A Sense of InevitabilityAuthor:
Hard ‘R’ right now… could lead to higher! ;-)Warning:
The usual Buffy & Terminator violence, gore, yadda yadda yaddaSpoilers:
Um, well… yeah… I mean, could we write fanfiction without spoiler of *some* sort being in it?? But… Pretty much everything in The Sarah Connor Chronicles is fair game and I’m actually not really incorporating that much from Buffy other than a character or two…Disclaimer:
Buffy belongs to Joss Whedon, SCC belongs to FOX and…whoever writes it.Author’s Note:
Degree descriptions are available at: http://ls-major.berkeley.edu/pacs.html and http://ls-major.berkeley.edu/anthro.html.
Dawn sighed as she taped up the last box. Looking over the dorm room where she had just spent the last five years of her life, she couldn’t help but feel a touch of sadness. She hadn’t needed to have a roommate. The council had shelled out the extra money required for a private room because that was the only way that Buffy would’ve ever agreed to her going off to college anywhere other than in Cleveland. Dawn smiled softly at the thought of the argument that had ensued when she announced that she’d been accepted to UC Berkeley and that she would be starting in the Fall semester. Willow had looked at her with such a sad, disappointed look, whispering that hadn’t there been a plan for her to attend Stanford? And Buffy had looked like she was going to spit nails since there was no way that her baby sister was going to be on the other side of the country where she couldn’t keep an eye on her! It wasn’t going to happen.
After much pleading, sulking, arguing and threats to run away and the employment of spells to keep her from being located; the gang eventually gave in and started making the preparations for Dawn to move to California and start school, all on her own. She’d had to make deals, sign agreements with the Council and double up on her self-defense training with Buffy and small arms training with Xander before she was allowed to go… but once August arrived, she couldn’t get on that plane quickly enough. She was free! There was not going to be one more minute of being of The Slayer’s Little Sister.
Life was going to be great!
It had been difficult at school… Berkeley was renowned as being a liberal college, but that didn’t mean they didn’t expect the most out of their students. The curriculum had been tough and fast paced and it probably didn’t help that she had decided on a double major, as well. But luckily, Willow had done a lot of tutoring during the crisis of Sunnyhell and Dawn had been well ahead of her class. Plus, when Willow was home schooling, there was no slacking off. Dawn had often compared Willow to a drill sergeant in the academic world. Now, however, she was thankful that the witch had been so tough on her… it had well prepared her for the expectations of the professors at the university.
Graduation had been uneventful, for which she was profoundly grateful. Dawn didn’t think she could handle any more drama than dealing with her friends and family as they had arrived for the graduation ceremony. Xander pestering her, Buffy being…well, Buffy, Willow interrogating her; it was enough to make a girl want to scream! Any more drama would have just been overkill, even for the Powers. She’d had to go through a great deal of explanation when it came to her choices in degree programs and at least Giles had understood why she had chosen her majors… Why was it so difficult for everyone to understand why a double major in Peace & Conflict Studies and Anthropology would be a logical degree to have with their lifestyles?
She had graduated in the top of her class and managed to garner the robes that stated she was gaining her degree with Highest Honors. It hadn’t been easy, she had spent a lot of time studying rather than partying, but it had been worth it.
What she hadn’t told anyone back in Cleveland was that she had also spent a great deal of time learning more about what it meant to be The Key and had learned that she had a lot of untapped potential in her abilities. Over the course of the past five years, she had learned there was a lot she could do that the others never even imagined. The handiest one was the ability to ‘sense’ truths about people through touch; being able to see what they had recently done, said and thought by touching skin. It had taken a while to really get that one under control and she still felt bad because she had actually accidentally passed a mid-term due that ability. After that had happened, she made sure not to come in contact with her professors until well after exams.
Now, here it was a week after graduation and she was packing up to move out of her dorm. She was going to miss the place… it had become home to her; but her friend Andy had said that she could stay with him until she found her own place. She had taken a position at the Council outpost in Los Angeles and was going to be able to continue, for the most part to live her own life. It was finally starting to come together for her and she was finding her own place in the world.
