In this story, I've had to bring the Buffy world in align time-wise with the VD world. It is set at the end of Season 2 of Vampire Diaries. In the Buffy world, it is about a year after season 7. Dawn is the same age as the VD characters. After spending a year abroad, she has convinced her sister that she wants to spend her final year of high school in a normal American high school. In this story, I do not really draw on Joss Whedon's (may his name always been spoken with reference and awe) season 8 comic-book series. I love and respect Whedon too much to comment on the comic-book story. I do not mean to take away from anything he has written with my tale.

Willow has broken up with Kennedy and wants a change of scenery, so she agrees to join Dawn back in the United States. Buffy and Faith are on the trail of a particularly heinous vampire called The Ripper, who has been leaving bodies up and down the east coast. Willow and her coven of witches in Great Britain detected massive magics being done in a town called Mystic Falls. (The Klaus/Elena Sun and Moon ceremony/ritual) With Buffy's permission, she decides to grant Dawn her desire and satisfy her own curiosity at the same time.

Willow and Dawn move to Mystic Falls about a month before the senior year starts. Damon and Alaric are working hard to locate Stefan who has been bound to Klaus, the Original and most powerful vampire in existence. Klaus and Stefan are locating wolf packs and trying to create hybrids for Klaus.

So that's enough of background. I won't be writing such long author's notes in every chapter. I promise!

Chapter 1: Dawn of a New Day

Willow was very excited about her summer plans. Although traveling across Europe had been exciting, she had missed the familiarity of home. Her parents had relocated to New York, hoping to get as far away from the horror that had been Sunnydale. She and Dawn spent a week in New York visiting her parents (who still insisted in seeing her as the awkward little girl she'd been in high school). After two days of their incessant condescension, Willow and Dawn went to New York City to explore the city and catch a few shows.

Now they were in Mystic Falls, Virginia, a town as different from New York City as it could possibly be. It was smaller than Sunnydale and enclosed in trees and other greenery. The mountains weren't too far away. It was a peaceful, sleepy little town. Willow relished in the change of scenery.

Willow had found a small, quaint bed and breakfast to house them temporarily. She and Dawn were walking down the main street, exploring the town.

"This town is just perfect!" Dawn gushed, looking around.

"It is small like Sunnydale," Willow observed.

"But no hellmouth, right? You're sure?" Dawn asked, anxiously.

"Yes. The east coast is full of magical strongholds though. The Salem Witch trials in Boston killed a lot of witches and falsely accused witches. Their violent death marked the places forever," Willow shared. "According to Giles' research, some of the original settlers of this town migrated down from Salem."

"So magic but no hellmouth? I can deal with that," Dawn said in satisfaction. "And you are going to make sure that the high school has no mystical enchantments of any kind or doorways to other realms or hell planes or anything else I need to worry about, right?"

Willow laughed at her dramatics. "Yes, Dawnie. I was even thinking of applying there for a job. They're looking for a new computer teacher, and since I did finish my degree finally, I wouldn't have to magically produce the required paper work," Willow told her.

"Really? You want to be a teacher? Won't that be kind of a let down?" Dawn asked with a wrinkle of her nose.

"I loved teaching and helping people in high school. I actually got to teach some classes my junior year when Angelus killed our computer teacher. All the First drama and Tara's death sort of knocked me off course," Willow shared. Memories of Tara were bittersweet. Tara helped her blossom into the woman she'd secretly wanted to be. Tara's love had transformed and empowered her. Her unnecessary death had revealed a side of Willow's nature she hadn't realized was there. Learning to come to terms with her dark nature hadn't been easy. Buffy believing in her enough to channel the magics required to turn all the potentials into Slayers had finally allowed her to heal. Now she kept Tara with her always. She wanted Tara to be proud of her. Getting a job doing something that didn't require magic seemed to be a move Tara would've wanted for her. It would bring balance to her world.

"It'd be great having you so close. Buffy working at my high school in Sunnydale was mostly humiliating 'cause she was my sister. But you and I have different last names!" Dawn said with a grin.

