This chapter is going to alternate back and forth between two parts: titled "Dawn" and "Harmony and Fred." The two parts are separated by the space of two days. I have done this for a number of reasons:
1. I didn't want to simply write two shorter chapters
2. I didn't want to bore anyone with one story
3. I had promised that Harmony and Fred's story would start soon and I really didn't want to delay it anymore
Chapter Sixty-Two: Lift Off
Dawn gathered her courage before finally knocking on the door. "Buffy?" she called out, "It's me, Dawn. I need to talk to you about something." After a few seconds Buffy opened the door to her room. They were now back at the Standard, packing and getting ready for their return to Europe.
"What's up?" he sister asked, "You have your serious face on. Come on," she added, ushering Dawn into the room and sitting on the bed with her, "You can talk to me. What's the matter? Are you having trouble packing or something?"
"That's actually kind of what I wanted to talk to you about," Dawn said, "I… I haven't packed and I'm not going to."
"What?" Buffy asked, "I don't understand."
"Buffy, I'm not going back," Dawn said quietly, "I'm staying here."
"In the Standard?" Buffy asked, "I'm confused."
"I'm staying in Los Angeles," Dawn said bluntly.
"No you're not," Buffy replied instantly, "You're coming back with us. We're leaving tomorrow and that's that."
"I can't," she replied, "There are things that I have to do."
"This is about Xander, isn't it?" Buffy demanded, "Oh Christ Dawn, get over it! It's a childish, schoolgirl crush."
"That's unfair," Dawn said softly, "And that's not why I'm staying. He is my best friend and he just came back from the dead, I get how that looks but… I have to be honest; I don't want to go. Come on, Buff," she pleaded, "Aside from this week, when was the last time that we did anything together? That's not a criticism by the way, I get that you're busy being the big boss Slayer girl but I can't keep living like this. Fred has agreed to put me up until I can make other arrangements. She has also agreed to help me find a college to transfer over to."
"This isn't happening," Buffy snapped, "You're coming with us so pack your bags now!"
"I'm eighteen, I can do what I want," Dawn responded, just as harshly. Buffy's face fell as she immediately realised that she had gone too far and lost control of her emotions.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly, "I didn't mean to snap… and I didn't mean to ignore you. It's just been so…"
"I know," said Dawn, "Life just gets in the way of things." Buffy could feel moisture gathering around her eyes and she pulled Dawn into a sideways hug.
"I'm so sorry," she said, "You… You deserved better than… Better than what I gave you and don't say anything. Being a Slayer is not an excuse." She dabbed her eyes with her sleeve. "I just realised something," she added, "Aside from when I was at college there has never been a time when we weren't living together. I am going to miss you so much." Dawn leant into the hug, resting her head against her sister's. "Is there anything else that I should know?" Buffy asked. Dawn smiled through her own tears.
"There is something," she admitted, "I'm seeing a boy later today."
"That's nice…" Buffy said before her voice trailed off as she realised what Dawn had actually said. "Wha…" she managed to get out, her eyes boggling in shock, "Explain now. Hang on, is it that kid, what's his name? C-C-Chris? Kevin…? Something with a "k" sound at the beginning…"
"Connor," Dawn offered, "And yes, that's the one. We're just going to hang out today."
"Aw," Buffy faux-crooned before playfully messing up her hair, "My little Dawnie is all grown up. Seriously though," she added in a significantly less teasing voice, "Good for you. It's high time that you interacted with someone of the opposite sex that's your age."
"Hey," said Dawn, "I interact. You stopped me when I brought that guy home."
"What was his name?" Buffy asked with a single eyebrow raised. Dawn's face fell.
"Ah…" she stammered, "He had a name and it was a boy's name too. It was uh… Um…"
"You didn't know?" Buffy asked incredulously, "You were planning to lose your virginity to a guy whose name you didn't know?"
"I wasn't in a good place then," Dawn said quietly, "I just wanted to feel something, anything. Tara and Xander were dead, you and Willow were always busy with work, Giles wasn't around and I just wanted my family back. I didn't care that I didn't know his name, I just wanted to stop thinking about everything." She sighed. "I'm not real," she said suddenly, "All of my memories before I was fifteen were faked but… That was real. Doing my homework with Tara, hanging out with Xander, it all mattered more because I know that it actually happened and then it was all gone. I know that it's stupid now but back then I thought that having sex would make me not think about it."
