Buffy was tossing and turning, plagued by dreams. The past few days she, Xander, Loki, and Hogun had tried to figure out what was causing people in Asgard to disappear. Thus far, they'd run into dead ends. Buffy knew, though, that her instincts were never that wrong. Thor was busy running things for Odin. Buffy still hadn't told him. She didn't have much to say yet. However, when she woke up from a nightmare, she knew that it was more than just a bad dream. It was a slayer dream.
"Drusilla!" she exclaimed. The images were weird and full of alien beings, but one person she recognized—Drusilla. Why in the world would Spike's insane ex be in her dreams on Asgard? It was a real puzzle. She tried and failed to go back to sleep.
The dream was on her mind as she got dressed for the day. At breakfast, her sister noticed her distraction.
"What's going on, Buffy?" Dawn asked her.
Buffy drunk her juice and thought about what to tell Dawn. She probably should put her in the know. "The past few days your brother Loki and I have been trying to discover what's been causing citizens to disappear. So far we've not found the reason," she shared.
Dawn frowned. "That's odd. You're sure?" she asked.
"Yes. Loki and Hogun inquired in bars and public places. Something or someone is taking people. There's been over a dozen in the past few days," Buffy shared.
"Goodness! We have to tell Thor!" Dawn exclaimed.
"He's got a lot on his plate, so I thought we could wait until we know something," Buffy said.
"He's the acting king. He needs to at least be on guard in case something bad is about to happen," Dawn pointed out.
"Fine," Buffy said in resignation. "But I need you to do something for me. I need you to go to earth and bring back Spike. I had a slayer dream and his ex Dru was in it for some reason. I have a feeling that he needs to be here."
"Should I bring back Willow or Illyria, too?" she wondered.
"It couldn't hurt. I have a bad feeling," Buffy said.
Dawn had learned not to ever dismiss Buffy's feelings. "Okay, we should go talk to Thor," Dawn said.
"I'll go get your other brother," Buffy said. She pushed back her chair so that she could get up from the table.
Something occurred to Dawn. "Wait! The other day when Xander and Loki both brought me dresses—they were out with you, right? Xander knows about this!" she accused.
"Don't yell at him. I knew you'd tell your brother and Loki, and I decided Thor might overreact. I still don't think we should tell him before we have a chance to figure out what the threat is," Buffy said.
Dawn's annoyance with being left out battled with real happiness that Buffy was getting along with Loki. "I can't believe you two! Wait until I get a hold of Xander!" she threatened. The man in question was sitting at the other end of the table with Thor and Loki.
"You can't get mad at him when I insist he not share something that has nothing to do with you, Dawn!" Buffy said, rolling her eyes. "You're just mad 'cause you were left out of the loop. I told you, and just like I predicted, you want to tell Thor."
"Like I said, he has to know this, Buffy," Dawn said, resisting the urge to stick out her tongue. Although she was restored as an Asgard with her full memories, she often reverted to the more immature and human Dawn when around Buffy. Only her sister could revert her back. It was maddening.
"We'll request an audience with his Highness after breakfast, okay?" Buffy asked in annoyance.
"Fine," Dawn said. She got up and went to speak to her brother.
A short time later, Thor, Loki, Xander, Atali, and Dawn were alone. Buffy shared her suspicions with Thor.
"Have you told my Warriors Three?" Thor asked. "They should be investigating immediately."
"We included Hogun since he knows how to be subtle," Buffy said with a grin.
"Good point," Thor said. He looked at Loki. "What do you think?"
"Something is happening. We've gotten too many reports in just a few days," Loki said. "I fear there's an unknown enemy in Asgard."
"How could anything get past Heimdall?" Thor asked, frowning.
"No one is infallible," Buffy said.
"I will speak with him. I think Lady Sif should be brought in on this. She is good at sifting out facts," Thor said. "I believe Mother gave her leave to be released from her sickbed."
"I will tell her," Buffy said. "Dawn's going to go to earth and get Spike. There's got to be a reason Drusilla showed up in my dream."
"I want to go. I need to check in with Tony. He's probably having all kinds of fun without me," Xander said.
"Don't you mean getting into trouble?" Thor asked with a knowing grin.
"You say tomato; I say tomato!" Xander replied.
"I'll go tell Mother," Atali told Thor.
