Title: Through Smoke and Shadows
Disclaimer: I don’t own a damn thing. *sob*
Summary: Circumstances beyond Dawn’s control throw her in a spiral of confusion, despair, and perhaps even love. Just another day in the life of the life of the youngest Summers.
AN: And here I am, coming out of the obscurity of lurkdom to actually post a fic. It’s my first one so I ask you to be gentle as I pop my fic cherry. ;) A few notes though- This is a bit AU, I made Dawn a little older than she was in “The Gift”, meaning that she is now 17. Also, this is not compatible with HBP, so you won’t have to worry about spoilers. Basically, it’s their 7th year and the events that took place in OoP still happened. And with that long winded note– Enjoy!!
Dawn sat gloomily at the kitchen counter, gazing at the Buffy-bot with mutinous eyes. The Bot went along her business of preparing Dawn’s breakfast, completely ignorant of the fact that the girl wanted to somehow short-circuit her. “Would you like pancakes?” the Bot asked, her overly bright smile making Dawn cringe.
Dawn glanced down at the white surface of the counter, unable to look at the thing that had her dead sister’s face. “Yeah, funny shaped pancakes please,” she said softly, wanting to get breakfast over with so she could escape to Janice’s or perhaps even Spike’s. He most likely would be sleeping by now but he wouldn’t mind if she came over and hung out for awhile.
The Buffy-bot looked at her blankly for a moment, “I’m sorry, I’m not programmed to make funny shaped pancakes,” and with that she turned back to the stove to make perfectly round pancakes.
“Just forget it,” Dawn muttered bitterly, she really wasn’t hungry anyways.
Willow came down stairs and into the kitchen, casting a furtive glance towards Dawn. That’s how it had been lately, all furtive glances when they thought she wasn’t looking, as if she was about to explode at any moment. “Good morning,” she said with false cheeriness.
“Whatever,” the teenager said rolling her eyes. It wasn’t a good morning, it hadn’t been a good morning for a very long time.
Before Willow could reply, if she was going to reply at all, it was cut off by the doorbell ringing. Willow frowned, glancing at her watch, “That must be Xander to take you to school, he’s a little early though.”
Dawn shrugged her shoulders, not really caring either way before going to the front door and opening it. Her eyes suddenly widened and her mouth fell open in a good impression of a fish as she gazed at the person standing on the porch.
It was impossible but there he was, Hank Summers, looking extraordinarily well groomed and fresh. His hair was thinning a bit, and there were some lines on his face that she hadn’t seen before but the familiar blue eyes that peered back at her were exactly the same shade as her. It was undoubtably her father.
He gave her a charming smile, “Hey Dawnie,” and Dawn wanted to spit in his face.
Willow walked in behind Dawn, “The Bot made some extra pancakes if you want any–oh.”
Willow’s eyes rounded as she looked at Hank, equally surprised as Dawn. Of course Willow recognized him, there were a couple of pictures of him around the house that Buffy had probably of shown her.
Dawn tried speaking again, “I..wha..how?” was all she could get out.
He gave them another one of those idiotic charming smiles, “Can I come in?”
Dawn was instantly going to protest, going to tell him that there was no way he was going to come in under any circumstance. But it seemed that Willow beat her to it, “Sure, come in.”
Dawn glared murderously at her, she didn’t want him here, she didn’t want him anywhere near here. He came in, looking around as he did. Willow led him to the couch, Dawn made sure she was sitting as far as possible away from him.
Seemingly having the worst timing ever, the Buffy-bot flounced into the living room, her perfect smile plastered on her face. She took a look at Hank, tilting her head as if she was trying to place him, her smile never leaving or changing for that matter. “Hank Summers, my father, divorced from my recently deceased mother, and a total bastard. Hello!” she chirped.
Hank looked at her strangely, like he didn’t recognize her at all, “Uh...hello Buffy,” he said awkwardly.
The Bot was about to respond when Dawn interrupted, “What do you want?” she asked coldly.
He frowned, looking a bit uncomfortable now, which Dawn was thankful for. “Well, I was wrapping a few things up in LA and thought I would stop by and see how you girls were doing,” he replied, but there was something more, she could tell by his voice.
The Bot was sitting there with a dense look on her face, nodding and smiling, but Dawn felt herself grow cold. “So you we don’t hear a word from you in about five years, you don’t show up for mom’s funeral and suddenly you want to see how we’re ‘doing’?” her voice trembled from the sheer voice of her anger.
Willow was instantly by her side, putting a comforting on her shoulder. The noise must of woken Tara because the sandy haired witch came down the stairs looking quizzically at the scene unfolding in the living room.
“Dawn,” his voice was getting stern, “you know I was in Spain when your mother died, and when I finally found out I thought you girls would want your time to grieve.” He sounded extremely self-satisfied, which meant that he actually believed in his half-ass excuse.
Dawn glared petulantly, “I don’t want your excuses. Why are you here?”
