TITLE: Yesterday’s Sunrise
SUMMARY: What if Dawn had made a different wish to Halfrek, one that altered her reality beyond her wildest dreams.
PAIRINGS: None for now, though there’s one in the works … But you have to wait and see how it works out.
SPOILERS: BtVS6:14 (Older and Far Away), AB: before the series begins
DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters. They belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox, WB, UPN and their associates, and Laurel K Hamilton.
NOTES: This crossover takes a bit of suspension of disbelief. I’m working on the premise that Dracula was almost identical to the sorts of vampires that you find in AB. If you look at it, he’s got the permafangs, doesn’t shift and go all vampy, has animals to call (wolves), can fly, has the hypno-eyes… you get the idea.
This fic actually starts in the middle of the episode Older and Far Away, so if some of the dialogue sounds familiar- that’s because it is. On purpose.
This is the first in a triptych of stories, detailing Dawn’s life in the Anita Blake universe. The first is Yesterday’s Sunrise, explaining the transition. Next comes High Noon, a vignette with Anya and Giles in England. Lastly, Tomorrow’s Sunset is Dawn’s future life as an adult in Saint Louis.
It was ridiculous, being called into a counselor’s office. There was nothing wrong with me- except now everyone would think there was. I cringed as I walked down the hall. Didn’t the teachers understand what a stigma could do to a teen? Heels ringing out on the hard tile, I fought to keep my head level and inner turmoil under control. Out of the corner of my eye I could see my reflection ripple by in the classroom windows and smirked to myself.
Buffy hadn’t even asked where the fuzzy new blue sweater had come from, hadn’t even noticed it over our non-existent morning chat. The self satisfied smirk faded from my lips the farther I walked down the hall.
No, Buffy hadn’t noticed the sweater.
Buffy didn’t notice much of anything at all these days. Feeling considerably worse, if it was possible, I pushed open the door to the counselor’s office. A young woman I hadn't seen before sat behind a desk, curly hair clipped back, a small blue pendant around her neck. She smiled warmly at me, motioning me to take a seat.
She had to be kidding.
I sighed and plopped down, slumping with a scowl.
“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. Just a follow-up after your ... your loss. And since I'm new here, I thought it would give us a chance to know each other.”
Raising a skeptical eyebrow, I smothered a groan and eye roll. “Great.”
Undaunted, the woman continued, flipping open a file folder. “So, I've been looking through your file and, um ... your grades have slipped a little.”
Obviously, the woman wasn’t going to give up easily. I muttered, “I have really hard classes this quarter.”
I should have known better than to think that would fly. Just my luck to get someone who really cared. The woman just nodded sympathetically and said, “Yeah, still. Teachers say that you seem a little distracted lately.”
A bit defensive, I retorted, “I'm not. I-I'm fine.” Fine, hardly falling apart at all, just desperately trying to get my sister, or anyone to pay attention to me. Really fine-tell that to the box of not-my-stuff under my bed
. Gritting my teeth, I forced a grimace.
“Okay. It's just, you know, I know it must seem weird, talking to a stranger about stuff, but, um ... I want you to know that if something's going on, something's up, my job ... the most important part of my job ... is looking out for you.”
I could hardly believe my ears. This strange lady actually seemed to care, or cared enough to notice the fudging and evasion. It seemed too good to be true, but somehow…somehow it felt okay to be talking to her. The woman was smiling at me, really smiling, so I offered a tentative smile back. “I’m really okay.”
“I know there’s been a lot of loss.”
Loss. Is that how the rest of the world saw it-as loss? A small part of me broke apart at the words, shattering into thousands of vulnerable pieces. I’ve heard way too much about loss recently. Fake concern for the fake little sister. Hurry up and get over it so we can get on with our lives. And Buffy … she doesn’t even see me, still mourning the Buffy she was, the one that died so I could live, not the one dying a little bit every day in front of me.
Almost unwillingly, the words just tumbled out of my mouth, “Yeah. Kinda. I-I mean, yes. People keep ... people have a tendency to go away ... and, I miss them.”
I flicked my eyes to the bright sun drenched afternoon, the daylight that was just a bit too far away. Just for a moment, I wanted to be anywhere but here, anywhere but in this life. I said, “But wanting them to stay, getting them to stay, is … about as likely as all vampires joining a prayer group or dolling themselves up like Dracula.”
I stared out at the sunshine and thought about how much of my life was still in the dark. I snorted. “Yeah, I wish. I’ve got about as much success saying oh, look, I wish all vampires were like Dracula, all suave and smooth and swoony eyes and flying thought the night. All those wolfies following him like he was a god or something.”
I kept laughing, but it was harder now, broken. Even my mom had a thing about Dracula. I was too little for him to notice, but everyone else, they got noticed. I never get noticed. “That’s about as likely as anyone ever noticing I even exist.”
Then the woman’s face shifted into alarmingly familiar veins and splotches, her voice now gravely, calling out, “Wish granted.”
Oh shit. All I could do was gape. Buffy was going to kill me.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
I guess I was used to the concept of altering realities. All you had to do was sit down and let Anya rattle on about the good old days. Or listen to the stories about Vampire Willow and her alternate leather universe.
I know, I know. I should know better than to say the ‘w’ word. Buffy is so going to kill me.
But I knew even in those terrible moments on the tower when my blood dripped out into spaces unknown, calling horror upon horror on those I love, I understood I could destroy the world.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could create one.
Strangely, the unraveling of reality between pre-wish and post-wish was considerably less painful than bleeding out of shallow cuts praying for a rescue that would come too late. I could have blinked and missed it.
Or maybe not. The decidedly scary not-a-woman across the desk was now gone and I sat in front of a balding, slender man with cocoa colored skin and wire rimmed glasses. “So, Dawn, same time next week? If you’re serious about pursuing that specialized a scholarship your senior year, we really need to get your schedule and extra classes set up.”
I blinked. Um …
The man didn’t pay any attention to what had to be obvious confusion on my face and handed me a stack of papers. “I’ll need these signed and returned to me by the end of the week.”
Numb, I stood up and left the office. At least this seemed like the same office. What if it was the same office- but it was an office under that sofa in Hell? Crap. Buffy would know what to do. I was still reeling when a hand clamped on my elbow.
“Finally! I never thought you’d finish. Mr. Gorman likes to take his time.”
The raven haired girl with too much pale makeup and a yen for the dark and spooky attire rolled her eyes. “Who were you expecting, Ricky Martin? Hurry up; we’re going to be late for the coven meeting.”
“Coven meeting? Er, why?”
“Cause you’ve never missed a meeting since your mom enrolled you when you were ten? You know what happens when you don’t. Geez.”
My mom enrolled me in magical anything? At age ten? The same mom that went all MOO on Buffy and Willow’s asses? That mom? “Um, where are we going again?”
Kit gave me a strange look and stopped yanking me down the hall. “Are you sure you’re feeling all right? Mrs. Madison’s house, of course.” Leaning in, Kit squeezed my arm-again, which was weird, since my Kit never ever touches anyone. Ever. This Kit’s dark eyes were concerned, and she frowned. “Is there something the matter?”
I took a shaky breath. “No, really, I’m fine. Just got a lot on my mind.”
“If you’re sure? Anyway, can I still come over for pizza later or has your mom changed her mind?”
I dropped all my books, frozen in place. “Mom?”