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Am I Brave?

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Summary: Sometimes Dawn wonders, but most of the time she doesn't think it matters. Not anymore.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Childrens/TeenamusewithaviewFR1312,137071,27622 Aug 0722 Aug 07Yes
Disclaimer: I own neither BtVS nor the Fearless franchise.

A/N: This is an AU where Dawn really WAS Buffy's sister, and therefore went through all the Halloween nonsense. I put the bit's age at eleven, whether that's canonical or not, I do not know. This is first-person POV because that's how Fearless is written, consider it an experiment.

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Am I brave?

Two days ago I would've had an answer for you. Two days ago, I would have said yes. My answer would have been quick and automatic because I am the Slayer's little sister and my innocence was stolen from me the night my parents decided to commit her to an asylum.

It was the night I learned that everything I'd ever feared could be under my bed or hiding in my closet, all the beasties and monsters I heard campfire stories about - they were all real. The next day my sister - my savior, and the only thing that stood between humans and them - was carted off and I was left to face the truth alone.

I learned to hold my fear in, I learned to keep it secret, scariest of all: I learned that adults didn't always know best. Yes, I was brave.

But a few days ago everything changed... again - I lost something most kids my age take for granted... again.

So what am I now?

Am I brave?

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"What's got you so cheerful?"

"Mo-om!" I rolled my eyes at her, "You know!"

Joyce's eyes twinkled as she scraped some eggs onto my plate. "Oh, do I? Tell me, pumpkin-belly, what do I know?"

I wriggled in my seat like an over-eager puppy, trying to hold in my excitement - I could play along in this game. "Nothing, nothing... it's just a really pretty morning!"

Buffy bounded into the kitchen, honing in on me with accusation in her eyes, "Dawn! Did you steal my purple sweater?"

"Um..." Crap! She just wore it last week, why does she need it?

"Dawn!"

I shot a pleading look towards mom, "It's for my costume, I want to go - "

"It's not fair! She's always stealing my - "

" - as a faerie princess and it's not like - "

" - stuff, and you always let her - "

"Girls!"

" - she's gonna wear it today! She's just - "

" - get away with it! How come she gets - "

"Girls!"

" - being picky, it's not my fault her clothes - "

" - to break the rules and I'm always the one - "

"GIRLS!"

Silence reigned in the kitchen for a moment while both Summers daughters shot glares at each other and Joyce rubbed at the beginnings of a headache in her forehead.

"First things first: Buffy, you're right - Dawn shouldn't steal your clothes. It's not right, and I'll have a talk with her." The Slayer smiled broadly and resisted the immature urge to stick her tongue out at her younger sister. "But, honey, Dawn stealing your stuff just isn't as bad as you breaking curfew. I'm not going to lift any punishments just to make you feel better."

"But," the blonde frowned, "I'm not being punished right now."

"Would you like that to change?"

"Oh! No, no, I'm good," the teen flapped a hand, "Go on."

"Well, now that I have your permission..." Joyce turned to her youngest, "Dawn, you needed that sweater for your costume?"

I nodded, feeling tears start to well up in my eyes at the thought of all the time and energy I had put in going to waste. It was the best costume. Ever! All purple and float-y with my layer-skirt and I just knew mom was gonna loan me some jewelry!

"And Buffy are you sure that you can't loan your sister your purple sweater for just one night?"

The blonde pulled a disgusted face, "And let her tramp all through town begging strangers for candy? Ew no, she'll fall and get something icky on it!"

It was all I could do not to burst at that grossly unfair statement: Buffy had gone patrolling in that sweater last time she wore it! Dead-person-dust was way ickier than anything I could get on it!

Joyce sighed and shrugged, "Then you're just going to have to take your sister costume-shopping tonight - "

"But mo-om! All the best ones will be taken!"

"But mo-om! I was planning on hanging out with Wills and Xander!"

"Dear, I'm sure you'll be able to find something you like," Joyce reassured Dawn before turning to Buffy with a faintly admonitory look on her face, "You 'hang out' with Willow and Xander all the time! You need to start spending some more time with your sister!"

That put a mutinous look on both our faces, but there was nothing to be done. Mom had spoken: Buffy was going to have to hang out with me and I was going to have to get a last-minute costume from whatever two-bit shop she dragged me to.

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What should have been a wonderful day was absolutely awful. It stunk to hear everyone else gush and giggle over their costumes - planned weeks in advance - and know that I was going to be stuck with some department store rejects.

Since I was concentrating so fiercely on not thinking about costumes, my mind naturally wandered to the next-worst subject: nighttime on the Hellmouth. I hadn't really thought about it before, but was this really going to be safe? Would I be ok trick-or-treating, or was I likely to end up some monster's version of candy?

I'll probably be all colorfully-wrapped, too. I shuddered at the disturbing image while I waited for Buffy to pick me up on the steps of the Middle School.

"What's got you all wigged?"

I jumped at the unexpected voice and scowled when Buffy giggled, "It's not funny."

"She's right you know, you must use your powers for good - not evil," came the serious voice of the most beautiful guy to ever walk the planet. I turned around and there he was: flanked by Willow and she-who-does-not-deserve-to-be-named: Xander!

"So Dawnie, you ready to go costume-shopping?"

I couldn't help but smile, Willow was so cool! Sometimes I wished that she was my big sister instead of she-who-does-not-deserve-to-be-named. "How come you guys are coming too?"

Xander was the one who answered as we started walking towards the downtown area, "Snyder's making us take all the little kiddies trick-or-treating."

I chewed my lip thoughtfully, "To make it safer?"