He gave a heavy sigh, “I was hoping this could of waited till later, but I suppose now is the best time to tell you. Dawn, seeing as you mother has...passed, I was hoping you would want to start a life with me in England.”
Dawn was utterly shocked, she heard noises come from both Willow and Tara but she couldn’t really focus on them.
Before she could reply he plowed on, “I remarried, I think you’ll really like her. Her name is Katherine, and we were talking and we both agreed that you should have a normal stable life. I think we can give you that if you give it a chance.”
Dawn’s mouth opened and then snapped shut, not sure if she could get anything out. Willow instantly took charge, her heated gaze on Hank, “You can’t do that, Joyce left Dawn’s guardianship to Buffy.” she bit out.
Hearing her name the Buffy-bot perked up and looked brightly at Hank, “That’s right. I’m Dawn’s sister, I have to protect her.”
Hank was looking coldly at Willow, all pretense of charm gone from his face, “And you are?”
The Bot answered before anyone else could, “That’s Willow. She’s a lesbian and a witch.” she said simply making everyone mentally slap their foreheads.
Hank gave the blonde a strange look before turning back to Willow, “I don’t think there’s much choice in the matter. I’m still Dawn’s father, Buffy doesn’t have a job, and I’m sure Social Services would be very interested about who is exactly living in this house.” he said giving a pointed look at Willow and Tara’s sleeping attire.
Xander chose that time to make his appearance as he walked through the front door, “Alright Dawnster, time for...what’s going on?” he said looking at Hank with a confused expression on his face.
Willow stood up, her eyes wide with anger and fear, “He’s trying to take Dawn away!” she accused.
Hank stood up himself, “I’m not trying to take anyone away, I’m trying to give my daughter a life!”
“Why do you care? You haven’t been around for years, why suddenly just show up?”
The fight was quickly escalating, Dawn covered her eyes trying to block out the noise. “Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” screeched Dawn, the pitch alone made all present company (excluding the Bot) flinch.
She had cried more recently than she had cried her entire life. She honestly didn’t think she had any more tears left over, but now she could feel them prick at the corners of her eyes again. Her brain couldn’t process the information she was getting, it was all too much too fast and the fighting made her head want to implode. They were all looking at her expectantly and she found herself tongue-tied.
“I...I can’t do this right now. I have to think,” her voice came out in harsh pants, she honestly felt on the verge of hyperventilating.
She glanced at her dad, “Can you come back, later on tonight,” he looked as if he was about to protest, “*Please*.”
There was a strange look in her eyes, a look of manic desperation, a look that made him think that she was one step away from cracking under an invisible pressure. He couldn’t fathom the events that would make a girl her age have that look in her eyes, her mother’s death must of been difficult, but it had to be more than that.
He conceded, almost scared *not* to concede. “Ok, ok Dawnie, I’ll come back later on tonight.” he said carefully, trying to gauge her reaction. But Dawn was putting on the best poker face he had ever seen, her expression completely wiped on any emotion as she nodded.
He got up, giving his eldest daughter another look, there was something not right about her. Throughout the exchange she hadn’t spoken, other than to give him a few odd explanations on who everyone was. He frowned at her, wondering if the woman was on drugs, it just strengthened his determination of getting Dawn out of this place.
When Hank left, everyone stood staring at one another for a few moments. Willow shot up, “I have to call Giles, he’ll know what to do,” she gave Dawn a smile that was meant to be comforting, “we’ll figure out something.”
But Dawn just nodded distractedly, trying to think about what just transpired. Her father remarried. That in itself was a shocker. He never let on that he wanted to get married again, he seemed content in messing around with his secretary. But now, her father was married and apparently living in England. She scowled, his new wife was probably responsible for this change of heart.
And now, he wanted her to go live with him. She closed her eyes, trying to imagine a life away from Sunnydale. She had been envious of Giles, that he could just pick up and leave, getting away from everything that reminded him of what he lost.
She opened her eyes and saw the Buffy-bot looking back at her with a soft expression on her face. And for a moment, just for a moment Dawn could imagine that her sister was still alive, that Buffy was going to come over to where she was sitting and stroke her hair and tell her that everything was going to be alright.
Just for a moment.
“Are you sad? Are you going to cry? Shall I go get Willow to comfort you? She is a lesbian, you know,” the Bot said mechanically, her too wide grin on her face again.
It made something crack inside Dawn, and the girl had made her decision of what she was going to do long before Willow came in looking distressed because Giles wouldn’t be able to help.
“I’m going.” she said simply, looking at their shocked expressions and almost smiled.
By the time Hank came back everyone was exhausted from trying to find a way out of the situation. Xander wanted to fight for custody of Dawn, but they all knew that it wouldn’t hold up. The Bot was far too flawed to stand in court, and they didn’t have the money to get a half decent lawyer though Giles had offered all the resources he could.
