Dawn was drinking directly from the milk carton when she heard a knock at the back door that opened into her sister’s kitchen. She shoved the carton back in the fridge and turned with a suspicious frown. It was weird for a visitor to use that door rather than the main entrance around front. Maybe the Jehovah’s Witnesses were getting sneakier these days? Although, she was surprised they were brave enough to come back after Dean (who most definitely had a buzz that day) invited them in and then summoned his angel friend, Cas, to talk religion with them. That had been hysterical in a really awkward and incredibly uncomfortable sort of way.
She tiptoed quietly to the door and peeked through the gap in the side of the curtain. No way was she getting stuck listening to a sermon today, and if they knew she was here, they’d never go away. They could just leave their little pamphlets and move on as far as she was concerned. But what she saw was most definitely not a Jehovah’s Witness. Not unless she’d been zapped into an exceptionally bizarre alternate reality.
Dawn reached into a nearby drawer and grabbed up a wooden cross and a stake -- easy access to weapons was one of the few actual advantages to living with a slayer and a hunter. Now properly armed, she opened the door cautiously.
“Hi Dawn,” said the familiar figure of Angel, who was wearing his coat pulled up over his head and looking decidedly anxious. “Can you hurry up and invite me in before I burst into flames?”
“Prove you’re not evil first,” she said flatly as she held the cross out in front of her. “Touch the cross.”
Angel groaned impatiently. “Dawn, I’m a vampire. I can’t touch the cross even when I’m not evil. That test doesn’t make sense. Why do you think I’m evil, anyway? I’m tired of everybody always assuming I’m evil,” he added in a somewhat sulky tone.
“Fine,” Dawn said as she swung the door open wider. “I’ve never heard evil-Angel whine, so either you’re okay or this is a diabolical new plot. But, fair warning, I’m only living here for the summer, so I don’t know if I can technically invite you in.”
“Duly noted,” Angel snapped (he was beginning to smoke). “Can you just give it a shot, please?”
“Come in, Angel,” Dawn said, although she kept the cross out in front of her just in case.
The vampire practically knocked her over in his hurry to get inside and away from the deadly rays of the late afternoon sun. He leaned against the countertop and paused to take some very unnecessary breaths of relief.
“Can I ask why you’re running around in daylight? Cuz, vampires and the sun… not a good combo. And why do you have a coat on, anyway? It’s like, almost July.”
Angel shrugged self-consciously. “Because I like the coat… and I don’t really get hot or cold.” He shook his head. “Dawn, that’s really not the point. I’m here because –”
“Why are you here?” Dawn interrupted suspiciously. “Is a big evil afoot? The world ending again? OH! And how do you know where Buffy lives?”
“She’s not exactly in hiding and I’m trying to tell you, if you’d stop asking questions and just listen to me for a minute.”
Dawn chewed her lower lip nervously. This had the makings of a serious mess. Her sister was about to pop out a baby at any time. No extra drama was required, particularly if that drama was of the apocalyptic flavor.
“Have you talked to her? Recently, I mean. Like I dunno… Maybe within the past nine months?”
Dawn almost laughed when she noticed how uncomfortable Angel looked at that question. He shoved his hands in his coat pockets and actually hung his head in shame.
“No… it’s been a while. Things have been busy and… Is she mad at me?” he asked, shifting on his feet a little. “I didn’t mean to stay out of touch for so long, it’s just… it’s always kind of awkward when we talk and I-I want to let her live her own life. She thinks I’m a jerk, doesn’t she?”
Dawn sighed and lowered the cross. Insecure vampires – there was nothing quite like ‘em. She’d just opened her mouth to explain the situation further when she heard the front door open.
“Who is it?” she called out extra cheerfully.
“It’s the pizza man,” Dean answered back, sounding highly amused with himself. Obviously it was one of his private jokes or another outdated pop culture reference. Dawn was never sure, so she mostly ignored about half of what he said.
“Oh crap,” she whispered. “This isn’t good! You’re not a vampire,” she said as she jabbed a finger at Angel.
“Shhh, NO! You’re not a vampire and your name’s…” She flailed her hands, trying desperately to think of a good alias. “Bob,” she finally whispered. “It’s Bob. Consider yourself Bob.”
Angel gazed back at her like she’d lost her mind. “Bob?” he repeated back.
“Hush,” Dawn hissed. “It’s a good, normal name. Deal with it.”
“Dean,” she greeted a little too loudly when her brother-in-law came strolling into the kitchen. “What are you doing here? I thought you guys were going out to eat?”
She hid the cross and stake behind her back as she watched him anxiously. He looked at her and then over at Angel and back at her again, before smirking and raising an eyebrow. So far he didn’t seem suspicious. In fact, she knew exactly what he was thinking and hopefully he’d keep right on thinking it.
Dean snagged a cellphone from the countertop and held it up triumphantly. “Your sister thought she lost her phone again.”
“Why couldn’t she come in here and get it herself?” Dawn asked without thinking. The idea of Dean and Angel in the same room was very disconcerting… and weird… and all sorts of other badness.
“Because…” Dean drawled out. Now he was starting to look a little suspicious. “I’m hungry and it takes her at least five years to waddle up the sidewalk. I’d like to make it somewhere before I starve.”
Angel shot her a confused glance, but Dawn ignored him. One crisis at a time. She crossed her arms in front of her and tried to throw Dean off by changing the subject.
“You need to watch yourself, Dean. Because, she’s so gonna kick your ass for saying stuff like that. She still can, ya know.”
