The Rise of the Road Slayers
A/N-- It has been a while. Sorry. No excuse really.
Buffy was leaving her again. Dawn raised her tear shined crystalline blue eyes to her sister’s face. She couldn’t believe it. Her sister, Buffy Anne Summers, had decided to walk out on her. Dawn knew eventually EVERYONE would leave. It had to be true. In her young life so many had disappeared. Her life was fast becoming one long memorial service, broken into chunks by new grief. She would not go down the list. She would not. Dad. Mom. She would not.
Dawn was sitting on the couch in the Hyperion hotel. Buffy and Faith were standing in the middle of a half circle of couches. Faith was now speaking—but Dawn knew she could not listen. She had heard the first words from Buffy, “I am leaving. I have to get out. I need a break. I am stretched thin.” The core scoobies occupied the main couches. New slayers and Angel’s crew leaned against the walls and sat in any unoccupied spot. Scratches and bruises still visible in rapidly decreasing forms. Xander’s hands were tightly clasped around a large bottle of pain killers. His eye had yet to fully heal—and he frequently had ear splitting headaches.
They had all nodded and agreed, Xander first. It was a curt not. Short and direct. Dawn didn’t expect that. For years, Xander had always been the man all about staying and facing your pain like a man, well like a slayer. Maybe he finally understood the pain of loss—as he faced the reality of his life without Anya.
Yes, Buffy did need a break. But honestly, didn’t they all? Dawn knew she had just lost her Spike. She had lost Amanda. She had lost… why couldn’t they all grieve together?
Dawn blinked to find Faith’s eyes boring into hers. Faith had asked a question. “ Sorry. I didn’t hear”.
Faith smiled rueful. She knew she was hurting the last of the Summer’s family. At least it wasn’t like she had done before. “Dawn”, she said, not bothering to break her words down into a slight pleading. Not wanting to use the nickname Dawnie or Little D. She wanted Dawn to stand up—to accept loss and to live with the shadow of grief--not a full blanket. A fighter accepts a life with a veil of grief… not a pillow that smothers.
“Dawn” Faith repeated. Look at me. Every night has been about fighting. Cycles of fighting—increasing circles of difficulty for the hope that at the center there is a pause, a rest. I haven’t seen a real moment of rest. Neither has Buffy. Do you know why? It is because we don’t allow us to believe even for a moment that we have won.”
Buffy began to speak. Dawn heard her sister’s voice over the pounding in her head and her heart. “We haven’t won yet. It has always been about holding back the tide. Now we are the tide. Every last one of us—every slayer—every scooby—every warrior. Evil doesn’t have a home. Sunnydale is gone. I said I was stretched. I know I need to live. I know I fight- I hunt, to live. Faith and I are going on the hunt, for all those demons without a home suddenly prowling this world. You know, all those NOT heading immediately to Cleveland.”
She said the last words with a smirk. A smirk she half shared between Giles and Willow. She didn’t have to ask. She knew Willow and Giles would go to Cleveland and begin the fight. They knew Faith and Buffy would eventually join them. She was a slayer who needed a vacation—that’s all.
Dawn looked at Buffy—she was accepting this all. She inhaled and closed her eyes. She wanted to will her tears away. Giles was speaking. He said something about, “Yes Buffy, yes Faith you are right—evil is roaming—dare I say seeking whom it may devour. Road Warrior Slayers are definitely a good idea.”
Dawn heard Willow’s words for the first time this meeting. Dawn was sure she had heard a startled gasp or two earlier and some other mumbles but she hadn’t been listening… so focused she had been on her pain.
“Not with the dusty leather and wild hair, right? You’ll be savvy, well dressed, and CLEAN Road Slayers… not like Mel Gibson? Circa 1982?
Dawn saw Faith and Buffy turn as one—towards one another—they shared a smile. Dawn knew Faith and Buffy were in sync once again—their friendship was back in full force.
“We’ll wash”. They said as one.