A chance to be normal- that’s what college was to Dawn Summers.
Not that she had a single clue what normal was. Nothing in her life had been normal- being created by monks out of a mystical key of energy- try fitting that in a baby book. Having a sister that’s ordained to go and search and destroy creatures of the night- and subsequently learning how to kill a myriad of ghoulies and nasties before you were old enough to drive- they didn’t cover how to cope with these things in Teen People. How many other students had vampires for baby sitters? How many had seen people raised from the dead?
Had anyone else seen their hometown reduced to a smoldering crater?
Dawn would bet you dollars to donuts- not.
Discounting the supernatural events, the vamps, slayers, demons, and such- her life had been far from Full House or Home Improvement sitcom normal. She was ditched by her Dad- hadn’t seen or heard from him from years. She lost her Mom without even getting to say goodbye. She’d stood silently, watching Buffy, the only person she really had left in the world- die, sacrificing herself so Dawn would live.
Abnormal was normal in her world, and in this new world of being a college student at Empire State University, nothing made sense.
She’d packed her bags carefully- she’d smuggled away a few ancient tomes, a case of holy water from Giles’ stash, assorted herbs, as well as a good assortment of stakes and a wooden cross Xander had whittled her for a going away present. Buffy gave her a golden cross necklace that she never took off.
If anything supernatural occurred, Dawn was ready.
She’d been here for a week, and nothing had happened.
It was boring.
Dawn couldn’t remember the last time a week had gone by without an incident of some sort. It had probably been like ten years ago or something- back before Buffy had been called as the slayer.
As crazy as it was, Dawn missed Sunnydale.
To Alex Summers, college was a chance to be normal.
Here, at Empire State University, he could just blend in, and be normal. Alex Summers was no more than just your average freshman, trying to decide what in the hell to do with his life.
He missed Hawaii.
Hawaii was the only home he could really remember. Everything before the accident was foggy…he could barely remember his Mom and Dad- just images and sensations really. The memories of Scott were a little clearer, but that might have had something to do with the talks they had on a weekly basis- Scott’s memories helped to jog his.
He’d lucked out in the foster parent category- they’d been great. They’d rejoiced along with Alex when he’d found Scott, and didn’t hesitate a second when Alex announced that he’d like to go to college on the mainland- in New York, closer to Scott.
Alex had left Hawaii just after graduation, and had hardly looked back. He spent the summer at Xavier’s, learning how to control these crazy powers he had.
He was a mutant, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about that.
Mutants. If you turned on the news, you’d hear story after story about them. Are they dangerous? Should there be a way to monitor them? How can we control them? It was a big stinking political issue- one that Alex had no intention of getting himself mixed up in the middle of.
Alex was eighteen. He didn’t want to fight evil- he wanted to get a college degree. Oh, he’d helped fight Apocalypse, and if there was ever another “fight the big bad dude or the whole world as we know it will collapse”, then he’d most certainly go and fight it. But to be a full time hero like Scott was now?
It just wasn’t him.
There was something about this girl. Alex didn’t know her name or what it was about her that drew his attention, but there was.
The girl was pretty, but nothing spectacular- she wasn’t a Victoria’s Secret model, and she wasn’t quite as captivating as the green haired girl in his biology class. The girl was tall and thin, with light brown hair…but somehow she seemed…different. She drew his attention.
When he looked at the girl, he saw images. Flashes of his past- of his mother, his father, Scott, and people he didn’t know. He saw himself, hugging and laughing with the girl- throwing a ball back and forth…memories that he’d never previously remembered- but suddenly they were just as clear as day.
On Tuesday morning, Alex was running late to his 8:00 class- English 101. He didn’t take Scott’s advice when it came to scheduling, and it sucked. Getting up for a class that early in the morning was hell. He’d woken up with only five minutes to spare, and had to haul ass across the campus. At a time like this, Alex wished his mutation was more like Pietro’s…he had a need, a need for speed…and plasma waves don’t speed anybody up. Fry them to a crisp, yes…but speed them up, no way.
Alex was in such a hurry that he didn’t any pay attention to where he was going.
