinking about opening up a school to help train Slayers. It reminded me of something Giles and I have talked about. Do you understand the concept of the Jedi schools from the early Star Wars? They take anyone with a high midichlorian in as children. Hopefully someday we can get to the point where every new baby girl is tested for Slayer blood and then hauled off to a school. If we can start teaching them as children, they'll be better warriors."

"I'd like to help," Dawn said, interrupting him as he started to go into a more elaborate speech of the Jedi Council.

"Of course."

"No, I mean really help. I don't have very much school left," Dawn pointed out. "Buffy likes it here, I think. She likes the sense of being unknown and the relaxation and whatnot. But I hate being behind the scenes. I want to go to England and help you and Giles with all this stuff. I-I can do lots of things. I-"

Andrew smiled and took her hand across the table, squeezing it. "Dawnie, I believe you, don't worry. I think that we'd get a helluva lot more done with you helping us in England. But that's at least a year away. Concentrate on getting your education. You like school, I can tell."

"I love it," Dawn whispered.

"Then wait. We'll all come for your graduation. Or at least Giles and me will. If you still want to come, then you can just ride the plan back with us."

Dawn felt a glow of happiness start inside her belly and burst up through her body. She squeezed Andrew's hand back, glad that she had someone to talk about demony stuff with.

* * * * *

They got back to their hotel ten minutes later on foot. Andrew spent most of this time comparing the X-Men movie to the comics. She tried to stifle her laugh when he admitted that he sometimes thought he liked the movies better. Everything he said was so serious as if he was lecturing her.

Once inside the hotel room, Andrew immediately took off his shoes and crawled underneath the covers of his bed. Dawn went into the bathroom, washed her face, and changed into pajamas before climbing into bed.

Andrew was laying on his back staring at the ceiling, and something propelled her to talk to him even though he'd expressed being tired. "So . . . we're going back tomorrow. Check out is at noon."

"You think Buffy's going to be okay? I mean, she doesn't really like me."

"She'll be fine," Dawn assured him.

Andrew was quiet for a moment. "Yeah. I guess so," he said, sounding as if he didn't quite believe her. He shifted over to look at her. "Even though everyone's nice to me . . . I still don't think anyone really likes me."

"Well, they don't matter, do they?" Dawn pointed out.

"Maybe, but they matter to me." Andrew sighed. "All Jonathon and I really wanted was to-to be you guys, y'know. You were so . . . group-y. Like all that mattered was each other, and it was enough. I didn't really know much about the Scoobies when I was going through high school, but Jonathon and I were sorta friends back then, and he . . . idolized Buffy. And I-I feel kinda bad, y'know?"

Dawn saw his eyes glimmer slightly with tears, and she nodded though she wasn't quite sure. He would explain anyway.

"Because it was really Jonathon's dream, and I just sorta fell into it. And now I'm here, and sometimes I feel like I am one of you. Rarely, but I still feel that way sometimes. And . . . I feel like . . ."

"It should be Jonathon," Dawn said, getting it quickly. She watched Andrew as he nodded and shifted his eyes away from hers like he was ashamed. "Who knows why it was you? The Powers That Be? God? Even the devil?" Dawn shook her head. "I don't believe in any of that. Not fate either. It happened, and you're here."

"But if I don't believe in fate, then . . . then it's even more my fault. Jonathon had a chance-"

"No. Jonathon didn't. You didn't. You just happened to be buying suspicious amounts of blood, so Willow took you in for a hostage. Buffy didn't want to let you go, and then you just became part of the scenery. It was a slow process, but you really did want to be good. Not that you were necessarily that bad. I mean, trying to take over Sunnydale with a mummy hand? Not so evil. Kinda dumb, if I do say so myself. You were just an idiot, okay?"

"An idiot? Is this you cheering me up?"

Dawn smiled slightly but didn't deter from her speech. Andrew needed to hear these things. "Then you killed Jonathon because you wanted to become a god. But . . . that's not the real reason, is it?" She looked at him expectantly. Though she thought she had an idea, she wanted Andrew to say it himself.

Andrew shook his head in answer to her question. "Well . . . I mean, yes and no. I-I wanted to be a god. I wanted to be w-with Warren and Jonathon, and I thought that . . . that if I killed him, it would happen. I thought that maybe-maybe it could come true. And he kept talking to me, and talking to me. And . . . I just-I did it. I killed him because I wanted what I knew wasn't going to happen. Do you understand?"

