Xander looked around the work yard, frowning a bit since it was empty. "Merle, did we call off work today?" he called.
"No, but I expected it was going to be a low work day," he called back before exiting the management trailer. "Today starts the tax holiday weekend."
"There's no sales tax on anything that can be used in schools," Merle explained. "Clothes, school supplies, computers and things. Since it's a payday as well, a lot of people have hit their favorite shops to kit out their kids for the school year." Xander's face suddenly went emotionless. "Hadn't thought about that with Dawn? I know she's still here, even though it's been two weeks."
Xander shook his head. "I'm not sure what I'm doing about her," he admitted. "She wants to leave Cleveland for the same reasons I did leave. That and one of the girls had set her up with her best friend, who was running guns, and got Dawn into trouble." He walked into the trailer. "I'm calling the school board to see if I'll get into trouble."
"Sure, Xander. Then go check on your guys."
"I've got one person and she's checking everything over. I wondered why she had said something about her ex having custody." He found the phone book and sat down to call the school board, smiling at the cheerful sounding receptionist answering the phone. "Hi. I've got a strange situation. My friend's little sister is out to protect her against someone trying to hurt her sister. I know school starts in about sixteen days and I'm not sure at what point I *have* to register her or get into trouble." The answer he got made him wince, that had been a few days back. "Two weeks, really? Sure. No, not an issue at the moment. No, last year of high school," he offered. "Cleveland." He grinned. "Thanks. Do we have a choice in where she goes? I know there's got to be more than one high school in a city this size." He listened to the rundown of the 'better' schools in the city, nodding at them. "Thanks. No, I'll be talking to her sister. Just in case. I'd need a letter from her sister? No, her sister has custody, they're orphans and her sister is overage." He made notes on what he'd need to get her transferred in. "Thank you very much. You have a nice day too."
He hung up and called the house. "Dawn, me. Honestly, how much do you want to stay? Because if you don't register for school this week I can end up in jail and you being taken by social services as a truant." He sighed as she complained. "It's the law, Dawnie, and we do have to follow it in this case. So give me an idea so I can make plans, okay?" She said something. "I wouldn't care, but I'd definitely have to find a bigger spot and move us. That way you don't have to continue sleeping on the couch." He smirked. "That's what I thought. So, how serious do you want to make this? Because your sister will have to agree and sign over custody to me if you're staying, young lady. Yeah, that stuff." He nodded, making another note. "Not a bad idea. Huh?" He smirked. "Sure, I'll talk to him about that too. Love you too. It's a sales tax free weekend on school stuff so take two hundred out of the freezer and go buy real clothes, Dawn. Nothing that'll embarrass Modo or anything, got it?" He smirked. "Yeah, and I know you too, Dawn. Buy something to impress the future boss. Have fun. Only two hundred, Dawn."
He hung up and found the card he had copied in his wallet, considering a moment before dialing it from his cellphone. "Hi, this is Xander Harris, in Chicago. It's not an emergency, but is Micah in? I need some help with Dawn. Thanks." He waited while he was put on hold.
In Washington DC, in a converted old warehouse that now housed a covert intelligence organization, Micah Simms looked over as someone walked up his stairs. "What?"
"Xander Harris is on the phone, Micah. He said it's not an emergency, it's about Dawn."
He hit the button flashing on his phone and then the speaker button, hanging back up the handset. "What's up, kid?"
"It's not an emergency, I hope I'm not interrupting or anything."
"Nah, just doing paperwork. It's the bane of my existence. What's wrong with Dawn?"
"She's still here. Can you help me get custody of her and she wanted to know what she'd have to do to work for you."
Micah's pen paused in mid-stroke and he looked at the phone. "What?"
"She's still here, I just called the school board. I'm about two weeks past where I should have registered her. She's still got that last year of high school left you know."
"No, I got that part. The other part, Xander."
"Dawn wanted to come work for you when she graduated," he said, sounding happy about that. "I didn't know she had such lofty goals and I'll gladly pick up her self-defense training to give her at least a bit of a head start. She wanted to know the criteria to join you guys."
Another man, a bit older than Micah and taller, white, blond, and fit walked up the stairs. "Micah, I've got that report done finally." He handed it over. "Another emergency?" he asked hesitantly.
"No, Dawn Summers wants to work with us," he said, smirking at his favorite spy.
"Dawn Summers?" he asked flatly. "Buffy's little sister?"
"Yes, her," Xander said patiently. "She's not that bad, guys, even if she is a bit....fashionable. I'm teaching her how to kick butt and how to nail in a joist or a wallboard."
"I'm going to go to lunch now," Lorne said, heading back down to his desk.
"Well, that's fun for him," Xander said dryly.
"That's okay, he knows he'd get to train her. I'd put him and Max on as her trainers," Micah said with a smirk. That girl would definitely be a help. "Does she do magic?"
"She can but we've about scared her off of it," Xander offered. "She nearly raised her mother after she died."
"Then she'd be an asset. Tell her she's got to have at least a four-year degree, preferably in something useful, like Criminology or Psychology. I might take education if she had to. She's got to pass a physical test, go through the FBI academy, and pass everything with flying colors. I'll bring up a checklist for her the next time I'm through there." He smirked at the phone. "The other thing was to get custody from Buffy?"
"Yeah, the local school board said I'd have to have a custody release form from Buffy, authority to treat and enroll, get her records, her medical records, and be prepared to take a few tours of various schools."
"There's a really good Catholic school near you," he offered. "It's a tightly run place."
"Yeah, but she's not Catholic."
"They accept kids who aren't. It's better academically and it'll help her get into college," Micah advised. "Really, it will. Even if it's just from the university it'll be good." He considered it, leaning back in his chair. "Okay, let me talk to Buffy and get back with you. Are you on your cell?"
"Yeah, but I had someone," he coughed, "put a scrambler on it so it couldn't be picked up any more."
"Thanks for that," he said dryly. "Where are you?"
"Work. It's the sales tax holiday weekend here so I called the school board."