He collided with someone in front of the Chemistry building. Alex fell, and as he fell, he panicked and sent off a plasma wave, which obliterated a book the other person dropped as they fell.
“Shiiit.” Alex groaned.
“What in the hell is wrong with you?” The other person started to move and sit up. “Hello, I was walking here. Do you even know how in the hell to watch where you’re going?”
“You have eyes, too, you know.” Alex groaned as he sat up. “I’m gonna be late thanks to you.”
He looked up. It was the girl.
The girl was standing by now, and bent down to pick up the charred remains of a book. “Do you have any idea how much this textbook cost? What in the hell did you do? What…what are you?”
Alex groaned. There was no chance he’d get to English class today. Hopefully that guy Johnny, who lived across the hall, would let him borrow the notes.
He certainly wasn’t going to announce his mutant status in the middle of the quad. “Not here.” Alex growled, picking up his books. He grabbed the girl’s hand, and felt a rush of images…
“Scott…Scott….you can’t find me…” A blond girl called in sing song.
“I see you Buffy!” Scott squeaked, his voice childish and high. “You’re gonna loose.”
“I wanna play!” Alex cried, pulling on his brother’s hand. “I can run more fast than you.”
“You’re too little.” Scott shook his head. “Play Chutes and Latters with Dawn.” Scott ran away.
The girl was sitting beside Alex, on the soft gingham blanket. “That game is stupid anyway.” She pouted. “Let’s play.”
“Who in the hell are you?” Alex said, dropping the girl’s hand. “Dawn?”
Why-o, Why-o, Why-o, did she ever leave Ohio?
Buffy was in Ohio, and Willow, and Giles, and right now, a hellmouth was looking pretty damn good.
This boy knew her name.
She’d seen him a couple of times on campus, and he’d seemed familiar, in the way an actor is on a movie- you know you’ve seen them before, and you should be able to place them, but you cant.
He’d fried her Art History book.
A really expensive Art History book that couldn’t be easily replaced, because the school bookstore sucked ass. Giles would not be happy.
The boy had grabbed her hand and pulled her towards one of the dorms.
“Is this your dorm room? I’m so not going in to a boy’s room when I don’t even know you.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to broadcast my whole life in public, okay? And you know me…or I know you…I think…somehow….it’s like I know you even though I would have sworn I’ve never met you.”
“Fine. Any funny business, and I’m calling my sister.”
“She can just take on my brother then.”
“You don’t know my sister.”
“You don’t know my brother.”
Now they were in at a dorm room, room 203. There was a For Sale sign on the door.
“Nice décor.” Dawn remarked. “Gonna be a realtor?”
“It’s supposed to be witty.” Alex groaned. He pulled out his keys and unlocked the door. “Enter.”
The room was pretty plain. A few posters adorned the walls- mostly of water or waves. One declared “Surf Hawaii”.
“You’re a surfer?”
“I grew up in Hawaii.” He shrugged. “Surfing there is like taking the subway here. Everybody does it.”
“You can’t exactly surf in NYC.”
“My brother lives close by. I wanted to be close to him.”
“Aren’t you Mr. Chatty?” Dawn sighed nervously. “So what are you? I mean, obviously, you’re not a vamp, with the whole, not burning up in sunlight thing. I’d have to ask Willow, but I don’t know of any demons that ritually burn textbooks, although that would make you rather popular.”
“What in the hell are you talking about? Vamps? Vampires? Demons? They don’t exist!”
“I beg to differ. You try growing up on the Hellmouth.”
“Hellmouth. You know, where the dimension of hell opens up to Earth, and all kinds of bad heebie jeebie things happen.”
Alex rolled his eyes. “You seriously need medication. I’m a mutant, not some kind of whatever it is that you’re talking about.”
“Mutant. You know, the next step up the evolutionary chain? Darwin? Ever heard of Magneto?”
“What rock have you been living under?”
“At least I know that vampires are real.”
“I convert sunlight to plasma. My body has mutated and changed so that I’m like a superhero, kinda or something, if I wanted to be. It’s kinda like Superman’s heat vision, only, you know, not.”
