Author's note; this story was written some time ago - not long after 'Not Fade Away' was shown in the UK, when the comicverse was not even a twinkle in JW's eye. It was written, more, to explore Dawn's coming to terms with something enormous about herself, and trying to find someone to give her advice, than as a tale of drama and angst.
It is not, in any way, the Dawn from my Returnverse stories.
The story is completed at 22 chapters. I will post one or two of them every week.
Dawn sat in the pale early spring sunshine, thoughtfully eating her sandwich, drinking her water and keeping an eye open for the friendly squirrels that sometimes came and shared people’s lunches, even here in the middle of the city. Behind her she could hear the hustle and bustle of the traffic on Princes Street; closer she could hear a couple of voices arguing over something in, probably, Japanese; and when she looked up in front of her she could see the great looming rock with Edinburgh Castle sitting solidly on top.
She looked pretty deep in thought, and she was. She was considering an off-the-cuff remark of her former tutor, and how it seemed to confirm what she herself was beginning to suspect. She was carefully thinking through all the people who had known her for a while, and wondering, if she was right, why it hadn’t occurred to any of them. Could non-occurrence be considered proof that she was wrong?
There were some people who seemed to have know her for the last twenty seven years, although Dawn, and most of them, realised (if they concentrated) that they had really only known her for the last thirteen. ‘Buffy,’ thought Dawn, ‘lets start with Big Sis’.
Buffy was back in California – Sacramento, and Dawn met up with her once or twice a year, although she spoke to her and e-mailed her – but the image on the phone or the computer screen was not quite the same as seeing someone right up close. Buffy was thirty three now, and showing signs of her busy life, the odd dark ring under her eyes, the odd wrinkle, slightly sagging breasts, often slightly harassed looking although still very fit.
Dawn’s mind wandered back across the years, considering what had happened to Buffy to give her the odd lines and wrinkles. The whole Sunnydale experience of course – although she’d started to look younger and more California Girl after a spell in Italy. Dawn had liked Italy, but not Buffy’s relationship with The Immortal – ‘The Great Wanker’ or 'TGW for short, Dawn had called him in a phrase she had learnt from Spike – although acknowledging that it was unlikely to be true – he had spent so much time fucking Buffy he hardly needed any DIY!! Dawn laughed quietly to herself – if Buffy heard her using ‘The F Word’ she still gave her a pained look as if she was too young to say that. Then she thought ‘Bank that thought – it might be relevant. Perhaps I ought to get a little notebook and write it all down a la Giles or Andrew!’ But she didn’t move, just kept on munching, and thinking.
She herself had decided she couldn’t stand any more of TGW after almost a year, decided to adopt Giles as a father-figure, and asked him for help. She hadn’t asked Hank Summers, because deep down she knew that really they had never even met – Giles knew her much better. He had suggested that instead of staying in Italy or going back to the States for university, she apply to a UK one – and if Dawn was interested in continuing her links with Watchers, Slayers and all that jazz, he could help with the university placement.
When she had thought about it, Dawn had realised that she probably would have trouble moving entirely into the ‘unknowing’ world – she knew too much about the things most people knew nothing about, or tried to know nothing about, and had asked him to explain more. Giles had suggested that she attend one of the five universities in the UK that had tutors in ‘specialist subjects’ to help with the education of Watchers. Not necessarily to become an active Watcher, but to expand her own knowledge, and decide later, and Dawn had decided it was a really good idea. This was of course why she had been talking to her former tutor this morning.
Dawn had decided on Edinburgh – home to two or three old Watcher families, and to a History Department where Dawn, along with two other students ‘with connections’ would have a special tutor for sessions on Demonology and Supernatural Research. She’d loved it – she had made friends not just with the other two but also with people doing all sorts of subjects, had boyfriends who were medical students, an English Lit. student and a physicist. The physicist had amused her whenever he talked about energy and light – ‘if only he knew’, she used to think.
A flash of grey out of the corner of her eye distracted Dawn’s train of thought, and she persuaded the squirrel to come a little closer with offerings of cheese salad sandwich. It moved a little closer and glanced at her, accepting the offering as its due, and fluffing out its tail. Dawn halted in her reverie and found herself grinning at the squirrel’s temerity. Two young oriental-looking girls stood still on the path, amused by this small wild thing in the middle of the city, whilst their companion, a young man in his twenties, panned between squirrel and girls with his camera.
The girls reminded Dawn of some of the young Slayers in training, and for a moment she thought about her first contact with The Potentials back in Revello Drive all those years ago, and she began again to think about Buffy.
She had turned up in England about half way through Dawn’s first year at Edinburgh; throwing herself at Giles for a place to stay while she got her head together. When she and Dawn had spoken, curled up on Buffy’s bed in Giles’ house, Dawn had not really learnt a lot about the break-up with TGW – only that Buffy had said that she’d finally seen sense, and decided to grow up again.
