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Opened Hearts

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“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.” ― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Chapter One

“Should have known it was too good to be true.” Dawn shook her long hair back as she strolled down the sidewalk abutting the sand. The Venice pier loomed ahead, stark but lovely against the ink of the night sky. She had already spent some time there before she and her date had gone into the Del Monte Speakeasy for the part of the evening she had been most looking forward to. “All I wanted was a night off to have some fun with my man but no, you lot had to be running around. What do you think this is? The reboot of The Lost Boys?”

Dawn hoped she sounded confident, more so than she felt. This pack of vampires was larger than any she’d seen even in Sunnydale. Three of them tried to flank her. Dawn raised her hand, chanting in an ancient language. Blue lights whipped out from her outstretched hand, lassoing them before they knew what had happened. Willow and Giles would be so proud. She plucked a stake from her purse. “Do you know how much I hate having to carry a big purse just because I need to carry these? So, anyone want to tell why so many of you are here? Vampires aren’t known for hanging in gangs.”

“What good would it do you, witch? We’re going to drain you dry,” a redheaded female vampire growled, struggling against her bindings.

“Ooo, I hate it when you say witch in a way to mean bitch.” Dawn knew she should get this over with just in case they did worm free.

“She was with the miracle child. Tell her what Ul-Thar prophesized, and they will surely join us,” another suggested, and the redhead screamed at him to shut up.

“Probably not,” Dawn said, thinking Ul-Thar sounded familiar. The miracle child was somewhere dealing with the rest of the pack. She should hurry this up and help him, not that he was likely to need it. She staked the loose lipped one and turned on the redhead, stopping when she heard her name being screamed. She turned to see Buffy and Angel racing down the sidewalk. “Oh, hey Buffy, Angel. What brings you here?”

“Cordy had a vision. Wasn’t expecting you,” Buffy said, stake in hand.

“Nice job.” Angel nodded to the remaining two vampires. “And you look lovely tonight.”

Dawn ran a hand down her electric blue velvet dress cut to look like a flapper outfit. Black lace kissed her thighs. “I was on a date until these idiots interrupted.”

“I’m familiar with that paradigm.” Buffy sighed. “Where’s your date? He didn’t get eaten, did he?”

Dawn rolled her eyes. Buffy was in such denial of what should have been obvious about her love life. “Probably not. I was just about to finish these two off and go looking.”

Buffy and Angel did the honors for her as screams echoed along the beach. Dawn saw a throng of people racing away from a building so she ran toward it. Her sister and Angel outpaced her. Magical key energy didn’t equate to Slayer or vampire speed. Dawn panted as she pulled up alongside them as they paused to try and find the source of the screams.

Angel jaunted off down an alley. She and Buffy followed. Sounds of battle emanated from deeper in the alley. Dust exploded like a monochromatic color fun run was happening ahead. Angel jumped into the fray only to end up pinned to the wall. He caught Connor’s arm before he ended up staked. Connor stumbled back, spun and staked one of the last remaining vampires. Buffy took out the final one.

“Sorry about that, Dad. You shouldn’t sneak up on me when I’m fighting.” He shook himself, dusting flying off of him.

“We weren’t expecting you,” Buffy said.

“I was,” Angel replied, giving her an ‘I told you so’ look.

“So, your date?” Buffy jerked her thumb at him.

Dawn nodded. “We didn’t even get to drink our cocktails before all the fun started.”

“Are you even allowed to drink cocktails?” Buffy leveled a glare at Connor.

“Supervised, yes. Also, at those prices it wasn’t like I was going to get drunk.” He scowled back at her.

“Connor and I both love history, and the speakeasy is a century old so I thought it would be fun,” Dawn said. “Connor’s never been there.”

“I was too young before law school, and after law school I’d lost my freaking mind.” Connor shrugged. “But these idiots ruined it. I’ve never seen so many in one place.”

“How many were there? Cordy saw dozens.”

“At least two dozen,” Connor replied, shaking the hem of his purple button downed shirt, one Dawn assumed Angel had gotten him. “I’m covered in dust. I feel so gritty.”

“And you’re sweaty so it’s sticking to you. You look like a Victorian chimney sweep,” Dawn said ruefully, taking the pin he had in his man bun – now very lopsided – out and let the resulting ponytail free. “Guess we won’t be going back to the bar tonight. You also kinda stink now.”

“Thanks,” he grumbled.

“Two dozen? That’s a hell of a lot of vampires,” Buffy said. “And you killed them all?”

He shook his head. “No, a few got away. I didn’t think you’d get a ….gaggle? No murder a murder of vampire sounds about right. Anyhow we didn’t think you’d get a clump of vamps at once but as soon as they saw we could kick ass several of them took off.”

Angel snorted. “You don’t. Did I hear the one you staked saying something about Ul-Thar, Dawn?”

“Yeah.”

“Aren’t those the ones who want to worship me?” Connor smirked. “Man, did I just destroy my chance to worshipped and …yeah what else might they want of me?”

“You are the Destroyer, after all. You lost your chance.” Dawn grinned, taking his hand, which as advertised, gritted against her skin.

“And your question bears some thought, Connor. I’ll have to drag out the research we did into them when they were after Darla,” Angel said. “But first we should see if we can find the ones that escaped. Come on, Buffy.”

“We’ll help,” Dawn said. “It’s not like we’re going to salvage date night now.”

Buffy shot her a look but said nothing. Dawn assumed that would be coming later but first, there were vampires to hunt down.