A Time to Live 14/?
Summary: Taylor and Stars Hollow Vs. Dawn Summers.
Notes: It occurred to me that we never had a Mother’s Day episode! So I figured, what the hell. Some of the dialogue comes from GG transcripts on the Twiz site.
Incidentally, Mother’s Day in Britain is on a different date to America - third Sunday in April. (Anyone out there got a clue why, let me know).
Note on Volleyball tournament: I am aware that it is played over a few days but I decided to spread it over a longer period. (Hey, this is fiction after all!). Also, as I have stated before, I know next to nothing about the game! So I looked up some sports articles in among others the Yale Daily so I give them credit (and any errors, Ha Ha, to them).
This part is being betaed by TwoBlackDragons.
‘’ = Thought.
“This is going to be awkward, you know that right?” said Rory as she crossed the street with Dawn on their way to the bookstore.
“Yeah well how do you think I feel, I’m actually playing,” sighed Dawn. “At least you can hide away at home.”
“I guess,” mused Rory. “Well maybe you could come down with something or-or throw the match...” she blushed at the look her friend was giving her. “Okay so you can’t throw the match. So what are you going to do?”
“Try to win I guess,” sighed Dawn. “I only really know Lane and Dean from Stars Hollow High. So I’m not likely to lose too many friends here and since your break up, I haven’t seen that much of Dean. Why didn’t you point out that if I got on the team, I may be playing against Stars Hollow High? And who knew they would get so far in the tournament!”
Much to the amazement of their coach and fellow students, Stars Hollow had progressed past the second round of the State Volleyball Tournament and were scheduled to meet Chilton in the quarterfinals.
“Hey, first of all, I had no idea about the tournament and second, you tried out for the team your first day at Chilton without telling me or thinking it through, so don’t blame me,” snorted Rory.
“Yeah I know, sorry,” apologised Dawn.
“Hey did I ever tell you I played a game of volleyball in my last gym class at Stars Hollow,” smiled Rory.
“No,” smirked Dawn, “How were you?”
“Well I don’t think the team would have missed me,” laughed Rory.
“Oh there you are, you traitor,” giggled Lane as she came around the gazebo.
“Funny, Not,” snorted Dawn.
“So you know Taylor’s angry that one of our own is playing for the opposition don’t you,” said Lane giggling even more.
“Well one good thing about that,” smirked Dawn eyeing Taylor across the way, “If it annoys Taylor then Luke will probably be happy, and a happy Luke might give me free chilli fries.”
“Why don’t we go to Luke’s now and tell him, Taylor’s annoyed at you,” suggested Lane.
“Yes, why don’t we,” agreed Dawn smiling sweetly at the scowling Taylor who stood outside his store. “You know, I’m feeling better already,” she laughed as they changed direction and headed for the diner.
Later Dawn knocked on the doorframe of Willow’s office/study, “Hey Will. Can I come in?” she asked quietly as the redhead looked up.
“Sure, come in Dawn,” Willow smiled. Dawn felt the barrier dissolve. She stepped over the threshold and made her way to sit across from Willow. “So Dawnie, what’s up?”
Dawn looked at the floor trying to think how to word what she was thinking! She looked up into her guardian’s eyes, “You know I love you and Tara equally, right?”
“Of course Dawnie, and we love you just as much,” replied Willow gently, sensing that her Ward was nervous about upsetting her for some reason, “Dawn, I promise not to be to upset with anything you tell me.”
Willow smirked, “Well, I mean you can tell me anything, but I’m pretty sure, if what you want to tell me involves a boy and pregnancy, I’ll be upset and out hunting someone down. Or you know, if you’re going to tell me you do want to go and live with your dad that would upset me as well.”
Dawn returned the smile, “No. There’s no boy hunting necessary. And I don’t want to leave you and Tara,” she explained before sighing. “No, next Sunday is Mother’s Day and I’d like to give Tara a card and breakfast in bed, that’s if you don’t mind me doing it for her and not you... I mean, I can’t help thinking of Tara as a mother figure, probably because she’s got that whole Earth Mother vibe. But you have sort of been more of a big sister to me, so don’t think that I think of you as a dad figure, you know like Tara’s the femme in your relationship, so she’s the mother and you’re the butch, and so you are the father...”
Willow laughed, “Dawnie, breath. Tara and Giles are right, you have caught my babble.” She became more serious, “Dawn, I don’t mind if you regard Tara as a substitute for your mum. I think she’ll be thrilled if you gave her a Mother’s Day card. I mean being gay, unless we adopt or go to a sperm clinic, neither of us are likely to have children of our own. Although there have been rumours over the centuries of spells that can take the egg from one woman and merge it with another in a second woman,” mused the redhead, “But if they ever existed they were more than likely destroyed.”
“Thanks Will,” said Dawn in relief. “So have you and Tara talked about adoption or a clinic?” she asked curiously.
“Yeah, a couple of times back in college we talked about adoption, but neither of us liked the idea of a clinic, ‘cause the baby would be only genetically one of ours. But we dropped the idea of adopting when we applied for your guardianship.”
“Oh,” nodded Dawn getting up and heading for the door, she stopped and looked back, “You won’t tell her what I’m planning will you?”
“My lips are sealed,” smiled Willow drawing her finger and thumb across her mouth. “Now go finish your homework.”
“Yes, Ms Rosenberg,” Dawn laughed.
“So what do you usually do for your mum on Mother’s Day?” asked Dawn as she walked along a hallway at school with Madeline.
“Well Matthew and I always buy her flowers and make our own cards but for the last five years because the servants do basically everything, we decided that we would become her servants for the day, like lay out her clothes for the day, get her tea etc.”
“That’s so sweet. Buffy and I did similar things, except I had to do the cooking ‘cause Buffy and cooking were two unmixy things,” giggled Dawn. “This year, I’m doing the same for Tara... I can’t help but think of her as a mum.”
“What about Ms Rosenberg?” queried Madeline.
“Oh she’s just like a big sister, I’ve known her since I was ten,” Dawn smiled. “She’s okay with it.”
“So what do you plan to do for Tara?”
