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Between the Lines

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Dawn had just finished loading up her bowl of frozen yogurt with all sorts of topping goodness when a voice spoke from over her shoulder.

“Are you sure you can eat that much?”

“Holy crap!” Dawn swore, jumping and nearly dropping her precious frozen deliciousness. Turning around, she looked up to meet Charles Cornick’s impassive gaze. Well, mostly impassive. She could just barely make out an amused crinkle in the corner of his eyes. Asshole. “What the hell was that for?”

“I was simply concerned that your eyes exceeded your stomach,” he answered blandly, his broad face smooth. “I’d hate to see you waste food.”

Ignoring the fact that she was in college and legally an adult, Dawn stuck her tongue out at the werewolf. “Liar,” she disputed, moving out of the way so that the person behind her could add their treats. “It’s payback for that thing with the eggs a few months ago.”

Charles just gave her a look and Dawn scowled at him. “For nearly making me drop this, you get to pay for it,” she informed him, walking over to the cashier.



If Buffy or any of the older Scoobies had been there, it would be at this point they’d start telling Dawn not to torment Charles. Dawn’s knew that Charles was the big bad wolf incarnate, but she interacted with him in a similar way she had treated Spike way back when since he first started liaisoning with the Council. She didn’t know if Charles appreciated being treated like that, but he hadn’t literally bitten her head off yet.

Dawn smiled widely when Charles forked over the cash to pay without complaint, and she led him to a table in the back corner of the restaurant.

“So what’s up?” she asked, digging into her bag and pulling out a ziplock of wasabi peas. “I didn’t know you were coming into Boston this weekend. Did something happen?”

“I had the weekend free and it’s been some time since I last visited for anything other than business,” Charles replied, watching her add the peas to her yogurt with barely disguised disgust. Charles, despite interacting with her for a few years now, had never gotten used to her eating habits.

“Mm-hm,” Dawn hummed, taking a bite of her food. She didn’t need to be a werewolf to smell that lie. She doubted he came to visit her in the middle of midterms for kicks and giggles. The fact that she’d actually showered and put on semi-clean clothes today was a feat about as impressive as Buffy slaying the Master.

“I hope you have some sightseeing planned, because I have about half a dozen things to get done before the end of the weekend,” Dawn informed him. “Besides, not that I don’t appreciate the social call, but why aren’t you with Buffy? I mean, I know how much you hate New York, but I’m sure she’d skip town in a hot minute if you suggested it and do a weekend getaway with you.”

“That’s actually why I wanted to talk to you,” Charles replied, leaning back in the chair. “I didn’t know how much you knew.”

He almost sold the casual look, if it weren’t for the barely visible tightening in his shoulders. Huh. Dawn must’ve been spending more time than she’d realized around weres if she was starting to notice that level of body language. Or maybe it was just increased exposure to Charles that made him easier to read.

“I mean, she told me that you two were finally dating, which good for you. Took you both long enough. It’s not like you two haven’t been circling each other since forever. What else should I know?”

“She invited me over for Thanksgiving.”

“Oh. Oh.

That… that was unexpected. Sure, all the Scoobies knew Charles, from their various meetings with him, ever since the end of Sunnydale. But Thanksgiving was something sacred. It was pretty much the only time when they would all get together as a group, without any of the minis. Dawn couldn’t remember any of Buffy’s previous flavor of the month boyfriends ever being invited over to a Scooby Thanksgiving dinner.

It was basically Buffy’s way of saying she was in it for the long-haul, however long that might be.

“Is that a good ‘oh’ or a bad ‘oh’?”

“That’s a good sign,” Dawn answered, absently stirring her fast melting yogurt. “Trust me, it’s a really good sign.”

Charles shoulders relaxed and he gave her an actual smile. “I thought so, but I wanted to make sure.”

Glancing down at her watch, Dawn made a face. “I’d love to hang around and give you all sorts of dirt on Buffy she’d kill me if she knew I told you, but I need to be in the library for the next hundred years finishing these papers. Or until they kick me out. Whichever comes sooner. Sorry you came out all this way for less than ten minutes worth of facetime, but midterms wait for no girl.”

“Don’t worry.” His smile widened as he stood up. “I already called your sister already. She’s wrapping up some business in New York and should be here in a few hours. I’m surprised she hasn’t told you yet.”

“I can think of a few reasons why, but none I want to dwell on without investing in some brain bleach,” Dawn retorted dryly. “Have a good time. Oh, Charles, one last thing.” She stood up and crossed her arms. What she was about to do was stupid and if she were going to do this to a wolf other than Charles, could get her killed. But she trusted him… to a point.

“You mess this up and hurt her, I will personally find a way bury you in an unused silver mine and wipe its existence off all known maps.” It wasn’t an idle threat. One of Dawn’s housemates this year had a mining engineer parent.

Charles, to his credit, didn’t look too upset and simply bowed his head in acknowledgement.

“I’ll do my best,” he promised her before turning around and walking outside, long braid swaying back and forth.

Dawn’s eyes followed him before turning back to the soupy mess her yogurt turned into. Making a face, Dawn grabbed the bowl and her book bag. Time to go back to studying and thankfully ignore what her sister and new boyfriend might be getting up to. Dawn loved her sister dearly, but there were some things she just didn’t want to think about.