"That's fine, Xander. I'd expect things like that. Let me call Buffy and get back with you. Relax, it'll be fine." He hung up and called Cleveland. "Buffy?" he asked when someone chirruped into the phone.
"Buffy, it's the stuffy suit guy," one of the girls yelled, making him shake his head.
"Yeah, Micah?" Buffy asked, sounding a bit cheerful.
"Xander wants you to sign custody of Dawn over to him. He's got to enroll her in school if she's staying," he said bluntly. "There's a few excellent schools in Chicago and she's shown an interest in staying."
"I figured as much. We all ran away sometime. Even me."
"You were a runaway?" he asked, not able to see her doing without her showers.
"Yeah, it all kinda snapped at one point so I left and headed for LA. I was a waitress too," she told him, biting into something crispy sounding. "Sorry, breakfast. Late night slaying."
"Not an issue. So, can I send you a suitable form so he can move on and not get arrested for housing her?"
"Sure. I figured she'd like it more out there since he's so much looser in the rules department than I am." Another crunch.
"Actually, we were just discussing how good she's been doing," he said dryly. "He's been letting her help out down at the construction site so she picks up some necessary things and she's been helping Oz and Meg a lot when she's not helping him or Charley."
"She is?" she asked, taking another bite. Then something hit the trash can. "I figured he'd be letting her club for all hours or something."
"No, she's settled in and is making herself nearly indispensable," he admitted.
"He's not letting her fight, is he?" she asked suspiciously.
"No, not yet. He's teaching her how to defend herself if something happens and she's quickly become the bandager of choice when something does happen."
"Really? She hated that job here." She sighed. "I have no idea why she hated it here so much. We tried, you know."
"Buffy, any time you get fifteen girls in the same house, there's going to be conflicts," he said wisely. "Even in college sororities."
"I know, they make videos about their fights," she agreed. "Fine, as long as she's being good and careful, I'll let him keep her until he gets tired of her and ships her back. Do I have to do anything?"
"No, I'll have someone here make all the calls once you've signed the paperwork and sent it back to us. If it makes you feel any better, she's happy out there. She's thinking about her future and college."
"She's going to college?"
"Most jobs these days do require a degree," he reminded her. "I'm going up there this weekend to talk to her about some career choices."
"I don't want her working for you, Micah, that's dangerous."
"Not really. There are worse things to be, like a cab driver." Which was Buffy's part-time job of the moment. "Besides, we have health insurance, life insurance, dental, and vision coverage, plus education reimbursement and some people here who could use her help. Especially if she took up studying magic."
"Dawn? Magic?" she snorted. "She's not into that stuff, Micah. You're barking up the wrong Christmas tree with that."
"Maybe, but she'd still be useful here. I'll get that form written up and sent to you, Buffy. Be on the watch for it later." He hung up and stood up, looking over the railing around his office at his secretary. "Janice, draw up a custody agreement switching Dawn Summers from her sister's custody to Alexander Harris' custody. Get her school records, medical records, and everything else, and bundle that up with that form and send it to Xander ASAP. Then tell Lorne to go check on her and test her skills to see if she's any good." His secretary nodded, making notes before starting on her new tasks. "Thank you."
"I'm doing what?" Lorne called a few minutes later from the bottom of the stairs.
Micah looked up from his paperwork. "You're going to Chicago. Go test Dawn to see if she's got what it takes to make it as an ECHO agent in a few years. She'll be yours and Max's trainee."
"Fine, I'll give you a dishonorable discharge, but I'm still going to make you train her," he said smugly. "I'll send her to crash on your couch for a few weeks."
"I'm sure I can do without a couch."
"Don't say that around her, she might take a hint," Max complained. She came up the stairs. "She wants to join?"
"She told Xander she did," he said smugly. "She does do magic, but her sister doesn't think so. Look at her transcripts when they come in to gauge it and then go give her a realistic view and test to see if she's suitable."
"Sure," she agreed. "I could use some shopping I guess." She walked down the stairs, pulling Lorne to her special edition spy vehicle, a Supra that was souped up with a few weapons and gadgets. "It won't be that bad. She's got at least five years before she can join," she reminded him.
"Maybe I'll be shot by then," he said cheerfully.
She shook her head. "Look on the bright side, she could become the next me."
He gave her a look, then shook his head. "I'm not going there." She hit him this time, but he only rubbed it. "Let's go to lunch."
"Fine." She started the car and headed out, going to get him something to settle his stomach.
Dawn walked up to where Throttle was hitting the new heavy bag to give it a test, ducking around his blows. "Throttle, can I talk to you?"
"Sure, Dawn." He stopped hitting the bag and caught it, giving her a sideways look. "Not a good thing?"
"No, a very good thing. I want to stay." He nodded, understanding that. It'd been five weeks already and it was pretty obvious. They hadn't admitted she was there to anyone outside the group for nearly three weeks, but in that time she had fussed Xander into better behavior and had even talked Vinnie into sitting still to be bandaged after brawls. Plus she had introduced Vinnie to a new hobby that was annoying everyone else. "I want to work with Micah when I'm older. I need to know stuff and Xander's a great teacher, but he still goes pretty easy on me. I can block and hit back, but I still hit like a girl. I want to fix that and you fight really well." He nodded slower this time. "Can you teach me?"
"You can't ask Charley?"
"She's elbow deep in grease at the moment," she said with a small grimace. "I'm not fond of dirt that much. Besides, she's got another job after that one since Xander's been pimping the garage to the guys at the site." She gave him the puppy eyes look. "Please?"
"Fine," he relented, shaking his head. "You're sure?" She nodded, grinning at him. "This isn't going to be nice and fun stuff, Dawn. We don't fight that way."
"Good! Have you seen some of the kids who go to the nearest high school?" He nodded, accepting that. "Can we start now?"
He looked her over. "You're wearing heels."
"And? I can kick ass in heels. I always wear heels unless I'm planning on doing a lot of running. Heels make me taller."
He snorted, shaking his head. "Heels mean you can tip over. You need something to give you a stable footing so you can't be tipped over, Dawn."
