A/N: This came to me a while ago, but I wasn't sure whether or not to put it up, but when the challenge came up, I just had to. Hope you all enjoy, please drop a line on the way out! love xx Shezzi Crossover is McLeod's Daughters, for those who haven't had the opportunity to see it (and can I just say, you really should - very good fun!)
Dawn stared at her…at Hank, eyes wide and almost horrified. “You’re sending me WHERE?” she demanded, horrified, tear swollen eyes bloodshot in her pale, sunken cheeks. Her face sported several grazes and a colourful black eye, and she still limped from her torn feet, while the wounds on her stomach were a fiery, burning pain.
“Australia,” Hank replied. “To your cousin Claire. Here we are.” He stopped beside a departure gate and handed the attendant Dawn’s passport and tickets, and Dawn her carry-all, which she hitched onto her shoulder, barely managing not to wince as she hugged it tightly to herself. She had thought, when she entered the airport with her father, that he was taking her back to Spain with him. But apparently, that didn’t fit into Hank Summers perfect new life, and instead, he was putting her on a flight to a country she had never been to, to a relative she had never met, and who, knowing Hank, may not know yet that she was on her way. Drovers Run, SA, Australia
The phone rang, jarring Claire out of her concentration on the papers strewn over the desk, and she reached for it. “Drovers Run, Claire McLeod speaking,” she answered it.
“Claire,” the voice at the other end of the line sounded distant and tinny, but the American accent was still clearly distinguishable. “It’s Hank.”
“What do you want, Hank?” asked Claire, barely managing not to grit her teeth. She hadn’t heard from her aunt’s ex-husband in months, ever since he had rung to let them know, too late to even imagine attending, that Joyce was dead.
“Buffy’s dead. I’m sending Dawn to you, I can’t take her,” the man said matter-of-factly, as though he was discussing the weather and not the death of his older child and the disposal of the younger. “She’s already on a plane with tickets to connecting flights to get her to Adelaide.”
“Won’t take her, you mean,” Claire snapped, coldly furious. “At least admit it. What time will she get in?”
“8am tomorrow, your time. Either meet her or don’t,” Hank replied. Before Claire could say another word, the line was dead. She wanted to scream in frustration, but settled for slamming the phone down in its cradle.
She stood and left the office, stopping to listen for a moment before heading to the kitchen. She stopped in the door, taking in the sight of her family: Tess, Meg, Becky and Jodie were sitting around the table, bickering quietly over their beers.
Tess, sitting at the head of the table, fell silent fist, taking in the expression on her sister’s face. The others soon followed, twisting in their seats to face her.
“What? What’s wrong?” demanded Tess.
“Ummm…That was Hank,” she said slowly.
“As in Aunt Joyce’s ex?” asked Tess. “What did he want?”
“He…he’s sending his daughter here…” Claire said, shaking her head slightly in confusion. “Dawn, that is,” she added, coming to herself and getting down to business. “Buffy’s dead,” she explained. “I guess until now she had custody, and DHS or whatever they call it over there must have tracked Hank down. She’s arriving in Adelaide at 8am tomorrow morning. He basically told me he didn’t care if we meet her or not.”
“So, when are we leaving?” asked Tess immediately, already standing and grabbing her coat from the rack.
Claire smiled gratefully at her sister. “Soon. It’ll probably be easier to travel tonight and get there early; I mean, two hours to Gungellan, then another five to the city, and that’s not allowing for traffic…”
“We’ll take it in turns. Will you be alright here, Meg? There’s not much to do at the moment, just the usual chores, check the fences and the troughs. We should be back by tomorrow afternoon anyway,” Tess said.
“Yeah. Just let me use the loo again and we’ll be off,” Clare said, resting one hand on her bump as she headed for the hall.
Ten minutes later, the two of them were in the car, Claire in the drivers seat. “You take the first half, I’ll take the second,” Tess told her from the passenger seat. “City driving for me, both ways, yeah?”
“Sounds good,” Claire replied.~~~@@@~~~
Dawn walked up the ramp accompanied by the stewardess, shaking slightly from fatigue and fear. She was the last one off the plane, having had to wait until the stewardess could take her in and hand her over to her new family.
