~~~ ~~~ ~~~
School the next morning was rather frantic. I’d found a class schedule in my bag, but it didn’t tell me if I’d done my homework. I missed two assignments in biology and English before I realized I had a folder with all my completed work in it.
I was never this organized before. It was like I was channeling Willow in all her multiple-highlighter goodness. Apparently history was orange and I found it before I turned in my preternatural current events assignment on the formation of the Church of Eternal Life’s founding father, or master, or whatever you called the head of a vampire church besides bipolar.
When I was rattling on during my stupid wish yesterday, I should have been a little less specific. The idea that vampires not only held prayer groups but also went to church was decidedly unnerving. That sort of implied they had souls.
The only vampire with a soul I met was Angel, and he sure wasn’t much fun. At least, no one seemed to think he was as neato as Dracula, but as far as I know Angel never made Xander his bug-eating butt-monkey either.
I’d tried to figure out where Xander was to see him before school but had no luck. It seemed wrong somehow, that the guy that had always looked out for me didn’t make it out of high school. I was happy he had a job, but how could he be my Xander if he didn’t have Willow?
That was my answer, in short. He wasn’t my Xander. And Willow wasn’t even here.
I ignored the twist in my gut and wandered into the cafeteria looking for Kit. My journals indicated that Kit and I had been friends since I moved here. I guess we moved at the same time we did in my reality, except it was my fault, not Buffy’s. Regardless, I started seeing too many souls o’ dead people around then, so Mom thought it would do me good to get out of LA. There must be less fresh corpses in this Sunnydale than my old one, or I’d have liquefied my brains by now. I hadn’t seen any recently departed souls yet and I kept looking over my shoulder to see if I could see anything out of the ordinary. Maybe they were just shy today. I don’t know.
I spied Kit lunching with a pair of guys that I didn’t recognize, but they certainly seemed to know me.
“We missed you yesterday. I am getting so much better at levitating things- I even levitated our history book!”
Kit looked so pleased that I couldn’t help but smile back. “That’s great!”
In skimming my journals, I’d read that she had problems with spontaneous telekinesis and was going to Mrs. Madison’s coven to try to sort out the triggers and how to control it. I was apparently going to the coven to strengthen my mental shields so that when the big bad dead people came calling I didn’t give myself migraines and bleed from my ears. Apparently, they’re loud. Apparently, this new gift sucks big fat donkey balls.
Say hello to another catch in the wish. Halfrek was good—I had to give her that.
I smiled tentatively at the two boys, hoping someone would clue me in on names. Alas, no such luck. They all continued chatting as I crunched on an apple, but I had a hard time following the conversation. No one seemed to notice. Maybe I was out of it a lot in this reality. I mean, whatever happened when I encountered the souls of the recently departed must scramble my brain on a regular basis for people not to notice if I’m not even remotely following the conversation. I didn’t like that idea at all.
The darker skinned of the two boys frowned. “Did you read about the case up in Minneapolis? Where that witch was put to death two days ago? There is no way they could prove she did it.”
Kit made a noise. “I don’t know. Did you hear they’re thinking about making a special police unit just to deal with preternatural crimes? Nothing scares the nulls more than someone who can do more than they do.”
The other three glanced around the cafeteria, and to my surprise, no one was sitting within food-fight distance of us. I hadn’t noticed before because I spent most of my time alone at school recently. Janice wasn’t too thrilled with me after that near-death vampire date thing and if Janice didn’t like you, your social life was dead.
But it didn’t look like I was any more popular now. Occasionally someone would look our way and point, or glare just to make it known we should be uncomfortable.
This was strange to me- if the supernatural really was all over the place, wouldn’t people be used to it? I got my answer when the other boy spoke up.
“I don’t think they care if they got the right witch or not- just that no one else would show up with Nordic runes carved into their chests and their intestines nailed to the walls.”
The other boy nodded glumly. “You’re right, Ed. But doesn’t it make you wonder?”
Ed grimaced and poked a hole in his Jello with a straw. “It makes me wonder if why we don’t all just go hide sometimes. Wouldn’t it be easier if everything was hidden and we didn’t have to deal?”
I snorted milk up my nose and coughed. Kit handed me a napkin and I wiped my face. Smiling weakly, I said, “Oh, I’m sure there would be problems if we had to hide what we are. Just look at what happens when werewolves are outed.”
I looked around at my ‘friends’ wondering what their stories were. Things didn’t sound so great here, even if people did know magic was real. One of the stories in the paper yesterday mentioned a teacher getting drummed out of teaching elementary school for being a werewolf. Just because there were more options on lifestyle in this world didn’t make it seem like people were any more tolerant.
