series title: Apart of Her
story title: I. Before the Leap
chapter: one of six
pairing: buffy/dawn (warning! warning! don't click if you don't want to read)
setting: season five, "forever" and beyond
Disclaimer: joss, fox, darkhorse. BtVS is theirs. I profit not at all. I write just for my own, personal enjoyment.
Notes: This story was originally written years ago as a challenge to myself. I'd come across some, shall we say, less than believable fic involving this taboo, no-no pairing, and then felt compelled to try my hand at it to see if I could make it work, and ground it in character. It also gave me an excuse to really focus on and write Dawn, which I hadn't up 'til then because all my stories tend to have a Buffy/Someone-Else-Female slant.
So I wrote. In Dawn-POV no less. I struggled. I questioned why the hell I would even attempt such a thing in the first place. But then eventually, it was finished. I think it turned out pretty well.
Anyway, here it is somewhat rewritten (and renamed), as I've--GASP--begun work on a sequel. What can I say, my muse is strange and bizarre, but when she strikes, gotta listen. Uh, enjoy?
I didn't know, I swear I didn't. All I wanted was my mom back. Why can't I?
She shouldn't've died in the first place, and Buffy just kept acting like it didn’t happen...
Like nothing did. I needed her, and she wasn't there. Sure, she got funeral things ready and whatever, but she did it like she does it every day. You don't bury your mother every day, right? Oh. Maybe she does in her head...
I'm stupid, and I'm a jerk. The biggest, stupidest jerk ever. I thought Buffy didn't care. About Mom dying, about me...I was so wrong. She's crying because I didn't understand. I made my sister cry.
Or, I mean, I guess she's not, but we're...I'm part of her. In the literal sense. How much closer could we get? I know I love her like she's my sister.
But ‘cause I came from her...yuck, that sounds gross...I-I dunno, it’s different than if we were just, y’know, normal. I saw a TV show once about how twins have this weird connection like, all the time, even when they're separated at birth and have no idea they have a twin till they meet each other when they're really old. I think Buffy and me have that. When we're not fighting over stuff.
I can't fight with her now, though. She was just trying to be strong, and brave. For me. She doesn't want Mom gone any more than I do. I've never seen her like this--she's...broke. She sort of was like this during the whole "Angel" thing nobody would tell me about, but no way is it the same. I can tell.
She thinks she has to be like, constantly tough, but she doesn't. Crying just shows she's human, and that's good. Except, I cry...and I'm not human.
You know your life is messed up when you have no clue what you are.
"And I'm trying. Dawn, I am. I am really trying to take care of things, but I don't even know what I'm doing. Mom always knew."
"Nobody's asking you to be Mom," I tell her.
She's hurting. At least we can finally hurt together.
"Well, who's gonna be if I'm not? Huh, Dawn? Have you even thought about that? Who's gonna make things better? Who's gonna take care of us?"
"Buffy..." God, I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry.
"I didn't mean to push you away, I didn't. I just, I couldn't let you see me."
Now I'm crying too, and Buffy thinks it's her fault. It's not, but I can't talk.
"Oh god, Dawnie..."
I'm usually jealous of her. I mean, she's beautiful, she can kick total monster butt, and she makes everyone fall in love with her without even knowing it. Spike loves her so much that if she asked him, he'd probably have his fangs taken out, and he doesn't even have a soul. How’s she do that?
But right now, my sister's just a person who's not always so tough. It's weird, but I kinda think that makes her more awesome.
"I don't know what we're gonna do. I'm scared."
"Buffy..." Can't I say more than her name? Geez, way to help her, Dawn.
Someone's knocking? Oh no. No, no, no, no. I forgot. The spell. It's not gonna be Mom, it's not gonna be Mom...
But she's smiling. She's turning around, ‘cause she wants it to be. So do I, but it isn't. It's gonna be something else, and-and I'm using my brain a little too late, aren’t I?
"Buffy." I have to...I have to stop this.
She's running for the door. The photo. I used it for the spell. I have to tear it up; it'll be over, then. I think. We'll be alone for good. Can we handle it? Hope so. We're not gonna have a choice. But we'll have each other and the gang, so alone might not be that bad.
Wow, Mom was pretty. "Goodbye," I whisper.
Then I rip her picture, put the two halves on the table, and walk into the foyer as Buffy turns toward me. No one's outside. She looks so sad.
She starts to sob, and I'm joining in. I go hug her, and it feels like I'm, protecting her for once. I'm glad--that I can do this for her, not that she's so sad. It's nothing like what she's done for me, but she has to know that I love her...especially now.
"It's okay." We're slowly dropping to the floor, but I'm gonna keep holding on. "It's okay. I love you, and w-we're gonna be okay." Gotta make sure she knows.
It’s only a few minutes, but it feels like a few hours. I used to hate hugging Buffy, I didn't even like being near her. When Mom got sick, that changed. Mostly ‘cause she won't let me do anything by myself, except maybe floss, but...I don't mind sometimes. I always wanted her to pay more attention to me. Now she is.
A lot of things’ve changed, I guess. It'd be nice if there was a "Stop" button to push, ‘cause I don't think things are gonna ever be like they were. That's the really scary part.
She pulls away from me, and she's gonna apologize. For what? I take my hand and wipe the tear-trails off her cheeks, and then lean in to give her a kiss. There's no tongue or anything. Eww, li-like I would...her lips are soft. No wonder that's all Angel and Riley did...it's not super long, but it lasts longer than it should. I so need a button. Buffy didn't notice.
