Meals and Makeovers
Author's Note: This chapter is rather fluffy, but I enjoyed writing it. If you have any time to review, arc-y ideas would be nice, my whole mindset is pretty much just on "how do I get Dawn and Lex together?" which doesn't make for good storylines. Sorry but the whole Salene bulimia arc bugged me (as a diagnosed bulimic) so I'm not sure how nice I'm going to be about it.
A not so vague disclaimer: I own nothing. BTVS and The Tribe were created by Joss Whedon and Raymond Thompson, respectively.
“I don’t want any trouble, if you’ll just give me my bag back I’ll leave.” Dawn said evenly. The boy, Lex, laughed.
“How do we know that you won’t just come back later with your tribe?” He asked, looking her straight in the eye. Dawn smiled.
“If I wanted to hurt you it would have happened by then… I’m not part of a tribe.” She gestured to her knife on the floor. “I could have used that but I didn’t.”
The boy laughed again.
“Or maybe you realized that you were outnumbered… That you were just one skinny girl against all of us.” Dawn rolled her eyes.
“You’ve seen what’s in my bag; would I have all of that if I didn’t know how to use it?”
“Yeah, I have seen in your bag. You’ve got a hell of a lot of weapons but no food.”
“I can get what I need for the day. I don’t live anywhere for more than a couple of days so I don’t see the point in having a store of food. Are you going to give back the bag now?” Dawn said through gritted teeth. Lex looked around at the others and threw her the bag, she caught it and another boy held out her crossbow. She was about to leave when one of the girls spoke.
“Stay for dinner Dawn, you can tell us about what was attacking Cloe.” The girl said to the obvious dismay of Lex. Dawn turned to her; the girl was standing at the foot of the stairs with her arm around another girl, who looked to be about Cloe’s age. The older girl was Dawn’s age and wore her blonde hair in twists around her head.
“Just don’t let her out alone, I don’t think that there’s anything else around here to worry about.” Dawn strapped the crossbow to her back. But the girl persisted.
“You said that you didn’t have a home, and we’ve got food. Just tell us what’s out there and stay the night.” The other members, even Lex it seemed, agreed with her. Dawn sighed, her last meal had been stolen from the Demon Dogs and she had fought their guards to get it. It couldn’t hurt to warn them.
“Okay, but I’m going in the morning.” She walked towards the rest of the group and let out a small smile.
“I’m Amber,” the girl said, smiling. The rest of the group introduced themselves as they mad their way to a dining area. It seemed that Dawn and Cloe had interrupted their meal, the plates were only half-full and the chairs had been hastily knocked over. There was crying coming from the kitchen and a girl with short purple hair and pale skin came out, rocking a baby with a bottle of milk in her hand.
“Brady’s running out of baby milk.” She said to the boy who had held a staff to Dawn’s head. “I’m Trudy,” the girl addressed Dawn. “I heard the whole thing from here.” Then to the others she said, “I’m going to try to put Brady down. Hopefully I’ll be back in a little while.” She smiled at Dawn and left the room. Dawn wondered who in their right mind would bring a baby into this new world.
They sat down to eat and Dawn was given a plate of beans with sausages in tomato sauce. They ate in silence, all obviously hungry. When she had eaten all of the beans Dawn pushed her plate away from her.
“Does anyone want these? I know it’s stupid but I’m veggie.” She smiled. The girl across from her took the plate and ate them quickly; Dawn raised her eyebrows but smiled. Did any of the other kids notice what the girl was doing? Dawn noticed the light bags under her eyes and saw that her nailpolish had almost completely chipped off her right index and middle fingers, along with reddish marks on the knuckles. She wondered how long the girl had been doing it but was distracted by Lex loudly moving his chair over next to hers.
“I guess you’ll all want to ask me questions.” Dawn smiled weakly. Lex started, staring at her once again.
“What happened to the guy that attacked Cloe? Did you really kill him? Was he an adult?”
“I killed him, it was the only way. Have you heard about the mutations in the virus? The madness, the wrinkled foreheads?” She chose her words carefully. “He was already dying, but he was going to take other people down with him.”
“Why should we believe you? Who are you really?” He asked.
“I’m Dawn, I told you.”
“She’s the Slayer,” the boy with the staff added.
“Finally someone gets it. I’m the girl who knows how to control the mutants. That’s why I’m not part of a tribe.” She smiled; turning her head so that the B painted next to her right eye hit the light.
“So what, you go around the tribes and teach them how to control them, in exchange for food?” Lex asked.
“I tell them how to dispose of the bodies so that it’s not contagious and yes, I get stuff in return.”
“Why are you here anyway? You sound American.” The blonde girl, Amber, asked.
“My dad moved out here, I was staying with him when the adults were evacuated.”
“How do you know all of the virus stuff? How did you learn to fight?” One of the younger boys, asked.
“My sister was into all of that stuff, I grew up around it. The same with the fighting, my sister was very into the disciplines and I took karate classes until everything happened.” She replied.
They carried on questioning her, asking her for information about the other tribes and beyond the city until Amber announced that it was time for the youngest kids, Cloe, another girl named Patsy and a silent boy named KC, to go to bed. The teenagers then carried the plates into the kitchen and began to make their way to their living quarters. The bulimic girl, Salene offered to share a room with Dawn and they went into the curtained-off area. Salene sat down on one of the two beds and changed getting ready for bed, Dawn followed suit and took of her boots and sweater but left on her dress and tights. Dawn tried to make small-talk with Salene but after getting a few non-committal answers the red-head had got up, mumbling excuses about needing fresh air and left Dawn alone. Dawn sighed and began to replace her chipped red nail polish. When her nails were drying a girl poked her head around the curtain. During their meal she had been silent, as if she was wondering whether to trust Dawn. She had pink and blue hair tied up in bunches and wore sparkly eye shadow. Dawn guessed that she was about thirteen, two years younger than her.
“Lex is playing cards with Ryan and Amber’s being all mopey about Sasha… Are you doing anything?” The girl said, smiling and sitting on Dawn’s bed.
“I was doing my nails and contemplating pulling a brush through my hair.” Dawn smiled, eager to have some kind of girl to talk to. Most of her time was spent talking to leaders and convincing them not to try and attack her.
“Hey, I could do it for you. Or you could show me how you do that plait thing.” The girl said, obviously thinking the same thing as Dawn. Dawn touched her hair self-consciously. She wore it plaited around the crown and loose in snarled waves down her back. She was one of the only girls she had met who didn’t colour her hair.
“I’m not big with the whole girly thing… I keep meaning to dye it but I can’t think of a colour that I’d really like.” She said apologetically.
“But you’re good with make-up. That ‘B’ is a lot more intricate than most symbols people attempt. You actually look like someone that people would take seriously. I, on the other hand, still look like a kid. Albeit a cutely dressed one.” The girl, Zandra Dawn thought her name was, said.
“How about you give me a makeover? Try and make me look less like a weird sci-fi character and more like a fifteen year old.” Dawn smiled.
The evening passed in a flurry of make-up, several attempts at new hairstyles and the ransacking of the vintage clothing boutique at the top of the mall.
For the first time since Buffy…. No… since her mum had died, Dawn was having fun.