She held up the cash she had pilfered. "Xander said it's sales tax free weekend and he said I could have two hundred dollars from the freezer. Show me what I should have."
He considered it. "Vinnie's better at that," he admitted finally. At least Vinnie would let her have things that didn't make her look like a biker chick; if he was helping her she'd end up in jeans, t-shirts, and boots. "You can go pounce him and make him take you to the mall if you want."
"Or Walmart," she suggested dryly, knowing how much Vinnie liked to go terrorize the fish in the pet department.
"Yeah, or there," he agreed. "Go get him up. Come back after that." She nodded, kissing him on the cheek then running away. He shook his head and went back to hitting the heavy bag to store up on patience for later. Xander was a good brawler but the girl would need to do more than bar brawl if she wanted to be a special agent.
He heard Vinnie's shout and snickered, shaking his head. "She can take orders. I'm impressed."
Dawn snuck up on where Vinnie was sleeping on the couch, then suddenly pounced, making him yell and thrash, grinning down at him. "Throttle volunteered you to take me to Walmart to get me stuff so I can learn how to fight better so I can work with Micah when I'm older and graduated from college."
He stared up at her. "Try that again, with commas?" he suggested finally. "I could have sworn you said Throttle said to take me to Walmart."
"I did." She sat on his thighs, grinning at him. "I want to work for Micah when I'm older and been through the college stuff. That means I need to learn to fight better and Throttle said I couldn't fight in what I'm wearing, so I pointed out this was tax free weekend and that Xander had given me some money, so you're taking me to Walmart to get clothes that'll be better for me to fight in. Especially shoes since he said I can't fight in heels."
"They can make you trip," he agreed, using his tail to lift her up and onto the floor. He sat up, looking down at her. "You're sure you want to learn how to fight, sweetheart? It'd mess up some of your pretty features."
"Yeah," she snorted. "Because that's so going to protect me, Vinnie. I'm going to be going to school out here and I'll need it even if Micah said I suck." She stood up. "Come on, you can go scare the fish. We'll go to a different one than the one that banned you." She hauled him up and grinned up at him. "We can even take Xander's SUV."
"Fat chance," he said dryly. "I can't drive that thing."
"Fine." She grinned at him. "I like your bike anyway," she said cheerfully. "I've got to ask Charley a question so I'll meet you in front of the garage in ten?"
He nodded, letting her skip off. He watched her skip, shaking his head. "She wants to learn how to fight? Her?" he muttered, heading for the bathroom. This was going to be a long morning.
Dawn walked into the garage. "Charley?" She glanced back then went back to what she had been doing. "Can I ask you a huge ass favor?"
"I want to sell the POS. Where can I do that and can you sign if they won't let me?"
Charley withdrew from the engine, looking at her. "What?"
"I want to sell the piece of trash car that I have. It's useless in this city. It gets bad gas mileage. Not even you could make it into a decent car and you're nearly a goddess of engines. I'll end up getting another one in a few months, but I don't want that thing anymore. I'd rather have something that didn't have a clothespin in the engine, ya know?"
"I could look at it."
Dawn shook her head. "I had someone take a look to see what it needed. The guy said he'd have to rebuild the entire engine, replace the gas tank since it's rusted, and it'd need a new battery and muffler. My sticker's about to go bad and I don't have twice what I paid for it to fix it up so I can get a new one. That's why I wanted to sell it."
"Okay, I'll ask around later," she offered. She saw Vinnie stop outside. "Going out?"
"Yeah, they're helping with a life goal," she said with a grin, giving her a hug before running out and hopping onto the back of Vinnie's bike. She stroked the bike. "Hi, bike. Let's go to Walmart!" The bike revved and they took off. She gave him a squeeze. "She's going to help me sell the POS that I own," she called. He let out a chuckle. "I can do better and Xander will be helping me find one," she promised.
"Xander still has to find a replacement since his SUV is still trashed," he called back.
"He was muttering about it last night and was muttering that he was going to ask Throttle to help him," she said. He pulled over and looked back at her, opening his face shield. She nodded and grinned. "He was. He said that was too big, but he was torn between something massive or something smaller so he wanted his opinion, but he didn't want to be a bother or to hint at stuff since things were kinda weird at the moment."
Vinnie smirked. "Interesting. Which Walmart?"
"The one out by the college," she said. "It looks like I'm going to going out there when I graduate so I might as well get used to how it's laid down." He smirked and closed his face shield, then took off again. She leaned against his warm back, liking this a lot. Maybe she'd think about a bike when she graduated. Xander probably wouldn't mind too much. Maybe. Her sister might throw a fit, but Xander was much more cool. "Think we'll ever get Xander to ride a bike?" she called.
"Maybe. He likes to ride behind us," he admitted. He switched lanes and zipped through a yellow light, heading off down a new street. "Does this one have fish?"
"They all have fish and there's a pet store next to it," she said with a grin against his back. His thing with fish was odd, but she liked to watch them too, they were calming and nice.
Throttle looked up as Dawn came back, nodding at her outfit. Cargo pants, sneakers, t- shirt that was a bit small. "That'll end up bunching up," he warned.
"Throttle, you can't take away my cute shirts," she said with a grin. "I'd go into withdrawal. Besides, my belly button can be a good distraction in a fight."
"Point," he relented. "Did he have fun with the fish?"
"We went to the one by the college, it had a pet store next to it. He stared at the fish for hours. I had to drag him in to look at the other things I found." She bounced on her feet. "How do we start?" He motioned her closer and she pounced him, just like Vinnie would have. "Ha!" she shouted.
He smacked at her hands and got her onto her back. "What're you going to do now, Dawn?"
"This," she said, kneeing him. He winced and fell over. "Sorry, but that's what Xander said to do," she offered, stroking his forehead until he quit moaning. "Can we work on the hitting stuff so you don't have to limp?"