Her cell phone began ringing and she snagged it out of her purse and opened it, answering it while picking up her last box and preparing to take it down to her truck and load it into the trunk. However, she almost dropped it when she heard Andy’s voice on the other end.
“What?!” Dawn yelped.
“My house… Dawn! My house burned down!” Andy’s voice was trembling, whether from shock or anger or both, she couldn’t tell. “Everything… everything is gone! The Turk, Dawn! All that work and it’s gone!” He almost sounded like he was going to break down.
Dawn couldn’t believe it. What had happened? “Andy… what happened? What caused it?”
“I don’t know. The inspectors are here now, trying to find out what happened… but… Oh God! Dawn, everything!”
Now, Dawn really liked Andy. They had met when she had been looking for a cell phone about a year ago and he had sold her the Smart Phone she now had. They had just clicked as friends and gotten along from the beginning. Andy was a little older than her, but in some ways he seemed much younger. It was probably because he spent all of his time wrapped up in his computers and technology stuff… not that she didn’t appreciate technology, after all… it cooked her food in less than three minutes and allowed her to surf the goodness of Dean Winchester screencaps when she was tired of studying. But Andy was almost freakishly attached to his machine that could play chess on its own.
Dawn had a feeling that nothing good was going to come of something like that… machines weren’t supposed to think; they were supposed to do what humans told them to do! There were too many memories of the Buffybot to really make her comfortable with the whole thing.
Fighting to keep from getting impatient with Andy, Dawn consoled him as best she could and assured him that she had another place to stay in LA and then hung up the phone. Knowing that what she was about to do, Buffy would hit the roof if she ever found out. Good thing that both Dawn and her friends were pretty good at keeping secrets. Smiling, Dawn flipped through her Contacts list and found the number for her friend Chola. She knew she could stay with her and her cousin Carlos. Yeah, they weren’t necessarily on the ‘right’ side of the law, but Chola was nice and Carlos had been nothing but respectful after Dawn had shown him that she wasn’t going to take any of his Latino machismo chauvinism.
Yeah… things in LA were about to get extremely interesting.
Dawn had been staying at Chola’s cousin’s house for about three weeks and was just coming home from looking at a house to rent when she noticed the dark haired girl standing in front of the house, leaning against the car. Right away Dawn noticed that there was something ‘off’ about the girl… she was too still, too…intense. She parked her truck and got out, grabbing her purse and newspaper and locking the vehicle up. She loved her 4Runner. It was her baby and she’d had to beg long and hard for Buffy to dip into the Council’s stores and pay for it. She wasn’t going to take a chance on it getting stolen… although since everyone knew she was staying at Carlos’s, it was highly unlikely anyone would even breathe on it.
Walking towards the house, she could hear some raised voices coming from inside and noticed that Chola was standing outside as well, leaning on the other side of the car in the driveway. Nodding her head in greeting, Dawn eyed the unknown girl. Chola just shrugged at the silent question from Dawn and turned her attention to the front door as it slammed open and another dark haired woman came storming out. She stomped up to the unknown girl and ordered her to get into their vehicle and then they peeled away from the house. Still completely baffled, Dawn trailed Chola into the house and saw that Carlos was in an uproar and his men were all in a tizzy.
“Carlos, dude… what’s going on?” Dawn had learned to stay out of Carlos’s business, but something about the two women that had just left nagged at her.
“The dead return and are walking among us, it seems.”
Dawn snorted. Yeah… like she didn’t already know that.
Carlos looked at her for a moment and then remembered how Chola and she had met in the first place. “Yeah… you would know that, wouldn’t you? Vampires and all… snackin’ on my cousin. But this…? It’s different.”
“How? Cuz I gotta say, Carlos… I’m thinkin’ that woman is bad news.” Dawn wasn’t comfortable… something was going down; something that she didn’t think any of them needed to be involved in. She couldn’t explain it; she just knew it was there.
“My uncle, he knew her. Said she was loco
, you know? But she paid him well… so he handled whatever she asked him to do.” He looked out the window, taking a swig of his beer. “She comes here, asking for papers. I want answers, not money. I want to know what turned my uncle into a rata
. She won’t give me answers, then I’m going to make sure she pays me well enough to make me not care anymore.”
