A/N: So I tried to upload this yesterday, but it didn't work for some reason. here we go again! Hope you all enjoy, thanks for reading! love xx Shezzi
Dawn woke early the next morning, curled against Spike’s chest. She sat up, smiling sadly at her ‘big brother’, and stood carefully. Her legs were shaky, but she stood firm, stretching slowly. She knew from experience that power drain was something she had to power through – if she allowed it to get on top of her, it would keep her down for much longer.
“You need to go, don’t you,” she said, reading the expression on Spike’s face before he could say a word. “It’s okay, I understand. I love you, too.”
“Have I ever told you that that’s a creepy habit, platelet?” asked Spike, standing and throwing an arm around her shoulders, leading her out to the kitchen, where he sat her at the counter and moved, as though perfectly at home, to put the kettle on and make tea.
“Thanks, Spike,” Dawn replied, taking the cup from him and fiddling with the teabag. “How are things going back in Sunnyhell, anyway?”
“Nothing for you to worry about, but Angel and Faith need me there,” he replied softly. “Faith says keep your chin up. Angel said to tell you he’s thinking of you and he’ll be over to visit as soon as things are under control. Oh, and he got you something, but I wasn’t meant to tell you that,” Spike added with a grin.
“Really?” Dawn grinned for a moment, her spirits rising at the thought, then guilt and grief rose like a wave within her, swamping her joy.
“I know, bit, I know,” Spike said, wrapping his arms around her as her face crumpled. “It does get better, I promise. You just have to give it time.”
Dawn nodded against his chest, then straightened, pulling herself together and pushing the tears down. She stepped back, and smiled tightly up at Spike. “You need to get going, you’ve got to get a taxi back to the hospital to get your car before the sun comes up,” she muttered. “I’ll call you a cab.”
“Thanks, Bit,” Spike replied as Dawn grabbed Fosters landline and dialing before realizing she didn’t know the address. Before she could hang up, the automated system picked up and asked if the pick up was from the address she was calling from. She confirmed that it was, and was informed that a cab would be there within five minutes.
Spike quickly found his coat and pulled it on, then paused. Reaching into his pocket he found something he had forgotten he was carrying. “Got you something,” he told her. “As a welcome home present. It’s not much,” he pulled the jewellery box out of his pocket and handed it over.
Dawn took the box and opened it, a soft smile lifting her lips as she lifted out the custom-made charm bracelet. Interspersed with tiny silver and iron crosses and stars of David were tiny silver replicas of Mr. Pointy, a railroad spike, a feather, a book, a willow tree, a tiny flower, a hammer, a dollar note, a crescent moon crossed with a sword, a crown and a wolf. There was also a locket the size of her thumb nail, and when she flicked it open, she found two pictures of her mother, one alone, one with her and Buffy.
“It’s perfect, Spike. Thank you.” Spike looked slightly uncomfortable at that, but smiled at Dawn and gave her another hug as they headed for the front door. He clasped the bracelet around her wrist just before climbing into the cab, and he waved as the car pulled away from the curb.
Dawn stood outside in the cool air, enjoying the peace that descended on the neighbourhood in the early morning hours, watching the light creep across the sky from the east as the sun rose, before turning and making her way back into Doctor Foster’s house. She took her cup of tea off the table and moved to sit on the couch, grabbing a paperback novel from a nearby shelf to keep herself quietly amused.
Gillian Foster woke and stumbled out of bed, wrapping her silk dressing gown around herself and made her way into the kitchen to have a cup of tea. She was surprised to find a mug, with teabag, waiting for her, the kettle filled with water that was still hot enough that it took only about thirty seconds to boil, and bread sliced ready for toast.
“Hey, Doctor Foster,” the croaky voice from her kitchen table made her jump, and she turned to find Dawn, tea in hand and a plate of toast, untouched, in front of her. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.”
“No, no, it’s alright, I just…kind of forgot you were here,” Gillian admitted after a long moment. “Sorry, still more than half asleep, I think.” She finished preparing her cup of tea and grabbed some bread, untoasted, and added it to her plate, seeing that Dawn had the condiments on the table, she crossed to join her. “How are you feeling?”
Dawn shrugged one shoulder, uncertain. “Spike had to go,” she said when Gillian glanced around curiously, clearly trying to find her other houseguest. Dawn’s right hand dropped to her left wrist, and she toyed with the bracelet Spike had given her.