"Sure," he agreed, his voice still a bit too high. "Nice shot, Dawn." Modo laughed. "Good, come teach her how to hit while I recover." Dawn bounced up and went over to drag Modo inside to help them. Throttle got to the sitting position and kept himself from cradling his poor, abused parts. He'd have to make sure she couldn't do that again. He watched as Modo had her hit the heavy bag. "Put your full weight into it, Dawn." He stood up with some help from a nearby chair's arm, and came over to show her. "Put your weight behind it. That's where most girls go wrong when they hit." She tried it again. It was a bit better, but not much. "Maybe some weights."
Charley walked in. "Dawn, good news, if you're serious I know someone who could use your old car for parts. He said six hundred."
"Damn, that's nearly double what I paid for it," she said in awe. "Let me clean it out. I'll take it over later if you've got his address."
"Sure," she agreed, looking her over. She shook her head, waving her over. "You can't hit like them. They're guys with enormous muscles. Girls have to do it a bit differently." She hit the heavy bag, making Dawn grin. "Try it that way, kiddo." Dawn tried it and even Modo nodded that it was a good hit. "Try for some kicking stuff too. You're still flexible." She grinned at the girl, who was trying very hard. "What's all this about anyway? Total image change?"
She pushed back her hair. "I wanna work with Micah when I've graduated college. He said I have to have a degree."
"Oh." She considered it, then nodded. "You could do a lot of good work there, Dawnie. I can see you doing that. We'll help you train and all that stuff."
"I heard something about training," Xander called, jogging up the front ramp. "What's up?" He grinned at Dawn. "Did he call?"
"He did, and he was very nice. He said that Lorne and Max are coming up this weekend, they'll be the people training me so they'll see if I'm okay to be trained," she said proudly. "I'm junking the POS too by the way."
He nodded. "Sure. How are you going to get to school?"
"Saving up to get another one and the bus?" she guessed. "Speaking of, Catholic school?"
"It's got a good education and they won't make you switch over. Besides, they've probably got a large pagan group in it," he said dryly. "You'll need good grades to get into college."
"Point, but catholic school? A uniform? Me in a wool skirt, can we say tragedy?"
"You could wear boots," Modo offered dryly. "Make it a statement."
"Yeah, but then I'd have to have a bike. I'd probably get popped for public indecency when the skirt flew up." She grinned at Xander. "Do I have to?"
"That depends on your grades," he admitted. "Let me get your transcripts and we'll call the college to see what it would take to get you in." She beamed and hugged him. "Now, what other events happened? I got a call to come make Vinnie quit giggling at the new fish."
"Fish?" Throttle asked. Xander shrugged. "Vinnie!"
"What?" he called back. "It's only a small one and it's a fighting fish. It's got a small jar."
"No!" he yelled back. "No fish!"
"Fish are cool," Dawn told him, pouting a bit. "They're very calming and relaxing."
"I can't imagine Vinnie being a calm, quiet, non-bouncy person," Charley admitted. "I've got that address on my desk so whenever you're ready." She nodded, looking at Throttle, who shooed her off. She beamed and headed down to clean out the old piece of crap car.
"Should I worry about finding a parking spot for her bike soon?" Xander asked blandly.
Throttle snorted. "Hopefully not, but she does look good riding behind Vinnie."
"She pets and talks to his bike too," Charley agreed. "Switch called, they're on their way down for a visit. She said Carbine was obnoxious and she'd have to hurt her if she didn't leave for a few days." She headed off. "No hot peppers, Xander," she called as she left.
"Fine, ruin my fun," he sighed. "What are we doing with Dawn?"
"Teaching her more than self-defense," Throttle told him.
"Good! Don't let her tell her sister that. She's paranoid and wants Dawn to be one of those trophy girlfriends who can't do more than scream and fall down while running." He looked at Modo. "We've got three people who called off today and tomorrow. One roofing and one interior spot still need filled," he offered.
"Sure, I'll come roof," he agreed happily.
"Vinnie, Xander's got a spot open for today and tomorrow," Throttle called. "That way I can get rid of the fish," he muttered. Xander smirked at him. "Fish aren't exactly the usual Biker Mice authorized pet."
Xander grinned at Vinnie as he joined them. "Stoker's on his way down with Switch."
"Cool, they can meet my fish." He smirked at Throttle. "She'd better be in the same spot when I get back too," he warned. He grinned at Xander. "What sort of spot?"
"If Modo takes the roof, we've got an interior one. I told Merle I'd ask you three first."
"Sure," he agreed, heading out to his bike. "I'll head over first. Dawn, we'll be back later," he called as he hopped onto his bike.
"Sure, we'll figure out what to name the fish," she called back, waving as he sped off. She tossed another CD case onto her stack of forgotten clothes/hole stuffing. Then another bag into the trash can she had borrowed after checking inside for loose change.
Xander called Merle. "Good news. Vinnie's on his way over and Modo said he'd gladly do roofing so I don't fall off," he said cheerfully. He listened. "And? That's fine. Yeah." He hung up. "Bad news, no roofing. That guy showed up since his wife kicked him out of the house. But we're doing the generator and stuff so you can prove just how strong you are while I bolt it into place. How's that?" he asked with a grin.
"Sure, Xander. Need a ride back?"
"Probably," he admitted. "The SUV is back at the dealership. They finally got that damaged panel in." He waved at Throttle. "I'll make sure they get back tonight."
"Sure, Xander," he said with a smirk, going to help Dawn. He noticed the pile of clothes. "Forgot a bag exploded?" he asked.
"No, I was using them to stuff holes in the trunk so they'd quit whistling louder than I could play the radio," she admitted. She took off her dashboard figurines and put them onto the clothes pile, then pushed the seat back to make sure she had gotten everything. "I wondered where that cd went," she complained, checking it and then tossing it out. "Too bad it's scratched all to hell." She found a few more dollars and stuffed them in her pocket. "There's my snack later." She went around to the other side to check in there. "Hey, Throttle, can you lift out the tire? I've got an emergency pouch under there," she asked with a grin. "Please, you big, strong man, you?"
"Fine," he agreed, shaking his head. "Flattery's not necessary."