“I’m not getting what you’re saying, Carlos. How are the dead walking here?” Dawn was confused. She couldn’t follow what he was saying.
“That bitch? She’s dead. She died 8 years ago in an explosion in a bank. Her and her son.”
Oh. OK, so that explained that walking dead part. But it didn’t explain how she had just seen her walking outside.
“Um, Carlos… yeah, I’m appreciating all the angst and all, but… I mean, couldn’t it have just been a cover up or something? I mean, people ‘die’ all the time! Look at all the insurance scams.”
Carlos turned and looked her for a moment and then smirked. “No, scam Amiga
. So, I’m going to do her papers. And then I’m done with her.” He turned and walked into his office, settling in to do his job.
Dawn sighed. Not good. She hadn’t heard anything in the conversation that settled her nerves any. Nothing good was going to come of this and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. God! – She hated feeling helpless. Now she knew why her sister was on a permanent PMS trip.
The next few weeks passed in relative quiet. Or as quiet as things ever were for Chola’s life. Dawn eventually was able to locate her own place to move into and started making plans for the transfer and buying furniture. Chola had already volunteered Carlos’s crew to assist in the move, and while they had grumbled about it, Carlos had only to look at them and they quieted and agreed. Carlos was going to miss the little hellcat when she moved out… she had provided Chola with a sense of relative normalcy in her anything but calm life. He also knew that ever since Chola had been attacked and Dawn had saved her, Dawn was the only person Chola spoke with. He was worried how Dawn’s moving out was going to affect her, but he couldn’t force the brunette to stay with them. He could only hope that Chola would adjust.
Shortly after she had settled into her new home, Dawn received an unexpected call on her cell phone late one evening. Just settling down for the night, latest case files on possible Slayer locality conflicts sitting on her bed, she frowned as the ring shattered the quiet of the night and throwing off her concentration. Reaching over and grabbing it out of her bag, she noticed Andy’s number flashing on the screen and eagerly opened it.
“Andy?! Dude!! Where have you been? I’ve tried to get hold of you!” Dawn all but shrieked into the handset.
Andy winced and held the receiver away from his ear… one thing was certain; Dawn’s teenaged propensity for shrieking hadn’t disappeared in the last five years. “I’m fine. I’ve been busy… I found someone who was interested in getting the Turk back up and running; so I’ve been holed up in an internet café for the past few weeks, programming until my eyes crossed.”
Dawn rolled her eyes… God, Andy and programming. He was such a nerd! “Andy… you could have called! I’ve been worried sick!”
“I’m sorry. But look, anyways… My partner and I are entering the new Turk in a competition over at the convention center tomorrow. I was wondering if I could get you to come, for luck?” He was nervous… he missed her, she was his best friend. He wanted to see her.
“Tomorrow? Uh...” she thought about it for a moment. “Well… what time is your competition? I have to work tomorrow.”
“It won’t start until the afternoon. Can you come?” He winced at the pleading tone in his voice.
Dawn smiled. Yeah, that was her Andy – ever the needy nerd. “Yeah, I’ll be there, stud!” She laughed. “Should I wear something sexy? Or nerdy? If it’s a competition with other nerds, maybe I should go sexy… give you an advantage!”
Andy chuckled. “I don’t think that’s going to help. It’s going to be computer against computer, Dawn.”
“Oh… well… never mind then! OK, I’ll see you there tomorrow afternoon. I’ll come by after work, all right?” She didn’t really get into the whole ‘tech nerd’ stuff… that was always more Willow’s cup of tea; but she was always up for supporting a friend.
Andy grinned. “Yeah! That’ll work! I’ll see you there, ok? Night, Dawn!”
“Night, Andy. Be safe, ok?”
After assuring her that he’d be fine, they hung up and Dawn gazed at the cell phone for a few moments, lost in thought. A small fissure of foreboding ran down her spine.
Why did she feel like she had just spoken to Andy for the last time?