We buried our mom. My guidance counselor said that grief makes you do strange...why am I thinking about this? It's done, it wasn't a big deal, and she isn't saying anything. It's fine. Honest.
I'm going nuts. That's not supposed to happen till I'm like, thirty-five, but I probably won't see summer, so...maybe the universe is cramming things in. I could be more positive, but crazy person losing her mind, remember? And not just ‘cause a tacky, god reject needs me to open up some sorta lock. You have no idea how much I want that to be why. I don't want my life to be more complicated than it already is.
My room. I came up here to...um...oh. To get plates because Buffy and Giles're washing the dishes. There aren't any, but I don't wanna go back downstairs yet. She might ask me if anything's wrong, and...that'd be badder than Voldemort. ‘Cause there is. I liked it; I'm sick. She's my sister.
Know what's worse? Thinking about doing it again doesn't make me wanna throw up. I'm seriously disturbed.
I know I'm "psycho girl whose mom died" all the kids avoid, and I don't blame them. I am psycho. Tomorrow means it's been a week. I kissed her a week ago.
Like, *kissed her* kissed her.
Nope. See? I said it was no big deal, and it wasn't. Not because it was nothing, but because it...was like I shoulda done it a long time ago. Soon as it, uh, happened? Felt like the best, most natural thing that’s ever happened to anybody. *Ever*. In history. Whenever we’re...something keeps telling me to.
I loved her before I became psycho, so that's not it. Don't ask me why any of this is goin’ on. Wish I knew, but she doesn't need her kid sister having a crush on her...she hasn't been okay. And me neither, since I need to be straight-jacketed.
But-but it's not really. A crush. I had one on Xander, on Spike, and on that guy in the mall who always hangs by the penny fountain. I know crushes.
What am I gonna do? Hide under the bed forever without food and water? I gotta go back, and just...stay in control. Easy.
Deep breath, Dawn. You can handle this. Hey, look, there's a cup on the floor. On the...? Whew. Empty. It didn't spill. I grab it, leave my room, and start walking downstairs.
They're in the living room. Yep. Talking about slayer stuff. Whenever she's with Giles, that's all they talk about.
"There is something, in the Watchers Diaries...a quest," I hear him say to her.
"A quest? Like finding a grail or something?" She asks.
Finding a grail? Oh yeah. That movie where that evil, rich guy was working with the Nazis and his skin melted off ‘cause he drank out of the wrong cup. I look at the one I'm holding, and then shake my head--I was six. Big mistake.
"Not a grail...maybe, answers?" He pauses. I think it's a British thing. You know, for effect? "We'll take a day, perhaps two."
"I'm not leaving Dawn. Not with Glory looking for her."
I hafta smile as I go in. When she says things like that, it makes it harder.
"Sure you can," I tell them, sitting next to Buffy on the couch. She's so much prettier than I am. "What's the deal?"
"Some slayers before Buffy found it helpful in regaining their focus. In learning more about their role. There's a sacred place in the desert, it's-it's not far," Giles continues.
"But I *can't* go," she insists. "I'm not leaving you, Dawn."
"If you have to go learn...I mean, if it'll help you out, I think you should do it. I can 'hang with the gang.' I'll be okay."
Time away could be good. I wanna kiss her. That's not healthy. I can put it behind me, she'll come home, and it'll all be fine. Why is her hand on my hair? So *not* helping.
"I love you, Dawn. You know that, right?" She's serious.
"Yeah. I love you too." I hope my voice didn't crack.
"I love you. *Really* love you."
What did she mean by that? Act nervous. Wait. I am.
"Gettin' weird." I give her a strange smile.
"Sorry. But it's important that I tell you. Weird love's better than no love."
I'm hugging her, but seriously, what did she mean by that? Huh? Does she know?
"I'll show myself out," he announces in the middle of our hug. "I have the necessary...supplies, all you need to do is be sure to sleep."
"Thank Giles for dinner, Dawn," Buffy tells me.
"Thanks, Giles. It was--" Come on, come on...I get nudged. "Tasty."
"You're welcome. Good night, girls." He smiles, and then he's out the door.
She undoes her ponytail, I rest my head on her shoulder...and she brushes some of my hair behind my ear. Okay, brain officially off. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be sitting like this.
She's watching me. We smile at each other...and now she looks confused. Uh oh. I knew this was gonna happen. Why do faces have to make expressions? Sheesh. I can’t explain whatever it looks like; there's no lie good enough.
I sit up. "Buffy..."
"Yeah?" I just stare at her, and drag my fingers through her hair. I want mine wavy-curly too. Great. She knows how out of it I'm being. "Dawn?"
Just like that, like it doesn't matter, my mouth’s saying hi to her mouth. I have zero control. Every reason I had to be worried, to fight this, completely isn’t there. I don't know if I'm a good kisser yet; I could suck. They're tiny ones, and she's...she's kissing me back. She feels it? Thankyou-thankyou-thankyou! This is right. It just is. She's bringing her hand to my cheek...
And she's stopping. Her eyes bug out.
"Go brush your teeth." It sounds like an order.
"Are we--?" My breath smells?
"Just...go to bed."
I just made things worse. I told you I was going nuts, but, been there a while.
Chapter Two, Part One...