To my readers: Welcome to what is most likely going to be the final story in the "Urbs" series. I thought I would do some sort of future fics dealing with stuff ten and twenty years down the line, but I've decided to end things here (for now). I'm not a review junkie, but I would be happy if you guys left a few. Since I'm short on intros, let's get to the story...
The television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters and materials are properties of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and Fox Television. Witchblade and all characters related are properties of Top Cow Comics and TNT Productions.
Tuesday, 8:16 p.m. - Slayer Base HQ
Dawn sped up the pace as she moved to parry and strike. Buffy came at her with strike after strike with her scythe, faster than she could anticipate. She knew the Witchblade gave her an edge on an opponen'ts movements, but she remembered that she was sparring against a seasoned fighter with years of experience. Apparently, that made all the difference.
She moved the sword formed by the Witchblade around to block Buffy's attempt and then moved to an overhead strike. Buffy parried it and grabbed Dawn with her left hand. She then head-butted her, sending her sister staggering back. Blood was streaming down Dawn's nose, blood that had also found itself on Buffy's forehead. Dawn felt it with her fingers and looked at Buffy, who stood expressionless. Angry at her sister's action, Dawn ran forward with a yell and tried another overhead strike. Buffy parried yet again, to the outside, and turned her scythe upside-down. The stake end was now positioned under Dawn's chin.
"And that's why you're not patrolling with us," Buffy remarked. Buffy moved from her position and walked away, leaving a defeated Dawn downcast and disappointed.
She decided to turn in for the night, hoping that sleep would come quickly and dull the pain of failure. Dawn drifted into slumber and let all of the anxiety and tension slowly ebb away. She came to hours later to a creaking sound and looked at her alarm clock; it was still dark out. She looked for the creaking noise and saw the outline of her closet door illuminated by a shining green light. Getting out of her bed she walked towards it, slowly and anxiously. Taking a deep breath in, she opened the door. The closet was filled with swirling green light the likes of which Dawn had never seen.
As Dawn marveled at the sight, she began to see something form. First a pair of eyes, then hair, Dawn focused intently on the green figure becoming more defined. Moving a little closer to examine it, she noticed the figure also looked at her in a similar fashion. Dawn looked at face more closely and saw that it was hers. The thing looked like her. It was fascinating... until the figure's hand shot out and grabbed her by the throat.
Dawn struggled as she tried to break free. The figure, half of its body still in the closet, brought Dawn closer to its face and merely said one word.
And with that, Dawn was suddenly pulled into the green light and disappeared.
Dawn woke up, startled and lightly sweating. She looked around her quickly, only to see that she was still in her room. Her breathing hastened by the experience, she laid back and tried to calmed herself, which was difficult as she couldn't get the disturbing dream out of her head. What did it all mean? Was it a warning? Should she tell Buffy? Deciding that she couldn't address the issue with her mind so muddled, she decided to let it go... for the time being.
One week later, Wednesday, 5:20 p.m. - Slayer Base HQ
Two weeks had passed since Xander, Willow, and Kennedy had left. The building felt a little emptier, a little colder. It didn't help that Rupert Giles had been spending a good portion of his days visiting a still-comatose Sara in the hospital. In that time, he hadn't been as active in training the girls as before. They were understanding and were willing to give him more time to cope, but they were all beginning to wonder just how badly he was taking things.
He would leave for hours without a phone call and then show up late. Sometimes they would even smell alcohol on him. And then there were the grooming habits. The girls had seen more five-o'clock shadows in those two weeks than they had ever seen in the whole time they knew Giles, including Buffy. She was going to talk to him about it, to see if he needed any help, but he always avoided being asked or just brushed the subject off. It was fraying on everybody's nerves, particularly Buffy's.
Of course, nothing frayed on Buffy's nerves like Dawn.
Dawn Summers, sweet sister turned pseudo-Bladewieder, had been eager to test out her new 'toy'. Too eager, if anyone asked Buffy. And Buffy was more than willing to keep that urge in check by routine in-house training, something that chafed Dawn increasingly each day. The routine was well-known by then: Dawn would ask to patrol with the Slayers, Buffy would object, Dawn would protest, Buffy would counter-protest, Dawn would leave and go to her room, and Buffy would take out her frustration on the rest of the Slayers. Things would calm down for a few days, then it would start all over again.
Luckily for everyone, though, was that tonight wasn't going to be one of those nights. Dawn, who had been working at New York Metropolitan Museum of Art for an internship, had an official function that she was required to be at. Buffy, as well as everyone else, was relieved at that. For one night, the two sisters would avoid being at each other's throats and Buffy wouldn't give the Slayers more laps, more chores, or more sparring time as a result.
The night wasn't the biggest night for the museum, but it was one of them and Dawn had been preparing for most of the late afternoon getting ready. She didn't want to go, knowing that she would have to hobnob with big name donors and patrons and spend a good portion of the night smiling and butt-kissing until her lips fell off. Nevertheless, all of the interns were going to be there, so at the very least she wouldn't suffer alone. Plus, free food. That was always of the good. She looked one more time at her elegant updo hairstyle, checked her simple yet functional black dress, and headed downstairs.
"Dawn, are you ready yet?" Buffy yelled.
