Life and Times of Dawn Summers, College Student
Title: Finding Normal
Category: BTVS/Highlander crossover
Disclaimer: I own nothing except the demented plot. All BTVS characters belong to Joss Whedon, etc. All Highlander characters belong to Davis Panzer Productions, etc.
Distribution: The Next Level and Twisting the Hellmouth. Otherwise, please ask first (I'll probably say yes).
Summary: An answer to The Next Level challenge #60: Dawn flees Sunnydale to go to college. Where does she end up?
Notes: This story is set two years after BTVS Season 7 so there are SPOILERS. Also since it's set in the future, the BTVS part is an alternate universe with minor supporting
characters of my own creation.
Hard to believe we've been here for eight months already. I love the name. Hope Springs, Nevada. It's tragically comedic on so many levels. I'm glad Buffy chose this hellmouth to guard rather than Cleveland (though I do miss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).
The motel is doing well. Caritas Inn has a nice ring to it. Way better than the Bates' Motel like Xander suggested (although with the old house in the back there is a resemblance). We're so lucky Angel found the deed to the place in the basement files of Wolfram and Hart. Becoming self-employed was the best thing for Buffy, career-wise. Xander's done an amazing job of the renovations and who knew Andrew could be a half decent desk manager.
Giles called yesterday saying that the Council's located two more slayers-in-training. They're going to spend some time in England first before being transferred to one of the hellmouths. I think having the slayers-in-training and the watchers-in-training do both academic and field work is an excellent idea. S.I.T.s and W.I.T.s. I love it. Hopefully the New Council can avoid the mistakes of the previous one.
Willow will be finishing her masters in two months. The university would like her to stay and teach, but she's not sure. She's been showing me how advanced number theory is like blackjack (a skill that could possibly be useful later in life).
As for me, things are okay but busy. It was weird transferring to a new school in my senior year, but what can you do? The other kids are nice enough, but sometimes they're even more naive than the ones back in Sunnydale. I just finished the last of my midterms today. They went okay. Still no word on universities. Buffy hopes I'll go to one of the schools in Las Vegas or L.A.. I'm hoping for someplace with a little less demonic activity.
Six weeks later, an envelope was waiting for her on the hall table after school. The world seemed to stop for just a moment. She didn't see anyone nearby, but she could sense them. Desperate for some privacy, she did the only thing she could. She ran up the stairs and locked herself in the bathroom.
Leaning against the vanity, she took a deep breath and, with trembling fingers, carefully worked the seal open. She slowly pulled out the contents and unfolded the papers.
“Dear Ms. Summers, we are pleased to inform you...”
“UWS?” Buffy said incredulously as she read the letter. “But that's in Washington!”
“What's wrong with Washington?” Dawn asked.
They were in Buffy's room with Willow and Xander though Dawn was sure the others were listening at the door.
“It's 1,000 miles away,” Buffy answered. “I thought you were going to stay here and go to Carson College.”
“You mean the campus that was haunted by 3 dozen ghosts,” Dawn said.
“The exorcism fixed that,” Buffy said defensively. “Why the University of Washington, Seacouver?”
“It has a good reputation and a journalism school which Carson doesn't have. You know, in case I decide to make that my major,” Dawn replied. “Not to mention a full scholarship.”
“You got a scholarship from Carson,” Buffy said.
“But not as good as UWS. Even if I lived at home, I'd still need more money which isn't exactly growing on trees,” Dawn countered.
“What if something big comes here, and we need your help?” Buffy asked.
“You have a houseful of Scoobies, S.I.T.s and W.I.T.s. If you do need me, it's a two and half hour flight with planes leaving daily.”
“Dawn, I don't know,” Buffy said hesitantly. “What do you guys think?”
Xander looked at the two siblings. “I think we should support her decision. Whatever it may be.”
“What?!” Buffy said surprised.
Willow added, “Dawn's made some pretty good arguments, and she's eighteen -”
“Well, technically she's five,” Buffy reminded the redhead and earned a searing glare from her sister.
“Dawn has a chance that none of us really had,” Xander continued. “A chance at normal in a place where a demon won't be chasing her every week. If that's what she wants, we should respect that.”
Willow then put her arm over Dawn's shoulder. “Now that's not to say we won't miss our littlest Scooby. I mean she does kick butt when it comes to the research, and I'll be losing a great chess partner.”
“We could always play e-mail chess,” Dawn suggested.
Willow grinned. “That's my girl.”