Dean grinned mischievously. “Yeah, but she has to catch me first,” he quipped before turning his full attention back on Angel.
This caused Dawn to squirm nervously. Those two were paying way too much attention to one another. She’d prefer it if Dean, especially, didn’t look too closely at his new houseguest.
“So Dawnie,” he said in a deceptively casual voice as he continued to stare intently at Angel. “Who’s the dude? Didn’t know you had a new boyfriend.”
“Oh, uh… he’s not my boyfriend,” she said quickly. “He’s just a friend… a really old, old friend. This is Bob. Dean, Bob, Bob, Dean,” she rambled as she pointed frantically back and forth between the two. “Well Dean, guess you better get going,” she announced as she put her hand in the middle of his back and pushed him toward the exit to the kitchen. “You know how Buffy gets these days when she’s hungry.”
Dawn wanted to smack herself when Dean turned around and zeroed right in on Angel. It was like the man had radar. He was almost as bad as Buffy. She could practically hear the bells of alarm going off in his head. Dammit! She’d totally spazzed and made him suspicious. It wasn’t her fault. She wasn’t exactly prepared for this. Dean was just way too paranoid for a normal person to deal with.
She held her breath as she watched him walk toward Angel, give him a huge fake grin, and hold out a hand.
“Nice to meet you, Bob. I’m Dean.”
To his credit, Angel tried to keep up the charade and offered his hand for Dean to shake. But the minute their hands touched, Dawn knew it was all over. Dean kept his eyes and that fake grin focused on Angel’s face, but she noticed him shifting his palm so that he could use his fingers to test the other man’s pulse point (the one where he’d find his non-existent pulse). The next thing she knew, her sister’s husband had a gun drawn on her sister’s ex-boyfriend.
“Get behind me, Dawn,” Dean growled as he reached out, grabbed her by the arm, and roughly jerked her backwards.
“Hey,” Angel snapped as he stepped forward menacingly. “I think you need to mind your manners, boy,” he warned.
“Well, I think the evil undead needs to shut their freakin’ pie hole! You don’t break into my place, try to eat my sister-in-law, and then lecture me on my manners. Seriously? You guys are the ones busting into people’s houses and stealing TVs and crap? Monsters are in the burglary game now? The hell?”
Angel turned wide eyes on Dawn. “Is this guy—?”
Dawn buried her face in her hands. This entire situation was made of so much fail.
“Dean,” she interrupted, trying very hard to sound patient and calm. “He didn’t break in, I invited him. Put the gun down. Why do you always think you have to pull a gun on everybody and everything? You have aggression issues, you know.”
Dean didn’t lower the pistol, but he did turn his head to give her his best ‘what the fuck?’ expression.
“Invited? You mean ‘invited’ as in dude needed an invitation, because he’s one of those lame-ass fake vampires? You actually invited a fake vampire into my home? Are you friggin kidding me?!”
Dawn threw up her hands. Obviously, the ‘Bob’ cover story hadn’t worked, so she decided to go with the actual truth for plan B. It was too bad that Angel decided it would be a better idea to try and make a move on Dean while he seemed to be focused on her. She guessed he thought he could disarm Dean before he could pull the trigger. He thought wrong and the consequences looked very painful.
Buffy was so frustrated with her stupid, traitorous body. After a brief period of morning sickness early on, she’d had a very easy pregnancy. She’d felt wonderful in fact. But these past few weeks had been miserable. She couldn’t get comfortable, so she wasn’t getting enough sleep, which made her extra cranky. Plus, she literally felt like she always had to pee. And worst of all, she couldn’t move much faster than the slowest snail, mainly because her balance was completely nonexistent. She was supposed to be this mystical chosen girl and now she needed Dean’s help just to get up off the couch. It was so annoying and at the moment it downright sucked, because something horrible may have just happened to her sister and the best she could manage was a brisk waddle.
Recently, there had been several break-ins over on the next block and the thieves had proven that they were capable of violence. One homeowner had been unfortunate enough to come home at the wrong time and had ended up with a pretty serious concussion. So, when Buffy heard Dean’s gun go off, her mind jumped to the worst case scenario. Dawn had been at a friend’s house earlier, but what if she’d come home and walked in on a burglary? What if Dean had been too late and her sister had already been seriously hurt or worse? It would certainly explain why he’d felt the need to take a shot.
Faith and Sam had been waiting in the car with her, but they’d abandoned her the second they heard gunfire. Well, to be fair, Sam had paused long enough to tell her to stay put. Like that was going to happen.
She nearly ripped the front door off the hinges in her hurry to get inside, but stood motionless in the doorway when she heard a familiar, very unexpected, and downright irritated voice coming from the kitchen.
“I’m not evil, Faith! Why does everybody keep accusing me of being evil? Let go of me! I don’t know what that crazy guy shot me with, but it burns!”
Then came the equally irritated voice of Dean.
“It’s called a consecrated iron bullet, dickhead. Soaked it in holy water myself. Feels good, don’t it? .... Goddammit, Sammy, get your freaky long arms off me! That bastard tried to jump me, and he was about to have Dawn for dinner, and I’m pretty sure he was gonna steal my TV too. I’m gonna kill his ass! Dude, just take a look at his lumpy face! He’s one of those butt-ugly fake vampires. Whose side are you on here?”
And then Angel once again.
“What is your problem? I wasn’t trying to eat anybody and I could care less about your stupid TV set. And what is with all the fake vampire stuff? Just please tell me Buffy isn’t mixed up with you.”
Buffy groaned and stuck out her lower lip in a pout. Why didn’t she just listen to Sam and stay in the car?