"You wanted it to be true so badly, you killed Jonathan because you thought it would happen," Dawn whispered, nodding. She looked at him for a long time as he avoided her eyes, sniffling every once in awhile. Then she decided that now wasn't the time for it. Andrew was always going to question himself and his place because he was never going to truly like himself again after killing Jonathon. She couldn't just say kind words and expect it to make him better. "Go to sleep, Andrew. You're tired."

* * * * *

Andrew awoke a few hours later, gasping, remnants of nightmares floating through his mind. He sat straight up in bed and switched on the light next to his bed. Jonathon . . . he knew he shouldn't have talked about Jonathon to Dawn last night. The harder he pushed Jonathon out his conscious mind, the less nightmares he had of him. Of killing him.

Dawn mumbled something from the bed beside him, and she opened one eye to look at him. "What's wrong? Please don't let it be a demon," she said sleepily.

"No demon. Just nightmares." He turned the light off and apologized. "You can go back to sleep."

"Know what, Andrew?"

"What?"

"I thought about it, and I think all you need is a hug," Dawn said with the conviction of someone half asleep. "So come on over here."

"What?" Andrew looked at her in shock.

"C'mon." She patted the blanket and scooted to one side of the bed.

"B-but-"

"Just come here, Andrew," she snapped impatiently.

Andrew trembled slightly as he got up off his bed and went to hers. She lifted the covers and indicated he should climb in. Closing his eyes tightly, he lied down beside her and tensed his entire body. Dawn immediately shifted to his side and rested her cheek on his shoulder, using it as a pillow. She pulled his arm underneath her neck so that it flapped beside her. When her other arm settled around his waist, clutching his side to her, he decided he was definitely panicked.

"Your heart's beating really fast," she murmured, rubbing her cheek against his heartbeat. "What happened in your dream?"

"Just . . . y'know, me killing Jonathon. Nothing I can't handle. In real life. Or dream life. It's okay, really. Can I go back to my bed?" Andrew rushed out in one breath.

Dawn giggled and pulled him tighter. "Nope. You're going to be my pillow tonight."

"But you're half-asleep."

"No, I'm not." Dawn lifted her head and looked at him with clear eyes. "See? I'm as frisky as a kitten."

"I don't know. Kittens can be pretty fr-frisky," he said, stumbling over that word as he realized its implications. "Never mind."

"You know what Andrew?"

"What?"

"You've got our gang all wrong. You think we're perfect people who all love each other and like each other all the time. We're not. I mean, Anya got on everybody's nerves. I've known quite a few times when Giles looked ready to strangle Xander. And nobody liked Spike. Except, y'know, Buffy. But most of the time she hated him. But you've got something up on him. At least everyone tolerates you. And a few of us even like you. Look, Giles made you second in command."

"Yeah, I guess you're right," he whispered, feeling pride swell up inside him. "I'm sorry I was whining earlier."

"No problem. I'm the queen of whining." Dawn settled her head back against his shoulder. "Anyway, I'm just saying. You don't have to think you're not one of us. You are. Just . . . well, I don't think anyone can stand being with anyone else right now. Things are too raw, so we're all burying ourselves in what we need to do. Willow rarely talks to Buffy and me even though Buffy and she used to be so close. Xander is moving from country to country in search of Slayers, but really he's just trying to ease his pain about Anya. We're not really the Scoobies anymore. Just a bunch of broken people trying to make it better by doing something more important than we are."

Andrew sat in wonder for a few minutes. Everyone underestimated Dawn; they thought she was just the kid sister, the queen of whining, the kleptomaniac. But really she was just as mature, if not more, than any other Scooby. Impulsively he leaned his head down and kissed the top of her head. He was really lucky, being here in her bed, lying with her, and hearing her thoughts. Nobody, especially not him, was worthy of this.

After a little while of quiet, Dawn settled more against him like she was trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in. She threw one leg over his, and suddenly the thoughts of how smart she was started dipping to thoughts about how incredibly sexy she was. He had always secretly thought she was prettier than Willow, Buffy, Anya, or any of the potentials (now Slayers). She had the biggest eyes, full lips, and long, long legs that he'd wondered more than once whether they'd feel as nice as they looked around his hips. Well, one of them was wrapped around his thighs, and it definitely, definitely felt nice. Nicer than nice.