"And we don't look anything alike," Willow said, grinning.

"But I love you like a sister," Dawn assured her.

Willow flung an arm around her shoulders. "Same here! You and I have more in common sometimes than Buffy and I," Willow said. She stopped and examined the restaurant. "Are you hungry?"

"Yes," Dawn said. They had arrived in town after lunch. It wasn't yet dinner time, so the place was probably empty.

They went inside the Mystic Grille and found a booth. A really good-looking teen boy came up to their table. He gave them a shy smile. "Hi! I'm Matt. Can I get you something to drink?" he asked, handing them menus.

The girls smiled at him and gave him their request. "Well, the town seems full of hotties," Willow remarked with a grin. She saw two extremely delicious guys sitting at the bar having drinks.

"Do you even know what a hot guy is anymore?" Dawn teased with a grin.

"Hey, I was a proud heterosexual for the first nineteen years of my life. I've only been a member of the other team for like four!" she replied. "I know hot guys when I see them. And those two guys at the bar have to be two of the hottest guys I've ever seen!"

Dawn looked and saw she was right. One guy wore a black leather jacket. He had black hair with the most piercing blue eyes she'd ever seen. He was talking animatedly to a sandy haired man who listened with a half-smile to his friend.

"Did you fail to see our hot waiter? He had the sweetest smile," Dawn said with a sigh.

"Yep. He does," Willow agreed, watching him as he came toward their table carrying their drinks.

"So are you two just passing through?" Matt asked as he sat the drinks down. "I've never seen you before."

"Ah, the handicap of a small town. Everyone knows everyone else," Willow said.

"Well, we aren't just small. We're a town that celebrates every little small tradition you can imagine, so we're all involved in each other's lives more than most towns," Matt said. "Did you figure out what you wanted to eat?"

They gave him their orders. Before he could walk away, Willow said, "Do you have time to come back and talk to us and tell us about your town?"

"Probably. It's slow this time of day," Matt replied.

"I'm Dawn. This is Willow," Dawn said, giving him a shy smile.

"Are you related?" Matt asked. "You don't really look like sisters."

"Actually, we're not. She's my best friend's little sister. Buffy is working close by this summer. We've been overseas, but Dawn wanted to finish her senior year in an American high school," Willow explained.

"Brits with their sexy accents get old really fast. As do Italian Lotharios," Dawn said with an eye roll. "The pretenses they put on really irritated me. And Italian pizza just ain't as good as American. I don't care what anyone says!"

Matt laughed. "Sure, let me put your order in, and I'll come back and fill you in about the exciting town of Mystic Falls. It'll take an entire five minutes," Matt said dryly.

Matt walked behind the bar and gave their order to the cook. "So useless one," Damon said to Matt with an arrogant smirk. "Are you going to go find out about the new girls? Or shall I?"

"Relax, Damon. They're two girls. One's still in high school," Matt replied, rolling his eyes.

"Remember our motto," Damon said. "All new comers are suspect until proven otherwise."

"Behave," Alaric warned Damon.

Both Damon and Alaric glanced over at the two ladies sitting in a nearby table. One girl had striking green eyes framed by straight red hair. The other had really long brown hair that reminded Damon of Elena's. However, this girl looked very young. "Do you think she's a real redhead?" Damon asked Alaric with a wicked glint in his eyes.

Alaric groaned. "You just had to go there, didn't you?" he observed with a long-suffering sigh.

"Sick, man!" Matt complained.

"You know how disappointing it is to find out the red comes from a bottle?" Damon asked in mock outrage.

Matt shook his head in disapproval. He shouldn't be surprised by anything that came out of Damon's mouth anymore. Since he'd become part of the surrealism that was Elena's life, Damon actually spoke to him. However, sometimes Matt wished he wouldn't. He wasn't sure how to take the elder Salvatore brother. He knew that he should hate the man who had so horribly abused Caroline last year. However, since the dude had almost died saving Tyler and Caroline just a month or so ago, Matt found it hard to hate him. And Elena trusted him and cared about him. More, Matt suspected, than she admitted to herself. But Matt had known Elena his entire life. She had good instincts when it came to people, and Matt had the engrained habit of following her lead since they could walk.