"Hell, man, if you ever get off your tail and take Xander out, you'd be my big brother in a heartbeat and you're supposed to flatter relatives. That way they help you move into the dorms," she said with a smirk. She went back to her cleaning, putting the keys in the ignition so she couldn't lose them. She heard a grunt and looked back at him. "I didn't hurt you too much, did I?" He shook his head, putting the tire down. She came back and grabbed the small black zip bag, then tossed it onto the clothes before looking at the hole and reaching down to grab another smaller pouch, which also went onto the clothes. Then she walked around to look in it and tossed it out. "I should narc on her to Buffy."
"Sandy, one of the walking twats. Is there another bag?" He found it and held it up. "Onto the pile." She walked around to look in the front seat, finding someone crouched down in there trying to hotwire. "Hey, kid, the keys are in it," she said smartly, then backhanded him and pulled him out by his hair, dropping him onto the ground. "Don't try that with my shit, I kill things for a living." He ran off. She found a few more things and tossed them over there, but the joint she found went into the trash. He gave her an odd look. "Sandy," she said dryly. "Her friend was the gun runner." She found her cellphone and looked at it, then dialed her big sister's home number. "Buffy, it's Dawn. Tell Sandy that I found that joint she was looking for the last time she borrowed my car and I'm *way* pissed over her stuffing drugs in my car. Slap the bitch for me too." She hung up and stuffed her phone into her pocket. She felt a brush against her butt and reached back, grabbing the hand and standing up. "Kid," she said, glaring at the would-be car and cellphone thief. "Do you not learn?"
"You're not so tough," he sneered. "You're a girl!"
"Yeah, I am a girl," she agreed, grabbing him by the throat. "I'm a pissed girl with PMS and no chocolate," she sneered in his face. "Get it now?" He let out a whimper as she tried to squeeze his throat. She wasn't really successful. "Now, get off my ass. I know people like you want to touch it, but I'm worth more than a roll in the back seat." She let him go and gave him a shove. "Out, moron."
Throttle stopped the boy and held out a hand. "Give it back," he ordered. The cash that had been in Dawn's pocket was put into his and the kid ran off. He handed it back.
She looked at it, then smirked. "Hey, a three buck profit," she said dryly, tucking it away again. "I'll consider it a fine for trying to do that to me." She went back to cleaning, getting the front and back done quickly. She wasn't that much of a slob. She heard her phone ring and pulled it out to listen to it. "Yeah?" She snorted. "Then I'd backhand the little twat once you drug test her. Gee, Buffy, did I seem like I was smoking pot and crack to you?" she asked dryly. "No, it was hers. She's the only one who used to borrow my car. By the way, it was *her* idea for me to date Garret, not mine. I've got better taste than that." She quirked an eyebrow at Throttle, who waved her on. "Listen, sister dear, I'm standing here next to a very tanned and fit stud who's about six-three, all muscles, a cool ass biker who actually wants to help me do my homework, is literate, and gives me wonderful rides," she said smartly. "Why would I want some geeky little shotgun dealer like him? He's not in my league. I only go for the hot and wanted. Yeah, well, let's not mention *Angel*," she said smugly. "Or *Spike*." She hung up on the spluttering. "Sorry, had to happen to shut her up."
"Not an issue," he said smugly. "I've also been known to quote poetry in bed because Carbine liked me like that." He handed over a bill he had found, a hundred. "It was back there too."
"Cool beans. Now I can get the bikini I wanted too and go swimming at one of the local hotels." She tucked it into her pocket and walked around to bundle up the trash. She grabbed another bag for the other stuff and put it in the office. She found the address on the desk with her name on it. "This guy, Charley?" she called, waving it. She got a nod. "I'm heading to trash the trash then. I bundled up the old bag. Including the drugs one of the slayer brats put in my car." She walked off, heading back to take her car to the address. "I'll be back in about an hour," she said happily. She drove off with a small cloud of smoke and he shook his head.
"She's more lively than I could have thought possible," he said dryly. He walked into the garage. "She'll be back in about an hour."
"She said one of the slayers was borrowing her car. The one who set her up to fall with that gunrunner guy."
"I didn't figure she took them, she's too hyper to be on drugs. I'm more worried that someone will find them."
"Oh, I think she's got that taken care of," he said dryly. "She called her sister to narc."
"Wonderful, but that doesn't solve us getting watched if they find that in my trash."
"It'll be fine, I'm sure of it," Throttle promised, patting her on the back. "Send her over when she gets back." He went back to take a short nap. Dawn's energy was sucking at him in gulps.
Charley considered it, then went to remove that bag of trash from her dumpster. Just in case someone wanted to paw through it. She'd make sure it went onto the garbage truck personally.
Dawn found a police station right near where she sold her car and walked inside, smiling at the older man behind the front desk. "Hi, I was just cleaning out my old car and I found out that someone who had 'borrowed it'," she said, doing the finger quotes with a grimace, "and had stashed some drugs in it. She lives in another city though. So do I tell you guys or do I call the cops in her town?"
He stared up at her. "Your friend?"
"Lives in Cleveland and I wouldn't call her a friend," she said dryly. "More of an annoyance. The woman outright stole my car for a few hours. Set me up on a heinous blind date with her buddy who sold shotguns out of his locker at school, which got my ass grounded even though it wasn't my idea and he was the one following me around after that. Then she had the balls to stash drugs in *my* car? Not. A. Chance. Dude."
He smirked and picked up his phone. "Let me refer you upstairs to someone who can take that complaint and pass it back to the proper people in her city. The department over there will take it more seriously coming from us."
"Sure," she agreed happily, waving a hand. "I want to see the girl being the bitch of the block. It'd serve her right. And then, hey, her little drug dealing boyfriends will have to find a new ho."
"She's dating drug *dealers*?" he asked. She nodded. "More than one?" he made sure.
"Yeah, two of them. If she's not *dating* them, she's sure sleeping with them and pregnant by one of them," she said dryly. "She was starting to puke when I left."
"I'm going to escort you up there personally, ma'am."