"Are you okay? Your heartbeat's racing again," Dawn murmured, breaking his thoughts.

"Uh . . . it's nothing," he said quickly, his voice cracking as it was always prone to do when he was nervous. Well, more nervous than usual.

"If you say so." Dawn sighed, her breath tickling his throat, and he felt himself unwinding, coming undone. When she nuzzled her nose into his neck, reaching her head up so that her breasts pressed tight against his side, he let out a shaky breath.

"I think maybe I should go back to my bed now."

"What? Why?" Dawn put a hand on his chest to lift herself up enough to look at him. "Am I bothering you?"

"No . . ." Andrew cleared his throat. "I just . . . uh . . . I . . ."

Dawn squinted at him for awhile. Then suddenly her eyes widened, and she got the point. "Oh. You're . . . you . . . think . . . I mean . . ."

Andrew nodded, knowing what she was trying to say. "Yeah. So, um, my bed?"

Dawn pushed down when he tried to get up, her eyes shifting over his face, taking him in. "No. Stay with me."

"You're not offended?" Andrew asked in awe, sidestepping the point that he couldn't exactly sleep when she was nuzzling his neck and throwing her legs all over the place.

"Only if you're not," she whispered.

Andrew puzzled over this, but it suddenly became very clear when she leaned over him, hair curtaining them in their own world. A split second later their lips came in contact. Hers were just as full as they looked, just as sensuous. He would have liked to go slow, but before he knew it his hand was threading through her hair and tilting her head so that he could press his lips closer to his. A moan escaped his mouth when she opened her mouth and slid her tongue along his lips. He immediately opened his mouth and sucked her tongue inside, brushed against it with his own.

When she moaned just like he had, the gravity of the situation hit him in his chest, knocking the air out of him. Dawn was kissing him in a bed. She knew that he wanted her, and she said that she wanted him, too. She was kissing him. The idea was ludicrous and just turned him on more.

They kissed for a few more minutes, wet smacking sounds mingling with the occasional moan. When Andrew felt too dizzy from the lack of oxygen, he broke away. He didn't want her to tell him to stop, so he immediately latched onto her neck. First he spread his tongue out and licked down to her collar bone. Then he pressed his lips against her skin and started sucking in, moving his mouth over her neck, kissing her all over. He reached a spot near her ear that made her cry out and weave her hands in his hair, keeping his mouth stuck there. He suckled gently, knowing that too much would be painful. Somehow, with just this little spot on her neck, he had her shifting against him, pressing her body against his.

He pulled back after a little while, looking down at her neck to see a pink spot. Would he have left a mark there? Somehow the thought of her sporting a hickey made by him made him fill with manly pride. Even if she kicked him out of her bed right now, she would still bear the mark that he'd been there.

Dawn kissed him again, and he quickly lost all though, sinking into her. He moved to his side and over her, not breaking contact with her lips. His elbows and knees held him up, and Dawn still had her hands in his hair, gently rubbing his scalp.

She bent her knees and pressed him around his waist, and he pulled away, gasping, closing his eyes in pleasure as his groin tightened. Before it could have just been making out, but suddenly it was more. And yes, those legs felt very, very nice around him. He wanted them completely around him, her ankles locked together, pushing against him, moving together. He rested his head in the pillow beside her, their cheeks touching.

Her breath was flowing against his ear, and she suddenly moved her lips forward to close around his lobe, her teeth scraping against it gently. He groaned, deciding he should have realized she was this dangerous when he saw a few years worth of Cosmos hanging around her bedroom. She was going to be the death of him.

And . . . wait. Shouldn't he be asking her if this was okay? But what if this was all there was? What if he made himself look stupid by asking if it was okay when really they were just making out? Nothing was wrong with a little bit of kissing. He could keep kissing her without asking for her permission. He moved his head back to hers and kissed her, this time more slowly than before.

She was so beautiful, so smart, so unattainable. And he was going to savor kissing her, even if he really just wanted to rip her clothes off and have his wicked, wicked way with her. He stroked his tongue along hers evenly, slowly, and then ran it roughly along the roof of her mouth, glided along her teeth and gums. Her hands went to his neck and limply held onto his shoulders. She used her tongue to pull his into another stroke-fest, and he happily complied, tilting his head so that his could reach farther.

When he gently bit down on the tip of her tongue, a shudder went through her. Suddenly she clutched at his shoulders, digging her fingers into his skin, and pulling her body flush against his, her hips tilting into his. One hand went to the edge of his T-shirt, and she tried to pull it off.

