"The Price of the Key"
by Just Human

"Price of the Key" has been nominated for the Angel round at the The Candy Store Awards


Feed the author: Justhuman111@hotmail.com

Rating: NC-17(m/m slash, implied hetero sex as well)
Summary: Xander and Angel try to rescue Dawn
Disclaimer: Joss is my sadistic god; I am but a cowering sub that claims to write and owns nothing.
Spoilers: though the 2002 episodes of both AtS and B:tVS. Some plot points developed with altered spoilers for later season 4 and season 7 events.
Author's Coments: Secret Slasha 2002 - On my knees, thanking Magpie for the story advice as well as the excellent beta - I changed stuff without her permission, it's all my fault. Merry Christmas, Buddy!

So we were sweeping up glass, and I was remeasuring the living room window, again after the latest attack on the Summers' house. This place had seen way too much destructive action in the last couple of weeks, but as 'Xander Harris, personal handyman to the Slayer', I was bound and determined to pick it up and put it all back together again.

I had to anyway, because it took my mind off the things I wasn't going to be able to put back together - like Willow's guilt about last summer and Dawn's seemingly doomed childhood. Let's not forget Buffy stressing over Spike - 'scuse me while I spit - and my ex, who was having trouble dealing with everything, but especially me.

It ripped my heart out knowing how I hurt Anya. It ripped my heart out knowing how she hurt me back with Spike - 'scuse me while I spit. It ripped my heart out knowing that we were never going to figure it out and be together again.

In all the heart rending madness and evil researching, we came to some conclusions - well, Willow came to some conclusions, and the rest of us listened, because Willow = brain. Among the other nastiness of the First Evil, the Hellmouth was headed for an unscheduled grand re-opening. In good sidekick fashion, we all went, "What!" when Willow announced it. It wasn't like it was written in any kind of prophecy, but the unholy sacrificing going on indicated that the Hellmouth could be opened if you had the right kind of mystical key. We tried not to look at Dawn, really we did.

Fighting ensued followed by whining, fuming, more fighting and phone calls. We couldn't get a hold of Giles or the Council, which left us with one other supernatural channel - Angel Investigations.

On top of all the normal reservations, it was raining fire in LA. It had been going on for about a month. It came in the form of occasional showers, but the sky was almost always dark. Angel was able to tell us, and Willow was able to confirm, that what they had was one of the beasts of the First. It was part of a matched set along with tornadoes to the east of the Hellmouth and earthquakes to the north. That left water in the west - where we keep the entire Pacific Ocean - still yet to come. Angel was teaming up with some old enemies in LA to bring down the fire beast - if they did that, the water one might be stopped.

After long debate, and that pinching feeling of being stuck between a rock and a hard place, we made a decision. It was still better to send Dawn to LA than to leave the Key in the lock of the Hellmouth. The LA phones cut out before we could finish making all the arrangements - they stopped working when an actual firestorm hit. We figured that we knew enough.

So a few days before Christmas, Dawnie and I took off for Lala land in the hopes of finding safety.

What we found was a war zone. Wrecked cars, burnt out buildings, looters, the works. Power was constantly out in part of the city, but the area around the Hyperion still looked to be in fairly good shape when we parked under a nearby overpass - the firestorms were hell on your paint job. Wondering if I would ever see my car again, Dawn and I hurried along the street to the hotel's front door.

Onto Part 1

Feed the author: Justhuman111@hotmail.com

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