He left Damon and Alaric to their speculation and went back to the newcomers. He pulled up and chair and sat down at the end of their booth. "So are you two staying in town long?" he asked them.

"Yes. Our home town got swallowed up in an earthquake about a year ago, and Willow's parents moved to New York," Dawn said.

"Earthquake? You're from California?" Matt guessed.

"Yep. Good ole' Sunnydale, California. A violent, small town that no longer exists," Willow supplied. "It literally got wiped off the face of the earth."

"It's like a grand canyon now," Dawn shared.

"Violent?" Matt asked, curious.

"Oh, we had a crazy gang problem. Rejects from L.A.," Willow quickly explained, causing Dawn to giggle.

"What's so funny?" Matt asked Dawn.

"If you don't laugh about Sunnydale, you'll cry," Dawn said with a shrug.

"Did a lot of people die?" Matt asked. "In the earthquake?"

"No, most people had vacated before it hit. There were warning signs that something was coming," Willow said. "Unfortunately, we did lose some friends."

Dawn looked sad a moment. "Anya died that day," she said. She didn't bother explaining it wasn't a quake that had killed her though. Somehow Dawn had thought the former vengeance demon would live forever and that one day her and Xander would get back together. Xander had been mostly single since their break-up. Her violent death had seemed to push Xander even further inside the one-eyed fa├žade he'd begun to hide behind.

"I'm sorry," Matt said. "It's not easy losing someone you care about. My sister died last year."

Dawn and Willow gave him a look of mutual sympathy and understanding. "My mom died three years ago. I'm really sorry. It never completely gets better," Dawn said.

"No, it doesn't," Matt agreed. "I'll have to introduce you to some of my friends. It seems like all of us have lost a parent. My best friend Tyler's dad died last year. My ex-girlfriend Elena's parents died in a car wreck two years ago. Then her aunt and uncle passed away recently."

"That's a lot of death for a small town," Willow observed, immediately suspicious.

Matt realized he'd revealed too much. Damon, who had naturally been ease-dropping, chose that moment to interrupt. "So Matt, who are the lovely ladies you're keeping all to yourself?" Damon asked, flashing both girls a charming smile.

Dawn's mouth fell open slightly at the nearness of such an incredibly sexy man actually speaking to her.

Willow smiled warmly at him. "We are new members of your small town. I'm Willow Rosenberg. This is Dawn Summers," Willow introduced.

Damon held out his hand to her. "Damon Salvatore at your service," he said gallantly. Matt got up from the chair to go get their food. Damon waited for Willow to accept his hand shake.

Willow grinned and took his hand. Her eyes widened as his cold hand enveloped hers and images flashed through her mind. She saw him dressed in a uniform of sort laughing with another man in front of Colonial style mansion. Then she saw his eyes disfigured and flashing with hatred and anger. She saw a strikingly beautiful girl dressed in one of those dresses Buffy had dressed up in for Halloween years ago. Then the same girl was laughing at Damon and the first guy dressed like a modern girl.

Damon gave her a puzzled looked when she didn't release his hand like protocol demanded. He joked, "You're not the first girl who couldn't resist me!"

Willow quickly let go and frowned. "Oh, sorry. My mind wandered," she said. What the hell was that? Her gifts had been growing ever since she learned how to balance the magic within her. However, she didn't normally experience such graphic images from people's lives.

"That's what they all say," Damon said grinning. He sat down in the chair Matt vacated.

"No, she's not joking. She's gay and often has her head in the clouds," Dawn explained with a fond smile.

"Gay? I love lesbians!" Damon enthused, giving her a lecherous look.

Willow groaned. "Careful or you'll make me homesick!" she told him, thinking of Xander.

