Title: Sins, Not Tragedies
Word Count: 1000
Challenge: picfor1000; image
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Almost Human
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters are copyright of Joss Whedon and ME. Almost Human and all related characters and concepts are copyright of J.H. Wyman, Bad Robot and 20th Century Fox.
Synopsis: It’s 2046 and Dawn has found her way back to Los Angeles. It’s improved since Angel and Co. nearly imploded it.
Smoke curled off white hot tip of the soldering wand as Dawn Harris input a resistor into the back of her newest distraction. Her nose wrinkled as the scent of solder worked its way past her respirator mask. A nifty device that kept out the harmful particulates and fumes, but somehow allowed in the various unfortunate scents that came along with her urge to tinker. Though, truthfully, tinkering was just a nice word for the illicit tropes she tended to frequent.
Dawn withdrew the wand as the animatronic fluttered. Its wings moving for the first time and the butterfly came to life in her hands. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she closed the back before allowing it to take flight. Blue eyes tracked the bobbing movement and she watched it dip down towards the fireplace along the far wall before making its way higher. The wings were a brilliant purple that contrasted sharply with her brown walls, but most of the technology in 2046 contrasted with her living quarters.
Koln Avenue District, due to its location near the Wall, wasn’t the safest of districts. Its inhabitants kept to themselves and for the most part she blended in with the crowd—green hair and all. In the four years since she’d taken up residence Dawn had managed to make the space she lived her own. The fireplace was likely against building ordinances, but it kept her warm and reminded her of a time when homes weren’t perpetually made of metal alloy and glass.
Those types of apartments weren’t conductive to her friendship with Spike, and Dawn refused to make him visiting a hardship. Granted, he’d only popped into her life twice in the past year, but Dawn wasn’t taking any chances in shortening her already limited time with him. The chirping notice of an incoming video-call was ignored as she tracked the butterfly’s erratic path across the ceiling.
“Pretty.” Dawn spun back towards her work station and frowned at the sight of a smiling Willow. Pale brows rose when the witch finally made eye contact and she continued to frown at Willow’s transparent image. “What?”
“I just upgraded my system and you hacked it,” she sighed before tacking on, “again.”
“Please,” Willow scoffed, “The day you can out program me is the day I no longer walk this plane.”
Dawn frowned as she studied Willow. Her face and the lines, which were few and far between, did appear to be deepening and her hair had long ago faded from red to grey. Willow’s age was advancing, slower than a normal human, but it was still a mocking reminder to Dawn that she wasn’t human—not even in the most lenient sense of the word.
“Dawn,” she looked up at the holographic presentation of her closest friend and found her gaze filled with worry, but before she could contemplate an attempt at reassurance Willow continued, “Poor choice of words on my part. Sorry.” Green eyes looked past her and Dawn knew she was looking towards the butterfly before she stated, “That’s new.”
Dawn smiled at the not so subtle change in topics before nodding, “Just finished her.”
“She’s nifty.” Willow looked back to Dawn. “What does she do?”
“That.” Dawn looked back up at the ceiling and the butterfly doing its intricate dance. She kept her gaze on the animatronic as she confirmed, “I just wanted to make something pretty.”
“Well you succeeded.” Dawn’s chin dropped and met Willow’s gaze. They shared a smile, but the moment passed and Dawn found herself with the sudden urge to fidget under the careful study. Willow’s head inclined as she inquired, “Is everything alright?”
Her mouth opened and the assurance that she was fine, which was a blatant lie, sat on the tip of her tongue, but Dawn swallowed it. The corners of her mouth tugged downward before she met Willow’s gaze and asked, “The truth?”
Willow returned her frown with something close to her ‘resolve face’—Dawn might have missed that stare—and ordered, “Preferably.”
She nodded and picked up the now cold soldering wand, tapping it on the glass tabletop. Dawn kept up the steady rhythm to distract herself as she confided, “Buffy died both times for me so that I could live,” the wand stilled and she looked to Willow, “but it doesn’t feel
like I’m living.”
Her best friend remained stubbornly silent and Dawn found herself rushing to fill the void with the confession. “I’ve been keeping myself busy, but not really enjoying anything.” She glanced up at the butterfly, but ignored the synthetic dog that was a snooze in one of overstuffed chairs near the fire. Her gaze dropped back to Willow before she shrugged and admitted, “I’m lonely.”
Willow’s head inclined and Dawn refused to resume her fidgeting under her perusal. “Friends are always an option.”
“I’m better with synthetics.”
“So build a friend,” Willow frowned, “That came out more Dr. Frankenstein than I intended.”
“You want me to build a friend.” Dawn’s frown faded as she actually considered the option. “It would take a while. I’d have to figure out Dr. Vaughn’s Synthetic Soul program. I can’t imagine having something as docile as a MX for companionship.”
“Oh! I can help with that,” Willow’s brows rose, “As long as we’re not building an IRC.”
Dawn’s nose wrinkled at the prospect of building a synthetic for something so intimate and shook her head before adding. “Or another BuffyBot…” she trailed off before frowning at the idea.
Willow laughed. “At least you’d probably get the quip coding right.”
“Yeah,” Dawn agreed, “I probably could.”
“You could what?”
She grinned, suddenly happy and excited about the prospect. “Build a BuffyBot!”
Willow frowned. “Dawn, that’s—”
“A terrible, codependent idea,” was her helpful retort.
“That about covers my argument.”
“I know. I don’t care.”
Willow scoffed, “Well as long as you know.”
“Still gonna help?”
“Of course. Terrible ideas are always better with company.”
“Really? Okay. Good!”