Dawn was thoroughly enjoying her time to herself. Don't misunderstand, she loves her sister very much, but it was good to get away from her every once in a while. There really was only so much sisterly bonding a girl could take before she commits sororicide. At least, that's what Buffy told her before she kicked her out of their apartment.
Dawn rolled her eyes at the lack of subtlety her sister was displaying. Obviously she was booted from her apartment because Buffy wanted some "alone time" with her not-boyfriend. Dawn wasn't offended. Not being there for the latest doe-eyed hormonefest was a perfectly wonderful idea to her. Hence, the enjoyment. It also didn't hurt that Buffy saw fit to throw about fifty bucks her way as incentive.
She had spent a very enjoyable two hours at the mall checking out the male talent. She'd flirted shamelessly, picked up a new book from Barnes and Nobles, tried on some sexy lingerie, and did her best to make poor staid Herman from the Orange Julius stand blush. All in all, she had some fun.
Still, fifty bucks could only go so far, Dawn looked at her watch.
It was only seven thirty. She sighed and sat down on a bench. After about three seconds of deliberation, she pulled out her book. Twenty minutes later it was only seven fifty. Dawn grabbed a coffee and resumed reading.
After a while, she noticed a tapping sound. Dawn looked around to find the source. She spied an old blind man in sunglasses meandering about. She watched him for a second, swinging and tapping his cane to find any obstructions, then went back to her reading. A few minutes later, the old man's cane smacked right into her shins.
"Oh crap! I'm sorry Miss. I, uh, didn't see you," he said bitterly.
"It's okay. No harm no foul," Dawn decided. The old man started crying. "I said it was okay!" she said, alarmed.
"Oh no, it's not that," the old man replied despondently. "It's just, I'm not used to having to use this." He held up his cane, almost whacking Dawn in the face. "My eyes used to be perfect, but I got sick, cataracts, and I didn't have any insurance to treat it." The old man sat down next to her and cried some more. "And to top it off, I wanted to deliver this letter to my friend. I used to visit him all the time before, but now I don't know how to get to his office." He raised his head hopefully. "I don't suppose you could do it for me, could you? It's just, I've been wandering up and down this freaking mall all damn day trying to find the place and now I'm a little tired."
Dawn wasn't sure all this. "Why didn't you just ask for help?"
He snorted. "What do you think I'm doing now miss?"
She shook her head. "No. I mean, why didn't you get someone to bring you there?"
The old man expressed his disgust with the idea. "And be led around like a fool? Look, missy, if you don't want to do it, I'll just keep trying myself."
He got up and stormed angrily in the direction he came. Dawn watched, feeling a little guilty, as he used his cane to navigate around the trees and garbage cans on the mall grounds. She shrugged and went back to her book. Two seconds later, a loud crash rang through the air.
Dawn looked up and saw that it was the old man. He'd slipped on a wet floor, unable to see the caution sign. Dawn ran to him.
"Oh my god! Are you all right?" she asked helping him to his feet.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. No need to get your panties in a bunch." He smiled, putting on his glasses. "Thanks though." Dawn handed him his cane and led him back to the bench. "Oh, that's better," he said with a groan.
Dawn shifted uncomfortably. "Um... If you want, I could still deliver that note for you? Not that you couldn't do it yourself, eventually, I just thought..."
The old man smiled gratefully. "Darling, you are a life saver." He handed her the note. "Remember, this is going to the main offices."
She looked at the envelope. It didn't have a name. "Who's it for?"
"Just hand it to Toby at the front desk, he'll know what to do with it."
Dawn nodded assuringly and headed off.
She got about twenty feet when her cell phone rang. It was Buffy.
"Hey, how was the date?" Dawn smirked. "Right, okay. So how was the not-date?" She grinned. "Oh my god! That's so awesome! I am so happy for you." She rolled her eyes. "Right, there's nothing to be happy about. Not a date. Gotcha. Me? Oh, I'm just doing a favor for a sweet little old blind dude that accidently whacked me with his cane." Dawn frowned. Speak of the devil and he shall appear. She just saw the blind man walking into a camera store. Not only was he not wearing his glasses, but he didn't seem to need his cane either.
"Hold on a second." Dawn opened the envelope. Her face paled as she read it. "I think you need to get down here."
The note read: This is the last girl I'm sending you for today.
Fifteen minutes later, Buffy and Dawn walked into the mall's offices. Dawn smiled when she reached the front desk.
"Hi. I'm supposed to leave this with Toby?" She read the name tag on the desk. "I guess that's you," she said, holding out the envelope.
"Dawnie! Hurry up! We need new shoes, like, stat."
Dawn's eyes popped from their sockets, and she whirled to face her sister. "Bu-ffy!"
Buffy rolled her eyes and began tapping her foot impatiently.
Dawn turned back to Toby. "Sorry. My sister's sooo bossy."
Toby smiled. "No problem. Who was this letter from?"
She shrugged. "Some old blind dude. He said you'd know what to do with it?"
Toby pushed a button and some kind of energy exploded from his desk, passing harmlessly through the girls.