The woman saw her through customs, and then looked around the arrivals lounge carefully. “So, who are we looking for?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Dawn replied. “I’ve never met them.”
“There!” said the stewardess suddenly, pointing. There were two women, a blond, and a pregnant brunette who looked a lot like Dawn, holding a sign with ‘Dawn Summers’ written in large letters.
They walked over, Dawn feeling incredibly uncertain. These people hadn’t been expecting her and more than likely didn’t want her here, in much the same way that Buffy hadn’t really wanted her around, but, unlike Buffy, they had no reason to actually keep her.
“Dawn?” asked the brunette woman, smiling gently. “I’m your cousin Claire, and this is my sister, Tess. I’m so sorry about your sister, and your mum and what your dad did to you. I’m…I’m just sorry.” She stepped forward and took Dawn’s bag, which Tess immediately relieved her of, then wrapped an arm around Dawn’s shoulders. “C’mon, lets get you home.” ~~~@@@~~~
Tess and Claire stood in the arrivals lounge, waiting for the passengers to clear customs.
“There,” said Tess suddenly, jerking her chin towards the door. “Oh my god…” she whispered, staring at the girl who was standing next to the stewardess.
“What happened to her?” asked Claire, eyes wide.
“Relax. Don’t scare her, Claire. We’ll have plenty of time to talk to her about it later,” Tess cautioned. She held the sign up higher, and saw the stewardess notice it. “She looks just like you…if you were fifteen years younger and had just gone three rounds with a professional boxer.”
“I have some photos that could almost pass as her,” admitted Claire. By this time, the two approaching had almost reached them, and the left off the argument, settling for smiling somewhat awkwardly at the brunette girl, who was watching them with something akin to fear in her eyes.
The expression concerned Claire, and she put an effort into being as gentle as possible when she spoke. “Dawn? I’m your cousin Claire, and this is my sister, Tess. I’m so sorry about your sister, and your mum and what your dad did to you. I’m…I’m just sorry.” She took the bag that the girl appeared to be struggling to hold, and Tess immediately relieved her of it, shooting her a slightly exasperated look. “Let’s get you home,” Claire said as she wrapped a gentle arm around Dawn’s shoulders.
“Do you have any other luggage?” asked Tess, and Dawn shook her head, shrugging.
“Just that. All my worldly possessions, at least that I could pack in the fifteen minutes I got before Social Services dragged me off to the airport to meet the man who was supposed to care for me more than anyone else in the world, who took me and shoved me on a plane to you guys, who I’m sure didn’t know I was on my way before I was more than halfway here. You don’t have to pretend to be happy to see me.”
“We are happy to see you, Dawn. Really.” Claire gave her a slight squeeze, unprepared for her wince of pain. “Are you alright?”
“Fine,” said Dawn, ducking out from under Claire’s arm. “Can we go?”
Tess led the way out to the Merc, and they pulled back out into the city traffic. “When did you last eat?” asked Claire, turning in her seat to look at Dawn.
“I don’t know,” replied Dawn, shrugging. “There was food on the plane, but I…wasn’t hungry.”
“Well, how about we get some McDonalds before we head back home? I can almost guarantee that that is one thing that tastes the same the world over.”
“Sure, whatever,” Dawn replied listlessly. “Where is home, anyway?”
“You don’t know…I’m going to kill that man if he ever comes back here,” declared Claire. “Drovers Run is a sheep and cattle station about seven hours from here,” she explained, and Dawn’s eyes widened.
“A farm? Hank sent me more than halfway around the world to a farm in the middle of nowhere?” She flopped back against the seat. “I don’t know anything about farms, what am I meant to do?”
“You’ll learn,” Tess told her gently. “Trust me, until two years ago I was a city girl without the faintest clue about anything to do with farming. Uh, here we go!” she pulled across to the left and turned into the McDonalds carpark. “Eat here or on the road?” she asked the other two.
Dawn shrugged, not caring.
“Let’s eat here. Easier for you than trying to eat on the road,” declared Claire.
