: Not mine. BtVS belongs to Whedon. CSI belongs to...somebody else who is not me. Note
: Set in the Sam's Girls verse. This idea has been kicking around my head for a while and got written in a hurry for Fic A Day. I may work it into something longer eventually.
Buffy froze. Her world had just narrowed to what was on the computer screen. And what was on the screen…
She was back in that box. Trapped in a box underground with no explanation and no reason and nothing but fear and pain.
Dawn, who had been gaping at the screen like everyone else in the room, turned just in time to see the look on Buffy’s face before she all but ran out of the room.
Sara dragged Dawn into the break room. The teenager might be fooling everyone else, but everyone else- Catherine included- had been focused on finding Nick to the exclusion of all else.
“Dawn, what’s going on?”
Dawn’s eyes desperately wanted to explain, but Dawn’s mouth stayed shut.
“Right, we didn’t exactly hit it off and we aren’t best buds. But there is something going on with you and your sister right now, and it is clearly something bad. You need to tell someone about it. If you don’t want that someone to be me, I will find whoever you want to talk to. Just…tell me how to help, ok?”
Dawn’s voice was shaky.
“I need to talk to Warrick.”
Dawn shook her head frantically.
“Catherine can’t handle it. Not right now.”
Maybe not ever.
“Right. Dawn, you stay right here. Do not go anywhere. I am going to get Warrick and bring him here.”---
Sara found Warrick in the locker room. Now that Nick was safely to the hospital, everyone could go home and get some much needed down time.
He looked up.
“What’s up? Thought you’d be gone already.”
“I would have been,” Sara said drily, “except for a very upset teenager who’s been forgotten in the general commotion. “
“Dawn?” Warrick asked, hand freezing halfway to his locker. “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
Sara suppressed a smirk. Even if Dawn hadn’t said Warrick, she would have picked him for this very reason. He was as good as a big brother.
“I don’t know. All I know is Buffy walked out of the building earlier, Dawn’s been walking on eggshells ever since, and there is something going on. She says she’ll talk to you about it.”
“I don’t think it’s about tonight. At least, not just about tonight. Something else is going on. And whatever it is, she’s trying to protect Catherine from it.”
Warrick’s brow furrowed. Unlike Sara, he knew exactly how bad that could potentially be.
Sara was right, Warrick realized, as he walked into the break room. Dawn was sitting on the couch, knees drawn up to her chest, hugging her legs.
“Hey,” he said gently, sitting down next to her.
“Hey,” she whispered back.
“Sara said you need to talk to me.”
Warrick waited a moment, and when nothing happened, he sighed.
“Dawn, part of talking to me involves actual talking.”
Dawn turned to face him, and he realized she was close to tears.
“I don’t know where Buffy is.”
“So why don’t you just call her?”
“Her cell phone’s off. She’s not answering.”
“I seem to remember the first time I met you, you told me if Buffy doesn’t call back, you call in backup. I’d say now’s a good time for that.”
Dawn shook her head.
“Not for this,” she whispered. “It’s…”
“Start at the beginning, Dawn. When was the last time you saw Buffy?”
“When we came to bring Catherine’s dinner. We walked in while you guys were watching Nick on that webcam feed. The music was up, and Nick was freaking out.”
“What happened next?” Warrick asked, slipping into the tone he usually reserved for victims or witnesses of violent crimes.
“Buffy… she saw what was on the screen. And she just left.”
“Did what was on the screen upset her?” Warrick prompted.
“I think… I think she had a flashback.”
“Why would Buffy get a flashback from seeing Nick freaking out?” Warrick asked. He kept his tone soothing, but he was puzzled. Buffy saw more upsetting things on a regular basis.
Dawn took a deep breath. Warrick realized that whatever she was about to say was Sara’s “something bad”, the thing she was trying to keep Catherine from.
“Because of what happened when she was resurrected.”
