16.In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving"
But the fighter still remains.
Simon And Garfunkel ‘The Boxer’
“We need to get outta here guys,” Dawn told her friends urgently, “fast!”
Much to Dawn’s surprise her friends just stood there staring at her in shock with their mouths hanging open.
“Come on!” Dawn squeaked almost wetting herself as the full realisation of what she’d done suddenly hit her; if they didn’t get out of this place soon they were all soooo dead!
“You shot him,” Ace took a hesitant step towards Dawn; “you shot Boss Godfrey!”
“Yeah what of it?” Dawn was about ready to go and leave her friends behind she was so scared.
“You shot Boss Godfrey!” A big smile slowly spread across Ace’s face as she realised the boss would never beat on her again.
Rushing forward, Ace wrapped her arms around Dawn and hugged her fiercely.
“You killed the bastard!” Ace sobbed into Dawn’s hair.
“Yeah,” Dawn agreed as she tried to comfort the crying woman, “and if we don’t get out of here soon, Boss Paula is going to kill us…slowly.”
“Yeah, sure,” Ace sniffed and started to relax her hold on Dawn, “we better get…”
Almost knocked down in the rush, Dawn was pressed up against the opposite wall as Society and Rabbit rushed forward and hugged her as the squealed and jumped up and down like a couple of high school cheerleaders celebrating a touch down.
“Okay, okay!” Dawn’s voice was muffled by all the female bodies pressed against hers, “you can tell me how much you love me later, now we need to go!”
“Yeah,” Society pulled herself away from Dawn and dashed the tears of joy from her eyes with the back of her hand, “Cool Hand’s right,” she bent and picked up Godfrey’s keys, “come on we better move.”
Quickly finding the right key, Society released everyone from their leg irons.
“Open the doors,” Dawn ordered as she knelt down next to Boss Godfrey’s body and took the half-dozen spare pistol rounds from his belt and put them in the pocket of her jeans.
“Doors opened!” Society called from over by the front door.”
“Great!” Dawn led the other two women along the corridor and into the guard room, “See if you can find anything useful,” she told Ace and Rabbit, “weapons, food, something to carry water in,” she threw Ace the bunch of keys before going to join Society at the door, “See anything?”
“Nerry a thang, honey,” Society whispered; she had the door open a crack and was watching the area between the concrete block and the next building.
“Let me see,” Dawn watched for a moment or two; there was no movement or sound not even the obligatory crickets chirping or the sound of a dog barking, “Whatever,” Dawn shrugged her shoulders, “if they’re waiting to gun us down when we run, at least it’ll be quick and not like what they had planned for us.”
“What d’you mean, honey?” Society cast Dawn a worried look.
“I’ll explain properly later,” Dawn sighed heavily, “but just to give you some idea. Remember all those girls that got released?”
“Uh-huh,” Society nodded her head slowly.
“They didn’t,” Dawn explained simply, “they came here. Looks like once South Marianna’s got you they don’t ever let you go…honey!”
“Oh shit,” Society breathed quietly.
“What’s up?” Ace and Rabbit joined the two women by the door, “See anything?”
“No it’s very quiet out there,” Dawn was confused but grateful, obviously the gunshots had be more muffled than she’d expected, “did you find anything we can use.”
“Only this,” Rabbit held up a two pint canteen, “I filled it up.”
“It’s weird, Cool Hand,” Ace frowned, “there’s nothin’ in any of the draws or closets, it’s like they were about to move out or somethin’.”
“Whatever,” Dawn shrugged and checked the revolver in her hand, “Damn!” she muttered after checking the cylinder.
Over the years, Dawn had become familiar with guns, mainly automatics and not big heavy revolvers like the one in her hand. However, she knew enough about them to get by. Boss Godfrey must have been one of those careful types who didn’t want to blow his own foot off by accident. As a consequence of this he kept an empty chamber under hammer. Having fired twice into Godfrey’s belly, that meant there were three rounds left in the gun and six rounds in her pocket; Dawn hoped they wouldn’t get into a gunfight.
“Okay,” Dawn shook her head trying to empty it of her imaginings of what was going to happen next, “we’re as ready as we’ll ever be, let’s go!”