"Miss, I'm not that old," she said with a grin. "I'm only sixteen."
"You're very mature for your age," he congratulated. He walked her up the stairs, waving one of the other cops to cover his spot. He tapped on an office. "Sir," he said when the plain clothes officer opened the door. "This young lady, who is sixteen, said one of her former friends stashed drugs in her car without her permission, but she lives in another city. She also said that her former friend set her up with someone who was selling shotguns out of his locker at school and was dating two drug dealers. Possibly pregnant by one of them."
"Interesting," he said, letting Dawn inside with a grin. "My name's Victor and I'm a Vice cop, ma'am." He pulled out a seat for her. "What's your name?"
"Dawn Summers. Hers is Sandy. My big sister's her mentor and personal trainer back in Cleveland."
"That's fine," he assured her with a bright grin. "The car?"
"I was cleaning it out to sell the POS. It's a rust bucket. I sold it to a guy up the street but I made really well sure that it didn't have any more drugs in it. I tossed those in Charley's trash since I was borrowing the garage's trash can."
"Davidson, owns the Last Chance Garage. She's a friend of my kinda-big brother that I'm crashing with. He's getting custody of me right now so I can stay. Sandy made my life a living hell and I'd like to see her be the block bitch in prison."
"That's wonderful," he agreed happily. "Every bit helps. We'll go confiscate those drugs from Miss Davidson so she won't have any problems," he said with a happy smile. "Did you touch the baggies?"
"No, they were in a zip pouch. I opened the bag and saw the crack rocks and pot underneath it. The pouch was small, like a fanny pack but flat, and black nylon." She leaned on the table. "Let me tell you about Sandy," she offered with a bright grin. "Not the brightest cookie on the block. She drove off my kinda-big brother Xander too."
"Xander? I've heard that name," he said thoughtfully.
"Xander Harris. He's one of the crew chiefs at a construction site."
"Oh, that must be it. One of my neighbors works construction." He made note of that name. "She drove him off too?"
"She's a snarky and mean bitch who treated him like he's helpless because he has a glass eye now. She decided he was too helpless to do anything, including wipe his own butt, but he turned her down and got her into trouble. So she turned the other girls my sister's a trainer for against him too."
"Interesting." He continued to make notes. "Can I tape this? You talk faster than I can write."
"Sure," she agreed happily. "I have every idea where she's going to hear this." He smirked back. "I'm sixteen, dude, not six."
"That's fine. Not going back?"
"Not unless I'm dragged there by the short and curlies and then I'll just come right back and live with Xander. He treats me like I'm a real person who has some sense, not like a toddler or a newborn kitten who needs a baby gate and some hand holding. The first thing Xander did was teach me self-defense. It's a nice change, let me tell you."
He smiled. "Good. Pretty girls like you should learn how to defend yourselves." He tapped the paper he was making notes on. "Just pot and crack?"
"Yeah, a big wad of pot and some crack rocks in little baggies. Her buddy, the one she set me up on a blind date with, was a gun runner. He was running shotguns from his school locker. He got obsessed and I never wanted to see him again after the first ten minutes of our date. I ducked out and he followed me around begging for another one. His name is Garret Marcum." He wrote that down. "One r." He corrected it. "He's in tenth grade at Cleveland Central High." He made another note of that. "So's Sandy." He made another note. "Sandy is either dating or slutting around with two dealers, one's named Cal, not a clue otherwise, I thought it'd be too dangerous to know more, and the other is a Winsington, she keeps writing her name with his last one. He's a big, huge black guy but very polite. He's very, very polite. He holds doors, he speaks softly, he doesn't do anything in front of the other girls. Cal's a wigger and scary just for that fact." He snickered but made some more notes. "Winsington's a nice guy, but very business. He's what I would assume professional men like the mob are like."
"Do you think he's connected to the mafia, Dawn?"
"Not a clue," she admitted. "I didn't want to know that much." He nodded, smiling at her for that wisdom. "Buffy, my big sister, might know more. Sandy invited him over to be vetted as the prospective boyfriend. They all had dinner at some fancy Russian place without prices on the menu from what she bragged about. She said she had no idea what caviar tasted like but it was only a bit icky and salty. Like the after effects of a blow." He nodded, looking at her again. "Cal basically brought in fried chicken and meatloaf. That and really nasty rap music. Winsington listens to some rap, but it's more like Jay-Z than the equivalent of street grunge." She glanced around. "Is there a soda machine? I'll even treat if you promise to arrest the whore for doing that to me."
"Sure, there's one around the corner," he said, getting up and taking her in there. She did treat him to a can of orange soda too, then they went back to talk some more. He was even nice enough to give her a ride back to the garage, smiling at Charley. "Did you toss out that bag, ma'am?"
"It's the one in the closet in the kitchen," she said dryly. "The one in the office has the clothes and stuff Dawn pulled out of her car."
"He can look at those. He's going to make Sandy a sorry twat for messing with me," she said dryly. "How dare that bitch put drugs in my car!" She stomped a foot and got both bags, handing him the trash. "Nothing else in there that might be important, Charley?"
"No, just some old receipts and a few forms where I was trying to balance my checkbook and failing."
Dawn beamed at her. "Xander was sneaky," she explained.
"Ah, that's why there's an extra ten grand in my bank account," she said sarcastically. "Remind me to beat your big brother later."
"Don't do that," she whined. "He's trying to be nice and sweet. Xander's a natural spoiler, but he needs someone to spoil him instead."
"I've got an unmarried sister," the cop offered. "She's in the horse patrol."
Dawn beamed. "I'll ask him, he might go out with her. His last girlfriend and he parted ways when she decided he was dangerous to be around because people think he's scary and mean."
"Managers are often seen that way," he offered. He opened the trash bag, using a pair of gloves to pluck out the bags he could see. "These, Dawn?" She nodded and dug in there, handing him something else. "Thank you, Dawn. We're more than happy to take these off your hands and to tell Cleveland. I'll even copy the tape and hand it over personally with anything we get off the drugs, like fingerprints."