Buffy had stayed around the new Watchers’ Council HQ for over a year, helping with training new Slayers, and keeping herself fit. Dawn and Buffy had enjoyed each other’s company both in the vacations and on the odd weekend when Buffy had come up to Edinburgh – they had been proper sisters again.
It was whilst Buffy was around at that time that Giles had sat Dawn down in his study one evening and told her what he knew about Spike and Angel; or at least enough of what he knew to satisfy her at the time, Dawn thought ruefully – Giles was never big on the total honesty when it came to Spike and Angel. Giles had said that as Dawn would have access to Watchers’ Council Records he did not want her to discover recent events that she should be aware of by stumbling on them. Spike had been ‘returned’ via the amulet – but to Wolfram and Hart, as whoever had given it to Angel had doubtless known.
“Spike being the one tied to them must have upset their plans somewhat,” Giles had said dryly.
Andrew had known this – had seen both Angel and Spike whilst they were all in Italy – and had had it recorded, but had not told Buffy or Dawn – better at keeping things to himself than Dawn would have otherwise realised. Later there had been a very major upheaval at Wolfram and Hart and, it seemed, Angel had been planning something like that when he had agreed to join them, Giles had admitted.
Further research by Watchers had discovered that the total destruction of the LA branch of Wolfram and Hart, and the subsequent shattering of their branches into separate autonomous businesses, had been brought about by an ancient God King destroying the portal; but Giles had very few details of this. Angel and Spike had both survived. Angel’s whereabouts were known to the Watchers’ Council – he had been the source of the intelligence on Spike. Spike’s whereabouts were not known at that time.
Dawn was stunned – and demanded that Buffy be told at once. She already had been, Giles had explained. That had led to another night spent, curled up on Buffy’s bed, talking. Dawn had demanded to know why Buffy hadn’t gone straight off to look for Spike – was it because she was still in love with Angel – was she going to go out to the States to him instead?
“No, absolutely not,” Buffy had said – Angel seemed to have a girlfriend, and he was very old history now – really just puppy love. But this did not mean that she wanted to find Spike.
Buffy had described her relationship with Spike to Dawn that night as ‘mutually destructive’. She had said she wished him well- but she also wished him well away from her! She knew she’d never be able to be just ordinary, but there were enough Slayers now to take the strain; they’d done it during what Buffy called ‘The Immortal Interval’ and now Buffy wanted something close to normality.
By the next university vacation Buffy was going steady with Phil, one of the martial arts instructors employed by the Watchers’ Council, and by the time Dawn had finished her degree she was picking out a dress to wear as Buffy’s bridesmaid. Two children later, and Buffy and Phil were still happily married and training ‘Slayerettes’ in Sacramento. No wonder she was developing laughter lines as well as worry lines.
Buffy had said that the two boys were enough – she was so glad that they weren’t girls, and so couldn’t be Slayers, and she didn’t want any more saggy body bits! Yes, Buffy was showing her age, but at least she didn’t look older than it the way she had done in the Double Meat Palace days!
A sudden loud noise echoing across the city broke Dawn’s train of thought again, and she watched the pigeons circling around all aflutter.
‘I wonder why they never get used to the one-o-clock gun?’ she thought, ‘surely most of them have heard it every day of their lives since they left the egg?’
She found herself wondering about the long-term memory of pigeons as she shook the crumbs from lunch onto the path for them, and took herself off for an afternoon’s shopping before getting her train back south.
As the high speed train sped back into England and the fast moving landscape disappeared into darkness, Dawn settled back into her seat, closed her eyes and began again her contemplation of all the people who knew her, and why none of them seemed to have ever thought about what she was beginning to suspect.
Giles, well, Rupert to be quite correct. It is difficult to keep calling someone by their surname when you know their wife. Giles and Mrs. Giles would sound weird; and Olivia and Giles was equally odd, like calling her sister and brother-in-law Buffy and Wilson rather than Buffy and Phil, but in her head he was still Giles.
Dawn had been surprised when she had realised that Giles and Olivia were ‘an item’, even though she knew that Olivia had visited him back in Sunnydale at least once.
However, Dawn really liked Olivia; who had gently moved back into Giles’ life during Dawn’s first couple of years at University, so that by her third year it was no surprise to find Olivia sleeping-over at Giles’ house – even if their sharing a bedroom did still rather ‘gross her out’ as she’d put it to Willow! Dawn supposed it was rather like contemplating the possibility of your parents having sex, even though they must have done to conceive you – or not in her own case, she thought wryly.
Giles and Olivia had probably surprised more than just Dawn when they had not only got married, but then produced a daughter, little Thea; ‘Gift of God’, Olivia had explained, as any baby born to someone at forty was a gift! Giles doted on his young daughter but was still happy to ‘father’ Dawn when he or she felt she needed it.