Ed gave up mutilating his Jello and muttered, “I don’t want what happened to that witch to happen to me. Not after what Mom’s already been through.”
“Your mother needs to get over it,” Kit snapped. “You don’t see our moms freaking out when Ray accidentally torches another dining room table or Dawn starts talking to the air again. Mothers love their children, and your mother loves you. She just forgets to show it sometimes.”
“Not all of us can have mothers like Dawn’s, Kit. Your mother doesn’t let us practice in the backyard, just to make sure we’re all safe. Ray’s mom doesn’t want him to light the fire in the barbeque. Don’t pretend that everyone’s okay with what we are.”
Kit’s tray started to rattle on its own and I clamped a hand down on it. Not cool, I thought, not cool at all. Kit got a hold of her emotions and sniffed. “Whatever. But if we’re careful, nothing like that could happen to us.”
Right, I thought, nothing at all. I was a veteran of the Sunnydale Hellmouth. Anything could happen. Anything usually did. And then you were screwed.
Lunch went on like it usually did, for what I could tell. Ray and Ed seemed to be pretty cool, and Kit was still Kit even though she was much more social than I remembered her. I didn’t see Carlos. I wasn’t sure I had it in me to wonder where he was.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
I met Anya after school at the Espresso Pump. The caramel mocha blendies tasted the exact same. Thank heavens some things are right. Anya was sitting in a booth toward the back, swirling her straw around a pink, iced something or other. She perked up a bit when she saw me.
“Hi Dawn! Today was distinctly less miserable than yesterday. I went by the construction site again, but Xander was gone.”
I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to smile or frown. She said she was happier so I went with a tentative smile. “That’s…interesting.”
“Well, that’s not the good part. The good part is that I figured out how to get back into the stock market here, and have found three new possible avenues for business ventures. I talked to a loan officer this morning and it looks good that I’ll be going into consulting in the near future. Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Er, yeah.” Personally, I didn’t find this little foray down the Game of Life to be all that fascinating. I hoped she would move on soon.
“So I talked to D’Hoffryn about reversing things. It was…interesting.”
The way Anya phrased that made me sit up straighter. Was there a chance things could go back? The vengeance demon rubbed her throat, trailing her fingers over a very intricate blue pendant. I wondered if she just missed having a pendant to touch since she said she didn’t need a magical one any more.
“He’s very impressed with Halfrek- and with what you helped her do. He thinks you have amazing potential.” Anya looked at me, really looked at me, to make sure I was listening. “He thought the same thing of Willow. Such rage and distress. Those are like aphrodisiacs to him. When I was Aud, cursing my husband to become a Troll- remember Olaf?- he came to me and offered me a job.”
“You took it?” I asked.
“It was the Dark Ages, Dawn. There weren’t a lot of growth opportunities for women back then. So yes, I did. But when he offered the same thing to Willow she turned it down. He wanted to meet with you today, but I said I’d talk to you first. He says he’ll put it all back if you go to work for him. Smashing Hallie’s power center won’t work- he’s changed those rules. But if you sign up, he’ll call this whole thing off.”
I was shocked. Full on Tele-Tubbie incoherent babble mode. Anya’s great and terrifying boss thought I had enough destructive power to come work for him? And was willing to give me my old life back in order to get me there?
I wondered if he knew about the shoplifting.
Heck, that was probably a mark for me in his book. Maybe this was all a set up. Maybe I was still all Key-girl and this was a way for the demon side of things to snag that power for themselves. Maybe we only thought I was normal because everyone had just forgotten I was there—it was hard to see something that didn’t exist.
But, boy, people sure noticed me in this reality. Buffy wasn’t the center of attention any more. She was the good daughter, the one that did well in school, the bright cheerleader who brought home the handsome hunk. I was the one that everyone paid attention to. Lucky me.
Not sure how to respond, I changed the subject. “Um, Anya, did you find Spike or Tara? What about Giles?” I took another sip of my drink and hoped she’d go with the change in subject. Anya was about as non-linear as you could get sometimes.
The demoness grinned. “Well, I found Tara, but not Spike. It could be that he’s just not here in the States, or that he was never made a vampire. I’ll have to do some more digging and see if he’s lurking around London. That’s where he was turned, right?”
“I think so. Would he stay there? I mean, wouldn’t it sort of depend on Angelus and Darla and Dru? Should we track them down too? I think I’d miss Spike.” I frowned, uncomfortable. Yeah, Spike was a vampire, but he was the best babysitter I ever had. I know things were weirdish between him and Buffy, but he was my friend.