Pulling open the door, Dawn stepped outside, stopping she paused to take in her surrounding before turning to her left and trotting towards the gate.
“Where is every fucker?” Rabbit wanted to know, “Where’re the guards and dogs?”
“They must think they’re right safe here, honey,” Society said as she jogged along just behind Dawn.
“Or they’ve got the prisoners so cowed that they don’t need to guard them,” Dawn pointed out.
Very soon they got to the gate and were confronted by their first challenge after leaving the guardroom. The gate was secured by a heavy chain and a large padlock.
“Keys?” Dawn asked as she turned and raised her revolver to cover the ground behind them; still no one appeared to challenge them.
“Hurry!” Rabbit gasped excitedly as Ace fumbled with the keys.
“Come on honey,” Society urged her friend on, “I’m late for my appointment at the beauty salon.”
“None of them fits!” Ace frantically tried the keys again.
“WHAT!?” Dawn shrieked, this was so unfair, just as they where about to get free a freaking, poxy, lock was going to get in their way. “Get back!” Dawn ordered as she pointed the revolver at the lock.
“What!?” Ace jumped to one side as she realised what Dawn was going to do.
Firing, Dawn looked at the lock in disbelief, she’d missed!
“Fuck sake!” Dawn spat on the ground as he pulled the hammer back with her left hand.
Aiming more carefully, mainly by keeping her eyes open, Dawn drew a bead on the lock and carefully pulled the trigger. This time the heavy slug smashed into the padlock and shattered it into a dozen pieces.
“Quick!” Dawn pushed against the gate opening it just wide enough for them to squeeze through.
Knowing that someone must have heard the two shots, Dawn urged her friends out of the camp and along the track. Running as hard and fast as she could she lead the way along the road until the lights of the camp had disappeared around a curve in the track and was hidden by the trees that grew thickly all around.
“Okay!” Dawn gasped as she slowly came to a halt, “We better not stay on the track,” she tried to control her breathing, “What I think we should do is go into the woods a ways and parallel the track for a while. Hopefully they’ll think we’ve struck out across country. If no one follows us we’ll get back onto the road later.”
“What if they have hounds?” Rabbit asked, she was hardly breathing heavily, unlike Society who was still gasping for breath.
“I didn’t hear any when we were at the camp,” Dawn replied, “so I’m guessing they don’t have any here.”
“Doesn’t mean they can’t bring some in,” Ace pointed out.
“Hey!” Society’s breasts rose and fell as she struggled to get her breath back, “Anyone would think you wanted to get caught!”
“Just sayin’, Society,” Ace smiled half-heatedly.
“Look we’ll deal with that later,” Dawn started to walk off the track, “lets move!”0=0=0=0
Walking out onto the veranda that surrounded his hut, Captain Stother laughed quietly, this was going to be a good hunt, he told himself.
“Boss Paula,” he called over his shoulder, “you go tell the Lord that the hunt is about to begin.”
“Yes Sir, Captain,” Boss Paula walked back into the hut her boots thumping on the wooden floor.
“She has a gun,” Boss Keen pointed out.
“Won’t do her no good,” Captain Stother turned and smiled at the woman, “We have the Lord on our side.”
“Amen, Captain,” Keen nodded her head, “Amen!”0=0=0=0
“Damn!” Dawn cursed as yet another tree branch tried to take her eye out.
This just isn’t working, she told herself. The woods on either side of the track had proved far thicker than she’d expected and not only weren’t they making much progress, she was also convinced they were lost.
“Take five, guys,” Dawn called quietly as they came out into a small clearing.
“Crap!” Gasped Society as she sat down on a fallen tree truck, “I’m pooped!”
“Pass the water round, Ace,” Dawn ordered as she rested her back against a tree and looked up to the sky, “just take a swig, don’t drink too much we don’t know how long its got to last us.”
Closing her eyes for a moment, Dawn wished, as she often had over the last few weeks that her sister was here to save her. Opening her eyes again she saw that it was defiantly lighter, the black of night had turned to the blue-grey of early dawn.
“How long do you think we’ve been on the run?” Dawn asked directing the question to no one in particular.
“Three or four hours,” Ace replied, “it’ll be full light in less than two hours.”
