A/N: I'm sorry! I didn't mean to leave it so long, life just...got very, very much in the way. And now I get to deal with my insomnia by tapping away at a keyboard. Hope you all like, please leave reviews and let me know what you think! love xx Shezzi
Dawn sat, picking at her BLT, staring out across the lake. She remembered the last time she had sat on this balcony, Buffy beside her, both disappointed about being left to their own devices because their father had been called in on an emergency surgery. The two of them had ended up going shopping together, Buffy spending an enormous amount of money on shoes in retaliation for being ignored.
Dawn smiled sadly and bit into the sandwich, watching the boats on the cold, grey water, listening to the sounds of the city.
The door behind her swung open, squeaking slightly, and she turned her head to see a red-headed woman pushing the door open, balancing a tray on one hand while trying to get her crutch through the door.
She quickly stood and took the woman’s tray, getting a somewhat strained smile of gratitude as the redhead made her way fully onto the verandah.
“Would you like to join me? It’s kinda boring eating on your own,” Dawn offered.
“Sure,” the doctor replied, conveniently forgetting the fact that that was the reason why she chose to eat on the virtually abandoned balcony on a cold fall day.
“I’m Dawn,” the teenager told her, picking up her sandwich and taking a bite.
“You can call me Kerri,” the red-headed doctor told her. “Why are you here?”
“Just waiting for my dad,” Dawn replied, shrugging, letting the woman draw her own conclusions as to why Dawn’s father was at the hospital. “So, what part of the hospital do you work in?” she asked, curiously.
“I’m head of the ER,” Kerri replied, and Dawn immediately wished she hadn’t been so friendly and accommodating. It would make it much harder to get away with small, harmless pieces of mischief if the staff in the ER knew her by name AND sight.
She shrugged the concern and forced herself to pick up the sandwich and take a bite. She would need to call Sunnydale soon, to reassure them that she was alive and well and happy here, safe here, away from the hellmouth. She would miss them all, but ultimately, they had been Buffy’s, not hers, and she didn’t want to be that close to so many living reminders of the family that was now dead, of a mother who had loved them all equally, all her adopted ‘children’, and a sister who was meant to save the world who ultimately sacrificed herself to save just one person.
“Why aren’t you in school?” asked Kerri then, studying the girl sitting across from her. Her straight as an arrow brown hair and her baby blue eyes may have made her look slightly younger than her actual age, but even without that, she was still clearly school-aged.
“I only just moved back here,” Dawn replied, eyes flitting away as she tried to find something to distract herself from the reasons why.
“Do you like Chicago so far?” asked Kerri, seeing the girl watching the sailboats.
“Yeah. If there was one thing I missed living in California, it was a real winter,” Dawn replied, turning her face up into the cool air. “Although, it did snow that one time, at Christmas,” she remembered, and, at Kerri’s expression of disbelief, proceeded to regale her with the ‘tall tale turned true’ as Sunnydale had christened the event, until the woman had to return to work.
Dawn sat, still nibbling on her now cold fries, watching the boats, a yacht catching her eye and making her fingers itch to catch the folds of the sail on paper, the way it billowed just so in the wind. She had entire sketch books filled with nothing but the boats of Chicago, and another with things like the skaters in the park, her sister doing one legged figure eights as the rest of the rink moved around her, of a little girl wobbling next to parents her first time on the ice, and later, moving with confidence, once she knew that falling over didn’t even really hurt, as she learnt to turn the cumbersome things on her feet into freedom, into flying.
Dawn used to sit and watch them for hours, doing quick sketches to flesh out later, or just observing the play of cloth and wind and muscle for detail she would want.
Finally giving up on her lunch and her reminiscences, she took the tray inside, dumping the remains in the trash, and left the cafeteria, trying to decide where to go next. Deciding to stop putting off her call to Sunnydale, she made her way back to her father’s office, slipping inside without being seen and interrupted by any other well meaning but misguided hospital staff, and picked up the phone. She dialed Giles first, knowing that there wouldn’t be anyone at her old house, and got his answering machine.
She tried Willow and Tara with the same result, then Xander and Anya and even the Magic Box. She left messages at each, but hung up the phone with a slight frown. Shrugging her shoulders, she stood and made her way back out of the office, wandering down one hall, then another and up a flight of stairs before finding something worth watching – the maternity ward. Specifically, the nursery window.
She stood for some time, watching the babies, before turning away and, with a yawn, headed down to resume her interrupted nap. She woke a couple of hours later with her father shaking her shoulder, and packed the pillow and blanket away in the cupboard.