Warrick gaped at her. Nothing in his professional or even personal experience had prepared him for that.
It was the safest thing to say, even though about a dozen competing thoughts were running through his head, including ‘wait, Buffy died twice?’ and ‘it’s possible to bring someone back from the dead?’
“Buffy died saving the world. She died saving me. It was my fault, all my fault. A hellgoddess was going to use my blood to destroy the world. She used it to open up a portal between dimensions. Buffy died to close it.”
Warrick pulled Dawn into a rough hug.
“It was not your fault.”
Dawn shook her head. Now that she’d started, she needed to finish the story. It wasn’t something they’d ever talked about, really. Even though they probably should have.
“Yeah, but if it hadn’t been for me, none of it would have happened.”
“So ending the world was your idea? You went along with this plan willingly? Volunteered and everything?”
“No, I didn’t volunteer. I was kidnapped.”
“Tell me,” Warrick said.
“Someone realized I was the sacrifice victim they’d been looking for, and they tied me up. It wasn’t a fun time. I actually didn’t mind the hellgoddess as much as the others involved. Weird, huh? But she at least was honest about what she was going to do. The others were just pretending to make it easier.”
Despite being a little upset about finding out about what sounded like the most serious of Dawn’s kidnappings-which he thought he’d already heard all about- Warrick allowed himself a small smile.
“You’ve never been fond of bullshit,” he said.
“So anyway, tied up in the right spot for the sacrifice, which was on top of a tower. My blood plus magic made a great glowy portal that ripped down the barriers between dimensions. There was a dragon, that was actually kinda neat, but mostly it was mind-numbing terror, end of the world territory. And the only way to stop it was for the blood, my blood, to stop flowing. I knew what I had to do. I was so scared, but I was going to do it. But Buffy stopped me. She told me I had to live, and then she jumped. Right into that portal. She sacrificed herself in my place.”
Dawn stopped for a second to get her voice under control and brush away tears.
“So she was dead. We buried her. We grieved for her. Four months, three weeks, five days. And then Willow brought her back. It was dark magic, and she probably shouldn’t have done it, but they did. They thought Buffy was trapped in a hell dimension, and they had to save her. No one told me they were going to do the spell, in case it went wrong. They thought they were so clever, they thought of everything. Everything except taking my sister out of her grave before they brought her back.”
Dawn was crying now.
“You’re telling me that after almost five months dead, Buffy woke up in her coffin? Underground?”
Warrick was appalled. And a little worried. After an experience like that, seeing Nick trapped would have been more than a little triggering.
“It’s worse, though.”
Warrick wasn’t sure how it could get worse, but he steeled himself to hear it.
“They pulled her out of heaven. And when she came back…all she wanted was to go back there. Back where it was peaceful and she was safe, she was done. And she saw Nick tonight, and I think it brought all that back. I can’t call Willow to find her, not for this.”Not when Willow’s the one who brought her back and still has guilt issues.
Warrick stroked Dawn’s hair comfortingly.
“Did either of you ever talk to anyone about this?” he asked. From the sounds of it, they should have. Both of them. All of them.
“Oh, yeah, sure, finding a therapist for issues like this is a breeze. Of course
we’ve never talked to anyone about it. Who was there to talk to, other than the people who were involved in resurrecting her, or the couple bystanders who were just so damn happy to have her back that they didn’t ask questions?”
Warrick felt the urge to bang his head against the wall. Of course they didn’t have anyone to talk to who wasn’t involved. And he understood why Dawn didn’t want to tell Catherine, especially not after the emotional rollercoaster she’d just been on.
“Ok, so Buffy had a flashback and walked out. Where would she go?”
“I don’t know,” Dawn whispered. “This isn’t Sunnydale. She could be anywhere.”
“All right, then we wait here,” Warrick said. “Eventually she’s going to work through it. When she does, she’ll come looking for you.”
“How do you know?” Dawn asked.
“Because I know your sister,” Warrick replied.