Timeline - A year after season seven of BtVS and the year before season one of SPN. I'm not sure of the actual age difference between Dawn and Buffy - I'm putting Dawn at 19, a freshman in college and Buffy at 23. Sam's 21, in his third year at Stanford.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, am making no money from this and am doing it purely for enjoyment.

Chapter One

"She's evil, she has to be stopped," Dawn said through clenched teeth as she marched from the building, leaving the snickering behind her.

"Now, now, let's not do anything drastic," Celia said, with a grin. "I personally think it's adorable how your sister dotes on you."

Dawn stopped their trek across campus to look at her friend and roommate with disbelieving eyes, "She interrupted my econ class to make sure I had a sweater. A sweater, Celia!"

"It is getting a little nippy," she shrugged, almost rupturing something in an attempt to hold back her laughter.

Dawn ripped off said sweater and threw it on the ground in a childlike show of fury. She'd taken it from her sister in an openmouthed moment of shock - hardly believing such a nightmare was really happening. She stomped on the garment at her feet a few times for good measure, then took a deep breath and continued on her way, leaving the sweater lying in the dirt. She felt a little better, but not much.

Since she'd started at Stanford two months ago, the very atmosphere had given her an ultra happy vibe. A feeling of peace and normality. No Hellmouthy shenanigans here, nosiree. All wholesome preppy quality education. But today the vibes just weren't penetrating the black cloud hanging over her. The Buffy induced Cloud of Embarrassment.

Her sister was out of control and had to be stopped.

Dawn had been ecstatic when she'd been accepted into Stanford, and Buffy had been so proud of her. The thought of striking out on her own, living by herself, making new friends - it had her completely spazzy, but in a good way. Not that she hadn't liked the new Slayer central. Scotland was cool… in a "wow look at the moors, and the fog and the whole lot of nothing" kinda way. But not exactly somewhere Dawn pictured herself staying forever.

While they had all the funding from the old Watchers Council and tons of Slayers, they were severely lacking in Watchers and other assorted personnel. Dawn had tossed the idea of training to be a Watcher around for the last year while Giles helped home school her through her senior year, but in the end the appeal of doing something on her own, getting out from under Buffy's shadow, had won out.

So, she decided she was going to be a lawyer for the new Council. One Slayer got in enough trouble, now there were hundreds that were bound to be causing all kinds of headaches for the lawly types and Dawn figured that's where she'd come in. Rescuing the Slayers - the thought gave her a smug sort of satisfaction. She might not be super strong or fast or able to leap small buildings in a single bound, but she was smart and she was the best bullshitter ever - she'd make a kickass lawyer. So that was the plan.

What hadn't been part of the plan was Buffy following her to Stanford, buying a house close to campus and expecting Dawn and her to live there. It seemed Buffy wanted to use her new freedom from being the only Slayer (or the only one not incarcerated) to concentrate on getting the normal life she'd always wanted, which apparently included her and Dawn sharing a house.

The rule that said all first year students had to live on campus had never seemed like such a Godsend before that moment.

The double room she shared with Celia in Florence Moore Hall (AKA FloMo) was cramped and sparse. Nothing compared to the house Buffy had bought with its big front porch surrounded by beautiful mature trees and filled with large beds and overstuffed furniture (Dawn's head spun with what it must have cost - Buffy wouldn't tell her, just said it was "compensation from the old Council of Asshats"), but Dawn loved her little dorm room.

"Okay, so she's a little Susie Homemaker. Doesn't mean you need to take her out," Celia giggled.

"Nah, she'd be too hard to kill," Dawn muttered thoughtfully. "She needs something to do. Something to keep her mind off me and the Brady Bunch routine."

Okay, so Buffy was great. She saved the world, kicked lots of ass and had taken care of Dawn the best she could. The problem was that the world didn't need saved right then, there was only so much evil ass to kick and Dawn didn't need to be taken care of anymore. She was a freshman in college and didn't need her big sister hovering and playing Mother Hen.

Buffy was still Slaying, but it was more of a part time gig these days. There were three other Slayers on the west coast so Buffy just stuck to doing local stuff - going further only when the other girls where busy or Giles deemed a job too big for any of the other girls to handle. Which meant that Buffy had too much free time on her hands.

Free time to make Dawn's life hell.

Maybe she could get her to take up a hobby, like knitting or video games or painting. Or maybe she could call up Giles, convince him that Buffy needed more work. Or maybe-

"Come on, man. Don't do this," an agitated voice said, interrupting Dawn's thoughts - the distress activating her gossip meter. Looking up she saw a gigantically tall guy pleading with another guy right by the entrance to the library.

"I'm sorry, Sam. But this just isn't gonna work," the other guy said, blond and good looking in a wholesome kinda way.

Dawn paused, making it look like she was digging through her bag for something when she was really just nosey. Was this a lover's spat? Inquiring minds needed to know. Celia stopped next to her, pulling out her phone and pretending to text while Dawn sifted through the crap in her bag. This was a familiar act, it was how they got all the best gossip.

"I mean, I heard about the salt thing first year, but didn't think it was a big deal. Then second year, when you did the weird symbols on everything, that was Josh, my cousin you were dormed with. So this year, when we got a room together, I expected some weirdness, but I draw the line here, Sam," the blond continued. Then went on in a softer voice. "Listen, I'm not going to tell anybody, but you need to find somewhere else to live."

Dawn's eyes lit with an unholy light as a plan blossomed in her mind.