"Were you worried?" Wills eyes were full of concern, "Buffy said that Giles says that demons and ghoulies don't come out on Halloween." She paused for a moment before adding with no small degree of amusement, "They think it's tacky."

"My one night off a year and I have to go baby-sit!"

"Wait," I was so surprised that I stopped dead, "You mean you're not going with me?"

Buffy looked startled too, this had obviously not yet occurred to her, "I guess not. Looks like you're on your own tonight, kiddo."

We started walking again, but this time I didn't take part in the conversation. My brain and my spine were too busy debating whether or not to go trick-or-treating.

Free candy, besides, there's nothing to be afraid of, my brain decreed.

Vampires, ghouls, ghosts, demons, monsters, my spine chanted.

Giles says that there's nothing to be scared of!

There was a short pause, and then: Oh.

I couldn't stifle a giggle, even my spine respects the Giles!

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The costume shop we went into was brightly lit, even if some of the displays were sort of creepy and dark. Willow and Buffy instantly split off at the sight of a pink velvet dress.

That was ok, though, it left me alone with Xander!

"So Dawn-patrol, what were you thinking as far as a costume?"

"Well..." 'Faerie princess' sounded so immature all of a sudden. Luckily Xander took my silence for a lack of ideas and started giving suggestions.

" - all sorts of comic book characters you could go as - "

"No spandex!"

He paused and smiled sheepishly, "Yeah, you're right. Your sister would kill me." He rubbed his arm thoughtfully as he pondered my situation.

I flipped through a rack of cheesy historical figure costumes, "Any other suggestions?"

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?"

"No."

"Princess Leia?"

"No!"

"Kitty Pryde?"

I gave him a look.

He smiled that lopsided smile again, "Yeah, yeah, I know. Spandex... What about Arwen?"

"Who?"

"Never mind. Well, I dunno, I guess I'm stumped."

"Might I be of some assistance?"

Xander jerked into a sloppy defensive pose and I gave a small shriek at the sound of the cultured British voice. A tall, lean man with short dark hair and amused brown eyes was studying us from a few feet away.

Seeing that my crush wasn't going to answer, I piped up instead, "Are you the owner?"

"Yes, my name is Ethan Rayne. How may I be of service?"

"I'm looking for a costume."

"I gathered that, what sort?"

"Um, something cool?"

"'Something cool,' well, let's see what we can do." He started off and, after a quick look to Xander who had apparently found something fascinating in the gun bin, I followed. Towards the back of the store he paused before a small rack filled with dozens of little ready-made packages, but these looked nothing like the ones one usually found in stores. Each was somehow... special in either it's design or it's layout so even the duplicates of the same costume seemed unique.

"Wow!"

"Indeed," he grinned at me, "I'm sure we can find you something." Rummaging a bit to the back of one of the racks he pulled out a small clear-plastic case. Inside was what looked like a red-leather jacket, belt and boots. "Here we are," Mr. Rayne handed me the package and I looked at it a little dubiously.

"What sort of a costume is this?"

He seemed surprised, "Why it's Gaia Moore! I thought every American girl your age read the Fearless series!"

"The what now?"

Pointing, he indicated the bag, "Her first book is in there, why don't you flip through it for a few minutes and let me know what you think." With that he headed towards Willow, my sister and the pink dress.

Fifteen minutes later I was the proud owner of a Gaia Moore costume. Fearless rocked!

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"Are you sure about this, honey? Because I don't have to go to the gallery tonight, I could go out with you instead..."

"Mom, it's fine. I'll be ok." I grinned and brandished my fists at her, "I'm fearless remember?"

She smiled and tousled my hair gently, something I still enjoyed, despite my vocal protesting. "Alright, don't be too fearless though, it's good to be scared sometimes."

I shot her an incredulous look, "Huh?"

"Never mind, just have fun, ok?"

"I will, bye mom!"

Stepping out the door I took a deep breath of the crisp autumn air. Candy, here I come!

▬↨▬

The shattering of the bust of Janus caught the me at a bad time.

Halfway through a round-house kick, to be precise.

I rolled into a ball instead and whimpered as the fleeting impressions of Gaia continued to fade. Some part of me - born the night my sister told me the truth - grabbed the last few hours, grabbed the pure freedom of fearlessness and held on with all it's might. I felt a tugging sensation as my fear receded into nothing and I regained the strength born of adrenaline.

Grabbing a branch I managed to thrust it into the vampire's chest, getting the heart more by luck than any true aiming. Both the dust and my muscles collapsed to the ground in a heap as the hormonal rush faded, leaving me a weak mess.

Some of the fuzzier details of the last few hours floated back, and I vomited.

Still a little shaky, I stood and searched through the surrounding bushes for my candy before heading home.

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Since that night I have round-housed many demons and staked many vampires.

How can I not? Knowing what goes on out there, I can't stand by and do nothing.

It's easy to avoid the cemeteries that Buffy patrols: she's on a rotating schedule.

I'm not scared that she'll see me. I'm not scared of anything anymore.

Sometimes, when I'm fighting a demon or staking a vamp, I find myself wondering again:

Am I brave?

True courage - bravery - is not the absence of fear, it is fighting on in spite of it.

I feel no fear, so no: I guess I don't really qualify as brave.

Other times I think if my fighting means that there's one less vampire that might suck the life out of someone that I care for, one less demon that might plot the end of the world, then who cares? Let Buffy be brave.

I'll be what I am.

Fearless.

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End Fic






A/N2: So whaddaya think? Like it, love it, loathe it with the fiery intensity of a thousand hot suns? Lemme know!

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