"Dawn," Buffy said seriously, "That's practically the worst reason to ever have sex. Sex can be great, more than great but it shouldn't be used as some form of pain therapy." She then smiled and lightly punched Dawn on the shoulder. "So when is tall, dark and droopy showing up?" she asked.
Harmony and Fred
Two Days Later
"How long do you think that you are going to be gone for?" Wesley asked as he kissed Fred on the forehead. She laid on her side and caressed his face. Despite her inhuman appearance, her pink pyjamas made her look ridiculously adorable.
"I don't know," she replied, "It really all depends on how well everything goes to plan." She kissed him on the lips. It was a light, short but somehow serious kiss. "Harmony needs my help. She's lost something and she needs my help to see if she can get it back." She looked at him in the eyes. "And quite frankly," she added, "I think we owe her that chance. After all that she has done, she's earned that."
She refused to elaborate further no matter how hard he pressed her.
"I know that you're going someplace cold," Xander observed, "if what you're packing is any indication. Yep; sweaters, scarves and… the little beanie with pom-poms dangling from it. Okay, I have to know." He grabbed the pale pink woollen hat and quickly placed it on top of Harmony's head before she could react. He quickly hid his mouth with his hand.
"Don't you dare laugh," she said sternly.
"So… cute," he gasped, unable to hold back the laughter any more.
"You're such a dork," she said, swiping the beanie off her head and tossing it back into the case. He laughed again.
"You're only just getting that? So anyway," he continued, "You're going someplace so cold that even a vampire would pack warm clothing, so I'm guessing snow. Yep, you're going someplace snowy."
"Stop fishing for information," she said quickly, "I've already said that I'm not telling you. This is something that I need to do on my―"
"Don't give me that you "need to do this alone" cr… garbage," he said, the last word clearly a substitute for something much stronger.
"Why are you so concerned?" she asked. He burst into laughter.
"Why?" he repeated incredulously, "Why do you think? If something happened to you… it would… it would break my heart. If I lost you I would… not be able to deal with it."
"You have other people in your life," she pointed out, "You have Wesley and Fred and―"
"Only one you," he interrupted, "There is only one Harmony Kendall in my life and will never be another." She quickly walked up to him and stopped his mouth with a kiss. She rested her forehead against his.
"I'm going to be fine," she said, "After all; I have Fred to protect me." He didn't look convinced. "I'll be fine," she insisted, gently caressing his face. "Now I have to finish packing, Fred and I leave for the airport in an hour. God I should have done this all last night. This is all your fault," she said accusingly, "You distracted me."
"You weren't exactly complaining last night," he replied smugly.
Two Days Earlier
"It's just a casual thing," said Dawn to herself, "I'm just meeting up with a boy my age and we're going to see a movie. That's all. There is no pressure."
"I can hear you talking to yourself from the kitchen!" Buffy called out, "You really don't want to do that when he gets here! Might be embarrassing!"
Dawn flinched when she heard the doorbell. "What?" she asked incredulously, "He's not supposed to be here for another forty minutes." Buffy stuck her head her head through the door.
"Yeah," she said sheepishly, "I might have invited some people over."
"Oh god no," Dawn groaned, burying her head in her pillow as she heard Xander, Spike and Giles all piled into the flat. "Just kill me now."
Harmony and Fred
Two Days Later
"Did you know that I've never been on a plane before," Harmony said as she idly played with a shimmering glass ball. Fred watched her with interest from the seat next to her and was once again thankful for the fact that working with Wolfram and Hart gave them access to private planes. The last thing she wanted was an audience for what was going to happen next. Harmony peered into the shining glass as though she were in a trance.
She was holding an Orb of Thesulah and the shining light inside of it was her soul.
"Here," said Willow, holding out the orb, "It's ready. I've played around with the spell though. All you have to do is break the glass and your soul will latch onto you. It's simple."
"Thanks," said Harmony as she accepted the offered glass sphere.
"So you're tracking down a Mohra?" Willow asked.
"Yeah," Harmony replied, "Fred reckons it's my best shot."
"She's a smart girl," said Willow, "But Mohra's have a nasty reputation for being hard to take out.""
