I don’t own House or BTVS. No infringement is intended. Sadly, no profit will be made from this either.
Recognising her immediately, Dawn put on her best smile. "Nobody. Well, apart from all those mean big murderers of course."
Cuddy closed the door behind her and put her arms on her hips. Squinting her eyes, she looked from one person to another, her eyes finally coming to rest on House. "Then why can I cut the tension in here with a knife?"
"Cause you know your cutlery?" Dawn quipped, taking some of the tension with her.
House raised an eyebrow at that and took a closer look, trying to figure out where he knew the girl - no, young woman - from. Suddenly he remembered. He had seen her in several of the photos in Buffy's apartment. Then he had thought her to be Buffy's sister. And, judging by the latest quip, they at least shared their sense of humour.
Cuddy, however, wasn't pleased with that answer. "Who are you?" Not waiting for a reply, she started to impatiently tap her foot on the floor. "House. What did you do this time?"
Eyes wide open, he pointed at himself in mock-shock. "Me? I didn't do anything!"
Dawn coughed – only to find herself at the receiving end of almost identical stares from both House and Cuddy. She just shrugged her shoulders.
Throwing her arms in the air in clear frustration, Cuddy turned to the, in her opinion anyway, only sensible person in the room. "Wilson. What's going on? And what's that about a murderer?"
Turning away from House and Cuddy, Dawn looked Wilson straight into his eyes, daring him to continue. He snarled at her before turning to Cuddy. "Summers just admitted to killing my cousin."
"No-o," House added immediately. "As Kutner here pointed out so nicely, she said she died because of her. That's a difference. Probably involves a whole lot of misguided guilt."
Not believing what she was hearing, Buffy a murderer, Cuddy stared open-mouthed at House and Wilson. Technically, she knew Buffy had killed before. But only non-human beings. And even though she had told her about some of the things she had faced in her life as Slayer, there had never been the mentioning of any human victims. Bad guys or not. Then again, Cuddy was pretty sure Buffy had only told her the tip of the iceberg so far. When they were alone, Buffy often seemed so much older than her actual age that it couldn't be explained by a few run-ins with vampires and demons.
Closing her mouth with an audible thud, Cuddy shook her head to clear her mind. "I don't believe it," she finally said.
"Good." Dawn agreed with a satisfied nod. "Because she didn't."
"How would you know?" Wilson all but screamed at her, giving her a little push. But having a Slayer as sister and living in Slayer Central for several years had made Dawn expect anything like that on a regular basis. Hence she didn't even bat an eyelash – but pushed back.
Wilson stumbled a few feet back but barely managed to stay upright. If anything, the tension in the room had quickly risen to levels way above the earlier ones. "Tara was my family! My little cousin, my cousin's daughter! I should know better than anyone!"
Dawn looked at him in disgust. "That explains it, then," she spat, giving him another shove.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Wilson replied just as venomously.
Dawn laughed bitterly. A laugh that had goose bumps appearing on several of the other occupants in the room. "What? It's alright to run around accusing innocent people of killing others but you can't admit on beating up your own family? Beating the innocent and defenceless?"
"What?" Wilson squealed. "Who's beating up who's family?"
Dawn snorted, repeatedly stabbing Wilson's chest with her finger. "Come on, Mr Know-it-all! Why don't you tell everyone how your family has been systematically abusing first Tara's mom and then Tara as well? How your respectful family came chasing after Tara after she finally managed to break free? How they even admitted the abuse of her to us, her chosen family, when they came to drag her back?" Shaking her head, she added much gentler, almost as if talking only to herself, "How she became such a gentle and loving woman in that surrounding is a mystery in itself."
Wilson suddenly looked lost. A lot of the anger seemed to have left him and all that remained was an almost empty shell. Dragging himself over to the nearest chair, he slumped down. "I don't understand. Tara's mom never said anything."
Dawn wasn't so easily placated. Not only had he hurt her sister, but he hadn't done anything when his cousins needed him either. Which made him just as guilty in her books. "Yeah. Cause victims of domestic abuse always go out and tell everyone about their oh so happy life."
"But why did Tara's dad say Summers killed her? And she said so too only moments ago?" Wilson asked. His initial anger might have vanished, but he still couldn't believe what that woman in front of him was telling him. "How do I know you're telling the truth and Tara's dad is the one lying?"