“How do you know this stuff?” Dawn turned to look at her friend.
“My dark secret,” Ace smiled, “I was a Girl Scout until I was fifteen and they caught me and a friend in the same sleeping bag.”
“I’m guessing that this ‘friend’ was another Girl Scout,” Dawn grinned, “and you weren’t sleeping.”
“Not so much,” Ace admitted, “we were young, we wanted to experiment…”
“But no one else saw it like that?” Dawn suggested.
“’Bout right,” Ace nodded her head sadly, “threw me out, my mom an’ dad disowned me…”
“Say what?” Society looked aghast at Ace.
“Yep,” Ace shrugged her shoulders, “it was that kinda ville. Girls were supposed to grow up to be good wives an’ mothers.”
“Not lesbo sluts?” Rabbit observed without malice.
“Got it,” Ace agreed, “mind if we don’t talk about it any more?”
“Yeah,” Dawn agreed quickly, “time to pick it up,” she turned back to Ace, “which way?”
“I guess,” Ace paused as she looked up at the sky, “it seems lighter…hey what’s that?”
Dawn had heard it too, a sound like someone opening and closing a huge leather umbrella. Feeling the cold fingers of fear running up and down her spine, she grasped the butt of the revolver that was stuffed into the waist band of her jeans, the noise got louder as it got closer.
“What the fuck?” Rabbit reached down and picked up a length of branch from the ground and held it like a baseball bat as everyone looked around trying to find the source of the sound.
A great gust of air washed over Dawn’s face and she heard dry branches snap as something heavy landed in the clearing. Turning at the sound of Ace’s scream, Dawn saw it standing there towering over Society. It was at least ten feet tall, its skin was a dark-red-brown. It had the head of a demonic goat complete with black horns and red glowing eyes. Forcing herself to move, Dawn started to drag the revolver from her jeans as the demon started to lift a huge bronze bladed sword in its left hand.
Aware of people screaming and Society staring up at the red horror that loomed over her, Dawn fumbled with the hammer of the gun; she didn’t have the strength to pull back the hammer with her right thumb so she had to use her left hand and wasted precious seconds as the demon lifted its sword. Screaming at Society to get down, Dawn started to point the pistol at the monster’s chest. The sword cut through the air making an eerie whistling noise as it flashed with inhuman speed towards Society.
Screaming, Dawn saw the sword slice the ex-prostitute cleanly in half, her torso spinning off to one side as her legs collapsed into the litter of the clearing’s floor. Still screaming, this time in shock at the sudden death of her friend, Dawn held the gun in both hands and fired. The heavy lead slug hit the demon squarely in the middle of it’s chest. It staggered back a little at the force of the impact and Dawn could clearly see a bright smear of lead on the monster’s skin.
Why wouldn’t the thing go down? Dawn asked herself as she pulled back the hammer and brought the gun up into the aim again. The demon shifted its gaze from Society’s body over to Dawn and snarled at her, lifting one huge leg it stamped on Society’s remains and took a step towards Dawn. Pulling the trigger, Dawn felt her heart leap into her mouth as the hammer fell on an empty chamber; she’d forgotten to reload! Cursing herself for the fool Buffy had always suspected she was, Dawn stepped back towards the trees behind her and resisted the urge to throw the empty pistol at the demon; she still had spare rounds and there was a slim chance that she might get to use them. Tripping on a branch, Dawn fell to the ground as the demon crossed the clearing to stand over her.
“Oh god!” Dawn gasped as she looked up at the monster; she saw its enormous penis swing from side to side as it moved, she saw it start to raise its sword for the killing blow as she lay there helpless before it.
Just as the monster had raised its sword high above its head, Dawn became aware of a woman’s scream, full of fear, anger and determination. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Rabbit charge across the clearing her ersatz club raised high.
“NO!” Dawn didn’t know whether she’d actually yelled the word or just thought it in her head.
Using the momentum of her wild charge, Rabbit swung her club at the demon; Dawn heard the wood splinter and break smashing the club in two against the demon’s spine. Hardly making a sound the demon turned slightly and brought it’s sword down and around to slice through Rabbit’s legs half way between her knees and her hips. Screaming in anguish and pumping blood over the clearing, Rabbit writhed in agony on the ground. Momentarily forgetting about Dawn, the demon turned, raised its sword again and thrust down pinning Rabbit to the ground through her chest like she was some bug set out for display.