"You sound like our friend Xander. We had to leave him in Europe," Dawn said grinning.

"The poor guy," Damon said. "Europe is very over-rated in my opinion."

"I totally agree!" Dawn said happily.

"So you're going to be a senior? There's a great bunch of people at the ole' high school. My best friend Rick teaches history there," Damon said, gesturing to Rick who was half turned watching them.

Since he knew Damon was now talking about him, Alaric got off the stool and came toward them. "I can see you're talking about me, Damon," Alaric said in disapproval. "Don't believe anything this man says. He lies. A lot."

Damon grinned. The girls laughed. "For some reason, I already knew that," Willow said knowingly.

The guys laughed at her in amusement.

"Alaric Saltzman. Call me Rick," Alaric said, introducing himself.

After her experience with Damon, Willow was almost afraid to take his hand. However, she took his warm hand in hers. She let go quickly and gave a sharp look at his ring. There was something not quite right with him. It was like another presence was there and somehow she felt the ring was the source. "Willow," she said absently.

Rick and Damon exchanged a look. They both noticed her sudden fascination with his ring. Rick smiled easily and held up his hand. "It was a gift from my late wife," he said pointing to it.

"It's fascinating," Willow murmured absently.

"Why don't you guys let them eat their food?" Matt suggested. He had put their food down and no one noticed.

"It was nice meeting you," Dawn said, smiling. She gave Willow a curious look because she had an odd expression on her face.

The guys walked off. "What's up with you?" Dawn whispered.

Willow frowned. "I don't know. Something's not right. When I shook Damon's hand, I got these weird images of him. That's never happened to me before. Then with Rick it was weirder. I didn't get images, but there's something off about him. Another presence. That ring. It's not normal," Willow shared in confusion.

"Well, you're the biggest, baddest witch on the planet. And the smartest, so I'm sure you can figure it out. Draw a picture of the ring and send it to Giles. He loves puzzles," Dawn suggested.

"Yes, that's a good idea," Willow agreed. She got out a pen and paper from her purse and began to try and draw the ring's emblem.

At the bar, Damon looked grim. He turned to Rick. "Witch!" he said in alarm.

"What?" Rick asked in confusion.

Damon leaned closer. "The redheaded Willow tree is a witch!" he announced grimly.

Rick looked sharply back at the table the two women were sitting at. Willow had her head down and was writing something. "How do you know?" he asked.

"Because the other girl, Dawn, called her the biggest, baddest witch on the planet," Damon informed him.

"Teens use euphemisms a lot, Damon. Witch doesn't always mean what it means to us," Rick said.

"It does when Willow admits to getting flashes and images from shaking my hand and claims your ring has dark purposes. She said there was something off about it," Damon said smugly.

Rick was surprised by Damon's words. Then he sighed. "Why can't anyone ever be who they seem?" he grumbled.

"Because that would just be too damn easy," Damon replied. He grabbed Matt's arm as he walked by. "Get to know the new girl. Introduce her to your friends. Her friend Willow is more than she seems."

"Vampire?" Matt asked in alarm.

"No. Witch," Damon said.

"Oh," Matt said with a shrug. Since one of his closest friends literally brought Elena's little brother back from the dead, he didn't find witches to be overly scary. They were good people to know when things were going wrong. "You know it's a valid life choice."

Rick snickered as Damon's mouth fell open in surprise at Matt's words. "He's got you there," Rick said.

"Well, I don't find the presence of witches reassuring. Remember what happened the last time new witches showed up? Elijah's little Pappa Witch? That was not fun!" Damon reminded them.

"Of course, I remember. He almost killed me. That's when I found out about Caroline. She had to give me blood to save me," Matt said.

"So the pretty, new witch could be a potential problem. Get to know them!" Damon ordered. "And try not to blab every secret you know to them while you're at it!"

"Fine," Matt said, knowing it was useless to argue with the relentless Salvatore. He walked over to the two girls.