“So are you some kind of vampire or something?”
“Hello, sunlight. I’m not a vampire. I’m a girl.”
“Then why…” Alex shook his head, and ran his fingers through his hair, pushing his bangs off his forehead. “Why do I know you? You seem…”
“Familiar. Yeah.” Dawn said softly.
“And when I grabbed your hand, I…I…saw…memories that I don’t have.”
“Memories don’t spontaneously happen.” Dawn said in a small voice. The spell. The key. It wasn’t supposed to matter any more. She was human. She was.
Alex turned and looked Dawn in the eyes, blue eyes to blue eyes. “I was in a plane crash when I was little. I lost…I lost most of my memories. I can barely remember my parents, and just a little bit of my brother…but when I touched you, I had memories that I forgot. And how did you do that?”
“I…I…I don’t know.”
Alex reached out and took her hand.
“Momma. Daddy!” The blond girl whined. “Five more minutes! I’m about to beat Scott!”
Hank Summers sighed. “The traffic is gonna be pretty bad, Buffy. We’ve got to get going.”
“Uncle Hank!” Alex, only five years old, walked up to his uncle, tugging on Hank Summers’ pant leg. “Can you please stay for dinner? Mommy makes really good spaghetti, and she lets me greet…grate the cheese. And Scott can beat Buffy and then I can beat Dawn at the video game. I’m really good at Super Mario brothers. And we’ll all eat our vegetables, I promise.”
“Please Daddy?” Dawn said, coming up beside her Dad. “I’ll even eat Buffy’s vegetables!”
Hank was silent for a moment. “We don’t get to see each other enough, do we? Yes. We’ll stay for dinner, but we have to leave after dessert, okay?”
Katherine Summers laughed. “Dawn, Alex, can you help me set the table?”
Buffy had never been to Central Park before, and she was rather enjoying it. Maybe after she found Dawn and they had this picnic thing, they could go on one of those carriage rides, like the ones in the movies. And then they’d go shopping.
“Hey Buffy!” Dawn ran up beside her sister. “How was your flight?”
“It was good. And they in flight movie had Orlando Bloom.”
“Guaranteed to make any flight better.” Dawn chuckled. “The picnic’s gonna be over here.”
Dawn led Buffy to where a blue gingham checked blanket was on the ground. A large picnic basket was sitting in the center. Dawn started to empty out the basket.
“Dawnie! You’ve got enough food here to feed a small army, or at least Xander! How much do you expect the two of us to eat?”
“Oh, didn’t I mention that we were gonna have company?”
“No, Dawn, you didn’t. I thought this was an sister thing.”
“It’s a family thing.”
“Dawn, you are my family.”
“We have other family members. We have cousins.”
“Dawn. That’s not funny. They died. You were still very little, but there was a plane crash, and…”
“And they were lost, and presumed dead.” A male voice coming from behind Buffy completed her sentence. “And the brothers got split up, and they were for a long time until they found each other again.”
Buffy whipped around. The man was tall, with dark hair and strong cheekbones. A pair of ruby red glasses covered his face, but even so, he looked a little like…how could he know about…
“Scott?” Buffy leapt to her feet. “They said you were dead..”
“The rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated.” Scott said with a smile. “I’ve missed you Buffy.” Scott reached out and pulled Buffy into an embrace.
“I’ve missed you too.” Buffy sniffled.
“I hate to break up the hug fest, but the food’s getting cold.” Dawn said. “We’ve got plenty of time to catch up, right? And this is Alex." She motioned to the tall blonde man to her right. "Our other cousin. One big happy family reunion, huh?"
"Alex!" She hugged her cousin. "You're so grown up!"
"Kids tend to do that." Alex said with a laugh. "You have time for lunch, Buffy?"
Buffy wiped her eyes. “Yeah, I’m a clean slate, nothing on the agenda. What about you, Scott?”
“I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for. I’m free.” He smiled.
Nothing was ever normal for the Summers family. But their family reunion that weekend came pretty damn close.