This one-shot ficlet is brought to you courtesy of Booster
, who told me this morning that he missed Dawn. When I thought about it, I realized we hadn't seen her for fourteen chapters, which is a bit absurd, considering that she's supposed to be a main character. However, Dark Haven 1 is still in progress, which meant that unless I did something quickly, it would be a while longer before we saw her again.
So, Booster, here's your Hump Day present. Hope you enjoy it.Disclaimer:
I own a shiny new upgrade of Photoshop 7, but I own nothing in the Buffy-verse; those characters and that world are the property of Joss Whedon and whatever other corporate entities have an interest in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. I also own a soon-to-be-delivered shiny new upgrade of GoLive 6 (which means my Web site is getting a facelift soon), but I own nothing in the Anita Blake-verse; those characters and that world are the property of Laurell K. Hamilton.Journal of Rupert Giles
October 24, 2004
On an unrelated note, Buffy has agreed to haunt Brian Moran's youth minister, and I hope she'll be able to help him see the error of his ways. I suppose I'm breaking the spirit of my promise to Dawn, but at this point, I don't really care. Brian hurt her because he was told by a trusted authority figure that doing evil in the service of good was right and proper. If Buffy can do something to stop that sort of thing from happening in the future, I'll happily ignore the hypocrisy of my actions in asking her to haunt the man.
October 26, 2004
I'd been avoiding Dawn and Buffy since my return the prior morning, because they were slowly driving me mad. Their fights over my new relationship with Jean-Claude were long and loud — and to nonsensitives, completely one-sided. I'd had a call from Mr. Herron just this morning asking if Dawn was well. I'd forgotten that he was a clinical social worker whose practice was geared toward adolescents and teens. I told him Dawn was finding her voice in performance art and said I would talk to her about keeping the noise down. Though lying to him was embarrassing, the fact that the lie tripped so easily off my tongue was even more embarrassing.
At four o'clock, I told Nathaniel I was going upstairs and asked that he close the shop at the right time. He agreed with a smile and ill-concealed joy at the trust implied in my request. Somehow, it didn't seem to matter that this was the sixth or seventh time I'd asked him to close up without supervision. I suspected he would react the same way twenty years hence.
I'd just settled down at my desk with a pot of tea and a stack of bills when Dawn stormed into the living room and all but threw a folded section of newspaper at me.
"Explain that!" She was angry enough to be quivering, and I had a sick feeling that I might be the one by whom she was so enraged.
I took my time looking for the story, because I was also trying to keep an eye on Dawn. I really didn't care to have to fend her off if she became sufficiently enraged to attack me. It took a few minutes, but eventually, I found the article. It was about Evan McCoy, a youth pastor at Christ Our King, a nonaffiliated ministry.
Mr. McCoy been found wandering through St. Louis early yesterday morning wearing nothing more than pajama bottoms and apologizing to everyone he met. According to police, McCoy reported having been visited by an angel of his god and having been told by her that, "he was a loser who never should have been allowed near children and who probably never, ever had a date in high school." The upshot of his conversation with her was that he would apologize to everyone he met.
When I finished reading the story, I looked up at Dawn and said, "It would seem that he had a religious experience."
"Did you read the description of his so-called angel?" Her anger seemed to be increasing exponentially.
"Er — yes?"
"Don't you find it just a little strange that the description sounds exactly like Buffy?" Dawn took a step forward, and it was all I could do not to scoot my chair backward.
I thought about not giving her a direct answer any sooner than I had to, but there was little point to a delay. We would have this conversation eventually, no matter what. "I suspect the description sounds like Buffy because she was the one who paid him a visit."
"You promised —"
"I promised to do nothing to Brian. And I haven't. Nor, for that matter, has Buffy, even though she dearly wants to," I said, watching her for signs of impending violence.
"Dad, I didn't want you to interfere. This wasn't your fight," she said, her anger deflating quite suddenly.
I felt like a royal heel for putting that look on her face, but there was more at stake than just her feelings. "I know it wasn't, but nor was it yours," I said, standing up to take her in my arms. She stiffened slightly, but she accepted my embrace as I continued speaking. "The man's moral compass was badly in need of repair. I doubt you were the only one hurt by his actions, and if something hadn't been done, more young men and women would have experienced the same heartache."
"Did you ask her to do that?" She sniffled a bit and relaxed slightly. Her arms were a bit restive, as if she couldn't quite decide what to do with them.
I stroked her back in a circular motion and said, "I asked her to haunt him, but I left the specifics up to her imagination. And yes, I'm aware that I didn't follow the spirit of your request. If it had been only you, I would have respected your wishes fully. But I couldn't let others go through that when I didn't have to."
She leaned into me, her face pressed tight against my shoulder, and I felt her arms creep around my waist. "You don't get it," she said, her voice muffled.
"I don't get what, pet?" I spoke softly as continued stroking her back.
"I didn't want you involved, because I —"
I waited for the longest time for her to continue, and just when I was about to speak, she continued, "I already did something."
I went still at those words, wondering what she possibly could have done and whether or not we would have to worry about dark magic. After a moment, I finally asked, "What did you do?"
"I — um — I left a bag of dog poop on McCoy's front step and set it on fire," she said, her blush nearly scorching me through my shirt.
I hadn't quite formulated an appropriate response yet, but something needed to be said. I stammered out, "You set the bag on fire, not the front step, right?"
She pulled away from me slightly so I could see the look on her face when she said, "Geez — feel the love in this room. Do I look
like an arsonist?"
"Well, there was the incident with your diaries," I said.
She rolled her eyes at me and said, "Totally different thing. So. Are you mad at me?"
Mad? How could I be? In fact, I had been trying very hard not to laugh over what she'd done to the minister, because I wasn't sure she needed to hear my amusement just yet. But really, as symbolic gestures went, flaming canine fecal matter said quite a bit.
It started with a small snicker, but eventually, I had to let go of Dawn because I was laughing so hard that I was doubled over and had my hands on my knees to keep myself on my feet. It didn't take long for her to join in, and for quite some time, we could set each other off again just by saying "poop" or "flaming".
Eventually, though, we calmed down long enough to have a chat about Mr. Moran and Mr. McCoy. I apologized for involving Buffy, and Dawn apologized for not telling me of her plans. And when Buffy showed up a half hour later, the two of them made peace with one another. It lasted all of fifteen minutes before they started arguing about Jean-Claude again.
I sighed at the sound of their spat, perversely happy that my family was able to squabble because we were together. And then I escaped to Dead Dave's for a burger and a beer. Family was wonderful, but the peace of a neighborhood bar was golden.
~ fin ~