"How's the food?" he asked them.

"Fine, thanks," Willow said. She put the drawing she had drew inside her purse.

"So where did you guys move to?" Matt asked.

"Well, we haven't found a house yet. We got a room at the bed and breakfast. We have to wait and see if Buffy is going to join us. When she's around, her many friends seem to materialize. I'm a bit sick of tripping over them!" Dawn said. Constantly being surrounded by slayers was never fun. Dawn hated to always be reminded of how she lacked in comparison.

"So are you looking to rent or buy?" Matt asked.

"Rent," Willow said firmly. "Definitely. Probably a 3 or 4 bedroom house."

"I have a house on my block that is for rent. It's nothing fancy, but it's a bit bigger than mine," Matt said. "I'm getting off at five today if you want me to take you to it."

Dawn smiled excitedly. A very cute boy was offering to spend time with her. She loved this town! "That'd be great!" Dawn enthused. "Willow's going to be a teacher at our school."

"Really?" Matt asked.

"I don't know that," Willow said quickly. "I just saw that the school is looking for a new computer teacher. I have a computer science degree."

"She's a badass hacker. She can do anything with a computer!" Dawn bragged.

"Dawnie! Not a good thing to brag about to potential students!" Willow admonished in embarrassment.

"Sorry," Dawn said contritely.

"Don't worry about it. Our history teacher spends most evenings hanging out here at the bar with Damon. Damon's mostly an ass," Matt said. "We don't judge!"

The man in question was asking Damon, "What are they talking about?"

"You. Matt just told the girls that you hang out here drinking with me daily!" Damon said with a smirk.

"I'm going to kill him!" Rick exclaimed in annoyed embarrassment.

"We really need to get you a social life, buddy," Damon said, slapping in on the back.

"What do I need a social life for when I have you? My homicidal maniac, vampire friend," Rick said sardonically.

Damon picked up his drink and clinked it to Rick's. "That's former homicidal maniac!" Damon corrected grinning.

"That remains to be seen," Rick said dryly.

Damon chuckled. "So did you see the news this morning?" Damon asked. "Looks like Klaus and Stefan have moved their killing down to North Carolina."

"We don't know for sure it's Stefan. Klaus's the killer," Rick said.

"I know it's Stefan," Damon said grimly. "I know." His brother had thrown away everything to save Damon. He had left him and bound himself to Klaus. His life for Damon's. And Damon didn't know some days if he hated him for his selflessness or loved him. He was tired, though, of being forced into the hero role. Now that Stefan was probably off the rails on a killing spree, Elena was looking to Damon to find him and fix him. He had to save his little brother. No matter the cost.

*******Somewhere in North Carolina*******

"B, here's the rest of it," Faith said in distaste, pointing to a headless body.

Buffy walked over to the corpse. There was blood everywhere. "I don't get it. Why would the Ripper keep leaving behind all these bodies? Most are girls. But last week we found those campers. Some of the bodies weren't headless. It's like there's more than one killer. Their hearts were ripped out," Buffy said, trying to puzzle it out.

"There's probably more than one vamp. Mostly, they like to do their killing with others. Angel did back when he was Angelus. Remember, he spent years with Spike and the two vamp tramps who sired them," Faith reminded her.

Buffy nodded. Thinking about her two favorite vampires made her feel lonely. She'd finally heard from Spike last month after a particular bloody battle went down in L.A. with him and Angel and the demon heads at that law firm Angel had been running. "I still can't believe Spike is working with Angel. Talk about weird!" Buffy commented. It made her sad that Spike hadn't come to see her when he was brought back to corporeal form. She lost both Angel and Spike. Although they would always be connected to her, it would never be the same.

"I can't believe Spike isn't ashes anymore!" Faith said. "Working for Angel doesn't surprise me though. Angel is the only other vampire in the world who knows what it's like to have a soul. For all their differences, they have something strong binding them together."