"I'll go change!" Xander said eagerly. He didn't dare wear his old pair of jeans in Asgard. Frigga was mostly sweet but her look of disapproval was worse than anything.
Buffy rose to her feet also. "I'll go speak with Sif," she said. She looked at Dawn and Xander. "I'll see you guys when you get back."
When she located Lady Sif, she was sharpening her sword. Buffy grinned at the sight. She admired this warrior immensely. She was as fierce and dedicated as any slayer Buffy'd ever met. However, her loyalty to Thor had lasted centuries. Buffy would love to have her friendship. So far, though, Lady Sif had been very formal with Buffy, rarely letting her guard down.
"Hey, Sif! What's up?" Buffy asked with a bright smile. She grinned when Sif instinctively looked up. "That means how's things? What's going on with you?"
"Not much. Lady Frigga says I can go home today, so I'm getting things ready," Lady Sif replied.
"Good. I have a mission I thought you'd enjoy. Or rather Thor wants you included, but I do, too!" Buffy clarified.
Lady Sif's face brightened at the news. "Really? What mission? I am more than ready for some action!" she said.
"I thought so," Buffy said. Then she filled her in on the details.
Lady Sif frowned. "My brother would not allow such a thing! There has to be some mistake!" she said.
"I swear, sometimes it's like you and Thor share a brain!" Buffy said, shaking her head in amusement.
"I'm not sure how that would be. However, we know each other well," Lady Sif said, frowning.
Buffy laughed. "I know. It's just you two are so alike sometimes. It's like he's your other half," Buffy said. When she saw that her words pained Sif, she apologized quickly. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to upset you!"
"No, it's okay," Lady Sif said. "I have waited for centuries for Thor to see me as more than his friend and trusted companion. He loves me not. I love him enough to want him to be happy even if it's with Lady Jane."
"You know in America it's just Jane, not Lady," Buffy said.
"If she is to be Thor's consort, then she is Lady Jane," Lady Sif replied, her voice going quiet.
Buffy couldn't fathom loving a man for a thousand years and remaining by his side even if he chose another. "She's nice and really smart like Willow, but she can't really hold a candle to you. Maybe if you weren't always by his side, Thor would make time to really miss you and realize how detrimental you are to him," Buffy advised.
Lady Sif was unused to confiding into other woman and wasn't sure how to take the princess' frank advice. "I could never play coy with Thor. He knows me too well," she said.
"I didn't say be coy. I just meant don't let him take you for granted," Buffy suggested.
Lady Sif nodded. "Maybe," she replied. Then she stood. "I'm ready to go."
Buffy knew that she'd pushed far enough and said nothing more. "Let's go. I've been going out in the evenings. Today will be a different crowd on the street. Maybe we'll find something else out," Buffy said.
Sif was just glad to be able to have a purpose again. More importantly, she hadn't seen ghostly images of her mother in days.
Tony was in his lab tinkering when the sudden appearance of Xander and Dawn made him drop a wrench. Xander snickered.
"Hey, boss!" Xander said in amusement.
"Give a guy a warning before you pop in like that!" Tony said as he picked up his tool.
"What'd be the fun in that?" Xander asked with a wide smile.
"Sorry, Tony," Dawn said. "I wanted to appear at our apartment, but Xander missed you too much." She smirked at Xander.
"It's been really boring around here. Glad you're back!" Tony told him shaking his hand.
"I thought you were busy taking down Hydra cells," Xander said.
"Well, you know how that is. You take down a few and dullsville sets in!" Tony replied. "I tried to liven things up by fixing Bruce up, but all it did was piss everyone off."
"Who'd you try to fix him up with?" Dawn asked curiously.
Tony looked wary but answered, "Willow."
Dawn laughed but Xander didn't. "She's gay, Tony," Dawn said.
"Not always," Tony said defensively.
"True," Xander said. "I can see how they could work."
Dawn looked at Xander like he was nuts. "She's not that woman anymore, Xander," Dawn said.
"Willow fell in love with Tara because of who she was not because she was a woman. She may be happy with the gay lifestyle, but I don't think that means only another woman would make her happy," Xander said.+
Tony grinned smugly. "See! My thinking exactly!" he exclaimed. "Plus, there's that the fact that she's not afraid of Bruce and can handle the Big Guy. Not to mention, she speaks Geek thoroughly."
"Better not push this, though. I'm sure Will wasn't happy with your matchmaking," Dawn said knowingly.