Andrew broke away, gasping for breath, and sat up, kneeling in front of her with her legs tight against his thighs.

"What's wrong?" Dawn asked, her voice slurred slightly. Her lips were usually round, but they were swollen to unusual proportions. All because he'd kissed her. Not just kissed her, but . . . well, that was a kiss.

"I just . . . this is . . . no," Andrew said, finally settling on a word. He couldn't let her take this any further, because any further meant he lost control. Now he could walk away, albeit painfully. But if she kept on going where she'd been heading, he wouldn't be able to tear himself away. Ever again. He would just stay wrapped in her arms forever.

"No? What?" Dawn scooted away so that she could sit up without pressing her body against his. "I thought . . ."

"You shouldn't be doing this kind of thing with me," Andrew said desperately. "You're so . . . good and-and pure. And then there's me. You really don't want me. I'm geeky and awkward and I talk about comic books too much. Oh, and I play trading card games. Who actually plays trading card games? You're . . . you . . . you don't want me. Trust me."

Dawn met his eyes, and hers were so stony with decision that he figured out right then and there that he wouldn't win this argument. (He'd secretly hoped he wouldn't.) "You also listen to me, and you don't think I'm dumb. You ask me about my magic. You talk to me about stupid demon translations that nobody else would even consider caring about. You're a-a wordly man, right? And you're Andrew. That's what I want. Andrew."

Andrew closed his eyes, taking in her words slowly. Okay, she wanted him. Andrew. "How?"

"Because . . . because . . ." Dawn looked at him in wonder. "Because I think I love you."

"You what?" Andrew squeaked, eyes flying open to look at her in shock. "No, you don't!"

"Yeah, I think I do. I just . . . wow. I had no idea." Dawn grinned at him. "I love you. Isn't that cool? I've never loved anyone before."

"You d-don't love me. You just . . . don't. Okay?" Andrew started to get off the bed. This was too much. Dawn was not only trying to have sex with him, but she was also telling him she loved him. He wouldn't even dare hope . . . or . . . well . . .

Dawn put both hands on his chest to keep him down. "No, I do. I really, really do. And I . . . I want to . . ." She blushed, still the picture of innocence.

"Dawnie . . ." Andrew trailed off in a groan as he saw her eyes fix against the crotch of his pants, her hands trailing down.

She stuck the tip of her tongue out between her teeth as she undid his belt buckle and jeans. She zipped them down very slowly. He kept his eyes trained on her face, her reaction. He'd seen his dick enough times to know what it looked like.

When she giggled, he took that as a bad sign and looked down to see what was wrong. She pulled his jeans down to his knees to reveal his pink boxers. "Uh . . . they used to be white. Got mixed up with my red sweatshirt," he explained nervously.

"It's okay. You look good in pink," she assured him, looking up at him with those beautiful eyes.

They were sparkling, and how could he resist that? He leaned down and kissed her hungrily, pulling her head to his, ignoring the pain in his back at bending over so awkwardly.

At that point, they were both lost.

* * * * *

Andrew woke up the next morning when he felt Dawn shifting out of his arms. He opened his eyes and watched her get out of bed and go to the bathroom. Sudden panic settled through his veins. Was she going to regret it? Would she ever look at him again?

But she'd said she loved him. He loved her, and he didn't regret it at all. Would it be the same for her? Why hadn't she woken him up to kiss or-or something like they did in the movies? He pondered over this until she came out of the bathroom and settled back into his arms.

"Had to use the bathroom," she explained, setting her head on his chest. He could feel her smile against his chest. "You thought I was walking out."

"Uh . . . something of that sort," Andrew mumbled. "Still don't know why you want me."

"Because you're you. And that's amazing." Dawn lifted herself up and kissed him softly.

"So . . . what happens now?" Andrew asked. "I mean, I-I . . . well . . . we're in love, right?"

"Yup!" She kissed him again, pressing harder against his lips than before. Then she thumped his shoulder. "Are you gonna ask me out already?"

"Wh-what?" Andrew stared at her, trying to figure out what she meant. "Oh. Uh . . . Dawn, will you be my girlfriend?" he asked, gulping slightly.

Her eyes caught the move, and she dipped her head to suck lightly on his Adams apple. "Lemme think about that one."