Two months later Dawn was ready to leave home. A big going away party was thrown in her honor. The living room was decorated with streamers, balloons and a glittery “Good Luck, Dawn” poster. The party guests included the Scooby Gang and the current S.I.T.s and W.I.T.s.
“Attention, attention, please,” Andrew said tapping his fork against his plastic glass and sloshing punch onto the carpet. “It's time for the presents.”
Nicole, Katie and Miko, three slayers-in-training, led Dawn to the couch and sat beside her while two other S.I.T.s, Bethany and Alicia, sat on the couch's arms. Everyone else grouped around.
“I have the honor of presenting the first gift,” Andrew said in his Masterpiece Theatre voice.
“Only because he whined until we let him,” Bethany muttered.
“Shut up,” Andrew complained.
“No, you shut up,” Bethany retorted.
“Xander!” Andrew said.
“Buffy!” Bethany countered.
“I can't believe you're abandoning me to these two,” Miko said to Dawn.
“Guys,” Buffy said in that don't-make-me-hurt-you tone before nodding to Andrew.
“As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I have the honor of presenting the first gift,” Andrew said and gave her the package.
Dawn methodically opened the wrapping and held up the DVD box. “Thanks, Andrew. This is great!”
“It contains the entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy plus it has some amazing bells and whistles,” Andrew explained. “And on what may you watch the DVDs? Perhaps the next gift will help.”
With a flourish, he stepped aside while Buffy put a large box on the coffee table. Dawn first read the card noticing the Wolfram and Hart stationary and that all of the L.A. crew had signed it. Then she undid the tape on one side so slowly that everyone moaned. Dawn grinned then uncharacteristically ripped the wrapping off to reveal a brand new laptop. “Wow!”
“It's Fred's latest creation,” Buffy explained.
“Wait till you check out all the extras,” Xander said.
“Lorne included some of his songs in one of the directories,” Willow added.
“He's so cool,” Andrew said.
“Our present next,” Katie said as Miko and Alicia moved the laptop to make way for the long wooden box carried by Nigel and Amelia, two watchers-in-training.
“It's a personal safety kit,” Nicole explained when Dawn opened it.
“But not just any old personal safety kit,” Miko said.
“It's a supernatural one,” Alicia clarified.
“Xander made the box and helped us get the stuff,” Bethany said.
“It should fit under your bed in the dorm,” Xander explained.
“Miko, Katie and I made the stakes,” Nicole said.
“Bethany and I collected holy water from all 35 churches in Hope Springs,” Alicia said pointing to the large bottle and smaller vials.
“The water gun was my idea,” Bethany said.
“The small crossbow with wooden bolts was my suggestion,” Nigel added.
“After that werewolf last year, I thought you might want to have a tranquilizer gun,” Kennedy, another slayer, said.
“I thought you might need a silver dagger,” Amelia said. “If anyone asks, just say it's a letter opener.”
Dawn looked at the last item in the box. “A flare gun?”
“That was me,” Buffy admitted. When everyone turned to her, she added defensively, “hey, I used one in my freshman year.”
Dawn looked at Xander, the W.I.T.s and the S.I.T.s whose arrivals made her life go even more topsy turvy. “This is incredible. Thank you so much.”
“Faith and Robin sent this,” Buffy said handing a package to Dawn.
Dawn opened the package which contained copies of 'The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook' series. “I made some notes in the margins. - F” was written on the card inside. Dawn smiled wondering what kinds of things Faith had written inside the book on sex and dating.
“My turn,” Willow said giving her another wooden box. Dawn opened it and found a collection of spices, vials of liquid, a candle, a silver lighter, a mortar and pestle and a notebook.
“It's a basic spellkit,” Willow explained. “Everything you'll need for the defensive spells we've been practicing. Xander made the box.”
“Thank you, Willow,” Dawn said getting up and hugging her then Xander.
“Here's mine,” Buffy said giving a small box to Dawn who opened it and discovered a silver cross similar to her sister's. Buffy took the necklace and looped it around the younger girl's throat. “Promise me you'll wear it always, okay?”
“I will,” Dawn said hugging her sister.
“Giles is sorry he couldn't be here too, but he did send you a little something,” Buffy said handing her an envelope.
Dawn opened it and found a return plane ticket from Seacouver to Hope Springs. On the card, he wrote, “Best of luck and see you at Christmas.”
Dawn looked at everyone with tears in her eyes. “You guys are wonderful. I'm going to miss you all so much.”
“Group hug!” Xander declared, and it lasted for five minutes.