“That’s pretty, is it new?” Gillian asked, certain she hadn’t seen that piece before, and Dawn hardly wore any jewellery beyond the simple silver cross that was always around her neck.
“Spike gave it to me,” she replied, dropping her hand from it and wishing she hadn’t drawn attention to it.
“It’s unusual, is there any special significance?” asked Gillian, just as Dawn had known she would.
“This…is my family,” Dawn told her after a long moment. She ran a finger along the line of charms, then extended her hand towards Gillian to allow her a closer look. “Each charm represents a person,” she explained softly. “In order, from the tiny stake, we have Buffy, Spike, Angel, Giles, Willow, Tara, Xander, Anya, Faith, Cordy and Oz, and the locket’s for my mum.”
Some of the representations made Gillian wonder, but she didn’t ask, knowing that Dawn didn’t need anyone pushing her right now. “Spike left, you said?” she asked, returning Dawn’s wrist to her.
“Once he knew I was going to be alright, he had to get back to Sunnydale,” Dawn told her, taking a sip of her tea to try and sooth her increasingly sore throat. She knew she was going to get a nasty cold, using as much energy as she had yesterday played hell with her immune system as well as her electrolyte levels, but she was willing to accept that as a consequence.
“Sounds like you’re getting a cold,” Gillian told her, and Dawn just nodded. “I’ve got some cold and flu medicine, just give me a second,” she told her, but Dawn shook her head.
“The one time I took it I ended up…very high,” she told her, shaking her head at the memory. “Let’s just say that those pictures of Doctor Lightman that we found in the storage room don’t hold a candle.” And Spike, unfortunately, had the video evidence to prove it.
“Oh dear,” Gillian replied, chuckling. “Well, how about some aspirin? I don’t know about you, but I tend to get a fairly nasty fever and headache at the start of a cold.”
“That would be great, thanks, Doctor Foster,” Dawn told the motherly woman, who smiled and stood to retrieve the medicine.
“Call me Gillian, Dawn, Doctor Foster feels a bit to formal most of the time, to be honest with you. Maybe in business situations, if it’s what you’re more comfortable with, but when it’s just us, Gillian is fine.”
“Thanks, Gillian,” Dawn replied shyly. She accepted the aspirin and glass of water, drinking the whole thing under Gillian’s watchful gaze before she returned to her cup of tea, only to find it gone.
“You don’t need anything dehydrating right now,” Gillian told her from over by the sink, where she was tipping out the remainder of Dawn’s tea. “I’ll make you a lemon and honey.” Dawn rolled her eyes but submitted to the other woman’s mothering ways, knowing that, with the scare she had given them yesterday, she wouldn’t be getting out of it any time soon.
Gillian had just set the mug down in front of Dawn, along with the pot of honey so she could sweeten it as she liked, when the doorbell rang. Gillian pulled the robe tighter around herself and went to answer it. She smiled and rolled her eyes at the sight that met her – Cal was standing on the doormat, holding a large paper bag with his head cocked to one side. She stepped back and to the side, silently inviting him in, and he entered with a satisfied grin.
“Hi, luv,” he said as he passed her and made his way into the kitchen, where he set his bag down on the bench. “Dawn, how are you doing luv?”
“I’m okay,” Dawn croaked, and Cal chuckled.
“I’m going to let that one pass,” he declared, glancing at her cup and nodding with satisfaction that she wasn’t drinking anything with caffeine. “I brought bagels and muffins,” he added, grabbing a plate from a cupboard and starting to empty his paper sack onto it. Dawn reached out and snagged blueberry muffin, breaking a chunk off and tossing it in her mouth.
“Thanks boss,” she said once she’d swallowed, then took another sip of her lemon and honey as her throat objected to her using her voice.
“You’re welcome,” he told her, grinning. “Seriously, how are you?” he asked, his whole demeanor changing, and Dawn slumped slightly in her seat, knowing he wasn’t going to let it go.
“I’m as well as can be expected,” she told him after a long moments thought. “I really don’t know, to be honest with you. You’d think after a while, you’d get used to sudden, violent death,” she muttered the last, but Cal heard it. He wondered, but chose not to push, not wanting to open up older wounds while Dawn was still dealing with a fresh, gaping one. He simply nodded in acknowledgement of the first part of her statement and filed the rest away for later.