“NO!” This time Dawn knew she’d screamed the word out loud; all her friends were dying, if she’d accepted the Captain’s offer they would have lived ten, fifteen more years, who knows someone might have been able to rescue them.
But now, because she’d tried to be the leader they were all going to die.
“DAWN!” Ace yelled into Dawn’s ear as she grabbed her by the shoulders and heaved her to her feet, “MOVE IT!”
Dragging Dawn behind her Ace started to push her way through the jungle of trees and branches that tried to slow them at every step. Ace didn’t know what that thing was, she wasn’t much of a fighter; when trouble reared its head, Ace ran. Doing what she knew best, Ace pulled Dawn along until she was fairly sure that the monster wasn’t coming after them.0=0=0=0
Bursting out of the trees, Dawn and Ace threw themselves into the ditch that ran beside a track.
“W-what was that thing?” Gasped Ace as her lungs tried to drag in enough air to keep her alive.
“Demon,” Dawn managed to say as she struggled to catch her breath.
“W-what!?” Ace didn’t have enough breath to shout.
“Look,” Dawn took a deep breath and felt her heart slow a little, “demon’s exist, live with it…and that fucker looks like it’s a big, nasty, powerful one.”
“Demon’s exist?” Ace gazed off back at the wood her face a picture of disbelief, she’d seen it but like most people she didn’t believe it.
“Right,” Dawn started to eject the spent cartridges from the revolver and replace them with the spares in her pocket.
“What good’s that gonna be,” Ace jerked her head at the gun in Dawn’s hand, “I saw you shoot it the bullet just bounced off.”
“Maybe I’ll get lucky next time,” she concentrated on reloading as her hands shook violently, “maybe it’s got a venerable spot or something.” Surprisingly Dawn found herself laughing, “Perhaps I can shoot it in that great swinging dick of his?”
“Big enough target,” Ace chuckled.
“Come on,” Dawn pulled herself to her feet, “we’ll make better time sticking to the road, which way, Girl Scout?”
Glancing up and down the track, Ace picked a direction at random; she didn’t know where they were so she had a fifty percent chance of getting it right, if there was a ‘right’ of course. Suddenly she realised what it must be like to be a leader with people’s lives depending on the decisions you made. Having always been a follower, Ace had been a little lost until Dawn had turned up. The first time they’d spoken Ace knew this was a woman she could follow and had fallen in love with Dawn from that first moment.
“This way looks good,” Ace pointed down the track.
“Okay,” Down rested her hand on Ace’s shoulder for a moment before she started to trot off down the road.0=0=0=0
By trotting and walking alternately, Dawn and Ace made good time without exhausting themselves. Of course they had no idea where they were making good time towards. For all they knew they were heading right back towards the Farm, it just felt good to be moving.
“So, demons exist?” Ace said as they were walking.
“Yep,” Dawn nodded her head, “there’s a long story to explain it all which I’ve mostly forgotten, but the short version is that they exist and there’re pissed at losing their top spot in the food chain.”
“How’d you know about this?” Ace asked.
“I used to live in Sunnydale,” Dawn explained, “and my big sister was The Slayer.”
“She was some sorta superhuman good guy,” Dawn explained, “her job was to fight the monsters.”
“Shit,” Ace shook her head in disbelief.
“I know,” Dawn agreed, “I grew up with this stuff going on all around me and I can’t live with most of it. That’s why I ran away.”
“Couldn’t deal, huh?” Ace nodded her head, “I can see how you might feel like that.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” Dawn grinned, “If we get out of this I’ll tell you my story, that’ll really blow your mind!”
“Better run again,” Ace gestured down the road, “take a break at midday, huh?”
On they ran, trotting and walking until the sun was almost directly over head. Sitting on the side of the road they shared a couple of mouthfuls of water from the canteen. There was nothing to eat and the water was about half gone.
“We can’t just go on running like this,” Dawn observed as she lay back in the grass that filled the ditch, “we need food, water and a chance to sleep.”