The blond guy walked off, leaving the tall one, Sam, behind with a worried look on his face. He ran a hand through his floppy hair, messing it up in a cute kind of way. He was big and handsome and looked like he worked out, but was lacking that cocky "I'm good looking and I know it" air. Dawn giggled with glee inside, this could work out very well. As long as he wasn't gay…

"Sounds like you need a place to live," she said, giving up on trying to look like she wasn't eavesdropping and marching right up to him, Celia scrambling after her. He had nice eyes, she noticed when he looked at her - foxtail shaped and a dark hazel.


"Was it something illegal? Dangerous?" Dawn asked, then clarified at his confused look. "The reason you got you booted by your roommate? He was just your roommate, right? Not a boyfriend/partner thing?"

"Yes, I mean no," he answered, his brow furrowing up as he shook his head. "It wasn't illegal and I'm not gay."

She wasn't sure whether to believe him or not, but he didn't look dangerous or deranged. And she was an expert in these things. His roommate probably just found his pot stash and got all Deputy Do Right on him. Some people around here could be pretty uptight. The gay thing she'd just have to take his word on.

"So, you seem to have some strange quirks - salt, symbols - that mean you're pretty open minded about other peoples… oddities?"

"Uh, yeah, I guess. That was just-"

"You ever been arrested?"

"No. Why-"

"If you saw a cat in a tree, what would you do?"

"Rescue it?" He said, cocking an eyebrow and holding his hands palm up, looking lost.

"What's your GPA?"

Sam let out a long suffering sigh, "3.9."

Dawn took a moment to be impressed, it wasn't easy getting a GPA that high in a place like Stanford. Maybe not a stoner after all… He had to be kinda bookish to get grades like that. She didn't know if someone that spent all their free time studying would fit into her plan.

Then Buffy, in full "mom" mode, bursting into her econ class and calling her "Dawnie" in front of everyone, popped into her mind. She shuddered and put on her resolve face.

"Then I have somewhere you can stay."

"You do?" Sam asked, looking a little dazed at the turn of events.

"Yep," Dawn said with a grin. "With my sister."

Sam's overwhelmed look was fading into suspicion, his intelligent gaze focusing on her made her momentarily rethink the brilliance of this plan, but she immediately shoved her doubts aside. The fact that he was hot, but also managed to pull off the lost puppy thing at the same time, overrode her concerns. He was just the thing she needed to distract Buffy.

"Your sister?" he asked with a raised eyebrow. "Your offering a complete stranger a place to live with your sister after hearing him get kicked out of his dorm room for a reason you don't know?"

Dawn rarely felt short, even when her stature was lower than others she usually still felt equal to them. A product of surviving the apocalypse maybe. Or maybe being around the Slayer and then all the Almost-Slayers for so long - she'd always felt kind of small and unimportant next to them, so she'd bolstered herself as to not feel completely insignificant. That meant she usually felt bigger than (and though she'd never admit it - better than) most people. But Sam had just made her feel miniscule. And that pissed her off. Even more determined than before, she reinforced her courage and gave her ego a quick pep talk before continuing.

"My sister and I lived in… a pretty bad area. I'm an excellent judge of character," she said, shooting him a huge smile, hoping to disarm him, her mind racing a mile a minute. "The thing is, even if you were a little dangerous, that be okay. I'm kinda looking for someone to watch out for her. She moved here as a surprise, thinking I'd be living with her, but she didn't know I couldn't live off campus."

Sam's suspicious face was softening some and Dawn gave an inner crow of victory. She was wearing him down!

"So now she's in that big house all by herself," she went on, forcing herself to look worried. "I know Palo Alto's not exactly Rape Town, USA, but it could happen."

Hmm, he was considering it, but still not sold…

"And my sister's really, really accident prone. It's like she's cursed or something," Dawn went on, tilting her head and looking off to the side, so busy trying to come off as the concerned sibling that she missed the way Sam's eyes sharpened at her choice of words. "I'm just really worried about her. She's all alone there…"

"So, I'd be babysitting her?"

Uh-oh, too far! Too far! Backpedal!

"Well, I'm not saying she's helpless, far from it. And she's not even there that much. She's a…" Something sexy! Think of something sexy! Hurry! "Bounty hunter."

She blurted it out before it really registered, but when it did, she couldn't have been more impressed with herself. It was perfect! It would explain her odd hours, disappearing for days on end, random injuries and the other assorted weirdness that came with being Buffy.

"Your sister's a bounty hunter?"

"Uh, huh. Well, mostly retired, she owns part of a bonding company now and just takes on the big cases," Dawn said, the lies just rolling out. Yeah, she'd be an awesome lawyer.

"So your sister, the accident prone bounty hunter that can 'take care of herself', needs someone to watch out for her?"

The suspicion was coming back, but Dawn was getting irritated now - mostly because her excuse was kind of flimsy when worded like that, but her patience only stretched so far. "What if some guy she took in decides to break in in the middle of the night and kill her?" Oops, maybe not the best way to convince him to live there… Time to wrap things up. "Listen, you'll maybe fix a leaky pipe and take out the garbage. I doubt anything else will happen, but I'd feel better if someone else was there. It's an easy gig. I want someone to watch out for my sister. You need a new place to live. Seemed like a fit. If you're going to whine about it, I'll find someone else."

She turned to go, hoping she'd interested him enough to stop her. She got to Celia, who was looking at her half in amazement, half in horror, when Sam called out.

"Wait! I'll, uh… okay, I'll do it."