TITLE: A Questing We Will Go
AUTHOR: JK Philips
RATING: PG (It will probably eventually get to R, if not NC17. For now, plain PG)
SUMMARY: Where did Dawn learn to fight like that in “Grave?”
TIMELINE: Immediately after “Grave”
DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters; they are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & Fox. I simply am doing this for fun, and non-profit use.
EMAIL: . Feedback always appreciated.
MY WEBSITE: www.jkphilips.com
--------------------------------------------------- Giles leaned against the kitchen counter, thoughtfully chewing on the earpiece to his glasses. He’d thankfully managed to unearth a spare pair from one of the few Magic Box drawers that were still intact, and even more miraculously, the glasses themselves bore only a few scrapes along a lower rim. After Willow had forcibly taken his borrowed magic, his vision had returned to normal, and he’d realized that he’d neglected to teleport in with a pair. Of course, at the time he’d rather expected to be charging in on a suicide mission and glasses had seemed inconsequential. “Well?” Buffy prompted. Both girls stared at him expectantly. They had only heard his side of the telephone conversation and were eager to know what he’d learned. “Faith is still alive. And the Council Seers insist that no new slayer was called after your most recent death. So we can safely rule out the most obvious conclusion: Dawn is not a slayer.” Buffy nodded, then shook her head emphatically. “No, when we were fighting those earth beasties, Dawn kicked ass.” Dawn beamed at the praise. “Thanks.” They both glanced at her briefly before focusing back on each other. “Giles, she’d never held a sword before, and she finished off almost as many of those things as I did.” Dawn rolled her eyes. “I told you: I’ve been watching you fight and train for few years here. Ever consider that maybe I just might have picked up a few things?” Giles shook his head. “Swordplay is an art that can take years of study and practice to master. Even if you had somehow learned the ‘how’ of it through watching your sister, you wouldn’t be any good at it on the first try. You would still require practice. Also, you caught those knives as she threw them. Even I can’t do that. It would seem there is a greater mystery here.” He removed the plane ticket from his pocket and laid it on the counter. He had quite the dilemma before him. “What’re you going to do?” Buffy asked, leaning over to get a good look at his ticket. His flight left in a little over an hour. “I could rebook for tomorrow, but I don’t think this is something we’re going to solve in a day or possibly even a week.” He gave Buffy a serious stare. “One of us should be with Willow, someone she knows.” He closed his eyes, tried to soften his words with a kind smile. “There are no guarantees…” “Xander should go,” Dawn answered decisively, as if the decision were already made. “I would pay for his ticket myself if it were a possibility,” Giles assured her. “But the backlash that’s likely to occur when they take Willow’s magic… Xander has no gifts himself and would not be able to withstand it.” “Anya then,” Dawn offered. “She’s demon now. She could do it.” “That’s not a bad idea,” Giles answered, surprised he hadn’t thought of it himself. “She could actually teleport back and forth and update us as to Willow’s prognosis.” Dawn crossed her arms and smirked at her sister. “You know, Buffy, if you had started listening to me years ago, you might have realized that I usually have pretty good ideas.” “Occasionally,” was all Buffy would grudgingly admit. Over the next few days, Giles put Dawn through her paces. She lacked a slayer’s strength, and the bruises he’d accidentally given while sparring remained just as vivid on the third day, so it could safely be assumed that she also lacked a slayer’s accelerated healing. She had no conscious knowledge of swordsmanship or martial arts or archery, and yet the knowledge was there in her muscle memory as he tested her. Her reflexes were quick, quicker than his, and on more than one occasion she was able to take him down. Dawn would high-five her sister whenever she managed such a feat, and Giles would pull himself stiffly to his feet, shaking his head and trying to piece together the puzzle of Dawn’s newfound skills. The Council could offer no insight. The Watchers’ Diaries were no help. Most of the substantial Sunnydale library on the occult had been destroyed with the Magic Box. And the Coven were too busy preparing to take Willow’s magic to offer any guidance. Giles had few options left to him, no other leads to follow, and a mystery that desperately needed solving. And so he called England and asked his new friend for help. Her insights were generally spot on, and he’d grown to trust her instincts over the months since he’d returned to Bath. She had Seer’s blood surely, even if she staunchly denied it, and for the moment, she was his best chance at solving the mystery of Dawn. His only hesitation was that her assistance would require that the others meet her, and he wasn’t sure if he was ready for that. Namely, he wasn’t sure if he was ready for Buffy to meet her. But, like every other time in his life, he would have to set aside personal feelings for the sake of duty. *** “So what if Dawn does turn out to be a mini-slayer or something?” Xander had accompanied Buffy on patrol, and the two were wandering through the cemeteries together, looking for something shifty