"Kind of like us," Buffy observed. It hadn't been easy adjusting to having Faith back in her life, especially since things had started so rocky between them and the potentials. However, with all the new slayers, Buffy had begun to see what an asset Faith really was. She was the only other slayer alive who had the experience that even came close to Buffy's. When Buffy began depending on her more and more, Faith hadn't let her down. Not once.

"Yep," Faith said. "I'm glad you let me come with you on this one. I really wanted to come back to the States. And since Willow did all her hacker-voodoo magic, I don't have a record anymore. I don't have to keep looking over my shoulders."

"All those unflattering mug shots disappeared with a press of a button," Buffy said with satisfaction.

"Not so. Andrew told me that Xander still had his copy of the mug shot. I think I'm like his porn fantasy or something," Faith bragged with a snicker. "I did offer to pose for some nudes though. For some reason, he refused! I think I broke his cherry back when I popped it!"

"Ick! That is totally gross! Why do you tell me those kinds of things?" Buffy complained. She brushed off her hands and turned away from the corpse. "Blood and gore I can handle. The thought of you and Xander, not so much!"

"Relax, B. You know I rarely repeat after a slay lay," Faith said.

"Slay lay?" Buffy had to ask.

"You know. After slaying you get all hot and worked up. A good lay relaxes you. You ought to try it sometime!" Faith encouraged with a smug grin.

"I have vague memories," Buffy said. "I have been with other guys since Angel, you know." She recalled getting particularly worked up with Riley several times after patrolling and a few times with Spike. Things had been very dry in the romance and sex department since then. She gave a frustrated sigh.

Faith laughed. "Well, after we bag this vamp, you should go join your sis and Will in Virginia. Take some time to get a life again," Faith said, slinging an arm around her shoulder. She loved the fact that she and Buffy were really and truly friends again. Faith got rid of the chip on her shoulder and Buffy her suspicions and low expectations of Faith. Now they were one bad ass tag team no one wanted to mess with.

"Why are we always one step behind this guy? I'm tired of looking at headless corpses. It's really gross!" Buffy complained.

"Look on the bright side. At least the bodies haven't started to decay! They're still fresh." Faith said, grinning. "I hate the maggots and stuff crawling out of their eyes and other places." She shuddered.

Buffy laughed. "Maggots don't bother me much since that time Spike hired those assassins to take me out before you were called up. One of the assassins was made of maggots. Now that was gross! I can still hear Cordy's grossed out screams!" Buffy shared. Her smile didn't last long as she remembered that Cordelia, too, was dead. Angel said she had died fighting the good fight. Buffy had a hard time believing it, but looking at Faith now, she knew that people really could change. Her belief in that was what kept her going.

Her life had changed so much since she was in high school. Her mother was gone. Her home was gone. Friends were dead. But she'd gained so much, too. Now she had an army. An army of women as powerful and deadly as she was. The gates of hell literally trembled and collapsed at their approach last spring. Or rather the mouth of one particular hell.

"Do you think the girls will be okay without us?" Buffy asked worriedly.

"Sure. They have Xander and Andrew to keep them in line," Faith said with a grin.

Buffy groaned. "Not reassuring, Faith!" she complained.

"Giles and Wood's there, too. You know the former principal loves to crack the whip and keep'em in line," Faith remarked. "And Giles loves that they actually listen to someone without superhuman strength!"

"Somehow I have a feeling you taught him a thing or two about whip cracking," Buffy said with a mischievous smile.

"You bet your sweet ass I did," Faith remarked arrogantly.

"Don't you miss him?" Buffy asked.

"B, you know I'm not cut out for a serious relationship. He's better off without me," Faith said. For a moment her usual arrogance wavered, a look of vulnerability came on her face.

Buffy frowned in concern. "You just haven't met the right guy yet. There's a guy out there for you. One that fits you. One that gets you. And one that will love you," Buffy told her.

Faith really didn't think so. And she wasn't really that upset over the fact. For the first time in her life, she truly loved her life. She didn't need a man.

*****Chapter End*****