Anya clucked her tongue. “I’d miss him too. He’s the only one of the Scoobies that appreciated my insight into human nature. I’m sure he’s around.” She patted my hand awkwardly.
I wasn’t sure I agreed with her assessment of Spike, but I let it go. “What about Giles and Tara; you found them then?”
“Believe it or not, Giles is the curator for the British Museum of Magical Antiquities. Seems like he’s a Watcher type in this world too.” She tilted her head thoughtfully. “Maybe I’ll go look him up. See if he’s willing to go into another business venture. That worked out nicely for the both of us the last time.”
“Anya, he doesn’t even know who you are anymore! Wouldn’t that be kind of…you know…awkward?”
“Not any more awkward than watching my not-a-fiancé out on a date with another woman.” She stabbed her straw into her drink, splashing it out on the table. “When I couldn’t find him at the construction site I went looking. He looked so happy and he was driving that car he always wanted- the little red one that looked like a tic-tac. It sucked.”
“What?” I blinked. Wasn’t Halfrek her friend? It seemed really harsh to give Anya her demony-powers back and take away her boyfriend- even if he was going to leave her at the altar. Do demon friends act that way?
Anya must have read my mind because she said, “I think Halfrek thought he was bad for me, and if he was already seeing someone else then I wouldn’t feel so bad about him. I don’t think her logic was very good.”
Personally, I agreed. Out loud, I said, “What about Tara?”
“Tara’s living in St. Louis, Missouri. Remember, Missouri is where her bigoted family was from? Seems her dad kicked the bucket early and left her an inheritance to go to college with. She’s studying preternatural biology there.”
Anya pulled out a small picture phone. “Isn’t this adorable? It came free when I signed up with the new wireless plan. I’m going to integrate mobile services into my new business plan- an on the spot consultant. After all, I can teleport anywhere I want to go, and as long as my new business venture doesn’t conflict with my regular job, D’Hoffryn has no problem with it.”
Impatient, I cut her off. “That’s great. Back to Tara…”
“Right.” She flipped open the phone and scrolled through it for a moment before turning it my way. “Okay, here she is studying in the library.”
While part of me was appalled that Anya was taking pictures of Tara without her knowledge, I was desperate to see how she was doing. She looked…happy. She was bent over a pile of books, tawny blonde hair pulled back into a pony tail. Tara had a soft smile on her face and was reaching her hand over to a person sitting across the table.
“Who’s that?” I wondered, pointing at the bodiless hand.
“I have no idea.” Anya flipped two more pictures later. The woman was dainty, well coiffed and had a ‘G’ embroidered onto her handbag. She was older than Tara, but not by much, and looked to be a graduate student or young professor. “But here she is again. I think she’s going into psychology or something.” A pained look crossed Anya’s face. “I hated what Willow did to Tara, to all of us. Her magic was ruining everything. I’m glad Tara’s happy.”
Silently, I agreed. Tara did deserve happiness, and lately Willow sure wasn’t giving it to her. I wanted them to get back together, to be happy and full of warm fuzzies again. But looking at Tara’s face, grainy as it may have been, was like looking into the past. Somehow I doubted Willow would ever make her that carefree and happy again. At least, not after what Glory had done.
Suddenly, it was all worth it. The migraines and social outcast status. The complete lack of Willow and loss of Xander. It was worth it to have my mother back. To have Buffy content in the life she had. To have Tara looking at another woman like she was the sun and moon- and to have the woman looking back the same way.
How could I take this away from them? I made Willow not exist. But if it came down to it, I was too selfish to trade my mother for Willow. I couldn’t, but at least I was honest with myself, right?
I looked Anya straight in the face and said, “Tell D’Hoffryn to keep his job offer. I’m keeping things the way they are. I think I’m going to go home and hug my mother.”
Somehow, I wasn’t surprised when Anya smiled.
My brave new world.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Here endeth Yesterday’s Sunrise
Dawn’s tale will be continued in two parts: High Noon
and Tomorrow’s Sunset
. This fic was always intended to be a set up of sorts- showing how Dawn ended up where she did and why she made the choices that shaped the world around her. I hope you enjoyed the ride, as uncomfortable as some of the events may have been.High Noon
focuses on Anya and Giles and their growing relationship. Dawn visits them in London and reunites with some old faces and runs across some people that will pop back up in St. Louis. Set pre-Incubus Dreams
. Tomorrow’s Sunset
is a Dawn/Raphael pairing set during her graduate studies at St. Louis University. She comes to terms with all the fallout from her wish, and learns why she is so much more than Buffy’s sister. Set post-Incubus Dreams. Coming Soon!