Dawn looked alarmed and Buffy stopped tapping her foot.
"What was that?" Dawn asked nervously.
"Ohmygod! That was sooo cool!" Buffy exclaimed. "Do it again!" she demanded gleefully.
Toby walked out from behind his desk. "I don't think so."
"What was that!" Dawn repeated forcefully.
Buffy shoved her playfully. "Relax sis, that was just some kind of light show. Way cool." She winked at Toby.
He smirked. "If you'd just come this way." He gestured to a door down the hall, "I'll have your payment for delivering this note readied for you."
Buffy's eyes gleamed. "Payment? I love that word!"
Dawn was more hesitant. "I don't know, Buffy. The old guy didn't say anything about a payment."
"Who cares," Buffy said carelessly as she strode down the hall.
"Wait!" Dawn hurried after her, only to crash into her back.
Buffy was frozen in a doorway. Inside was a slaughter house. People parts were lined up everywhere. Torsos hanging from the ceiling like beef, jars of eyes and fingers and toes and tongues lined the walls, arms and legs were piled on pallets on the floor, and there was a work bench covered in blood with cleaving tools set on it.
"Oh my god," Dawn whispered.
A cold fury had claimed Buffy and she dropped all pretenses. She unsheathed her sword, and Dawn pulled out her axe.
Toby came up behind them, wholly unprepared for what was awaiting him. "So, what do you think?" he asked foolishly, not seeing the weapons the Summers sisters wielded.
Buffy ran around Dawn and slammed Toby into the wall, holding him there by his neck.
"I think I'm going to kill you," she told him quietly.
"What is this?" Dawn demanded. "What's going on?"
Buffy squeezed his neck and showed Toby his reflection on her sword. "You should talk. It'd be good for you."
Toby's eyes pooled black and Buffy was thrown back by magic. "You! Who are you!" he asked in between gasping breaths.
Buffy pulled a stake out from her sleeve and threw it at Toby, hitting him.
She smiled when he screamed in surprised pain. "I'm the Slayer."
He pulled the stake out from his shoulder. "You goddamned bitch! I'll flay you alive for that!"
Dawn came out of nowhere and hit him with the blunt side of her axe. "Like fun you will."
Toby recovered quickly however, and grabbed Dawn by the wrist. "If she's the slayer," he pointed to Buffy, "then what does that make you?"
Dawn narrowed her eyes. "Someone you don't wanna mess with." She grabbed his hair and yanked it as hard as she could. Toby shrieked, and Dawn flew back because of another burst of power. Buffy tackled him and slammed his head into the ground, knocking him out.
"Yeah, she's a hair puller." Buffy smiled proudly at the way her sister handled herself. Her smiled faded when she looked back into the bloody room. "We need to call the gang. Get this cleaned up."
Buffy, Dawn, Willow, and Xander were waiting for Giles to speak. He was sipping a brandy while staring into the fire place. After a few moments, he began.
"The warlock, Toby, was using his abilities to lure girls into his abattoir, where he then processed them for commercial use." Giles downed the rest of his drink. He turned around and saw the disgusted faces on his charges. "I know. Reprehensible isn't strong enough a word."
"Too generic," Xander agreed.
Willow raised her hand. "Now when you say 'commercial use'...?"
"I mean the selling of human parts to make a profit," Giles finished, sitting down at his desk.
Buffy looked over at her sister. Dawn hadn't really said much since coming back from the mall. "Dawn? Are you Ok?"
Dawn shook her head. "I keep thinking, what if you didn't call?" Buffy didn't understand, so she explained it to her. "The only reason why I opened the note was because I saw the blind guy not being blind. And the only reason I saw that, was because I stopped to answer my phone." She hugged herself. "If you didn't call, I would've done what I was asked and ended up sliced and diced."
Buffy laughed. Dawn looked hurt, and everybody else stared at her in surprise. Buffy rolled her eyes at everybody's refusal to see the obvious.
"Oh come on guys!" She turned to her sister. "Dawn, do you honestly believe after everything we've taught you, you'd loose to a two-bit wizard like that?" She shook her head. "I don't think so. You'd have taken one look at that bozo and hit him on the head with your axe. You know enough magic to recognize when it's being used, and you've had some of the best fight training in the world, if I do say so myself. You would totally have been in control."
Dawn seemed to brighten up at that. "You think so?"
Xander grinned and gave her thumbs up.
Willow nodded. "Oh sure. That guy was an absolute amateur. Xander could've taken him out."
"Then thank you."
Giles rolled his eyes. You'd think after seven years, he'd be used to them by now. The older man walked out from behind his desk and gave Dawn a hug.
"You have become an extraordinary young woman. I don't think there's a thing on this earth you couldn't handle," he told her sincerely.
Dawn pulled back, beaming, with tears in her eyes. "Thanks." She sniffled a bit. "I'm gonna go get cleaned up."
Giles smiled. "Of course dear."
Dawn left the room.
"So," Xander started. "Raise your hand if you think putting her in a little Dawnter-ball and locking her in her room until she's fifty is a good idea."
Everybody's hand shot right up.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was created and is owned by Joss Whedon.