Willow wanted to use magic, to somehow make Hank forget that he even had a daughter. It took a harsh look from Tara to quell that idea. There was something going on between them that Dawn couldn’t place, a kind of tension that left her uneasy.
“I’m going,” Dawn kept telling them but no one seemed to hear her.
No one except Anya. “Maybe she wants to go,” the ex-demon said plainly.
Xander gave Anya a look, “Why would she want to go? Her family is here,” he retorted rather defensively.
Anya shrugged, “Have you tried asking her?” it seemed plain as day to her, but then again, the others had always been a little slow in keeping up.
They all looked at her, as if finally noticing that she was actually alive. With a jolt, Dawn realized why they were so gun-ho in keeping her there. She was the only thing that was keeping them together and focused. With Buffy gone they had a new mission, to protect Dawn. What would they do when she was gone? But Dawn knew that if she stayed here she would drown, that she wouldn’t be able to fulfill her sister’s request to live. The thought gave her enough strength to actually go through with this.
“I’m going.” she said again and for the last time.
When Hank walked into the house he was met with angry and tired expressions. But when Dawn told him that she was going to go, no fight, no arguing, he couldn’t help but look surprised. He had expected a war. Utterly stunned he could do nothing else but nod dumbly and tell her that they would fly out of LAX in two days.
“You don’t waste any time, do you.” she said coldly before she was gone, up the stairs in a cloud of brown hair and her sister’s perfume.
As he left the house he shook his head, it was by far one of the most strangest encounters he had ever had.
She couldn’t manage the energy to look surprised when Spike ended up in her room later on that night. She had tried to figure out what to pack when she gave up and collapsed on her bed in emotional exhaustion. She would to it tomorrow, she promised herself. She glanced at Spike as she sat up in her bed. He was sitting by her window, looking at her with an intent expression. The others were probably out patrolling, leaving Spike with Babysit Dawn duty. Though he usually didn’t end up in her room.
“I hope you’re not trying to stalk me. You know, transference and all,” she said giving him a pointed look.
He didn’t smile though, he just kept looking at her with that intense expression that scared her a bit. “Were you going to tell me?” he asked, his voice low.
She rolled her eyes, she was really too tired for this, “No I was gonna let it be a surprise,” she shot back.
He stood up in a flurry of movement, “I had to hear it from Glenda of all people. Bloody hell, two days Bit?”
She glared at him, “Yeah, came as a bit of a shock for me too Spike,” she bit out.
“How that hell am I supposed to protect you if you’re in England?” he exclaimed.
“I don’t need you’re protection!” it was an old and tired argument. Though she liked hanging out with Spike, she resented the hovering promise he had made to a corpse.
“I made a promise to her,” he said, trying desperately to make her understand.
Dawn jumped out of bed, a finger jabbing into the vampire’s chest, “Well she is dead, and she is not coming back and I just can’t...I can’t do this...it’s all s..so messed up.”
Dawn crumbled against Spike’s chest, her small hands grabbing the lapels of his leather duster as sobs she had been holding all day racked her body. He let out a long sigh, wrapping his arms around the girl he had come to care about, though he would never admit it. He sunk to the floor and rocked her, letting the tears soak through his black t-shirt. He rocked her until the sobs became little hiccups and the hiccups became sniffles.
He pulled back, looking at her red rimmed eyes and wet cheeks, “You look a right mess Bit,” he quipped.
She chuckled, scrubbing her face with her hands.
After a few minutes he said finally, “I’m going with you.”
She shook her head furiously, “You can’t Spike,” it sounded regretful but resigned.
“The hell I can’t,” he replied heatedly, “besides, it’ll be good to get back to the Mother Country.”
She still shook her head, “No, they need you here. The Buffy-bot is good but it’s not enough. Besides,” her mouth quirked, “what could happen in England?”
He sighed heavily, “You’re right, it’s a full time job to keep that lot out of trouble.”
Any amusement was wiped from her face as she looked at him seriously and he was once again caught off guard by the similarities between her and her sister, “Promise me Spike, promise me that you’ll take care of them,” she said softly. He ran an agitated hand through his hair, what was it about Summers women that would have you promising the world to them if you could.
“I promise Bit. But promise me that you’ll call me if you need something,” he said to her.
She raised an eyebrow, “You don’t have a phone Spike,” she retorted.
He scowled at her, “Fine, then call Glenda and give her the message. I’ll be out there in a heartbeat, well, maybe not a heartbeat but you know what I mean,” he said.
She nodded, a real smile spreading across her features, it almost hurt.
He seemed content with that, at least for now. Leaning back against her wall, he inclined his head for Dawn to follow suit. She leaned against him, letting his arm wrap comfortably around her shoulders. As her head rested on a leather clad shoulder, she didn’t even protest when he dug into his coat pockets and fished out his cigarettes.
He lit up, taking a long drag, “To merry ol’ England then.”
Her lashes lowered as she was surrounded by the familiar scent of smoke and leather, “To England it is.”