“Well I never thought about doing my own card as I did with mum but it would be nice,” Dawn mused. “And the whole breakfast in bed... No flowers though ‘cause Tara feels strongly about basically killing things to give to someone. So maybe chocolates for later in the day instead,” she smirked. “She’s always happy to share,” she finished as they entered Mr Medina’s classroom.
Dawn and Rory stood just behind three girls from Stars Hollow High waiting to be served at the market with the things Dawn needed for her Mother’s Day card.
Taylor smiled at the three other girls, “Good luck for tomorrow girls. I know you’ll do your best for the school and the town. Unlike some others,” he turned to scowl on Dawn.
“Gee, feel the love here,” chuckled Dawn.
“Well some of us feel very strongly about supporting our town,” replied Taylor as he handed one of the other girls her change. “When we take families into our hearts, however unconventional they may be, we expect some loyalty,” he said as he began to ring up Dawn’s purchases.
“Taylor, since coming here, I’ve helped out with lots of things, so have Willow and Tara. Just because I go to a school that just happens to be good at Volleyball and slated to meet Stars Hollow tomorrow isn’t my fault. And it would be very un-American of me not to try my best to win,” she smirked. “I’m happy that they managed to reach the quarter finals, but I’m not going to feel bad when we beat them.”
“You young lady, are far too confident in your attitude.”
“Confidence is a large part of winning, but skill and talent also play their part. The only reason Stars Hollow got so far is that most of the Terryville team came down with food poisoning in the first round and Wheeler’s bus broke down and forfeited in the second.”
“Stars Hollow would still have won young lady,” said Taylor.
“Taylor, have you considered seeing someone about these delusions?” countered Dawn as Rory attempted to keep a smile off her face.
Taylor just huffed, “That’ll be three ninety.”
“There you go,” Dawn smiled sweetly at him handing over the exact amount. As they left the market, she looked at the three girls walking down the street, “So tell me about those three. Are they any good?”
“I’m not sure I should say anything?” mused Rory as they turned towards their homes. “I mean, okay I go to Chilton and so I’m sort of obliged to want them to win. But I’m also a former pupil of Stars Hollow High, it feels like cheating.”
“No different than a professional sportsperson moving teams and using their knowledge of their old team for the good of the new,” countered Dawn. “So spill.”
“Okay,” sighed Rory glancing over at the girls, none of whom had been very nice to her when they went to school together. “Well Julie Lersten, the blonde on the right and Kristen Keiffer, the redhead are probably still on the team because of Jill Allen, the other blonde, being captain and the coach’s niece. But Jill is actually a good player, from what I remember, she scores about half the teams points. I don’t know how good that makes her as they usually lose anyway.”
“Thanks, I’ll pass that on to Ms MacAfee and the other girls,” smiled Dawn. “So anyway, what do you usually do for your mum on Mother’s Day?”
“Well I go and get her coffee from Luke’s and take it to her with a card and a yellow daisy, mum loves yellow daisies. Then I do her laundry for the rest of the morning before we head over to Luke’s for lunch.”
“Her laundry?” laughed Dawn.
“Hey, I told you before, mum really hates doing laundry,” Rory reminded her friend before her face fell.
“What’s wrong Rory?” asked Dawn with concern.
“Nothing,” Rory answered quietly. “Huh let’s go this way,” she said turning and beginning to walk around the square instead of cutting across it.
“What? Why?” asked Dawn looking around in confusion. “Oh,” she said as she spotted Dean by the gazebo kissing a blonde girl.
“Sorry about that,” apologised Rory after several minutes.
“That’s okay, I get it. So do you know her?”
“Lindsay Lister. We were in the same class at Stars Hollow High. Once in fourth grade, we went on a field trip to Mark Twain’s house, and I really wanted this refrigerator magnet in the shape of Mark Twain’s head, but I didn’t have any money, so she bought it for me, and she wouldn’t even let me pay her back. Pretty classy for a fourth grader.”
“Yes. But it’s okay to be a little angry that your ex has moved on and you haven’t got over it yet. I know you’re still a little confused over why you couldn’t tell him you loved him. When you find that one person for you, you’ll know it and be able to tell him or her that you love them.”
“Her?” squeaked Rory stopping for a moment.
“Hey I live with two lesbians. It’d only be natural for me to include the female half of the human race,” laughed Dawn.
“Yeah I guess,” Rory smiled a little as she started walking again. “At least that would double my chances I guess or... make it twice as hard?”
“Don’t be so negative,” chastised Dawn.
Dawn was seated with Lorelai and Rory in Luke’s the following morning as Lorelai told a story. “So then he starts ripping my twenty dollar bill into like a million pieces. And I'm thinking to myself, there’s a store full of people, why am I the one in line with the crazy magician...?” Rory yawned. “Okay, I'll cut to the end. So he couldn't put it back together again and he had to pay me back in quarters.”
“Very good story,” Rory smiled weakly as she stifled another yawn.
“You look tired,” observed Lorelai.
“I didn’t sleep very well last night,” sighed Rory.
“How come?” asked Lorelai gently.
“Just have a lot on my mind,” explained Rory as Dawn arched her eyebrow at her friend over her coffee cup. “Okay,” she said towards her friend before looking back at her mother. “I saw Dean kissing Lindsay Lister yesterday.”
“Sorry honey. Anything I can do?” said Lorelai taking her daughter’s hand.
“Flag down the coffee.”
“Arm going up now,” smiled Lorelai waving at Luke as Rory yawned again. “Honey, you gotta wake up. Wanna play...?”
“One, two, three?” finished Rory perking up.
“I'll go first,” added Lorelai as all three stared out the window.
“And one,” declared Rory as a man of about seventy walked by.
“Pass,” grimaced Lorelai.
“Why?” frowned Rory.
“Because I'm not Anna Nicole Smith. Next.”
“Maybe you could have him as a sugar daddy,” smirked Dawn.
“Two,” chuckled Rory as a boy her age on a skateboard passed by.
“Why?” Rory asked again.
“Because I'm not Mary Kay LeTourneau.”
“Ah but you hmmed, which means you considered him. Maybe he’s a stud,” teased Dawn.