It was Monday midday and the last time either of them had had any proper sleep was Sunday morning. The last food they’d had was the bread and cheese sometime last night; Dawn thought they’d be able to move on for the rest of the day, hopefully find somewhere to sleep tonight. But, tomorrow they’d need food and water was going to be an issue soon. Talking of water made Dawn notice her full bladder.
“Hey,” Dawn pushed herself to her feet, “I’m going to take a leak.”
“Can I watch?” Ace asked with a grin.
“Perv,” Dawn muttered as she climbed out of the ditch and headed for the tree line.
Stepping just inside the wood, Dawn pulled down her jeans and panties and after laying the revolver within easy reach she squatted down. As she did so she wrinkled her nose as she caught her own scent. What with all the running and abject terror she was beginning to stink again. Sighing with relief as her bladder emptied its load onto the forest floor, Dawn regretted the lack of toilet tissue, stood up and was just pulling up her jeans when she heard the terrible noise of the huge leather umbrella again.
Picking up the revolver she burst out of the tree line to see Ace running down the road with the demon in hot pursuit. The demon seemed to bounce along the road its huge bat like wings helping it move easily along, Dawn was sure the monster was playing with its latest victim. The demon could easily have caught Ace, but that wasn’t the way of demons, no, they wanted their fun.
Standing on the road, Dawn pulled back the pistol’s hammer, aimed and fired. Not knowing if she could hit a target, even one as big as the demon, at this range; she was counting on the shot at least distracting the demon for a moment and maybe leaving her friend alone. The bullet whistled over the demon’s head, but it didn’t slow down, it didn’t even appear to notice, it just kept after Ace.
“COME BACK HERE AND FIGHT ME, YOU BASTARD!” Dawn screamed after the monster, “COWARD!” she added for good measure.
The Demon noticed her that time, it seemed to bounce higher into the air as its wings flapped loudly. Rising into the air, Dawn saw the demon overtake Ace and almost float to the ground in front of her running friend.
“NOOOO!” Dawn screamed as she lifted the revolver again, this time she couldn’t fire for fear of hitting Ace, “LEAVE HER ALONE YOU BIG BULLY!”
Watching in horrified fascination, Dawn saw Ace try to stop as the demon suddenly appeared in front of her. The girl skidded on the loose gravel and rock of the track as her boots failed to find purchase. Unable to save herself, Ace ran onto the end of the demon’s sword. Screaming as the bronze blade entered her stomach just below her rib cage, Ace knew her time was up. Spitting blood into the monster’s face she felt herself being lifted off the ground and the sword slide through her as she slipped down the length of the blade.
“Fuck you!” She coughed blood over the demon’s chest just before her world turned black forever.
“BASTARD!” Dawn screamed as she watched the demon flick her friend’s body off his blade as if it was some piece of crap that fouled the beauty of his sword.
Lifting the pistol, Dawn fired and watched as the slug hit the demon, seemingly without any effect, she started to walk determinedly towards the monster.
“BASTARD!” she fired again, “BASTARD!” she kept walking towards the demon seeing her bullets strike its body but do little more than make him stumble. “BASTARD!” She was now only a few yards away and the demon loomed over her laughing at her ineffectual attempts at killing him.
Heaving back on the hammer one last time, Dawn took careful aim at the demon’s head, she fired and saw her last bullet glance harmlessly off one of his horns. The demon took a slow contemptuous swing at her with his sword. Dodging out of the way, Dawn threw herself to the ground and rolled across the track, coming to a halt she knelt on the ground in front of the demon and in a last act of defiance threw her empty gun at the monster’s head.
Much to her surprise she saw the weapon strike the demon in the left eye, the demon staggered and dropped its sword. It let out a roar of pain and confusion as he started to topple over like a giant tree about to crash onto the ground.
“What the fuck!?” Dawn gasped as she watched the demon crash onto the ground sending puffs of dust up into the air, “If I’d know it was that easy…”
One after another Dawn noticed two things. Someone or something had cut the demon’s left leg off just below the knee. The other was the dark haired woman clutching a weird axe-like thing in her hands as she stood over the monster; she looked vaguely familiar to Dawn. Taking a step or two towards the demon the woman rammed the spike at the end of the axe’s handle into the demon’s eye socket. Heaving the axe left and right she scrambled the demon’s brains and pulled her blood and gore dripping weapon from the monster’s body; lifting her weapon she cut off the demon’s head with a single blow.
