Characters: Buffy, Dawn
Word Count: 705
Written For: artemis10002000
Prompt: Baby Pictures
Episode tag for No Place Like Home
After the monk died, Buffy went through her usual routine of cleaning up after patrol largely by rote. When she was done, she found herself standing in the hallway outside her sister’s—Dawn’s—the Key’s—whatever’s—door. She didn’t open the door to check up on her; no point both of them having sleepless nights. Instead, she turned and walked downstairs to the living room, where she pulled the photo album from the shelf and curled up with it on the couch. Mom had put it together after the divorce, when they were still trying to figure out how to be a family with just the three of them, without Dad. Except there had really been only two of them, hadn’t there? No matter what she remembered.
The monks had certainly done a thorough job of inserting Dawn, Buffy realized as she flipped through the pages. Dawn was present in almost all of them, just as Buffy remembered her. For a few seconds, she tried to convince herself that the monk had lied, that he was trying to separate her from Dawn somehow, make her doubt her sister and make it easier to get at her. But … why would anyone want Dawn except as leverage on the Slayer? And what about Anya’s spell—she’d seen Dawn flashing in and out of the pictures on the wall, her things disappearing from her bedroom. Was that what it had looked like before she came to them? Before she was sent to Buffy to protect?
The pictures weren’t helping. Buffy closed the book and shoved it back on the shelf. What was she going to do? What was Dawn, really? Why couldn’t this be something simple, a demon to slay or a curse to break or something with some action in it? Buffy was all about the action. This … this was all existential stuff like they talked about in the philosophy class she’d mostly slept through last semester. To be or not to be—no, wait, that was Hamlet. Still. This was not Buffy-territory. For a moment she considered calling Giles up; but it was late, he was probably asleep. There was no reason to wake him. The world wouldn’t end between now and tomorrow morning. The best thing to do was get some sleep and head over there bright and early in the morning. She turned and headed back up the stairs to her room.
Still, Buffy found herself hesitating outside Dawn’s door. She probably wouldn’t wake up if Buffy just poked her head in. Buffy opened the door slowly, taking in all the details of Dawns life. How much of this had the monks taken from her to use for Dawn? How much of Buffy was incorporated into her kid sister? She’d never paid much attention to the younger girl; mostly, she just got annoyed when she tagged along or had to take care of her. Dawn was always just kind of there. Except, she hadn’t been, had she?
Well, right now Dawn was lying in bed. Wherever, whatever she’d come from, that was where she was now. She looked a lot younger and more innocent, curled up in bed, than she usually did. Not so much with the whiny teen. Buffy walked into the room and stood over the bed, studying her sister. She didn’t look much like Buffy. When the monk said they made Dawn from Buffy, what did he mean? Body type, facial structure, hair and eye color—none of those came from Buffy. Something deeper, then? Mind, heart, soul? What?
Dawn stirred, blinking sleepily up at her. “Buffy? What time is it?” She yawned. “Is something wrong?”
“Everything’s fine,” Buffy said. “Go back to sleep.”
“I haven’t taken anything from your closet recently, if you’re looking for something,” Dawn said, frowning.
“I know,” Buffy said. “Go back to sleep.” She had a sudden urge to kiss Dawn on her forehead, like Mom used to do when she tucked them in at night. “Good night.”
“’Night, Buffy,” Dawn said, yawning.
Buffy walked out, shutting the door behind her. She stood outside the door for a moment, listening as her sister rustled around in bed getting comfortable. She’d talk to Giles tomorrow.