“Okay moving on now,” blushed Rory.
Luke came over to their table with the coffeepot while they were staring out the window waiting for Lorelai’s final candidate to appear. “What are you looking for?” he asked.
“My new husband,” replied Lorelai.
“She's already passed up two perfectly good prospects,” explained Rory.
“Yes, the sugar daddy, and the stud,” giggled Dawn.
“But I'm feeling pretty good about number three,” declared Lorelai.
“Do I want to know what you're doing?”
“Hey, Luke came to the table. Does that make him number three?” asked Dawn her eyes dancing with mischief.
“No,” said Luke firmly.
“You don't even know what we're doing,” Lorelai pointed out.
“The safest answer in anything involving the two of you is no,” he said looking at the Gilmores.
“We're playing one, two, three, he's yours,” explained Lorelai.
“I didn't ask.”
“You can take the first guy that walks by,” explained Rory as if Luke had said nothing.
“Or if you decide to pass, assuming there's somebody better out there,” added Dawn.
“You can take the next guy that walks by, or if you don't take him, you're automatically stuck with the third guy,” finished Rory.
“Got it?” asked Lorelai.
“I'm not playing,” pointed out Luke looking out the window anyway.
“Well of course not. It’s still my turn,” smirked Lorelai.
“Okay, guy number three is crossing the street right now,” declared Rory.
All four of them stared out the window. Luke shook his head as he realised what he was doing. “Why am I looking?”
“Because it's like a train wreck,” smiled Lorelai before it fell from her face. “Aww, no!” she cried as Kirk passed the window.
“Daddy!” giggled Rory.
“Not Kirk!” sighed Lorelai shaking her head.
“Maybe he'll buy me a pony,” mused Rory.
“Ah Rory, you don’t like horses that much,” Dawn reminded her friend.
“Right. So a car then.”
“I wanna go back to the old guy,” pouted Lorelai as Kirk entered.
Luke walked over to him, a large smile on his face, “Congratulations man.”
“Uh, thank you,” replied Kirk in confusion.
The Gilmores and Dawn started giggling.
“What?” cried Kirk.
“Nothing,” chuckled Lorelai.
“Okay, did somebody put the kick me sign on my back again?” Kirk whined making the three laugh even harder as he attempted to look over his shoulder. “It wasn't funny last week and it's not funny now! I have asthma,” he said stomping out of the diner.
“Mum, quick he's leaving!” cried Dawn.
“Oh no, Kirk come back, I love you!” Lorelai called out putting her hand over her heart and looking longingly in the direction he had walked. “Drat. Alright, your turn.”
“Sorry mum, our ride’s here,” said Rory gulping down her drink and standing up as she spotted Willow and Tara pull up in their car.
“Okay, bye you two. Enjoy school,” smiled Lorelai as Rory leaned down and hugged her. “And good luck for tonight Dawn.”
The first indication Dawn had that something strange was happening was when Erica and Louise collided heads at the net and they both fell to the court seeing stars. Erica had to be helped off with blood running from a gash above her left eye.
The second came at the end of the first set when Louise had returned. The sure-footed blonde, landed awkwardly and twisted her ankle badly enough that she could not continue. Stars Hollow won the set 25-20.
The second set also went to Stars Hollow 25-16 as the Chilton team with the exception of Dawn continued making minor errors or having mishaps.
It was not until the time out in the third set when Stars Hollow was winning 16-9 that Dawn finally put it together, someone was using magick against them, although she could not work out why it did not seem to be effecting her!
Glancing around the crowd, she spotted Willow and Tara seated with the parents of the players. Having never attempted it, Dawn nevertheless tried sending a telepathic call to her two guardians. ‘Can you hear me?’
She saw Willow jump a little in surprise and Tara frown. ‘Yes Sweetie,’ came the blonde’s reply. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Someone’s using magick to make us lose. Can you stop it?’
‘I don’t know, Dawn,’ replied Willow. ‘Do you think that’s why things are going so wrong?’
‘Yeah. I mean come on, if we were this bad we would never have won seventeen games and finished joint top,’ pointed out Dawn.
‘Yeah, okay Dawnie. Try to hold on and we’ll see if we can do anything,’ replied Willow as she and Tara rose and began making their way out.
Somehow, Dawn had managed to carry the team so that the score in the third set was 20-12 when the gym lights dimmed for almost a full second. Julie Lersten, Kristen Keiffer, and Jill Allen all stopped and held their heads for a moment before looking around in confusion as the ball hit the court to make it 20-13 in Stars Hollow’s favour.
The rest of the match went as predicted with Chilton winning the last 3 sets 25-20, 25-10 and 15-3. However, it was tainted for Dawn with the worry about the three girls and where they got access to magick. Since Willow and Tara had finally given in and started training her in magick, Dawn had been able to sense another witch and those three did not give off that vibe.
Dawn smiled as her two injured friends entered the teachers’ lounge where the two volleyball teams stood around talking, the three would be warlocks absent as the Stars Hollow coach informed everyone that they had apparently been suffering from migraines and she had sent them home with their parents.
“Hey guys,” Dawn greeted Louise and Erica. “So what did the doctor say?” she asked as she and Madeline helped Louise into a chair and leaned her crutches against the wall.
“My ankle isn’t broken, just a bad sprain,” replied Louise before letting out a sigh, “I won’t be able to play in next week’s semi-final. I’m sorry guys; I don’t know what the hell was wrong with me today. We could’ve lost the game today if it weren’t for you, Dawn,” she said looking up at the brunette.
“Yeah Dawn, you won it for us, when the rest of us were running and jumping around like a bunch of idiots,” smiled Erica as she sat down next to Louise, her head enclosed in a bandage. “Good job my skull is extra thick ‘cause it saved me from suffering from a serious concussion,” she joked.
“I only did what I’m on the team to do. Try my best to win,” explained Dawn a little embarrassed at all the praise but also annoyed that she could not explain to them that it was not their fault. “I think we went into this game just thinking that Stars Hollow would be a pushover...”
