Katrina Aid Fic Donated by Heide
Request pairing: Dawn and Ethan
Title: "To Dream, Impossible"
Lead Author: WickedFox
Lunatics Currently at Large:
Giles Fan, Jessie, Koala,
Miss Witch, Tara, and WickedFox
Time: In the Luniverse, sometime between "Grey Matters" and "Lies I Told Myself (And Truths Others Told
Ethan sprang upright at the sound of the knock on the hotel door. He wasn’t expecting anyone, and while the TV was loud, it shouldn’t have led to any complaints. He knew it couldn’t be the berk at the front desk. The room was paid for indefinitely, courtesy of the sorcerer’s adopted identity and a skillfully enchanted credit card.
As he crossed the room to the door, he felt a sudden warmth wash over him. A delicate vibration followed, tickling pleasantly along the fine hairs on the back of his neck. The sensation intensified as his hand wrapped around the doorknob. He smiled as he pulled open the door.
“Dawn, what a lovely surprise.”
“Isn’t it though?” The young lady batted her eyelashes and curtsied cutely then proceeded to bully her way past. He couldn’t help but grin at her playful ease with him. They’d come so far. Of course he knew they had much further to go.
“Giles is out with the amazing Jo, and Buffy is inventorying at the nursery. That means I’m all yours.”
Ethan grinned broadly at the thought. “Truly music to my ears.”
Dawn laughed and pointed at the small TV. “I don’t know how you can hear it over that noise.”
“Sorry about that. Just give me a moment to turn it down.”
He shut the door and hurried past her to reach the television. Dawn giggled as he took a pair of needle-nose pliers and carefully gripped the stubby remains of the absent dial, working to lower the volume one slow turn at a time.
“I’m afraid this thing has only two volume settings, non-existent or bloody deafening and the on/off seems to be a random occurrence.” After a few attempts, he gave up and tossed the pliers down into a mess of magazines on the table. He pivoted around, wearing a sheepish grin. “It has it in for me, I swear.”
He stopped to admire her again. Dawn looked beautiful, a refreshing breeze in the stale atmosphere of his cheap hotel room. She was dressed for comfort in faded blue jeans and a peach tee under a loosely draped, button-up grey shirt. And when she smiled, she glowed with the power only he could see, her delicate body singing its sweet serenade of intoxicating energies.
“But you look like such the pro with the tool and all. Quite the impressive handyman. I think Xander has some competition.”
“Yes, well, a true handyman would have repaired the telly by now. Useless thing refuses to work most days. Unless the stars are aligned just right, it’ll receive only two broadcasts with any clarity at all. One channel looks to be a food network and the other porn-… oh…erm…” he stammered, “… well, let’s just say it’s rather affecting programming.”
“Tough choice, hungry or horn-…” Dawn cut herself off and blushed. “Lonely,” she salvaged with a self-conscious smile.
“Yes, that about sums it up.” Ethan nodded.
“Lucky for you, I came prepared to help in both departments.” Her eyes went wide with the realization of how awkward her statement had come out. “I meant prepared to help with the hungry and the…”
“Lonely, I got it,” Ethan acknowledged with a wink.
Dawn hefted up the large grocery sack she held in her hand and gave it a wiggle. “I brought goodies. But only if you’ve been good, that is.”
“I’ve been busily lazy and hardly working all day. Managed quite little, actually. You’d be very disappointed, I’m sure. Perhaps some punishment is in order.” He raised a brow and grinned hopefully.
"Done and done. You will be suffering the wrath of my cooking. We're having a stupid picnic shindig at school tomorrow and you get the honors of being the test subject for my first try at potato salad."
"Doesn't sound like the proper punishment for an incompetent slacker."
"Wait till you taste it. You may have a change of heart."
“In either case, please make yourself at home.” He gestured to the chair as he stepped forward and took the bag from her. She gave the room a quick scan and by the time he’d turned back around from emptying the contents on the table, Dawn lay sprawled comfortably along the bed. His pulse quickened and he stepped forward slowly, cautious in his approach to such a promising situation.
"Forgive my insolence, princess, but you seem to have seized my spot." He said as humbly he could manage. "Where might a lowly peasant rest his weary soul while basking in your radiance?"
"Laying it on a bit thick, aren't you? That kind of guilt trip should come with bonus miles." She wiggled over, vacating just enough space for the sorcerer. "C'mon, there's room enough for both of us." He bowed graciously.
"Your generosity knows no bounds." He studied her thoughtfully, seriously considering taking her right then and there. "Are you so certain I'm to be trusted?"