"Cool." She opened the other one, shaking out the clothes since he was standing there. A few more packets of drugs fell out. "That filthy bitch! I was using those to plug holes in my trunk! Now I'll have to buy new ones because they're tainted and nasty and I'll never be able to wear them without shuddering."
"Let me look, Dawn," the cop said gently. "That way you don't touch anything that could incriminate you accidentally." She let him have the other bag and watched as he found more drugs. He looked at her. "I can confiscate these if you want."
She looked at Charley, who nodded. "Your new school could have a drug dog and they'll be able to pick that up."
"They may," Victor agreed. "It's not that unusual for them to pick up residue from the packets."
"Then I don't want 'em back," she said, pouting at one shirt. "My mother bought me that. It's one of the last ones she got me."
"Then you put it in a plastic bag and don't wear it," Victor told her, handing it back. "It could pass residue back onto your skin and then you'd get tackled by the drug dog's partner." She nodded, folding it up in her lap. "I'd wash it first."
"I wore it when I ran away," she sighed. "My sister's a cunt." She heard the cough and blushed. "Sorry, Charley, but truth!" she defended.
"Use gentler language, Dawn," Charley said patiently. "Not that I don't agree with what I've heard from you and Xander." Someone tapped on the door and she walked over, smirking at Xander. "She's not in trouble."
"I didn't figure she was. I was hoping I wasn't going to interrupt someone being mean." He walked inside and looked at the bag, then at Dawn. "Those had better not be something you were stashing for a friend."
"Fuck no, Sandy put them in my car when she stole it without permission and used it. She didn't even put gas or oil in it." She grinned at Victor. "This is Victor, Xander," she said happily. "He's going to make Sandy a block bitch. I was thinking about telling Faith so she could come give her pointers on how to bend over the right way once she's inside."
Xander snickered. "You're so bad," he chuckled, shaking his head. "Once she's inside, not before, Dawn."
"Of course. Faith might spoil the cops' fun by pounding her into a greasy spot."
"You friend Faith was inside?" Victor asked casually.
"Yeah, some guys...were jumping her and Faith accidentally stabbed another person who was jumping in to help," she admitted, going with a half-truth. He'd never take her word for anything if she mentioned vampires. "It was an accident and she's over it now. She's much better now, much more stable."
"That's good. Not many people come out better but apparently the system worked in her favor," he offered with a gentle smile. He winked at her and went back to shaking out clothes. He let Dawn have the rest of them. "I'd clean those very well or have a dry cleaner clean them, Dawn. Then store them somewhere and don't wear them very often." She nodded, staring up at him as he stood up. "Anything else I can do for you?"
"Only if you want to give Xander your sister's number," she said sweetly, grinning up at him.
"I've got an unmarried sister in the horse patrol who Dawn thinks you'll hit if off with," he offered.
"I've never ridden a horse," Xander admitted. "But I'm not dating until we've got everything settled with Dawn's sister. Just in case it gets shoved back at us and gets her hurt."
"I understand," he promised, sliding over the number anyway. "Whenever you're ready to date again," he said fondly, bagging up the evidence and taking it off their hands. They were very nice people. He actually whistled on his way out to his car. Cleveland was going to have a very good night and weekend since it was Friday.
Xander hit the switch to close the door again. "Feel better, Dawn?"
"Yup. One less snarky brat to mingle and mess with me." She stood up and gathered back up the trash, putting it back in the trash can, then her bag of stuff went into the back of Xander's rental car. "Didn't get it back yet?"
"Not yet," he admitted. He put an arm around her shoulders, watching Charley drink her newly doctored soda. "She's sixteen, she's vindictive."
"Sandy's still a slayer."
"I would have turned in my own sister if she was slutting for two drug dealers, one who's *really* serious and very nice, but quite professional, and had set my butt up with a gun dealer. She deserved it and they've got plenty. She'll probably cut a deal anyway."
"She didn't want to slay anyway," Xander agreed, leading her off. "I'm taking her back to help work on her self-defense skills."
"Sure, I'll be over there soon," Charley agreed, calming herself down. She hadn't realized what sort of girl Dawn was, but now she knew. She was the sort that you only messed with once. "That slayer will be miserable and cursing Dawn's name for years," she said dryly. "Not that I blame her." She went back to her present job. She was nearly finished and then she could join them.
Xander walked Dawn into Throttle's part of the lair, as they were teasingly calling it, and handed her over to his gentle care. "She stopped to narc on the slayer who put drugs in her former car."
"You narced?" he asked, looking a bit surprised.
"She's not my friend and she damn sure made herself my enemy," she said dryly. "You don't fuck with a true Summers woman like that. My mother would have ripped her hair out as she drug her down to the police department, even if she had to travel back there to do and it and leave again."
"Then she would have lectured Buffy on how she was being so blind and not following her calling," Xander agreed, nodding to show his support. "Joyce wasn't one to beat butts but she would have dragged Sandy in there and beaten her then handed her over. She was *fierce* about the subject of drugs around her kids." Dawn giggled. "Seriously. She thought Angel was selling there for about a day until she met him. Then she knew he wasn't right in the head." He rolled his eyes. "Now, let's get back to teaching Dawnie how to whip tail so she can go fight the good fight with the good guys, who seem to like Carbine a lot."
"They do," Throttle agreed. "She also let Vinnie buy a fish."
"Oooh," he squealed, going to admire the new pet. He had admired Tara a lot when he had gotten her. It was only fair. He found them staring at each other through the bowl's side. "Dawn narced on the girl who set her up and stuffed drugs in her car," he said in greeting, sitting down to look at the fish. "She's pretty, Vinnie. Very purple and blue and seems pretty strong. Did they tell you about tap water?" He nodded, grinning at him. "Cool. I got a call, Dawn's enrolled in the local school district and they had copies of the paperwork giving her to me. Now we have to figure out which school she's going to."
"There's a few in the city. Did they say anything else?"
"They said she was fairly well set for college but she really should raise her GPA above a 3.2. I'm impressed, I did sucky in school."