“Cool,” she announced with a satisfied smile and nod.
“Who…?” Dawn remained lying on the ground as she looked up at the woman, more memories were starting to rise from her fear numbed mind.
“Hey!” The woman put down the axe and turned to kneel next to Dawn, “Hey Dawnie, you remember me?”
The woman smiled down at Dawn who saw her eyes twinkle in amusement.
“Faith?” Dawn didn’t know whether she should try to run or stay where she was; last she remembered Faith was evil or dead or in prison or something.
But she wasn’t, she was here, she’d killed the big bad and was looking at her with quiet concern, Dawn didn’t think Faith was about to kill her anytime soon.
“Faith is that really you?” Stupid thing to say, Dawn knew but she couldn’t think of anything else.
“Yeah its me kid,” Faith started to help Dawn to her feet.
“Don’t call me ‘kid’,” Dawn warned, before asking hopefully, “So you’re good again?”
“Yeah,” Faith sounded a little sad and wouldn’t look Dawn in the eye for a moment, “Look I’ve got a lot to tell ya, but it’ll have to wait ‘til we get ya outta here, can ya walk?”
“I can run if you want,” Dawn took a step and made a liar of herself as she stumbled, luckily Faith was there to catch her.
“I think ya should stick to walking,” Faith advised.
Pausing, Dawn looked down at the body of her best friend.
“Sorry we didn’t get here sooner,” Faith told her gently.
“You keep saying ‘we’,” Dawn glanced at Faith for a second.
“One of the things I need to tell ya, or Giles does,” Faith explained.
“My friends they’re all…” Dawn gestured vaguely back down the track.
“We’ll find ‘em and give ‘em a good send off, Dawn,” Faith reassured her, “we found the farm place and that prison you were at, we’ve got people all over it…”
“Take me away from here, please,” Dawn drew herself up as straight as she could; she was the last of the Summers’ women, she had a reputation to uphold.
Glancing down at her friend, Ace…no her real name was Becky, Dawn let Faith lead her away knowing that she’d at least solved the problem of what she was going to call her third and forth daughters.0=0=0=0Epilogue.I'm going home
Nothing's lost, all's gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more
Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life begun
There's no break, there's no end
Just a living on
Wide awake with a smile
Going on and on
Going home, going home
I'm just going home.
Dvorak, New World Symphony (Going Home, aka the ‘Hovis’ music).The Summers-Butler Residence, Tacoma, Washington State, 13 Years later.
“Hey kids!” Faith laughed as a small swarm of children jostled around her legs, “Go an' bug ya Auntie Willow, will ya? Get her to do some magic tricks for ya or something.”
Screaming with delight at the idea the children rushed off to pester the red haired woman who sat on the opposite side of the pool. Sighing with relief of being free of the kids, Faith collapsed onto a sun lounger, she loved all the kids but they wore her out, she wondered how Dawn managed to control them day after day. Picking up the bottle of beer she’d placed on a nearby table, she popped the cap with her thumb. Just as she was about to take that first, wonderful mouthful of ice cold beer, Faith paused to watch Dawn walk towards her.
“Hot damn, how does she do it?” she asked herself, before shaking her head and sipping her beer, “Must be a spell or something.”
Dressed in a flower pattern bikini, Dawn looked hotter now than she had done all those years ago, or so it seemed to Faith. Okay she was seven month’s gone with kid number six, okay her boobs were bigger than they used to be and were just beginning to sag a little, but what did you expect? Whatever, she was still sex on legs.
“Hi, Dawnie,” Faith smiled up at her old friend.
“Hi y’self,” Dawn eased herself down on the lounger next to Faith’s with a relieved sigh, “Hiding from the kids?”
“Yeah,” Faith frowned but kept her voice light, “somethin’ like that.”
As Dawn had sat down she’d turned her back to Faith and she’d seen the marks on Dawn’s back from the boss’ whips, still visable after all these years. Of course they weren’t that bad, most people didn’t even notice them, but Faith knew they were there and every time she saw them she regretted the fact that they’d not found Dawn sooner.