Dawn shook her head in pity. "When was the last time you talked to them. Visited them?"
"Uh," Wilson started but had to stop to really think about that question. "Ten, no, probably 15 years ago? They've always been otherwise occupied during family meetings."
"Of course they have," Dawn said drolly, rolling her eyes.
Wilson looked up. Maybe, just maybe, she was right. "But what about Tara's death. I still don't understand what happened."
Dawn sighed. It wasn't really her place to tell but there were too many people in this room to just ignore his question. "What do you know?"
Wilson opened his mouth but had to stop again. For the first time he realised that he didn't know much at all. "I've called a while ago and her brother told me that she's dead. Died in Sunnydale before it became a sinkhole because of one Buffy Summers."
Dawn nodded before sitting down as well. She had figured as much. Apparently Wilson realised that too. "Guess it's rather vague, really." Dawn nodded. "Then why did she admit to it?"
"Guilt," Dawn repeated the one word she had uttered upon entering the room. Taking a deep breath, she continued, the pain of the events still evident in her voice. "The day before, Buffy had come upon a robbery and instead of looking the other way, had called the cops. Unfortunately, one of the robbers, got away. He found out our address and came running into our garden the next day. Buffy was talking with a friend outside and the robber immediately pulled out a weapon and shot her. He shot a few more times, making sure no one would chase him. One of the bullets went straight through an upstairs bedroom window. Tara was in that room. The bullet went straight through her heart."
Once Dawn had finished, silence once more settled across the room. Wilson had buried his face in his hands while House was curiously eyeing Dawn. And Cuddy as she had gone suspiciously pale upon hearing about Buffy being shot. The fellows, like before, continued to work on their invisibility cloak. Or their ability to sink through the floor. Naturally, neither of it worked.
Finally, Wilson looked at Dawn again. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
Dawn shrugged. It wasn't her place to accept any apologies. And, even though she had to admit he seemed to be honestly sorry, she wasn't finished with him. Not for a long shot.
"What happened to Buffy?" House asked curiously. For one he really wanted to know, but, more importantly, he had a theory to test as well.
"She survived." Dawn rolled her eyes at him. "Obviously."
"And felt guiltily ever after, we know," House replied dismissively. "I'm more interested in the details."
Dawn raised her eyebrows. Buffy had been spot on when she described him to her. "Pervert."
"Doctor," House corrected with a smirk.
"Same difference." Dawn said with a shrug. "The bullet barely missed her heart, had her flat-lining in hospital. Once she recovered, she started blaming herself. Had she not interrupted the robbery or let the guy get away, Tara might still be alive, yadda yadda yadda."
Wilson tiredly rubbed his face. "That's bullshit," he finally whispered.
Dawn nodded, for once agreeing with the doctor. "I know. Took a while to get the message through to Buffy, though. She can be quite stubborn at times."
House snorted. Not only at the young woman's reply, but also at his theory. Just like he had expected, Cuddy had paled even more once she heard about the bullet barely missing Buffy's heart. Or her flat-lining. Which meant he had been right all along. There was more to Cuddy and Buffy than they were telling him. Much more. He'd been suspecting it for quite some time now, but what he'd observed today was as good as them admitting to it. Now he only had to find out the details.
Those could wait for a few minutes, though. Rubbing his hands in anticipation, he looked at the young woman again. "Sister?"
"Yep. Dawn." Dawn gave him a lopsided grin. "Grumpy Cane Guy?"
House twirled his cane in reply. Foreman snorted and shook his head. He might have difficulties finding a job outside of the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, but at least it was never boring around here.
Cuddy looked up as well. She'd been worried beyond belief upon hearing about Buffy's almost dying after being shot, despite knowing that she was fine now. At one point she actually had to sit down on her hands to keep them from shaking. But hearing the young woman in the room was none other than Buffy's little sister had helped to get that message through to her heart.
Now she took the time to study Dawn curiously. She was definitely taller than Buffy. But almost as slim and she held herself with the same air of confidence that surrounded Buffy – when you knew where to look, that is. And, judging by the earlier display, she was just as protective of her sister as Buffy was of her.