"She wasn't very pleased. Bruce was madder, though," Tony said glumly. "So are you going to be around today?"
"I can stay. Dawn is going to Los Angeles to get Spike 'cause Buff had a dream and wants him in Asgard," Xander said.
Tony looked confused. "Something going on in Asgard?" he asked.
"Maybe. People are disappearing. Buffy's wiggin'" Xander replied.
"Wish I could go. Pepper won't let me, though. Last time, I promised I'd stay firmly planted on earth!" Tony shared.
"I'm sure we can find some trouble while I'm here," Xander said with a knowing grin.
"I'm going to go, guys. I'll go speak with Willow," she said. She kissed Xander. "Try to stay out of trouble. I'll call you later."
She used the door to go find Willow, figuring that she was in her lab. When she got to the lab, she peeked in the window to see if Willow was there. She was there with Bruce. Thinking about Tony's words, Dawn watched Willow talking animatedly with Bruce. Bruce was nodding, obviously listening. He had a soft smile on his face that Dawn had never seen on the man. Dawn couldn't remember the last time she'd seen Willow so lit up. Maybe Tony wasn't wrong.
She pushed open the door. "Hey, Willow!"
Willow blinked, pausing her words. "Dawnie!" she exclaimed, running to hug her.
"I'm sorry if I'm interrupting," Dawn said, giving Bruce an apologetic look.
"It's okay. We were just working on this new robotic compulsion thrust that Tony's designed. Looking for commercial applications," Willow said.
"Well, can it wait? I think you should come to Asgard when I return. Buffy thinks something bad is coming," Dawn said, sharing her news.
"I'm sure Tony will let me. I've got my lab techs trained pretty well," Willow said. She looked at Bruce. "Don't you think you should come, too? If it's something truly bad, the Big Guy could definitely help."
"Turning me loose on Asgard again? Have they recovered from my last visit?" Bruce asked.
"Willow's right. You should come, Bruce. If nothing happens, you won't cause any damage. If something does happen, your presence will be needed," Dawn said.
Bruce looked at Willow, who nodded. "See. You gotta totally come!" Willow encouraged.
"I'll be back tonight. I'm going to Los Angeles to see my favorite vampire," Dawn said.
"Tell Angel I said hi," Willow said with a mischievous grin. Only Dawn would choose Spike over Angel. Willow couldn't resist teasing her.
"If I see him!" Dawn said, rolling her eyes.
A short time later, she opened a portal inside the Hyperion Hotel. She heard a Texas twang saying, "Angel's Investigation. We help the helpless." She stepped closer and saw a dark haired girl on the phone. Frowning at the unknown girl at the desk, she tried to figure out who she was. When the girl hung up and gave Dawn a penetrating look, she blinked in surprise. "Illyria? Is that you?" she asked.
"It is I. Today, though, I am my host, Winifred Burkle. I'm Fred to my friends," she explained.
"Why?" Dawn asked. "Isn't that kind of creepy taking on the form of the woman you killed?"
A pained look came over Illyria. "I am not responsible for the chosen host. My acolyte is. He is dead and punished sufficiently for his crime," she said. "My host's soul wasn't as destroyed as I first believed. More and more of her seems to bleed through all the time. When I'm not in battle, I have to allow her to come out. It pains the vampires, but it also brings them comfort."
"Where are they? I need to see them," Dawn said.
"Spike is at the beach, working on his tan," Illyria said, still sounding like Fred. It was disconcerting.
"What?" Dawn asked in surprise.
"Your father gave him the power to walk in the sunlight. He's using it all the time. It really pisses Angel off," Illyria said in amusement. It was obvious she was even using words not normal to Illyria. "He did allow Angel to wear it on his birthday and on Father's Day."
Dawn laughed, imagining how that went down. "Will you send him a text and tell him to head here? Is Angel downstairs?" she asked.
Illyria nodded. "Yes. He's not usually up until the afternoon," she said.
"When Spike joins us, come down, too," Dawn told her. She went to Angel's basement door, knocking as she opened it. "Angel? It's Dawn. I'm coming down."
Angel came awake instantly. He was sitting up with his legs on the floor when Dawn came in view. "Dawn?" he asked in confusion.
Dawn grinned at him. He was shirtless but had a pair of black sweats on. "No boxers?" she teased. "How else could I make Buffy jealous?"