“Is there anything in particular you’d like to do today? We’ve got the day off, we can go out, stay in, or if you want to be alone…” Gillian asked as she reentered the room, now clothed in comfortable looking but still somehow stylish sweats, and Dawn shuddered at the last suggestion. The last thing she wanted after yesterday was to be left alone with nothing but her thoughts. She needed to do something.
“I don’t really know what I want to do, but I need to be doing something,” she decided.
Gillian just nodded, glad that at least one thing was decided. She didn’t think Dawn should be alone, but she had wanted that decision to come from the girl, not from her. Not in any particular hurry, she settled at the table and took a bagel, handing Cal and Dawn bread and butter plates to stop them from spreading crumbs all over. “So, Cal, to what do we owe your company this fine morning?”
“I can’t just want to see how you both are?” Cal asked, all innocence. Dawn snorted, and he grinned. “It was worth a try,” he insisted. “Fine. I was hoping to see Dawn’s brother again, there was something about him…”
“He had to leave,” Dawn explained quickly. “Something came up back home, he had to go and help out.” Her face twisted momentarily with worry and a touch of fear before smoothing back out. Cal watched her, head cocked to one side, then nodded.
“Well, still, I get to see you both, not a bad start to the day at all,” he declared. The two women rolled their eyes at him, and he grinned before taking a large bite out of his bagel.
Cal left half an hour later, once breakfast and small talk was over for the morning. Dawn went and had a shower, changing into a fresh set of sweats, then turned to Gillian.
“I don’t know what I feel like doing, but I think the first thing I need to do is get home and put on some real clothes,” Dawn declared. “Then, I don’t know, maybe we can go shopping?”
Two days later, Dawn walked back into the offices, very glad to be back at work. She’d had no idea there were so many hours in the day until she couldn’t actually find things to fill them with, and she couldn’t believe how quickly her thoughts could shift from perfectly safe topics to those that tended to end with her sitting on the floor leaning against a wall, bawling her eyes out.
She was very glad to be back at work, hoping that she could bury herself in distractions and escape from the memories for a time. She raised a hand to Torres and Loker where they were drinking their morning coffee in the lounge and made her way to her office, before changing her mind and heading to AV, where she wouldn’t be surrounded by photos of the Sudan. She pulled up one of her open files and started going through it, working quietly other than the occasional coughing fit or sniff. She was startled some time later by a hand on her shoulder swinging her firmly away from the computer screen to face Doctor Lightman, who had his ‘I’m being very very serious’ face on, an expression not seen all that often when his daughter wasn’t involved in the situation somehow.
“You,” he said slowly, “aren’t supposed to be here. How’s that cold?”
“Fine,” Dawn croaked, scowling at him.
“Liar,” he replied, grinning slightly. “Come on,” he added, taking her arm in a firm grasp that would have disallowed refusal had she been inclined to give it, and pulled her gently but firmly up out of the seat and out of the lab, to the small lounge that was attached to his office. He moved to the kettle and soon had a large cup of something that Dawn, thanks to her blocked up nose, couldn’t smell. She accepted it, welcoming the heat that seeped into her hands, and raising it to her lips took a sip, eyes widening in pleasure. The drink was a mix of lemon, ginger and honey, sweet enough that the acid of the lemon didn’t grate and the ginger lingered in the mouth, with that odd cooling burn feeling that only ginger brings.
“I’m fine,” Dawn tried again. “I need to work.”
“Well, that was true at least,” Cal said, studying her face. “Are you sure you’re up to being here?”
“I’m sure I’m not up to being elsewhere,” Dawn replied with a shrug. “I’ll be fine, it’s just a cold.” After a long moment, Cal nodded and accepted that she was telling him the truth.
“Alright, I’ve got some things you can take care of for me, in that case,” Cal declared. “A few deep backgrounds, it’ll take a bit of digging but I need to know everything you can find on these three people,” he handed over three fairly slim folders. He ushered her back out of his office with a smile and sat back. It wasn’t precisely busy work, it did need to get done, but as there was no real rush in it, it was something he could just tell Dawn to put aside when it was time to go home and make sure she still got plenty of rest. He, meanwhile, was going to look into the pieces that her brother had added to the mystery that was Dawn Summers.