to show up. “I don’t know. On the one hand, I like that she can hold her own. I did promise her I wouldn’t keep her wrapped in cotton anymore. Plus, the training, the sparring, it’s like this bonding thing we have going now. Things are good with me and Dawn, really good, for like the first time since Mom died.” “On the other hand, your little girl’s growing up.” Xander bumped into her playfully. “I mean, first comes the slaying, then before you know it, there’s dating and angsty vampire love affairs. And then you turn around one day, and your little girl’s slayer enough to kick your ass.” “No way! Dawn’s never going to be able to kick my ass. And if she ever pulled an Angel on me, I’d kick her ass.” “As long as that’s settled.” Buffy frowned and stomped madly on the grave they had stopped in front of. “C’mon, wake up down there. I want to kick someone’s ass!” “Maybe he wasn’t attacked by a vampire. People can lose a lot of blood from other things. Or maybe he rose before they buried him, while he was in the funeral home or something.” “Well, that would be pretty inconsiderate, wasting my whole evening like that.” She brightened suddenly. “Oooh, maybe something lurky’s moved into Spike’s crypt since he left.” “Nah, I think Clem’s still holding down the fort.” “Damn! Why does big evil always take the summer off? I could really use a good slay right about now.” “Because of the whole Dawn thing, right? Admit it: this bothers you just a little.” Buffy sighed and jumped up to have a seat on Mr. Hatmore’s tombstone. “Okay, maybe a little. I don’t want her to get stuck in this gig like I am, you know? I don’t want to protect her from everything anymore, but I don’t want her to have to worry about duty and responsibility and sacred birthrights either. I don’t want her to get Chosen and get all her choices taken away.” “But Giles said she’s not a slayer, right? This is something else.” “Until we figure out what else exactly… Hold that thought. Two steps to the left, Xander.” “Huh?” His question was answered a second later as a hand broke through the soil and grabbed his ankle. “Agh!” he cried, kicking at the undead hand with his other foot. “I told you to move.” A second hand surfaced and grabbed his other ankle. “Little help here, Buff.” “Just be bait for a sec, and I’ll stake him when he comes up.” “Bait? Why do I always hafta be bait?” “When are you ever bait?” “Alright, nothing comes immediately to mind, but that doesn’t make this particular instance any less harrowing.” The vampire’s head surfaced next, and Xander waved at the slayer frantically. “His head’s by my feet, Buffy. What if he bites my ankles? That’s how Achilles died, isn’t it?” “By vampire?” “No, with the whole ankle thing.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “Oh, for God’s sake.” She hopped off her tombstone perch and pulled a knife from her boot. Diving down between Xander’s legs, she found herself nose to nose with the rising fledging. “Hey, Mr. Hatmore, remember all those times you reprimanded me for being late for work, or taking too long on break, or not giving my all to my wonderful burger slinging career?” Mr. Hatmore growled and bared his fangs. “See, I knew you’d remember. Well, there’s something I need to tell you about that. I’ve been moonlighting as a vampire slayer.” She put the blade beneath his chin, just as he managed to wriggle his shoulders free of the earth. “Bad news for you: break’s over, time for me to get back to work.” She pushed the blade forward in one clean thrust and sliced his head off. The hands around Xander’s ankles turned to dust. Buffy rolled over and smiled up at Xander from her position between his legs. “See, not so bad.” He nodded thoughtfully. “Time was I would have had some clever remark about you laying there between my legs, but now…” He placed his hands on his hips and struck a pose. “Now, I am Xander, saver of the entire world, and I am above such juvenile behavior.” “Uh-huh. How ’bout a hand up then?” He pulled her to her feet and gallantly dusted her off, earning a smack on the arm when his hands ventured too far south. “Sorry,” he muttered as they both headed out of the cemetery and towards home. “That was the third Doublemeat vamp this month,” Buffy observed. “Maybe they like the food?” She frowned and shook her head. “I highly doubt that.” “Maybe they like the people who eat the food?” “Even less likely. I think it’s because I work there. Being the slayer, I’m sort of a demon magnet.” “I was a demon magnet once. No fun.” He nodded his head in understanding. “And that’s why you don’t want Dawn to be a slayer.” “Bingo. But hopefully, Giles will figure it all out, and Dawn will get to be a normal girl. Well, as normal as you get in Sunnydale, at any rate.” “Although if Giles took a bit longer to figure it out, that wouldn’t be all bad.” Buffy abruptly stopped walking. “What’s that supposed to mean?” “Nothing! Just… I can tell you missed him, that you like having him back. You guys are the three musketeers with the whole Dawn thing, and frankly, you’re happier than I’ve seen you all year. So if Giles stuck around a while longer researching this all out, I wouldn’t complain.” She started walking again, her mind now puzzling through worries she hadn’t even considered before. “You really think he’ll leave again once we figure out what’s up with Dawn?” “Well, he doesn’t live here anymore, Buffy. He only came back because…” “Yeah, right.” ***
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