“Quite right Dawn,” interrupted Ms MacAfee as she and Headmaster Charleston came up behind them, the coach carrying a volleyball. “I don’t usually do this in any game but a final, a team I’m coaching participates in, but I’m awarding you a game ball. Without you, Chilton would have lost today,” she smiled as she held out the ball.
“Well done, Miss Summers. You are a true credit to the school,” smiled Charleston.
“Ah thank you, Ms MacAfee, Headmaster,” said Dawn as she took the ball from her coach. “But I don’t think I did anything special.”
“No,” agreed Louise. “You just did what the rest of us seemed incapable of doing today... Play volleyball.”
“Furthermore, after talking it over with Louise, and Erica her normal replacement as Captain,” Ms MacAfee nodded to Erica. “Both of whom will be out for next week’s semi-final against Faith Academy. I want to offer you the captaincy for the game as well as making you the teams second Vice Captain.”
“I really don’t know what to say,” Dawn said in surprise.
“Well say yes,” laughed Erica.
“Yes,” parroted Dawn.
“Excellent,” nodded Charleston. “Ms MacAfee and I will leave you now. Once again Miss Summers, well done,” he smiled before leading their coach away.
After a few moments, Madeline looked back at her friend, “So what’re you going to do with the ball?” she asked.
Dawn smiled at the other brunette, “Well first I think I’ll have the entire team sign it, you never know, it might be valuable in the future,” she giggled. “Then I guess I’ll hafta get someone to build a display cabinet to house it.”
Dawn had to wait until they arrived home before finding out what Willow and Tara had done to remove the curse, as Rory was returning with them after feeling obliged to watch the game.
After their goodbyes to Rory, Dawn followed her guardians into their house, still nursing the ball, now with all her team mates autographs on it, “So what did you do?” she asked not feeling the need to elaborate.
“Well as we had no idea what exactly had been done we just did a general dampening ritual over the gym,” explained Willow as she dropped her bag and keys on the side table. “I just hope it wasn’t strong enough to take away the protection that you seem to be picking up from around here.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t Dawnie,” added Tara on seeing the slight panic in the teenager’s eyes. “It would have affected more malevolent magick first.”
“Did you see who was behind the spell?” asked Willow looking at Dawn.
“Yeah,” sighed Dawn. “I think Julie Lersten, Kristen Keiffer, and Jill Allen cast it. When the gym lights dimmed they all held their heads, their coach apologised later that they came back to town, all with migraines. I wonder how they found the spell. Yesterday Rory and I were behind them at the market and I didn’t get any magick vibe off them.”
“You don’t need to be a witch or warlock to cast,” Tara reminded her. “Just have access to a spellbook. I think we should warn Miss Patty about those girls, I suspect that they are just dabbling but if left alone it could be bad.”
“Yeah, if they managed to do that curse, there’s no telling what they’ll try next,” nodded Dawn. “But I wonder why it didn’t seem to affect me?” she mused.
“I suspect the curse was directed to affect anyone from outside Stars Hollow they played against, and as you live here you wouldn’t be included,” explained Willow.
“Or the good magick vibe you've absorbed countered it,” added Tara.
Max Medina strode around the class. Dawn had a look of concern on her face. She had observed Rory throughout the lesson just staring out the window, not paying attention. Her friend had still not told her mother the truth about her break-up with Dean, and now with him apparently moving on, she had become moody. She had tried numerous times since the break up to talk Rory into telling Lorelai exactly what happened but all her friend had done was sulk and would not talk to her until she had dropped the subject. It was getting to the stage that Dawn was considering breaking her promise to Rory not to tell anyone.
“If we read his works in order,” lectured Max glancing at Rory with concern. “We can see his progression from a narrative of clear simplicity to one of rich complexity. Now this is not homework but I strongly urge you, if you have not already read The Art of Fiction, read it. It's a remarkable manifesto that contains basic trues that still apply to fiction in any form.”
Paris had also noticed Rory not paying attention and pointed it out to Louise and Madeline, the brunette’s face becoming concerned as she glanced at Dawn who still had the worry across her face.
“Alright,” continued Max. “So Henry James, the man of the moment. Pick your book. Read it carefully. A full report on my desk one week from today. Any questions? Ms Gilmore, any questions?” he asked looking at her.
Paris pushed a book onto the floor to get Rory's attention, as the other teenager did not seem to hear. “Oops,” the blonde apologised.
“Ms Gilmore?” prompted Max.
“Yes,” replied Rory jumping slightly.
“Did you hear the assignment?” asked Max gently.
“Um no, I'm sorry,” Rory shook her head.
“Henry James. Pick your novel. A report on my desk in one week. You got it?”
“Yes. I got it,” nodded Rory as the bell rang and the other students got up to leave.
“See you tomorrow,” said Max absently turning towards his desk.
Paris and her other friends walked over to Rory. “You didn't take one note. You resorting to the osmosis theory of learning?” asked the blonde.
“Why do you care?” snapped Rory.
“I... I don't, just making an observation,” explained Paris.
“Great, we'll build a dome over you and jam a telescope in your head,” countered Rory and with a huff, Paris turned and stormed out of the class.
“Rory, why did you say that?” Dawn shook her head sadly. “Paris, believe it or not, was trying to be nice. She was concerned about you. You do realise you’ve probably put your friendship with her back about a year, and you’ve only known her for eight months.” She chuckled a little, “Although it was a good comeback if she weren’t your friend.”
“I know,” sighed Rory looking a little dejected as her shoulders slumped. “I’ll apologise to her later.”
“Well I wouldn’t wait to long. Paris can hold a grudge like no one else I know,” Dawn pointed out as she, Madeline, and Louise began to leave, she and Madeline carrying the blonde’s books as she hobbled along on her crutches.
“Ms Gilmore, can I talk to you for a minute?” asked Max looking up as the teenager began to follow the others.
“Oh, okay,” replied Rory as she turned back and stood next to her teacher’s desk.
By the end of the day, even Dawn found it hard to be around Rory and both sat in sullen silence in the back of the car on the way home.
They dropped Rory off in town as usual but Dawn remained in the back, just mumbling a goodbye to her friend and that she might see her later.
As they pulled away, Tara looked into the back at her sullen Ward, “What’s happened with you two?” she asked.