"Try anything, buddy, and my Slayer sister will turn you into plant fertilizer." Dawn grinned confidently. "Besides, so far you've cornered the market on British guy manners. Beating out Giles, even. Where's the harm?"
He settled on the edge of the bed. His weight dipped the mattress, sending Dawn tumbling awkwardly against him. He braced her arm gently and offered an apologetic grin. She blushed, offered a bashful smile, and pushed herself off him.
"Sorry, didn't mean to get all gropey."
"Not at all. Please, be my guest."
She continued shifting her weight until finding a good balance. Ethan wondered what else he might get away with. A more intimate touch? An accidental stroke? A clumsy collision of lips?
“What are you watching, food or, um, the other?” Her question drew him out from his daydream. She observed the program for a moment then grinned, pleased. “Oh, I see that the stars are right for magic tonight. It’s a musical! I love musicals. Well, as long as I’m not living them.”
“Whole big thing happened a while back. Creepy demon wanted to drag me off to his hell dominion and make me his child bride. Must run in the family. The Summers women are all creep bait.”
“Perhaps your luck will change.” He crossed his arms, stealing a touch in feigning an unintentional bump. A shiver of heat ran up his arm, but she remained focused on the television.
“I hope so. You like musicals?”
“A select few. This happens to be one of my guilty pleasures.”
Her grin broadened. “Ooh… you have guilty pleasures with an 's'? As in more than one?”
“What other secrets have you been hiding from me?”
Ethan leaned back on the bed. "Perhaps we can have a night of you show me yours and I'll show you mine."
"Show and tell? Fun! But first, if you don't mind, I need to start my mad scientist experiments on you. You game?" she asked.
"I think you’ll find that I’m ready and willing," he growled.
Dawn sprang from the bed and retrieved a trio of Tupperware containers, a few napkins and a single utensil. "Weird, I thought I grabbed two spoons. Do you have any?"
Ethan sat up to watch her. "Afraid not, luv. I eat out, remember?"
"No problem." She returned to the bed with the containers and handed them to the sorcerer while she got comfortable again on the obscenely soft mattress. Once settled cross legged, she took the containers and placed them on her lap. Popping the lid off the first one she frowned. "Okay, if I remember correctly, this one has pickles."
"Sweet or dill?"
"Dill." She opened and inspected the other containers for a long moment before jabbing the chunky contents in one with the spoon. "I think this one has walnuts and this one... tofu."
"Yeah, this is Whispering Pines, tofu capital of Oregon. Besides, everyone's dieting."
"How... thoughtful." He tried his best to hide his terror at the tofu variety. "So which is to be the first?"
"Wait, now I've ruined it. I shouldn't have told you. Now you'll be all biased." She pouted.
"I promise to be as truthful as is necessary to satisfy your experiment."
"I know what I'll do." Dawn set the containers on the small table beside the bed, blocking Ethan's view as she rearranged them. When she turned back around, she directed a heaping spoonful of mystery concoction at him. “Here try it.”
"You can't be serious? You plan on spoon feeding me like a bloody infant?"
"Here comes the airplane, coming in for a landing," she said in exaggerated baby talk. "Come on, it's all in the name of science."
Ethan sighed. "I am your obedient servant."
He opened his mouth to accept the first spoonful. Dawn grinned, shoveling the entire amount into his mouth, making it a point to be messy about it. She giggled when he grabbed at the spoon and worked in exaggerated bites to chew and swallow the mouthful.
"What do you think? Give it to me in letter grade terms?"
Ethan offered a garbled response. Dawn laughed and he chuckled as he swallowed the last of the salad.
Handing him a napkin, she asked, "And the verdict?"
"Certainly not a disaster," he allowed. "Pleasant flavor. Curious texture. The nuts add a nice meat to the dish. But it does leave the palate a bit... I guess I'd have to say dry?" He dabbed the napkin to his mouth.
"Exactly! I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t say what it was. I knew you'd be good at this."
"Does that mean I can add food critic to my list of talents along with handyman and Council lackey?"
"Yep. But you make a rotten maid, however." She reached out and snatched the napkin from his hand, and began wiping his mouth clean. "You totally missed a spot."
Ethan held his breath has her hand stroked his lips. When she began to pull away, he caught her hand in his, holding it firmly between them. Their gazes met and he held his breath, steadying himself.
"Thank you." He gently took back the napkin and released her hand.
“You’re welcome.” Obviously shaken by the moment, Dawn grinned shyly and searched for a distraction. “So what’s this musical about?”