"Hey," said Fred kindly, gently touching Harmony's arm, "It's going to be okay."
"I know," said Harmony unconvincingly.
"We haven't taken off yet," said Fred, "We can still go back if you want."
"No!" Harmony replied sharply, "I am going to do this. I can do this." Fred smiled.
"I know you can," she said simply as the plane began its take off. Fred reached out and took Harmony's free hand in one of her own. Harmony gratefully accepted the offered hand as she clenched her other fist around the glass orb.
"Here we go," she said before hurling it into the floor.
After ten seconds had passed, Harmony began to scream.
Two Days Earlier
Dawn still had her face buried in her pillow when Xander sat down next to her on the bed. "Hey Dawnie," he said, "I hear someone has a date." She knew it was stupid but she couldn't help but feel disappointed in the complete and utter lack of jealousy in his voice.
"I am going to kill Buffy," she said, her voice muffled by the cushion, "And she will be dead… forever." He ruffled her hair playfully.
"Hey," he said kindly, "All teasing aside, Dawnie, even if this goes nowhere I am glad that you're actually out doing stuff with someone your age." 'You're not that much older than me.'
"I am a little nervous," she admitted, "I haven't really done this in a while. The last time I did do this I ended up shoving a pencil through the guy's heart." Xander patted her shoulder sympathetically.
"It's going to be fine," he said firmly before grinning cheekily, "Of course that isn't going to stop me from putting the fear of God into him to make sure that he behaves." Her head shot up instantly.
"Don't you dare!" she said, her eyes widening in horror. What else could unite Giles, Xander and Spike like this? Tormenting and grilling any guy that wanted to take her out on a date. He chuckled evilly in response.
She responded by whacking him on the head with a pillow.
Harmony and Fred
Two Days Later
At thirty thousand feet in the air, no one could hear the howls of pain from within the jet.
Fred wrapped Harmony in a tight embrace, gently rocking her back and forth while stroking her hair. Harmony wept or more accurately screamed as the waves of guilt and emotion threatened to overwhelm her. She had experienced this all before but not like this; she had only had been in possession of one soul back in Galderal. Now it would be more accurate to say that she had one and three tenths of a soul. She had thought that because she had been prepared for it that it would not be as bad. She was wrong.
So Fred did the only thing that she could do; she continued to hold her.
Normally it would take sixteen hours to reach Nepal but thanks to the jets of Wolfram and Hart the trip would only take ten.
Not that Harmony cared at all about that. "I can see all of their faces," she wept, "There are so many faces."
"Hey," said Fred soothingly, "Think about why you're doing this. Think about Xander. Just focus on his face." Harmony closed her eyes and pictured Xander's face. His face helped to keep the other faces at bay.
Two Days Earlier
"Now that's got to be him," said Buffy. Dawn got up from the couch she was sitting on but Spike beat her to the door. He opened it to reveal a nervous looking Connor who had clearly not been expecting the menacing looking vampire to greet him.
"Uh… hi?" he said nervously. Spike grinned sadistically, enjoying the boy's discomfort.
"Hello," he said menacingly, "I hope your intentions regarding Dawn are pure or else there will be no place on earth where you can hide from me." Connor visibly gulped.
"Uh, they're pure, they're extremely, very pure," he said quickly.
"I should hope so," said Giles, striding forward, looking every inch the man that had once been called Ripper, "Because it would end badly if they were not." Connor was now starting to look really uncomfortable.
"Oh lay off him," said Xander, warmly grabbing Connor's hand in a friendly handshake.
"You appear to be on one piece again," said Connor, happy to not have a third person threatening him, "How are you?" Xander grinned ferociously.
"Highly proficient with firearms," he said pleasantly.
"Okay, that's enough," said Dawn, grabbing Connor's hand and quickly leading him outside.
"Uh… they seem nice," said Connor with a wild look in his eyes as soon as they were safely out of the flat, "Am I in any danger?"
"You're fine," she said, deliberately not looking behind her.
"You look good today," he said, "Not that you didn't look good before I mean. I just mean that… you look good." Dawn's face felt suddenly warm.
"Thanks," she said shyly in response.
I hope you all enjoyed this chapter as well as the different ways that the different character's stories are going.
Please review, I love reviews more than senior citizens love hard candy.