"Me too," he agreed, and they went back to staring at his fish. Dawn's squeal made them shudder because Throttle was chuckling and almost sounded evil. "We need to get you two tail implants."
"Yeah, but then I'd have to ride a bike and I can't," Xander reminded him. "Besides, I'd look dorky on the back of a bike. I'm much too much a construction worker to ride a bike."
"Modo's built bigger than all of us and he looks cool," Vinnie offered.
"Modo's in a special class. I'm not that sort of muscular."
"Point, but we could try," Vinnie suggested. He grinned at Charley as she joined them. "Don't you think he should get a bike?"
"Not until this spring. He'll die the first time he skids on the ice." She looked at the fish, walking off shaking her head. "Xander, remember you have to find somewhere bigger if she's staying."
"That's next week's task since I've got a day off," he called after her. He went back to staring at the fish. "I nearly turned into a sea creature, but I could never be that pretty. We were kinda muddy green/brown and slimy with fins."
"Well, they were, I nearly was," Xander admitted. "Scary teeth too."
Vinnie patted him on the back. "You're not in Sunnydale any more, Xander," he reminded him. "You can be yourself now. You won't get threatened around here by any fish creatures."
"Or have to wear a speedo," Xander agreed dryly.
"Do I want to know?" Charley asked from behind them. "I'm taking dinner orders."
"Pizza," Xander said, holding up his wallet. "It's my turn to buy."
"Sure," she agreed, looking at Vinnie. "Pizza good with you? Dawn wanted Chinese and Throttle just moaned when it was mentioned."
"I'll go with the majority opinion this time," he offered.
"I'll spring for real pizza," Xander called.
"Pizza's cool," Dawn agreed.
"We're not turtles, sweetheart," Throttle reminded her patiently.
She pinched him. "You still need calcium to keep strong bones and teeth. You guys won't drink milk and refuse to even look at cheese without shuddering. Therefore you've got to get it where you can. You guys won't eat broccoli, so you're stuck with pizza and ice cream." She bounced out to hug Vinnie. "Come help me, Throttle said that I need someone to work with while he instructs and watches."
"Sure, I'll let you beat my hands up," he agreed, getting up and following her back.
Xander shifted over to stare at the fish more fully. They still mystified him.
"All he needs is fur and a tail," Charley said dryly as she walked off.
Micah looked up as a paper hit his desk. "What's this?" he asked.
"Dawn got vindictive," Max, a pretty brunette woman, told him, smirking at him. "One of the slayer brats put drugs in her former car so she turned her in to the Chicago PD. Apparently the guy she talked to was so happy he was basically skipping down the street."
"Wonderful," he said, handing it back. "I'm sure she feels better. How do her grades look?"
"Better than mine," Max admitted. "3.2 GPA. Science and English taken in full measure. She stopped at Chemistry and Literature. Math through Geometry. Then electives in history and people skills, plus typing and accounting for some reason."
"Good. Maybe she can help me balance our budget. Have fun this weekend."
"She's asked those mice to teach her how to fight by the transcripts from that bug you had planted," she told him.
"They're fairly good at the brawling level but suggest a martial arts style to help her too," Micah offered. "Have her work on languages too. Try to suggest at least two. Try to make one Russian if you can. Only Lorne speaks it around here."
"Sure," she said, shaking her head as she walked off. Apparently it was set in his mind. She made those notes and went home to have dinner and pack for their flight. They'd be turning Dawn Summers into an agent if she wanted it when they were done with her.
Dawn looked up at her proposed school. It didn't look *so* bad. She looked at Xander, who was on the back of the bike beside her. "Do we have to?" He nodded. "Fine." She clutched Vinnie tighter, letting him drive her up to the gate and let her off. She smoothed down the shirt she was wearing then took Xander's arm to walk him inside. They were met at the door by a nice looking older woman. "Hi, I'm Dawn Summers. Your school was suggested to me since I'm transferring out. You talked to my guardian Xander on the phone."
She smiled and shook their hands. "Welcome, Dawn and Xander. This is St. Ignatius' school. It's a very prestigious school locally. Let me show you around and tell you a bit about our programs. We got a fax of your records from Cleveland and I must say you've done well so far in public schools."
"Yeah, but I wanna do government work," she told her. "They're suggesting I do better and I do languages and things."
"Well, we do teach Russian, Spanish, French, Italian informally by those students with the background, and Japanese. We go on the honor system here. You get demerits for bad behavior and points for the good things. Points can earn you prizes and entry into drawings."
"So kinda like Harry Potter but not house points?" she joked.
"Exactly," she agreed, smiling back at her. "We expect you to be free thinking and able to make up your own mind about things, including faith. Are you Catholic or any particular version of the Faith?"
"I'm kinda bordering on neopagan and Buddhist," she admitted. "Sorta between them in thinking."
"That's fine," she assured her. "We do say grace and we have daily prayers but we'd only expect you to stay quiet during them." Dawn nodded, accepting that. She smiled and waved a younger woman over. "This is Dawn Summers, she's thinking about transferring into our school from Cleveland. Dawn, Xander, this is Emilia Sortes, she teaches English and Russian."
Dawn shook her hand. "It was suggested I take Russian and another language," she offered, earning a small smile. "I'm looking at future government work."
Xander smirked at her and said something quietly, earning a blush. Then he shook her hand. "Charmed, Miss Sortes. I saw you out having fun the other night at Bigelow's." She blushed again. "I'd never tell," he assured her with a wink.
The teacher punched him on the arm. "Bad, Xander," she said smartly, rolling her eyes. "Headmistress, this is *the* Xander Harris. The one you heard about last week."
She looked him over, then nodded, then looked at Dawn. "Then you're Buffy's little sister?"
"Unfortunately. Are you against that?"
"No, dear. I'm the daughter of a Watcher," she said dryly. "Come, let's chat." She led them all to her office to chat with them and talk up their training program. She knew just the sort of *service* Dawn was considering and she could encourage that. She would definitely liven up that man Simms.
To part 9