“Don't worry, Buffy. Everything is under control,” Xander said as he put the last of the luggage into the SUV. “Besides, you and Dawn need some bonding time.”
“I know,” Buffy said making sure the map was in the glove compartment, “but with Willow and Kennedy going to Cleveland to help Faith and Robin, it will just be you, Andrew and the trainees.”
“I still can't believe Faith is pregnant. Slayer strength, mood swings and surging hormones. I almost feel sorry for the demons,” Xander said shaking his head then returned to the matter at hand. “Look at it this way. Things are quiet, and you'll be back next Sunday. What could happen in a week?”
“Xander, we're on a hellmouth. Something always happens.”
The sisters made it to Seacouver without incident. Dawn was fortunate to have her own private dorm room much to her relief.
“No psycho Kathy,” Buffy said referring to her demonic roommate from her own freshman year.
“No S.I.T.s,” Dawn muttered referring to her own roommates of the past two and a half years.
They lugged the boxes up to her room and unpacked. It took about a day to get everything set up to Dawn's satisfaction.
“We've got some time,” Buffy said. “Want to go buy your books then get some supper?”
“Hmmmmm, shopping and food,” Dawn said. “Sounds good to me.”
“Told you Seacouver was safe,” Dawn said.
“Okay, you were right,” Buffy reluctantly admitted.
After a late supper, they went on a two-hour patrol of the campus and surrounding area. The scariest thing they saw was a toga party at one of the frat houses. They ended the day nursing mochas in a nearby coffee shop that catered to the college crowd.
“Feel better about leaving me here?” Dawn asked.
“A little,” Buffy said. “Just be careful. Please?”
“I survived growing up on three hellmouths. I'll be fine.”
Buffy simply continued to stare at her.
“Yes, I promise I'll be careful.”
After spending the night, Buffy got ready to return to Hope Springs, but before she left she gave Dawn one last present.
Dawn was stunned when she saw the contents of the pretty box. “Buffy, I can't take these.”
“Yes, you can.”
Dawn took out the stuffed pig and the polished stake. “Mr. Gordo? Mom and Dad gave him to you. And Mr. Pointy? That was Kendra's. I can't take these.”
“Yes, you can,” Buffy repeated. “I know it sounds weird, but I would feel better if Mr. Gordo and Mr. Pointy were watching over you.”
Seeing the sincerity in her sister's eyes caused hers to tear up. “Thank you.”
Buffy smiled tremulously and caught her sister in a tight hug.
Dawn watched as the SUV slowly disappeared.
Well, it's finally happened, she thought as she stood on the tree-lined sidewalk. I'm on my own. No demons. No S.I.T.s. No W.I.T.s. No Scoobies. Just normalcy.
Her initial happiness dampened slightly as the consequences of her decisions, both good and bad, finally sunk in.
On her way back to her dorm, she stopped by the cafeteria and consoled herself with a bowl of fudge ripple ice cream.
That night she slept with Mr. Gordo under her arm and Mr. Pointy under her pillow.
Dawn examined her reflection in the full length mirror. Kinda preppy, but not bad, she thought as she tugged the hem of her sweater and smoothed out the skirt. Checking the clock, she grabbed her bag and headed to class.
Dawn took her time soaking up the collegiate atmosphere. The paths that meandered throughout the campus were full of students coming and going to class. A couple of guys were tossing a football around trying to impress a small group of oblivious girls who were chatting nearby. A few others were sunning themselves using their books as pillows. She smiled relishing the complete ordinariness of it all.
“Hey, Jade!” Dawn said as a petite Japanese-African-American came towards her. She had met her dorm room neighbor a week ago. Jade's bubbly personality was infectious and just what Dawn needed when she began to dwell on her decision to come to Seacouver. “Where are you going?”
“Gonna get the tickets for tonight's movie,” Jade said. “You still in?”
“You bet. Want to do supper beforehand?”
“Sure. So which class are you off to?”
“A History of Arms and Armor,” Dawn said.
“I heard it through the pipeline that the teacher's a total hottie,” Jade said with a wink. “Maybe I should take it too.”
“But you're planning on becoming a forsenic accountant,” Dawn pointed out.
“College is for broadening one's horizons,” Jade said sounding like the campus brochure.
“Well, if Duncan MacLeod is a hottie, I'll let you know so you can sign up. Talk to you later,” Dawn laughed and headed to class.
Author's Note: A beta reader of mine told me I had to write a sequel so this is the first story in a series entitled “The Life and Times of Dawn Summers, College Student”. More to come.