Rules for Dodgeball
"Dawn, they weren't your friends, not any more. And yes, I've had to kill vampires I knew when they were human. But they weren't my friends any more, they were demons! Vampires don't care about friendship, or family. They're only interested in one thing, and that's feeding. And if they kill you in the process, so be it."
Dawn, still crying, allowed Buffy to put her arms around her and hold her close.
After a minute or two, Buffy said, "Come on, Dawn, let's go home."
Buffy was barely able to help Dawn to her feet, but the exertion made her dizzy and she almost fell. Dawn scooped her up like a baby and started for home.
"You don't have to carry me, you know," Buffy protested weakly.
"I know," Dawn replied, but she carried her all the way back home.
As they walked through the front door, Buffy asked Dawn to take her into the living room, back to the couch.
"We need to talk," Buffy said to Dawn. Dawn nodded and sat down next to Buffy.
"Still got that early class tomorrow," Willow told them. "So I'll see you guys in the morning."
" 'Night, Will," Buffy said. "And -- Thank You!" she said, making a point of emphasizing the thanks.
"Sure. No big," Willow answered, knowing how much what she had done meant to Buffy.
"Yeah. Thanks," Dawn added.
Willow smiled and nodded, then headed upstairs to bed.
"So I guess the story about your big tests was a lie," Buffy finally said.
"No! I really do have tests tomorrow. One in art class and one in P.E."
Buffy, a little alarmed, said, "Dawn, with your strength and speed you really need to be careful!"
"It's not that kind of test. We'll be going over the rules for Dodgeball and then have a quiz on them. That's so dumb! Can't you just see it? -- 'Rule Number One. Dodge the ball!' "
Buffy laughed along with Dawn.
Then they got serious again.
"I'm sorry I went out like that," Dawn confessed. "But after killing those two the night before, I thought it was going to be so easy. I never realized any of my friends could become vampires."
Buffy put one hand on Dawn's knee in sympathy and support.
"That's the way life is, just when you think you have things figured out, it throws you a curve."
"I guess so. Doesn't seem fair, though."
Before Buffy could say anything, Dawn went on. "I just wanted to be special, you know, like you are. And with all these powers, I felt special."
"Dawn, there is no one in this whole world that is more special than you are. And whether you do or don't have Slayer strength doesn't make any difference. You're a part of me. I feel closer to you than I do anyone. Closer than to Dad, and even closer than I was to Mom."
For a couple of minutes neither spoke.
"Still not fair," Dawn said.
"I know. I wish things were different, but . . . . Look, it's late and you have school tomorrow."
Dawn nodded and started to get up. Before she could, Buffy put her arms around her neck to hug her. After the embrace, Dawn started for the stairs.
"Dawn," Buffy said.
"I know -- you love me."
"I really do."
"And I love you, too. Good night."
Buffy watched as Dawn reached the top of the stairs in two steps.
"First thing tomorrow," Buffy said, closing her eyes as she laid her head against the back of the couch, "The VERY first thing tomorrow, I've GOT to find out how long blood cells live."