Andrew wasn't going to take that. She couldn't tell him to ask her out then deny him. He put his hands on her cheek, pulling her up to his face, and he kissed her like nobody's business.

When he pulled away, she smiled sexily at him. "Okay. Girlfriend equals me. You and me. Going out." She frowned. "That doesn't seem right. I feel . . . more than going out. I mean, going out is for high school."

"You're in high school," Andrew pointed out.

"Yeah, but . . . I mean, isn't there something you call your boyfriend when you're an adult?" She bit her lip, thinking hard. "I guess . . . lover? Hmm. Think Buffy would appreciate it if I started referring to you as my lover?"

Andrew froze in fear. "Don't ever, ever call me that in front of her," he decided.

"Okay. Boyfriend. Girlfriend. Fun, spunky new titles." She sat up and looked around the room for a clock. "God, I'm starving. Wanna get out of here?"

Andrew nodded and got out of bed, picking up his clothes from their place on the floor. "I can pay, too. Now that I'm at boyfriend status."

"Do you have any money?"

"I have a credit card. Credit cards are the language of every country." He frowned. "Except the tribe I was in in Africa. They didn't seem to understand the concept."

* * * * *

Andrew took her out to lunch, and she spent the whole time running her foot against his. It was so strange to have him there, suddenly out of nowhere. Even though he'd been there the whole time. And loving Andrew . . . she sighed happily at the thought.

"Dawn, keep your eyes on the road!" Andrew screeched.

Dawn realized she had trailed off the road just as she'd trailed off in her thoughts. "Ugh. Sorry." She turned and gave him a dazzling smile. "Want me to make it up to you?"

They'd taken a shower together before leaving the hotel room. Because they didn't have anymore condoms, she'd discovered a new kind of pleasure. She shivered at the memory of his mouth-

"Dawn! Pay attention, or I'm going to drive."

"Sorry," she apologized again, setting the car back on the road. "It's only a few minutes away anyway. We have to check in with Buffy first. Then do you want me to show you the school? I could bring you in on Monday. Tell them you wanted to see how an Italian school works."

"Do I look like a high schooler?"

Dawn glanced at him. "Actually, yeah. You could pass for high school age."

"I'm twenty one," he whined. "I can legally drink in America and everything."

"Yeah, but you can't legally be having sex with me in hotel rooms," Dawn pointed out. "At least, not for another few months. Then we can screw like bunnies."

"And in the meantime?"

"We'll screw like . . . well . . ." Dawn frowned and looked at him. "What can we screw like?"

"So . . . you don't feel the least bit guilty that I'm older than you? That I could go to jail?" Andrew frowned.

"Nope. Besides, I don't think they have the same laws here. I'll have to look it up to see if you can legally sleep with me here."

"Does it really matter?"

"No." Dawn grinned at him. "One time, and I'm addicted."

"Technically it was more than one time."

"I was addicted after the first time, then." Dawn saw her house looming before her, and a nervous twist formed in her stomach. "Okay, we're here. Remember, don't tell Buffy about-"

"Dawn, I'm not an idiot," Andrew interrupted, annoyed. "She'd rip me apart limb-by-limb. Legal matters or not, I don't think I'm ever allowed to screw you."

"Okay. I love you."

Andrew gave her a silly smile, looking twelve instead of twenty one. "I love you, too."

She pulled to a stop in the driveway and got out of the car, pulling her purple backpack on as Andrew reached for his duffel bag. They walked to the front door, and she resisted the urge to take his hand.

Inside the foyer, Dawn shouted out that she was home. A few seconds later Buffy appeared, arms crossed. "You certainly took long enough."

Dawn smiled, fluttering going on all over the place in her stomach. "Hi, Buffy. Andrew was really tired, so we slept in till ten."

"Mmm-hmm." Buffy didn't look too interested, fixing her eyes on Andrew. "You're here to check up on me, right? Well, check all you want. How long are you planning on staying?"

"Just a week," Andrew said defensively. "And Giles is the one who sent me."

"Whatever. Just go put your bag upstairs in the last door. It's the guest bedroom."

Dawn watched as Andrew climbed the stairs dejectedly. She turned and glared at Buffy.

"What?"

"You should be nicer to him," Dawn whispered.

"And why would I want to do that?" Buffy looked honestly thrown.

"Because . . ." Dawn gulped. "Because he's my boyfriend. Of the dating variety. And I love him."

Buffy looked at her in shock. "Oh, god no."

The End