“Oooh,” Dawn lay back on the lounger and closed her eyes for a moment as she stroked her stomach, “I hate this part.”
“Ya what?” Faith looked at the woman beside her in surprise, “I thought ya liked being pregnant an’ kids an’ the whole ‘soccer mom’ thing.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” Dawn reassured her, “I love the getting pregnant, I mean that’s always fun,” she grinned lasciviously “And being pregnant and babies and children it’s just…” Dawn sighed again, “it’s the seven month thing. I’ve had it every time since I had Buffy,” Dawn explained with a self deprecating laugh, “I’ve got over the ‘Yay! I’m pregnant!’ thing and its still a while to the, ‘Yay! New baby!’ part, seven months just gets me down a little.”
“So,” Faith cast a weary eye at Dawn’s bump, “what’s this one goin’ to be?”
“Should be a girl,” Dawn replied knowingly, “so she’ll be ‘Becky’.”
“Cool,” Faith took a swig of her beer and felt just a twinge of jealousy, “so how do you work that out?”
“Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy,” Dawn counted off her children on her fingers, “so the chances are number six is a little ‘Summers’.”
“I love the way ya so certain,” Faith laughed.
“Hey look,” Dawn grinned, “I’m a mom, I know stuff like that.”
“Yeah, sure,” Faith took another sip of her beer as she watched Willow entertain Dawn’s brood on the other side of the pool.
“Everything okay with you and Willow?” Dawn asked slightly concerned at Faith’s suddenly pensive look.
“Yeah,” Faith replied quietly, “we’re doing alright.”
Faith and Willow had drifted into a relationship about six years previously, they lived together in a flat in London, if they weren’t jetting around the world dealing with the latest evil incursion. It made Faith think, although she tried not to, she’d never have what Dawn had. A nice home with a pool, a cool husband, loads of kids. Living with Willow just made it hurt more in a way, knowing that she’d never get the chance at ‘normal’.
“You’re my hero, Dawn,” Faith announced out of the blue.
“You what!?” Dawn glanced sharply at her friend, “No way, I’m totally not a hero, I’m just a mom, if anyone’s a hero ‘round here it’s you and Willow.”
“No, ya wrong,” Faith became unexpectedly serious, “look, you know better than most what goes on in the world, how we’re all balanced on a bridge over hell with both ends on fire. Yet ya don’t let it get ya down; ya have babies and bake sales an’ PTA’s an’ all that normal shit, all knowing that it could all be swept into hell in a second. Just being you, that’s what makes ya a hero.”
“Thanks,” Dawn replied a little taken aback by Faith’s outburst, “But I can only do it knowing my kids can sleep safe at night because of you and Willow and Giles and all the others are there to watch out for us.”
The sound of childish singing floated across the pool to Dawn and Faith. They looked up to see the children, Dawn’s husband Norm and Willow sitting on a couple of loungers holding a sort of impromptu concert.“I don’t care if it rains or freezes,
As long as I’ve got my plastic Jesus,
Sittin’ on the dashboard of my car…”
“Buffy taught me that song when I was about five,” Dawn explained, “and I taught it to my kids so every time I heard them singing it I could think of Buffy like she was before she was the slayer.”
Faith kept quiet knowing that those memories were just the fakes the monks had planted in Dawn’s mind. They were real to Dawn and Faith would say nothing that would spoil the illusion.
“Faith,” Dawn said slowly as she turned to look at her old friend, “do you think Buffy ever realised how much I really loved her back then?”
“Yeah,” Faith reached out and took hold of Dawn’s hand, she gave it a gentle squeeze, “I’m sure she did, Dawnie,” Faith lied so as not to make her friend feel bad, “I’m sure she did.”
Turning away so she wouldn’t have to look at Dawn’s face anymore and to hide her own tears, Faith listened as the kids sang their song through once more...“I don’t care if it rains or freezes,
As long as I’ve got my plastic Jesus,
Sittin’ on the dashboard of my car.
Comes in colours pink and pleasant,
Glows in the dark ‘cause its iridescent
Take it with you,
When you travel far.” THE END.