"Yeah, I'm coming," she quickly said back. As she walked down, Buffy whistled in approval.
"Don't you look dressed for success?" she remarked. "Just don't stutter when people talk to you."
"I hope I don't have to talk to any of them at all. From what Dr. Simmons said, these functions tend to be kinda boring. Sure, there are plenty of people really interested in art and ancient pieces of archaeology, but a lot are just around to show how much money they have."
"Still," Buffy replied, "career-wise, getting your face out there wouldn't be a bad thing. Once you get into the professional world, those connections might help you out."
"Yeah, I know." Dawn looked at her watch. "Wow, we need to get going or Dr. Simmons is gonna give me an earful."
They took one of the vans, Buffy driving Dawn to the museum. The thought of Buffy driving in New York City traffic had given her nightmares before, but her sister's time in the city had improved her skills noticeably. She actually managed to not piss off anyone else on the road on the way there. In Dawn's mind, that was progress. They stopped a little ways from the front of the museum, behind a bunch of smaller luxury cars and limousines. Dawn got out and began to head up the steps.
"Dawn, I'll be back around 10:00!" she yelled as her sister quickly moved.
"I got it!" Dawn yelled back. "See you at 10!" She entered the building and immediately went to the where the party was being held. There she saw a few of the other interns talking to each other.
"Look who's cutting it close," one woman said.
"I know, I know. Where's Dr. Simmons at, Sam?" Dawn replied.
"Right behind you, Miss Summers," a slightly annoyed voice replied. "Fess up: you're trying to send me to the hospital."
"Come on, I have one minute to spare."
"Dawn, I am trying to get a lot more money out of these people for some ambitious projects we have coming up next year. And to do that I need to show them that their money will be well spent."
"Yes, sir, I know," Dawn replied in an exasperated voice.
"Look, I know you don't want to be here either, but think of this as a way to enhance your career. I know you want to focus on ancient languages and texts, but that field is quite small and quite filled with a number of well-placed scholars. Some of these people may be able to help you out in the future. If nothing else, think of that."
"I will," she replied, feeling somewhat put in her place.
"Well, the ceremonies are about to start," Dr. Simmons remarked. "Wish me luck." Dawn looked on as he left, mentally preparing herself for a long and boring night.
"At least you don't have to suffer alone," a young man next to her said.
"Thanks, James," she said as she turned and smiled at him. She liked the boy, maybe even enough to go out with him. She found him kind of cute. A little geeky and skinny, but cute. Maybe the night won't be so bad, she thought.
The opening ceremonies had been thankfully brief and now Dawn was deep in the part she hated the most: the meet-and-greet. Small talk, big talk, intriguing talk, boring talk, it didn't matter; Dawn heard all of it. She had been doing it for about an hour and was relieved when she found a bench to rest herself and her aching feet. Her shoes were killing her after walking around so much. Having a bottled water in her hand she took a swig and let out a quenched sigh. A few other interns joined her on the bench looking just as haggard and then relieved at the reprieve they had found.
"Cynthia, Leslie, Derrick, and Aidan are wondering if they can slip out in the next few minutes," Samantha remarked. "I told them it's only an hour and a half and then this night is over."
"You know, we have another function coming up in two months," a girl name Deanna reminded them.
"Thanks a lot, Deanna," James replied as he massaged his ankle. "I was trying not to think about that one."
"I'm washing your mouth out with soap tomorrow," Dawn remarked, half-joking.
"Dawn..." Dr. Simmons said as he approached the group. "I want you to meet someone."
Dawn sighed. "Dr. Simmons, can you give me a few minutes? My feet are killing me."
"I really think you'll want to meet this person. He's the head of the foundation that sponsored your internship."
"Oh... wow... uh, yeah, yeah, I'd love to meet him," Dawn replied, her tune changing. Sure she didn't care to meet a lot of the people there that night, but she would never let it be said that she wasn't grateful. The pool of applicants was quite wide, from what she had heard, and she alone had been selected for the rare opportunity. The least she could do was thank the man.
"I've told him a lot about you and what your plans are for future study and he was quite eager to meet you," Dr. Simmons said as they walked toward a small group of people.
"I'm flattered," Dawn replied.
"Ah, there he is," he said. The man's back was facing them, as he was chatting with some other people who looked as if they regularly graced the cover of Forbes magazine. He was tall and slender, his long jet black hair done in a ponytail. Dawn found it a little out of place for someone who ran in these kind of circles, but chalked it up to eccentricity. Dr. Simmons tapped the tall man's shoulder.
"Sir, here's the young woman you wanted to meet."
The tall man turned around and Dawn was a bit taken back. He was exquisite, his eyes strong and mesmerizing. His features were delicate and yet sturdy, his clean-shaven face hinting at a youthful vigor. The way his clothes hung off of him only complemented his form. Rather than a man, Dawn almost felt like he belonged to the museum as a work of art. She stuck out her hand to greet him.
"Dawn Summers," Dr. Simmons said as the man returned Dawn's gesture, "I'd like you to meet Mr. Ian Nottingham."
Slowly, Dawn's smile faded away and her face bore a look of barely contained fear.
"A pleasure, Miss Summers."