Dawn stumbled slightly getting out of the car, one hand going protectively to her stomach as she started to limp, much more pronouncedly than she had before, into the restaurant.
“Dawn, what happened?” asked Tess, wrapping an arm around the young girl’s waist, supporting her weight.
“Nothing,” she said harshly, turning her head away from them, even as she leant into Tess’s helpful embrace.
The sisters exchanged concerned glances over her bent head as they entered the restaurant. Soon, they were seated, with their food on plastic trays in front of them.
Dawn picked up her bacon and egg muffin, eyes glued on her tray. She already felt guilty for her response to Claire’s inquiry, and before she could rethink it, she opened her mouth. “I’m sorry for snapping. I…I was kidnapped, by this guy and his sister…Buffy came to get me, and they killed her. And that’s how I got these.” She gestured to her scrapes and bruises, then one hand settled lightly over the fabric of her shirt where it covered her abdomen.
“What’s wrong with your stomach?” asked Tess, following the gesture with her eyes.
“They…Ben and Glory, that is, they took me because they wanted a sacrifice for some kind of ritual. They started bleeding me out before Buffy got there…they cut me.”
“Have you seen a doctor?” asked Claire, concerned.
“No, not really. It all happened so fast, and I’m not really hurt, anyway,” she shrugged it off, and as though she was trying to convince them, she took a large bite of her hash brown.
“Well, I’ll feel better when that particular assessment has come from a medical professional,” Claire announced firmly. “We’ll stop in Fisher on the way home, get you looked at.”
Soon enough, they were back in the car, and Claire had pulled a couple of blankets out of the boot, where she had tossed her bedroll. “You must be cold and tired,” she said to Dawn, who nodded, taking them. “You just stretch out across the back seat. Are those the warmest things you have?” The last was asked as the three of them got back into the car,
“I came from a Californian summer,” Dawn replied as she made herself comfortable in the back seat. “But still, these are a fairly decent representation of the rest of my clothes,” she admitted. “We don’t really have winter winter, just cooler days than summer.”
Dawn fell asleep soon after, and the trip out of the city went well. She didn’t wake up when they stopped to switch places, or when they stopped for lunch.
“You get some sleep,” Claire told Tess quietly. “I’ll wake you up when we get to Fisher.” ~~~@@@~~~
Claire pulled into the hospital parking lot, near the emergency entrance, and woke Tess. She went to the back door of the car and opened it carefully, so as not to hurt Dawn by bumping her around.
“Dawn,” she called softly, shaking the girl’s shoulder. “Wake up.”
Dawn woke instantly, flinching away from Claire’s hand, her own flying up in a defensive move that almost gave Claire a black eye to match her own. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, sorry,” Dawn replied. She glanced around and sighed hugely. “Do we have to do this?” she asked, already sounding resigned.
“Yes,” replied Tess. “Come on, and we’ll go shopping when we’re done, get you some more useful clothes.”
“Shopping?” complained Claire, even though she had been planning on getting the girl some new clothes anyway. Tess just rolled her eyes at her sister’s antics and offered Dawn a reassuring smile as well as an arm to lean on to get inside.
“Claire! Don’t tell me you’ve hurt yourself again!” came an exasperated voice from behind them, and they turned to face an older man who was grinning resignedly at the McLeod sisters, until he got a look at Dawn. Then he was all business. “Lets get you inside,” he said, gesturing for them to continue on through the doors. “Who is this?”
“This is our cousin, Dawn. She’s from the States,” Tess replied. “Her father sent her after her sister’s death, he…” she trailed off, uncertain of what she should say in front of Dawn.
“He didn’t want to be burdened with the care of the only living child he had left when he was living the high life with his former secretary in Spain,” Dawn finished for her. “He couldn’t handle the responsibility, or whatever.” She grimaced slightly as she stepped on a rock, and Tess took more of her weight.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dawn, despite the circumstances. I’m Doctor Cunningham,” the doctor said, smiling gently as they made their way through the outer door. “I need a wheelchair over here,” he called over his shoulder, and an orderly materialized as if by magic. “Just take a seat,” the doctor directed Dawn, and Tess lowered her down into the chair. “Now, I need you to tell me what hurts.”