Although she had her own apartment these days Dawn saw Giles almost every day, as she had taken up the post as a Watchers’ Council researcher that had been offered after university, and she worked mainly on projects led by Giles himself.
‘I see him almost every day,’ she thought, entering the fact in her mental note book. ‘Do we ever really look at people we see every day? Probably not. I don’t think he still just sees me as Buffy’s kid sister, but he’s probably not stopped to think how old I am, even though he gives me birthday gifts annually!’ So perhaps no comment from Giles meant very little, especially considering his eyesight!
Olivia. Olivia didn’t see Dawn every day, but she did see her about once a week, as Dawn loved to visit her ‘baby sisterling’, so although Olivia’s background in the fashion and beauty business should mean that she took note of people’s appearance, either the proximity rule held good for her, or if she had noticed anything she hadn’t regarded it as odd enough to mention.
Outside the train the lights of a city began to twinkle.
‘Newcastle’, thought Dawn, ‘hope no-one wants to sit beside me, I need to concentrate.’
The train slowed, and stopped, but no-one did sit beside her – the Watchers’ Council paid for First Class these days, and the carriage was spacious and not crowded. She continued to focus on the view from the train until they had crossed the Tyne – a remembered view from all those trips up and down as a student.
‘Second class then though!’ she thought, smiling to herself.
As Gateshead flew past the window she closed her eyes and began again her mental inventory of old friends. Willow. Dawn had known Willow since she was nine or ten, or all her somewhat shorter life if she looked down into the deeper level, below memory to knowledge. On the whole she thought they would probably describe each other as friends these days.
Willow looked well, although the vibrant red of her hair already needed help from a good hairdresser. ‘Probably because of the bleaching effect major magic has had on it,’ thought Dawn.
Willow meditated a lot, to help her control her own power, and it seemed to do wonders for her clear smooth skin and the supple way that she moved. She had no long term partner but she didn’t seem short of company, and Dawn thought that Willow, despite her ‘vacillating sexuality’, probably never really looked clearly at Dawn because she didn’t think of her as ‘talent’!
‘She probably still thinks of me as a teenager because in some ways she’s still rather like one herself, despite everything.’ Dawn thought.
That term ‘vacillating sexuality’ was one that Dawn had thought suited Willow well; after Kennedy there had been a couple of males before the next female companion. But she thought it suited Andrew even better. In fact Dawn had once thought that, if both of them were in a hetero phase at the same time, they could probably do worse than getting together with each other.
Well apart from the ‘Your friend killed the love of my life’ bit, and the ‘You flayed my friend alive’ bit – but then everyone carried around some emotional baggage! At this thought Dawn laughed out loud, then thought ‘No-one in the world of ‘unknowing’ could ever understand why such a thought could be funny – even if they realised that such a thought could exist!’
Actually Andrew worked very hard as an official Recorder for the Council, so that the tradition of recording everything as far as possible to help future Watchers (and Slayers, it was now pointed out forcefully at meetings) would continue, despite the terrible losses when the old Council building had been attacked.
Andrew had done a lot to haul things into the Twenty-first Century, despite his urge during the Sunnydale years to talk of ‘vampyres’, and most records were now electronic, properly backed up, and with moving images wherever possible. Quentin Travers was probably turning in his grave. (Only of course like almost all Watchers, he had been cremated, just to be on the safe side!)
It occurred to Dawn that if anyone could confirm what she was beginning to suspect it could well be Andrew.
However, she continued her ‘list’. Xander. She only saw him very occasionally; last time must be almost a year ago, when he had stopped off in the UK for a couple of weeks before going out to California. He looked older than Buffy, older than Willow, but it was not really surprising as he spent so much time in the sun.
After Sunnydale he’d spent time in Africa, and he’d liked the wildness of it, but even in Africa you couldn’t live like George of the Jungle for ever, and he had begun to put his construction skills to use for an aid organisation, as well as keeping an eye open for possible newly activated Slayers.
By late 2004 the Council had trained Watchers within Africa; and when he was asked by an aid agency to go to Sri Lanka in the wake of the Boxing Day Tsunami he had been more than happy to comply. He seemed to have found his role in life and Dawn got occasional e-mails from all over the world. He still called her ‘Dawnie’. He probably thought of her as still being sixteen, and would be truly shocked if he not only heard her use ‘the F word’ but realised she’d not only said it but done it.
Xander’s opinion on the current subject would be no use at all, and this had nothing to do with his lack of binocular vision.
Dawn thought that the time had come for coffee, and decided to leave her puzzle until tomorrow, then perhaps she would get Andrew to help her look for some pictures of herself over the years, and see whether Dr. McStay was right when he had said “Dawn, how lovely to see you – working for The Council must suit you – you don’t look a day older than you did when you graduated!”
The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.