“I’m on till eight,” he told her, watching her out of the corner of his eye. “We can go and get dinner after if you want.”
“Yeah, Dad, that’d be great,” she replied, smiling at him.
“Okay, then, I’ll see you in a few hours,” he told her, pressing a kiss against her forehead. Dawn turned to leave the office when his voice stopped her. “Dawn, you know you can talk to me about anything you want, don’t you?” asked her dad, sounding slightly nervous but concerned at the same time.
“Yeah, Daddy, I know,” she said, smiling gently at him.
“Well, off you go then,” he said, flapping a hand at her, all emotion hidden once more.
Dawn bit her lip as she leant on the wall outside the door. While she knew her father loved her, he didn’t often come out and say it, more comfortable with showing it in his actions.
She made her way down the corridor, once more not really paying attention to where she was going, and found herself at the desk where the social worker had left her the night before. She smiled at Shirley, waving a hand at the busy nurse, before being shoved aside by a rough hand.
“Coming through!” shouted a voice, and seconds later a gurney was rushed through the hallway. In mere moments, it was gone, and the people left behind went back about their duties, knowing they would be summoned if needed.
Dawn had caught herself on the corner of the desk, breathing through her teeth. She was straightening up when a voice interrupted her.
“Dawn? Are you still here?” she turned in the direction of the voice, and found herself face to face with a concerned Doug Ross.
“Um...hi, yes, I’m still here, obviously,” Dawn replied. “Just hanging around.”
“Why?” asked Doug, frowning.
“Because I have nowhere else to be,” she replied, shrugging. “Dad’s here, I didn’t feel like spending the day hanging around at home.” She winced slightly as her stomach throbbed, informing her that it hadn’t appreciated its latest abuse.
“Are you alright?” asked Doug, concerned.
“Yeah, I’m fine, just knocked myself a bit,” she replied, rubbing her side gently.
“Well, as long as you’re not busy, why don’t you come downstairs…I’ve got something you might enjoy.”
Doug ushered the teenager to the elevator and through the relatively quiet ER. “Back in here,” he told her. “We’re decorating.”
Dawn grinned as she came through the door into the small, private paediatric rooms. Everything was cleared away from one wall, the only one that was as yet untouched by the colourful murals that covered the rest of the room.
“Now, if this isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to tell me so, but I think from the expression on your face I’m unlikely to hear that,” Doug grinned. “You looked like an artist to me. Carroll and I are off now, and we thought we might try our hands at adding a touch of colour to the room.”
“Any plans for what you want up there?” asked Dawn.
“Over here,” he replied, guiding her over to a table with the sketches spread out on paper.
“Lizzie, can I invite you to join Dawn and myself for dinner?” asked Romano as they left the OR, their patient being taken off to recovery.
“Well, I’m off and I’ve got nothing else to do,” she replied, shrugging. “Sure, I’d love to.” She smiled gently at her boss, then glanced around. “Just let me clean up and change.”
“Of course. I’ll meet you at my office in fifteen?”
“Yeah, that’ll be fine,” Elizabeth replied. “Any idea where Dawn is?”
“Doctor Ross carted her down to the ER a little while ago,” Shirley spoke up from the side. “She wasn’t hurt or anything,” she hastened to reassure them. “She was just here when he came to drop off a patient, and he took her back downstairs with him.”
“Okay then,” Romano grimaced. “My daughter is being corrupted by the under dwellers of the ER.”
“Stop complaining, Robert. It’s not like they’re going to make her any worse than she already is,” teased Elizabeth as they separated into the locker rooms.
Fifteen minutes later found the two of them standing in the elevator, bouncing on their toes as they headed for the ER, coats slung over arms.
“Any idea why Doug would want Dawn?” Elizabeth asked Robert, and the other doctor just shook his head.
They exited the elevator, looking around curiously.
“Robert,” greeted Kerri cordially. “Are you heading out?”
“Just about. Just got one last thing to do. Have you by any chance seen a teenage girl, about so tall, straight brown hair and blue eyes?”
“Dawn? She’s in the Paeds room,” Kerri replied. “Why?”
“We’re going for dinner,” Robert replied off-handedly. He went over and opened the door, and managed to get out, “Dawn, it’s…” before his jaw dropped.
“What is it?” asked Elizabeth, moving up beside him. She took one look into the room and burst out laughing.
“What?” The indignant cry came from three separate throats as Dawn, Doug and Carroll, all three of them splashed liberally with many different shades of paint, glared at their audience.