Giving everyone in the room a calculating look, Amber was the first the break the current silence again. "What about the burnt down high school gym?"
"What?" Cuddy asked in surprise. Not that she didn't know about it, but rather she hadn't expected them to know. Turning slightly, she saw House grin. That would explain it. When he waggled his eyebrows at her, she started to glare daggers at him. Bastard.
Instead of replying, House watched Cuddy. And started to wonder if she had known about the gym beforehand. This was getting more and more interesting. Then he frowned. Not that he was afraid of Cuddy glaring at him. He was used to it after all. But Dawn having the exact same expression on her face as Cuddy? Now that started to get rather creepy. Was there even more to them then he already thought? Despite him being absolutely sure of Dawn and Cuddy never having met before. His frown deepened. While spending his time on finding out as much information about Buffy as possible, he hadn't explicitly looked for a connection between her and Cuddy. He would have to rectify that.
As nobody was offering an explanation, Kutner decided today was a good day to dig himself a nice and cosy grave. Besides, he just followed-up on Amber's question, he wasn't the one starting it, right? "So, yeah? What about the high school gym?"
Dawn sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "What do you expect from a place where weird is of the normal?"
"Huh?" Amber asked.
"Ever been to L.A.?" Dawn asked completely serious. "It's the unofficial capital of rodents on drugs. It's hardly Buffy's fault that giving a book of matches to a couple of mice ended up with the gym catching fire."
Kutner stared at her open-mouthed. "You're kidding!"
Dawn shook her head, a sad expression on her face. "Nope."
Cuddy smiled. As did House. Yes, Dawn definitely had Buffy's sense of humour. Though now was not the time to think about it. This was still a hospital with people waiting to be healed. Coughing to get everyone's attention, Cuddy stood up. "House, as you don't have a patient, split your fellows between the clinic and the ER."
Cuddy rolled her eyes. "You can join them in the clinic. No arguments."
"Wilson, I'm sure you have patients as well." He nodded and walked towards the door. Before he could open it though, Cuddy spoke up again. "This conversation is not leaving this room. Do I make myself clear? And, Wilson? My office, 5 p.m.."
Wilson gulped but nodded. Everyone else agreed as well and cleared out. Even House didn't argue; though he couldn't help himself but smirk as he passed Cuddy.
Once the doctors had left the room, Cuddy turned to Dawn. "Will Buffy be alright?"
Dawn frowned but nodded. "I think so. I just arrived when the shit hit the fan. I was going to talk to her then but she run into a friend. That seemed to help so I came back to sort things out on this end first."
Cuddy frowned. "Who did she run into?"
"Don't know. A young doctor, I guess." Dawn tried to remember more details. Grinning when she did, she added. "Shiny, floppy hair."
"Definitely," Dawn said with conviction.
Cuddy sighed in relief. "Dr Robert Chase. One of House's former fellows. Allison's boyfriend. She's Buffy best friend here."
Dawn nodded in relief. "I know. Buffy told me about her. So she really is in good hands for now. I still need to catch her before she does anything stupid, though."
Cuddy looked at her watch. "Buffy has a tutorial right now, so we can't talk to her anyway." Tilting her head, she asked, "Care for a coffee? My treat."
Dawn shrugged. She didn't have anything better to do. Besides, the flight and later tension had drained most of her energy. Besides, it gave her some more time with Cuddy. Her mother, so to speak. "Why not. Lead the way."
As the reached the elevators, Dawn asked, "Oh, do you know someone who'd enjoy seeing Buffy in trouble?"
The finger ready to press the button to call the elevator stopped mid-air and Cuddy turned to Dawn. "What?"
"Well, there was a middle-aged, well groomed, really dark haired guy lurking out of sight but in hearing distance of the conference room. He walked off rather pleased when Buffy left the room," Dawn explained.
Cuddy slowly shook her head. Finally pressing the button on the elevator, she kept thinking about it. "Maybe," she said just as the elevator doors opened and they entered.
--A/N: There you go. Hope you like it! Thanks for all the lovely reviews on the last chapter. They made Muse grin like an idiot – which in return gave me a chance to laugh at her silly expression! Thanks!
Sorry about the delay, but I was ambushed by a huge pile of unread books. Had to read my way out to freedom again. Sneaky little buggers, those books.