“Nothing,” pouted Dawn not looking at her guardian.
“Didn’t seem like nothing to us, Dawnie,” countered Willow.
“Fine,” snapped Dawn. “You wanna know. Rory and I saw Dean with another girl the other day and she’s not taking it well. Now she’s snapping at everyone. I’ve tried so hard over the last couple of months to help her get along better with Paris and with one comment this morning she’s got Paris angry at her again. On top of that none of our other friends at school are talking to her either because of how she’s acting.”
“Okay, you've been in this mood for four days now and while I love the unexpected ups and downs of motherhood, I've got to say I'm tired of Goofus and I'd like my Gallant back,” said Lorelai as they exited Luke’s later.
“You can't just say a normal sentence right,” snapped Rory. “Just, 'Hey, let’s talk' is too dull for you.”
Lorelai grabbed Rory's arm to stop her from walking. “Hey, let’s talk,” she said in a tone she rarely needed to use.
“About what? Oh wait, I know. How about you and Mr Medina?”
“What?” frowned Lorelai wondering how it got around to her and Max.
“I've heard you've gotten back together again.”
“Did you talk to Max?”
“He had me stay after class today to talk about my difficult break-up situation,” cried Rory.
“We are not dating,” explained Lorelai defensively. “We have been talking and we just now decided to start dating.”
“Why didn't you tell me you'd been talking?” asked Rory in a hurt tone.
“Because it was too much like the whole Todd and Nevina Cutler thing.”
Lorelai sighed, “When I was in junior high, I had a boyfriend, Todd something or other. Not a soulmate, but I was crazy about him and he dumped me. I was completely crushed and I could do nothing except lie around and cry and listen to Air Supply, very low point in my life. Two days after the break-up my best friend Nevina Cutler got back together with her boyfriend, Randy something or other, who had dumped her days before Todd dumped me. And she was so happy and gloaty and couldn't stop talking about how great it was that she had her boyfriend back that it made me feel horrible.”
“The end. Let’s go,” pressed Rory.
“Look, I didn't want to be Nevina Cutler, okay? You were so miserable about Dean. What was I supposed to do? Walk in and say, 'Sorry about you and Dean but I got Max back and aren't we happy.' Would that have been good?”
“That would've been great.”
“I was going to tell you, okay?” said Lorelai. “I just wanted to give you some space and a chance to come up for air. I was trying to protect you, that's all. Hey...”
Rory turned sharply and began walking away. Lorelai quickly followed. “You know, actually, it doesn't matter whether you tell me about Max or not because you're just gonna break up again anyway,” sneered the teenager.
“Excuse me?” said Lorelai a little shocked at the venom in her daughter’s voice.
Rory turned on her mother again, “Well that's what you do best.”
“Hey, stop right there,” called Lorelai never having been so angry with her daughter.
“You'll break up, cry, get back together, break up,” sighed Rory. “It doesn't really matter. I'd rather not have to keep track, so tell me when you're down to the final inning.”
“You know what, that is way too snotty a thing even for alternate universe Rory to say. I'd like an apology.”
“Fine,” snapped Rory. “I apologize. Let's go home.”
“Yeah, let’s go home and try that apology again,” suggested Lorelai.
As Rory began walking again, Lorelai stopped at the door of the market. “What are you doing?” asked Rory looking around when she noticed her mother was not at her side.
“We need light bulbs.”
“We're in the dark,” countered Lorelai. “It'll take a minute. I assume you won't come in.”
“Is it Monday or Wednesday?”
“No,” frowned Lorelai.
“Well then I can't, can I?”
“What does Monday or Wednesday have to do with anything?” asked Lorelai confused.
“Nothing. I'll meet you at home,” sighed Rory as she stomped away.
Tara frowned as someone began an insistent knocking at the door. Wiping her hands, she opened the door to a distraught Lorelai, “Lorelai. What’s wrong?”
“Is Rory here?” asked Lorelai as Tara stepped aside for the older woman.
“No,” Tara shook her head, “I haven’t seen her since we dropped her in the town square this afternoon.”
“What’s happened?” enquired Willow joining them in the hall, “Did you have an argument?”
“No... Yes... I don’t know!” cried Lorelai. “Max told her, I told him about her difficult break-up with Dean... Did Dawn tell you her and Rory saw him kissing another girl the other day? She’s been so down since... It just blew-up as we left Luke’s... Now I can’t find Rory, she wouldn’t come into the market ‘cause it isn’t Monday or Wednesday...”
“Dean doesn’t work on Mondays or Wednesdays,” explained Dawn coming down the stairs having heard the commotion.
“Dawn what’s going on?” asked Lorelai the worry coming across in her voice.
“I’m sorry Lorelai, as much as it pains me to say it,” sighed Dawn, the three adults now looking at her. “I made Rory a promise not to reveal what I know and I can’t break it. You either need to make Rory tell you the truth, you’ll know when she does, or you find Dean and get him to tell you.”
“Please Dawn, tell me what’s going on?” pleaded Lorelai.
“I’m sorry, really I am but it’s not my secret to tell.”
Lorelai’s eyes flashed, “Did Dean hurt her?”
Dawn allowed a small smile to cross her face, “No. As much as I know you hate Dean at the moment, he isn’t that kind of guy.” Lorelai looked like someone had kicked her dog. “What I can tell you is they are both hurting over it for different reasons. Oh one thing though. If I was trying to run away from something like this, I’d either be at one of my friends houses or my grandparents... well if I was Rory anyway.”
“Right... right I hafta go,” nodded Lorelai hurrying out the door.
“Is it something bad?” asked Willow looking at her Ward stood on the bottom stair.
“Depends of your view,” replied Dawn mysteriously before turning around and heading back up the stairs.
Tara opened the door the next morning to be greeted by a sad looking Rory. “Hi Rory. We’re almost ready to go,” smiled the blonde stepping aside to allow the teenager to step inside.
“Thanks. Ah could I have a word with Dawn before we leave? I think I owe her an apology.”
“Sure. Dawn’s in her room getting her things together. Go right up,” said Tara closing the door.
