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31 July 2006 @ 02:03 pm
Back again, are we?  
Armed with new information that she’d got from Buffy, Dawn returned to Ethan’s shop the next day. She had very prudently not mentioned going out – only asking for more direction for her research. Buffy would freak if she knew who Dawn had run into.

Clutching the book he’d lent her, she opened the door to the shop. She was wearing jeans and a very classy – and grownup – black cowl neck shirt, pearl earring and just enough make up to make her look older. Not to mention really cute boots. If there was one thing Buffy had taught her it was looking your best made you feel really confident, and she thought she needed all the confidence she could get with Ethan.

She hesitated before she called out. “Mr. … er, Ethan?” she called, deciding on the more familiar.

“Ah, Miss Summers. You’ve come back.”

Ethan emerged from where he’d been shelving a few tomes of ancient manuscripts. He paused in front of her, taking in her appearance. “And looking so lovely, at that. Have you brought me more information?”

Tossing her hair behind her shoulders, she met his eyes. “Yes. Buffy hasn’t found it yet, but there’s supposedly some kind of animal around this lake. She thinks it’s the Loch Ness monster, but I have my doubts considering it’s nowhere near Loch Ness. But, whatever. I think it’s a kelpie.”

“Ah. A kelpie. Nasty things, they are.” He gestured for her to follow him. “I’ve a few ideas about how one could go about subduing it. Your sister shall have to use brains instead of brawn, for once. I do hope she’s capable.” He blinked when he realized how that sounded. “My apologies. I’m far more impressed with the skills of the mind.” He waited politely for her to sit first.

Dawn rolled her eyes and sat down. “She told me that Nessie could have relocated to get away from the tourists. Trust me, I love her, but I’m not blind when it comes to her,” she said, crossing her legs. She looked at Ethan. “So … what do you know about kelpies?”

This was a bit surreal. He was acting perfectly pleasant – it was almost like she was chatting with Giles. Well, except Ethan didn’t have glasses and he’d tried to screw them over a few times.

Ethan went through a very brief description of kelpies, how they lured travelers to their deaths amidst the icy depths of the water. He showed her a few spells that had been useful in the past in binding the creatures to the very bottom of their chosen lake.

“So you see, it’s really a matter of containing it, more than destroying it.” For some reason, that reminded him of his tenure in the desert facility, and he suppressed a shudder and forced his voice to sound benign as he spoke. “If the kelpie can’t leave, it’s not going to able to carry anyone off to their depths. However, your sister won’t anger the land spirits by outright killing it. A win-win situation, so to speak.”

Dawn nodded, committing all the information to memory, though she’d scribbled down the spells on a pad of paper she’d pulled from her purse. Too bad she never remembered history class half as well as magic stuff. “Now I just need to do the casting – Buffy would mess it up – and then … you could probably put it in an amulet or something, right? Most things can be, to be activated when Buffy needs it, Fed-Ex it to her and voila, one kelpie in a box.”

“I suppose that can be done. But not here. I have the necessary materials upstairs in my rooms. Follow me.” He went and flipped the sign to closed on the door, then headed up towards the stairs in the back that went to his flat. “You won’t tell your charming sister where I live, will you? I’m not in the mood to be staked through the heart.”

“Buffy doesn’t kill humans,” she said, biting back the response that she very well had what she needed at her place too. Why use her supplies when she could use his? She got little enough allowance anyway.

She followed him up the stairs, realizing at the last moment that perhaps going into his apartment with him might be a bad idea, but she didn’t see any instruments of torture, and he was pretty old – she could take him if she needed to.

Ethan hid a smile as she followed him, almost sensing the words to which she would not give voice. “She may make an exception, Dawn—if I may call you that—if she knew where you were.” As they entered his flat, he gestured towards the sofa in the living area. “Sit there. I shall return in a moment with the supplies, then we shall construct your spell. Have you anything to put it in, or shall I find an amulet? I’m sure I have a few lying about.” Though he should be careful to check them before use. Accidentally killing Buffy would be bad.

Dawn opened her purse, going through it until she pulled out a rose quartz necklace Willow had given her. “Here. This should work, I think,” she said, setting it on the table as she slid cross legged to the floor. She didn’t comment on his observation – she knew Buffy would make an exception as well, which is why she didn’t ever intend on telling her sister, unless he went all crazy on her.

“Excellent.” Ethan disappeared back into one of the bedrooms he used to store his magical supplies, rooting through the cabinets until he found what he needed. When he returned, he found himself slipping into teaching mode, showing her with exacting precision how to do the spell and correcting her until she’d done everything exactly as he’d said.

This was so different than trying to pick things up by watching Willow or Giles do things or reading about them. This was actual learning magic, and Dawn loved it. She held up the amulet she’d made and couldn’t help but grin at Ethan. This was so cool.

Ethan grinned back at her. “I do so love enthusiastic students,” he said, taking the amulet from her. His fingers brushed against hers, and he was surprised to feel the slightest tinge of desire as he touched her. Curious. Usually, he didn’t find himself attracted to women as young as she was. “I shall put the spell in the amulet—I mean no offense, but you’re not yet powerful enough to do so—and then you may send it to your sister.” He set about suiting actions to words, feeling the rush of power through him as he did so. It made him smile.

Dawn watched him carefully, repeating the steps to herself as her eyes never left what his hands were doing. When he was done, she reached for the amulet. “Thanks,” she said, tucking it into her bag for safe keeping. “You’re not nearly as bad as Giles always says you were.”

“Well, that’s something,” he said, grinning at her. “I do hope you’ll stop back by and tell me how it all worked out, yes? And if you have any other magical needs, do let me know.”

She stood up gracefully, nodded as she picked up her bag. “Yeah, thanks,” she said, tucking her hair behind her ear. Now she just had to figure out how to tell Buffy she had an amulet for her without telling her how she had an amulet for her. She didn’t think Buffy would like the idea of her doing magic. Well, she’d just not say anything unless Buffy asked – after all, from the girl who suggested that Nessie had relocated to get away from tourists, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that it was crazy what you could get at Harrod’s nowadays, right?

He watched her with amusement, then moved towards the door and motioned for her to fellow. “I best get back to work. You’d be surprised at the number of people who seek out occult bookstores on vacation.” He led her down the stairs and back into the store, making his way to the front. “There’s a postal center down the way,” he said helpfully. “A few blocks over. They’ll be able to deliver your package to your sister by tomorrow at the latest.”

“Yeah, thanks,” she said. She already had the box ready and the Fed-Ex pickup scheduled for an hour from now. Plenty of time.

Throwing him a look, she smirked. “Guess I don’t have to have my sister kick your ass yet.”

“How gracious. I suppose I’ll revoke that curse I’d placed on you after all.” He smirked back at her, opening the door. The bell rang with a merry jingle. “Only joking.”

She met his eyes and quirked a brow. “You’d better be,” she said before she stepped out onto the street. He was interesting – a lot different than her monk-made memories of him.

Ethan watched her go, allowing himself to appreciate the sight of her young body as she moved away. How very interesting. How very interesting indeed. “Do hurry back, little poppet.”