Angel smiled. Relief coursed through him. Dawn wouldn't be joking with him if something was wrong with Buffy. "I doubt Buffy would care much these days," he said. He got up and grabbed a shirt and put it on.
"You're probably right. She's dating Captain America right now," Dawn shared.
"Really? Good for her. He's a good man who will never try to keep her from being who she is," Angel said. Enough time has passed that he could just be happy for her. She deserved everything that he could never give her.
"Illyria is calling Spike back here. I need him to come back to Asgard with me," Dawn said. Then she shared with Angel what was going on. She had just finished when Spike appeared. Illyria was a step behind him.
"Little Bit!" Spike said with a grin. Her new face was a bit disconcerting still, but the eyes were the same. He hugged her tight. "How's things? Big Sis okay?"
"She's fine. But she wants you to come back to Asgard with me. She had a slayer dream and your old ex Drusilla was in it. She doesn't know why, but she feels strongly that you may be needed in Asgard," Dawn said.
"Dru? That's weird," Spike said, frowning.
"I've not heard from her in a while," Angel said. "I get a disturbing card in the mail the anniversary of her siring. That's the last bit of communications. It's been months."
"Let me get changed," Spike said. He was wearing a surfer suit. Dawn laughed as she realized something.
"You're surfing!" she exclaimed.
Spike grinned. "Yep! I'm a natural. Now that I can see what I'm doing in the daylight, I've mastered it," he said. Angel rolled his eyes.
"Good for you!" Dawn said. "I like the new tan. It suits you."
Spike's chest puffed out. "Old Pale-face is green with envy!" he exclaimed, giving Angel a smirk.
"I had a ring that let me go out in the daytime once, remember? I destroyed it," Angel said.
"That's 'cause you're a stupid wanker with a guilt complex. I, on the other hand, would've never destroyed that gem!" Spike exclaimed.
"No one should be all powerful," Angel said firmly.
"Well, sometimes power in the right hands can be used to make right," Dawn said.
"Not someone with a demon in them. Angelus should never have access to it," Angel said grimly.
"True," Dawn said. Angel might've broken her sister's heart, but Dawn knew that he always strove to do the right thing. His methods might not always suit them, but he wanted to atone. She respected that.
"Are you going?" Spike asked him.
"I don't think I should. It could take time. We have some things we're working on," Angel said.
"Shall I go?" Illyria asked.
"It's up to you," Angel said.
Illyria was silent. Then she said, "I will remain on earth. Asgard is no place for me. Here I am needed. There the All-Father has many strong soldiers to aid him. You only have me."
"I'll be fine if you want to go," Angel assured her.
"I will stay," she said. Then she turned to go back upstairs.
"She never fails to confuse and disturb, does she?" Dawn asked, shaking her head.
"You get used to her," Angel said.
"The two people thing is way too creepy for me," Dawn said.
"We loved Fred. Imagine how we feel?" Angel said sadly. "But she's good to have on the team, and she loves knocking Spike around." He smiled.
Dawn chuckled. Some things never changed.
When Dawn arrived a few hours later to pick up Xander with Spike in tow, Bruce and Willow were sharing carry-out in her lab. Once again, Dawn paused to watch them. It was clear to Dawn that the two did enjoy each other's company. Of course, that could be completely innocent. She'd have to discuss it with Buffy.
Spike peered in to see what was so fascinating. "Is Red driving stick again?" he asked with a grin.
"I'm not sure, but I don't think you need to comment!" Dawn warned before pushing open the door. "Hey, guys! Are you about ready?"
"Yep. All packed. I don't want to sit through a ten course meal in Asgard tonight, so we're eating now. Plenty of Chinese food if you guys are hungry," Willow said, gesturing.
"I'll eat!" Spike said, not one to turn down food.
"You eat?" Bruce asked in surprise. "I thought you only drunk blood?"
"That's what I need to survive, but I love food!" Spike said.
"Where's Xander?" Dawn asked.
Willow shrugged. "JARVIS, where's Xander?" she asked.
"Mr. Harris is with Mr. Stark on the roof," JARVIS said.
Willow groaned while Bruce winced. "If he gets Xander killed, I'll kill him!" she exclaimed, running to the door.
Willow and Bruce followed. "Should we mention the wings Tony was working on in his attempt to outdo Sam's wings?" she whispered.
"I wouldn't," Bruce said back. For Tony's sake, he hoped nothing went wrong!