“Thanks,” replied Rory hurrying up the stairs. She knocked on her friend’s doorframe, “Is it okay if I come in?” she asked hesitantly.
“Of course, Rory.”
“About yesterday... Sorry I acted like a bitch.”
Dawn smiled over at her friend, “That’s okay. You were hurting, I get that you wanted to lash out,” remembering how she had acted back in Sunnydale after she found out she was the Key. “So did you finally tell your mum the truth?”
Rory nodded, “Yeah, she knows everything now. She was a little upset. Said she loves the fact that I have her eyes and coffee addiction as well as her taste in music and movies but not her inability with the whole love and commitment thing...”
“Hey, you can totally commit. You just haven’t found that some one yet,” insisted Dawn taking her friend’s hands and squeezing them gently.
“I hope so!”
“Okay, let’s go. Someone has more apologies to make to her other friends,” Dawn reminded her as she grabbed her book and sports bags before leading the way out of the room.
“Yeah,” pouted Rory closing her friend’s door.
Rory looked nervously at the three girls approaching her and Dawn as they stood by their lockers, she tightened her hold on the paper bag she held.
“Dawn, Gilmore,” Paris greeted them as she opened her locker.
“Hi guys,” smiled Dawn. “Rory,” she prompted with a little shove.
“Oh. Ah... about yesterday! I’m sorry I acted like I did. The truth is I was upset about my ex boyfriend being with someone else. It freaked me out. So I apologise for taking it out on all of you.”
“What’s in the bag?” asked Paris curiously.
“Oh,” smiled Rory offering the three girls the bag. “I bought cookies to say sorry. Dawn says that’s how her friends and family say sorry. Of course they bake them themselves but trust me, you wouldn’t want anything I cooked,” she explained.
“What kind?” Paris arched her eyebrow.
“Chocolate chip,” smirked Rory knowing they were Paris’ favourite.
“Thanks,” said Paris taking the bag and opening it before offering it to Madeline and Louise after snagging one herself.
“So does this mean I’m forgiven?” asked Rory.
“You think you can earn my forgiveness with a couple of cookies?” asked Paris.
“Well I was hoping,” whispered Rory a little down now.
“Paris,” said Dawn looking disapprovingly at the blonde.
“Fine,” cried Paris. “I forgive you.”
“Thank you,” laughed Rory.
A bell rang. The empty hallway filled up with students exiting the various classrooms.
Rory opened her locker as Tristan walked over to her. “You should decorate this thing,” he observed.
“I did,” Rory pointed out.
“Well I mean with something other than a bunch of dead black and white women.”
“What like curtains?” sneered Rory.
“You know what I mean. I did mine up.”
“Yeah, I saw that. The naked picture of the Siamese twins is particularly classy.”
“You know what these are?” said Tristan holding up two tickets ignoring the comment.
“They look like tickets.”
“To PJ Harvey,” smirked Tristan.
“Wow, you have good taste. I'll give you that,” conceded Rory.
“You're into PJ Harvey, right?” he asked.
“Yeah, how'd you know?” frowned Rory.
“Why, I'm all knowing.”
“How Godlike of you,” snipped Rory.
“One of these is for you.”
“Oh, I don't think we should go to a concert together.”
“It would seem like a date,” replied Rory.
“Well it would seem like a date because it would be a date.”
“I can't date you, Tristan,” sighed Rory.
“Well I give you permission,” smiled Tristan.
“And on that humble note,” said Rory closing her locker and walking away, not seeing the annoyance come to his eyes.
She was stopped by Madeline, as her friend walked with Dawn, Louise, and Paris towards the cafeteria. “Oh, Rory, favour, big one. Look at the face,” Madeline pouted.
“Oh stop that,” laughed Dawn getting a smile from the other brunette.
“Sure, what?” asked Rory falling into step with them.
“Can I get your biology notes from Tuesday,” pleaded Madeline.
“I left mine at home,” added Dawn.
“Sure, I have them in my locker. I’ll give you them after lunch,” agreed Rory as they all started down the hallway again.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
“One more and you're done,” teased Dawn.
“Thank you,” giggled Madeline.
“So I've decided I'm now completely into Judy Garland. Did you see the TV movie? Pretty intense,” asked Madeline as she walked toward their lockers with Dawn, Louise, and Paris.
“I think they used my mother's medicine cabinet in that,” mused Louise.
“She was the Courtney Love of her day,” agreed Madeline.
“Show me a trend and I'll show you Madeline,” chuckled Paris.
“Judy Garland is trendy.” pointed out Dawn.
“Completely,” agreed Paris.
“She was neo-addict retro chic,” said Louise.
“No one tells me these things,” pouted Madeline.
“That isn’t important, Madeline. The movie was good,” smiled Dawn.
“Hey,” Tristan greeted Paris as they stopped at the lockers.
“Hi,” replied Paris absently as she opened hers.
“Ooh, what are those?” asked Madeline spotting the tickets.
“Oh, PJ Harvey tickets,” smiled Tristan.
“Really?” smiled Louise.
“Cool,” added Madeline.
“Who are you going with?” enquired Louise.
“What?” snapped Paris.
“Rory's going out with you?” sneered Dawn. “I don’t think so.”
“Yes, she is,” countered Tristan beginning to walk away.
“Wow, I didn't think she liked him,” mused Madeline.
“She doesn’t,” said Dawn firmly jumping as Paris slammed her locker, her face like thunder. “Paris, she doesn’t like him. Paris, think about it, Tristan has been annoyed that you didn’t want to go steady for a couple of weeks now. Rory has consistently rebuffed him. He knows you have always been suspicious of her. So what better way to get back at both of you than to try and drive a wedge between you?”
Paris looked thoughtful at Dawn. “You should at least talk with Rory,” suggested Madeline.
“Okay,” nodded Paris starting to walk away.
‘Now that was intense, but who's she jealous of?’ mused Dawn as she began following Madeline and Paris to their next class.
Dawn made sure she was there when Paris confronted Rory over the PJ Harvey tickets.
“Gilmore,” Paris called out as she all but stalked down the hallway.