The sorcerer and Dawn settled back against the wall. “It’s a tale about an aging nobleman driven by his passion for adventure. While the townsfolk considered him stricken by madness, he believed himself a knight, living within his own delusions of heroisms.”
Dawn took back the spoon and returned for another sample. She scooped a more amount and offered it to Ethan. “So which was he, crazy or a hero?”
“Why couldn’t he be both?" Ethan took the spoon, gesturing with it as he shrugged. "Perhaps heroes are simply insane, unable to comprehend the inherent dangers of their trade. Misunderstood idealists and dreamers.” He took a small taste of the salad.
“A surprisingly romantic view. I’ll buy it.”
“Pity I’m not selling.” He nodded in approval of the dish. "This has a nice bite to it. The seasoning challenges the senses; taste, scent and also touch, as the slight crispiness the pickle gives is quite refreshing."
Dawn's lips parted in awe. "How do you do that?"
"What's that, luv?"
"Make potato salad sound important?"
"Because in this particular case, it is important… for you." He explained easily. That won him another shy smile and a blush.
“Really, it’s just potato salad,” she whispered as she reached for the spoon again. She pointed at the TV with it. "So who's the husky fellow?"
"His loyal squire, Sancho."
“I think everyone should have a sidekick. You have one."
She gave his arm a playful slap. "Me, silly! Who else but a loyal sidekick would help you finish your council report, be an accessory in your information gathering, tutor you in fashion, keep you company and deliver a home cooked meal right to your hotel room? I'm your Sancho, the modern day female equivalent of your squire.”
"Then that would make me Don Quixote," he smirked. "You think me mad, my lady?"
"Will you hold it against me if I withhold judgment pending further investigation?" she smirked. "I need more information. For example, can you sing?"
"If by singing you mean making noise, yes. But I'd hardly describe it as proper singing."
Dawn scooped up the final spoonful and handed it over. "Giles sings. Really sings, not just noise. I heard him once. I never would have guessed he'd have such a nice voice but he does."
"You like his voice?" Ethan smiled, pleased.
"Yeah. It freaked me out at first, you know? Like it was wrong of me to admit it or something. But he has the pipes."
"That he does," Ethan reminisced.
"Nothing. While I appreciate your willingness to designate yourself my squire, I think you'd be better suited as Dulcinea."
"What's that? Sounds like a new SUV," she joked.
"Oh no, my dear. She was the fairest of maidens,” he answered sweetly and with a tender whisper added, "My perfect lady."
Dawn shook her head. "Well, before you decide I'd make the perfect lady, you better try that last potato salad. It may be the deal breaker."
"So what happens to Donny and Dulcie?" She asked.
Once Ethan had cleared his mouth, he responded. “Quixote dies a feeble old man. And on his deathbed, he affirms all his efforts were madness, renouncing his identity as a knight. Some consider the work a commentary on the death of chivalry.”
“That’s so sad.”
“All good tales are, luv.” He grimaced slightly. "And I'm afraid this final selection is just as I suspected."
"Give it to me straight. I can take it."
"Thank you, kind sir."
"You're welcome, my lady."
Dawn sprang from the bed again and went to the table. She was busily preparing something, keeping her back to the sorcerer to block his view. "And now for dessert..."
“I couldn’t agree more.” Ethan rose smoothly from the bed and slid silently towards her. He raised a trembling hand towards her neck.
She spun around, shoving a plate full of petite cakes between them.
"Double Devil's-food cupcakes!" She declared proudly.
"How…fitting." He retreated a step.
"I couldn't help myself. Had one on the way over and they are to die for." She selected one that was perfectly decorated and offered it to him. "This is for you. See, I made it special."
Ethan examined the cake and couldn't help but smile. Scrawled prettily across the dark chocolate frosting was "My Friend Randall" with the traditional X's and O's for extra flare.
"It took me three tries to get it right ‘cause your name is so long, but it worked out alright since I got to eat away all evidence of my mistakes. You like it?" She asked hopefully.
Ethan accepted the cupcake and took in a patient, soothing breath. "I love it. Thank you."
"Thank *you*." She leaned forward and planted a kiss to his cheek. Before he could react, she continued past him and to the bed, already working the paper wrap loose from her cupcake. “Come on, it looks like the end is near.”
The music swelled dramatically, a warning of the impending tragedy. Ethan studied her for a moment and decided that it wasn't meant to be, at least not this night. It should be special, moving, arranged to perfection like the musical finale drowning out his disappointment. It shouldn’t be rushed. Their time would come soon, he promised himself. He would have his perfect lady. He licked the name
'Randall' off the cupcake and grinned.