Rory sighed as she heard her sometimes friend call her by her surname, it usually meant Paris was angry again, she often wondered if it was a chemical imbalance? “Yes Paris,” she once more resisted the urge to say Gellar.
“Is it true?” snapped Paris.
Rory frowned, “Is what true?” she asked.
“That you’re going with Tristan to a PJ Harvey concert?”
“What? No of course not. True he asked me to go but I said no.”
“You kissed him at Madeline’s party. You say you are over your break-up from your boyfriend, so why wouldn’t you?” cried Paris.
Rory’s eyes narrowed as she spotted the teenage boy exiting a classroom. “Because he’s a jerk,” she snapped as she stepped around Paris and Dawn and walked up to Tristan. “What is your problem, Tristan?” she almost screamed at him, drawing the attention of many of their classmates. “Is it that I continually refuse to go out with you? Or I continually tell you I don’t like you. You’re a self centred jerk and as the saying goes, if you were the last man on Earth I would not go out with you.” She turned on Paris, “Satisfied?” she snapped before storming off down the hallway.
Rory, Dawn and Lane walked out of Luke’s, Dawn and Rory in their Chilton uniforms and Lane in her cheerleader outfit. Rory and Dawn were carrying French fries Lane was carrying a drink.
“What I wanted to say was,” Lane began to explain. “Janie Fertman, you are a vacuous bimbo who will be turning letters as a profession one day. And the only way you'll know which letter to turn is when it dings and lights up. And I have no desire to stop and talk to you. Ever. But what I said was 'what Janie?' And then she goes, 'You're cheerleader material.' Cheerleader material! Just like that. I couldn't believe it! I almost went full matrix on her. Have you heard a word I've said?”
“No,” confirmed Rory.
“Yes,” replied Dawn.
“I resent half of you. I'm a witty conversationalist.”
“Yes you are Lane,” smiled Dawn as they stopped in front of the market. Rory stared in.
“I'm going in,” stated Rory.
“You can't,” said Lane.
“I'm going in,” repeated Rory.
“Good, you need to do this,” encouraged Dawn.
“He works on Friday afternoons,” Lane reminded her friend.
“I know,” nodded Rory.
“Oh my god!” exclaimed Lane beginning to jump around excitedly.
“Calm down,” smiled Rory.
“Oh my god!”
“You're making a spectacle,” chuckled Dawn.
“You're getting back together with Dean!” surmised Lane.
“If you keep jumping like that I'm gonna videotape it and send it to Janie Fertman as your cheerleader audition,” said Dawn even though she had no idea who Janie Fertman was.
“No. I’m finally over him,” declared Rory.
“When did this happen?” frowned Lane.
“Last night and this morning. I finally told mum everything and as I talked it through with her I realised that I really didn’t love him.”
“I'm sorry, Rory,” said Lane quietly taking her friend’s hand. “I love you, but you've been mopey, dopey, and about twelve other melancholy dwarves for the past few weeks and I miss the old Rory.”
“I miss the old me too,” agreed Rory as the three entered the market.
Willow came into the kitchen just as Dawn finished placing Tara’s breakfast on the plate with the glass of orange juice. “Oh, I thought for a second you were Tara.” said Dawn looking up.
“No. I told her I’d start breakfast and she could stay in bed a little longer,” explained Willow.
“Thanks. And thanks for being okay with me doing this.”
“As I said, we both love you Dawnie,” smiled Willow stepping over and hugging her Ward.
“I love you guys too,” sniffed Dawn wiping her eyes with a tissue.
“You better get up there before she decides to come down anyway.”
“Right,” nodded Dawn as she placed her homemade card on the tray and headed for the stairs.
Willow wiped her own eyes before starting the coffee.
Dawn knocked on the bedroom door, “Is it okay if I come in Tara?”
“Of course, sweetie.”
Dawn entered her guardians’ bedroom, a smile in place, “Happy mother’s day, Tara,” she said holding out the tray.
Tara quickly sat up in bed a stunned look on her face. “Dawnie,” she choked up as tears appeared in her eyes.
“Oh goddess, you don’t like it,” cried Dawn misunderstanding her guardian.
“No, no Dawnie, I’m just overwhelmed. I-I h-had no-no idea you felt l-like this about me-me,” Tara stammered as tears of joy began running down her face.
“I love you and Willow,” explained Dawn also crying now. “You’re my family, just like everyone back in Sunnydale, but you’re here. I... I just wanted to thank you for everything you’re doing for me.”
“And we love you, Dawnie. Thank you, this is nicest thing anyone has ever done for me,” sniffed Tara dabbing her eyes with a tissue as Dawn placed the tray on her lap and kissed her cheek.
Later Dawn went over to see Rory, she had started her homework when she realised she had left one of her reference books at school and knew her friend had a copy. On opening the door, she found Lorelai stretched out on the couch wearing a toga, grapes in hand looking like some ancient Roman.
"All you need is some half naked guy fanning you and you're all set," chuckled Dawn as she walked through into the room.
"I told Rory that but she said she didn't think Luke would go for it. Have a seat and I'll get my slave to bring you refreshments," said Lorelai sitting up.
"Nah it's okay. I just came to borrow a book for homework," replied Dawn leaning against the side of the couch. "So where did you get the toga?"
"I got it from Partytown in Hartford last week," answered Lorelai. "I thought, 'Hey, I have a slave for the day, so why not!'"
The first set of the game against Faith Academy opened with a kill by Dawn and was followed by an early run by the Mintonettes, building to a 10-5 lead. Faith Academy took its first timeout, trying to end Chilton’s momentum. But Chilton would not be denied, stringing together a series of plays to push the score to 19-12. It was only then that Faith went on their own run, cutting the lead to four with Chilton up, 21-17.
A timeout by Chilton gave the Mintonettes a minute to regroup, and they came out of their huddle ready to end the first set, and went on a 4-2 run to end the set, 25-19.
With the first set under their belts, both teams found a rhythm in the second set. Exchanging points for the entire set, Chilton and Faith were deadlocked at 23-23. It was only then that Faith took its first lead of the match. Faith connected on two plays to win the final points of the set, tying the match at one set apiece.
After the intermission, the two teams once again went point for point. Although Chilton took the third set, Faith countered by stealing the fourth.
In the decisive fifth set, Chilton were losing 13-11 when Ms MacAfee called a timeout. As the team gathered around their coach she smiled at the enthusiasm that shone in their eyes, “I just wanted to remind you to forget the scoreboard and just trust each other and above all have fun. Now go back out there and book your spot in the final.”
Dawn extended her hand out to the middle of the huddle. “On three, win.” The others piled their hands on their captain’s. “One, two, three. WIN,” she raised her voice with the others and led them back out.
Chilton came back and tied Faith 13-13. Faith then hit an off-pace shot that fooled Madeline, giving them the lead at 14-13. The next rally ended with a Faith shot that landed out of bounds; bring the game to another stalemate. After an error by Faith, Chilton was one point away from victory. As outside hitter Dawn hit the final shot cross-court, the spectators erupted as Chilton advanced to the final.
At the get together after the match, Madeline chastised herself to Dawn and Louise, who was in attendance even though she had not participated in the game. “I was such a klutz. I should have seen that shot.”
“Hey stop that this minute. So you didn’t stop one point. Remember what happened last week against Stars Hollow, everyone but Dawn were making mistakes left and right,” Louise pointed out. “And we won in the end. So it doesn’t matter now other than, don’t do it against Hillside next week okay?” she smiled.
“Louise is right,” supported Dawn.
“Okay,” laughed Madeline.
The final was a sell-out as former pupils from both schools had quickly snapped up all available tickets when the old rivals were confirmed as meeting again. Dawn and Madeline were rather embarrassed when they spotted their parents and guardians as well as Madeline’s Aunts Emma and Maria all dressed in Chilton colours and cheering and waving various flags and pendants like maniacs along with everyone else.
“Wow,” whispered Dawn in awe as she spotted Rory and Lorelai sitting with Luke, Rachel and almost everyone she knew from Stars Hollow.
Madeline smiled at her. “Rory told me that everyone was coming up to support us tonight, she asked me not to tell.”
Dawn smiled at her friend and teammate before smiling and waving to those from Stars Hollow.
Chilton started well, going five to nil up in the first set before Hillside got into their stride to win the first set 25 to 15. The second set went to Hillside as well.
Losing 15 to 5 in the third set, Ms MacAfee called a time out. The team gathered around their coach. She looked around at them, “You’ve come so far and achieved so much. I’m so proud of you all but you’re not playing to your strengths; you’re letting them dictate both defence and offence. You’re more mobile than they are. I’ve also noticed that two of their players, 7 and 11, seem to be having problems and that the others are covering for them somewhat. I want you to start pressuring them when they're on the court. Now get back out there and win.” She made a shooing motion at them. Chilton clawed there way back to win 25 to 23.
The forth set was tied at 23 all when Hillside fell twice for the same move when Dawn hit the ball sideways as it went to sail over to Hillside’s side to win 25 to 23 and tie the game two sets all.
Dawn wiped the sweat off her brow before taking a swig from her water bottle as they once more gathered around Ms MacAfee. “This team is without a doubt the best team I have ever coached. You have all been playing above what anyone other than myself thought you were capable of. Now continue to play as you have in the last two sets and you will be taking the trophy back to school.”
Dawn gathered with the others in a circle extending her hand to the middle where the others did the same. “On three, win. One, two, three... WIN.” She led them back out.
In the last set both teams matched each other point for point until Chilton managed to pull into the lead 14-12. The ball crossed the net no less than seven times as Chilton attempted to win the game and Hillside tried to close the gap when it happened. Madeline dived to save the point knocking it into the air where Erica hit it towards the net just to Dawn's right. Dawn realised that Kennedy and another Hillside player were moving to cover the middle where she had hit the ball three times already. Dawn jumped as if to hit the ball but instead just let it go by. Kennedy realised what had happened and attempted to twist her body to try to stop the ball but her legs slipped from under her and crashed to the court. She was in the perfect place to see the ball hit the ground.
Dawn was sure the ringing in her ears would cause permanent damage to her eardrums as the screaming and shouting from the Chilton supporters as well as her teammates around her, but then she realised she was one of them as they all danced around hugging each other.
There were more cheers as Ms MacAfee accepted the trophy and raised it above her head before turning it over to the headmaster for safekeeping and then led her players back to the changing rooms.
At the reception that evening both teams were introduced to the Governor of Connecticut as well as the Mayor of Hartford.
As Dawn stood with Madeline, Erica who had been cleared to take part in the game and Louise who had not, she watched as Ms MacAfee led a tall dark haired man over to them. "Dawn, this is Mr Milliner, Mr Milliner, Dawn Summers. Mr Milliner wishes to talk to you about the possibility of you playing for the state team against New York next month."
"Wow," mumbled Madeline.
"Congratulations on such a fine win," smiled Mr Milliner shaking Dawn's hand. "So what do you say? Would you like to play for state?"
"I would be honoured sir," replied Dawn returning his smile.
"Excellent, I'll leave the details with your coach," said Mr Milliner. "I'll leave you to your celebrations now," he finished following Ms MacAfee to where Headmaster Charleston stood talking to the Mayor.
It was about an hour later when Dawn was looking for her guardians when she was stopped by Kennedy. "It looks like we're going to be on the same side next game!"
"Oh so you got approached too?" mused Dawn.
"Yeah." nodded the other teenager looking around to be sure no one could overhear them, "Ah my Watcher told me about your sister being adopted... Sorry if I upset you."
Dawn swallowed past the lump forming in her throat, "It's okay. I didn't know about the adoption until afterwards when we contacted Buffy's Watcher. Apparently it was mum's wish that no one knew."
"Oh. Anyway I'm sorry okay?"
"Thanks," nodded Dawn as she spied Willow and Tara head towards her. "Look I hafta get going. I'll see you when we play for state."
"So friends," smiled Kennedy holding out her hand.
"Friends... At least when we aren't on different teams," smirked Dawn as she shook the offered hand.
"So ready to go home?" asked Willow stopping in front of her.
A/N: Under no circumstances will I be writing about Volleyball as that was one of the reasons - beside writers block that delayed this part.