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
--------------------------------------------------- “Buffy? Are you gonna come back down? You were in the shower for like an hour.” Dawn knocked softly on Buffy’s door. “Whatcha doing?” Buffy opened the door and waved her sister in. Dawn noticed an impressive pile of clothing on the floor in the corner, including- “Hey, that’s my shirt!” She claimed the baby tee and a cute pair of khakis beneath it that were technically Buffy’s. “Does this look okay?” Buffy modeled her outfit: cream peasant blouse that might possibly belong to Willow (maybe not the wisest thing, borrowing from someone who had recently flayed another human being), and plain jean shorts that hugged her pretty tightly. “Sure. I guess. I mean, we’re not going out.” Dawn frowned, not completely understanding her sister’s sudden insecurity about her fashion choices. “Are you trying to impress Emily or something, ’cause I don’t think she really cares.” “About her…” Buffy held a different top up to her chest and checked herself out in the mirror. “When did she get here? Did you know she was coming?” “A couple hours ago. Giles invited her, but I guess he didn’t expect her so early.” Dawn plopped down on Buffy’s bed, grabbing Mr. Gordo the stuffed pig and idly tossing him in the air repeatedly. “Do you think she’s his girlfriend? He didn’t kiss her when she walked in, but he’s so stuffy and old, he probably doesn’t kiss in public and I don’t think I’d want to see it anyway.” “He’s not that old.” “Not compared to your boyfriends, I guess.” Dawn found the pig snatched from the air mid-tumble and glared at her sister. She wasn’t hurting anything. “I don’t know if she’s his girlfriend, but I think he likes her. She made him laugh a lot during dinner. And when we were doing dishes, he asked me if I thought you’d like her.” Buffy dropped the shirt she was currently considering. “Why would he care if I like her?” “Duh! He cares about what you think.” Dawn sat up. “I hope she is his girlfriend. They have a lot in common. And he hasn’t had a real girlfriend since Miss. Calendar died. Emily seems nice, and I don’t like the thought of Giles living over there in England and being all lonely and pathetic.” Buffy slowly folded the pullover in her hands and tucked it back in the drawer. Something in her face had changed, her expression gone blank. “Yeah, they probably do have a lot in common. Go on downstairs, Dawnie. I’ll be right behind you.” That hadn’t been a request, and since Dawn hadn’t balanced the karmic scale yet with Buffy and the whole klepto deal, she departed without complaint. *** I don't want him to be lonely. I don't want anyone to. The words were as true now as they had been when she’d said them to Jenny Calendar. So Giles had maybe found someone. As long as she wasn’t a gypsy sent to spy on them or a scaredy cat who’d desert him after she’d spotted her first demon, then maybe Giles could actually be happy with her. And what did Buffy really think she was going to do about it? Spend the next however many days acting out the remake of “My Best Friend’s Wedding” with her in the Julia Roberts role? That wasn’t fair on Giles. She couldn’t do that to him, not after costing him Jenny. Besides, Julia Roberts had lost the guy in the end anyway. Buffy changed into something more relaxed, pulled her hair back in a quick ponytail, and headed downstairs without bothering with makeup. Giles and Emily were bent over books, deep in research, their foreheads nearly touching. So cute it made Buffy want to vomit. “I’m going patrolling,” she informed them, reaching for a jacket. That coaxed Giles out of his books for a moment. “I thought you already had done. Isn’t that why you were so late coming home?” She shrugged. “Yeah, but I still haven’t found who I’m looking for. Another Doublemeat drone went missing today, isn’t at home, and in all likelihood ended up as some vampire’s doublesweet doubletreat. Someone’s turning all my coworkers, and survey says it isn’t to open a competing restaurant. So I got my own research to do.” “Can I come?” Dawn begged. She had promised to show her sister the world, and if a slayer gig was in the cards for her, better to stretch her wings on a routine patrol with her big sis watching her back. Besides, Xander and Willow had patrolled with her at the same age, and neither of them could wield a sword even half as well as Dawnie had back in that cave-in. “Sure, just let me take the lead. And if I say stay back, you stay back.” Dawn already had a favorite sword from their practice sessions, and she grabbed it before Buffy had the chance to change her mind. Bouncing out of the house, giddy at the prospect of using the sword for more than training, Dawn let the door slam behind her, forgetting about her sister. Buffy smiled and rolled her eyes. The most difficult words out of her mouth came next. Awkwardly, she indicated the staircase and told Emily that she could stay in Willow’s room if she liked. She didn’t wait for the answer. The true test would be to see if Giles was on the couch when they got home. Or if he was upstairs with her. *** Dear Diary, I’m starting to wonder if my spirit guide got a better gig. I’m also wondering why Buffy and Giles didn’t send me into the desert with some food and water at least. Maybe the whole spirit guide thing is just a trick of dehydration and starvation. You know, brain cells firing off hallucinations as they slowly die off from lack of sustenance. Maybe that’s why it’s taking my guide longer to show, ’cause I’m not as anorexic as Buffy. My brain’s still got some reserves to drain dry before it starts with the magic mushroom show. Re: above… Just a fancy way of saying that I’m in the middle of the frickin’ desert, and I’M THIRSY! AND STARVING! My spirit guide better show up with delivery. And oh, yeah, I was talking about Emily. And Buffy. And Giles. Buffy’s been in hyper-matchmaker mode since Emily got here a couple days ago. Bringing me on patrol with her every night so the two of them can have “alone time.” Talking Giles up to Emily, making him sound like the bestest guy in the whole world. Little things about him I didn’t think she’d ever noticed. She sounds so convincing, maybe she should be the one dating him. He made dinner for us one night, and you’d think Julia Child was cooking the way Buffy raved about it to Emily. And Giles… Buffy drops hints like crazy around Giles, but either he’s not catching on, or he’s just ignoring her. He likes Emily, I think. I catch him staring at her sometimes when he thinks I’m not looking. But he’s not sleeping upstairs with her, which means either they’re not a couple yet or they’re trying to set a good example for my young, impressionable mind. God, I hope Giles doesn’t think I’m that sheltered. As for Emily: either she likes him or she doesn’t, but I can’t tell which. Aloof, was what Buffy said, a Brit thing. They have to get to know you before they’ll loosen up. To give me an example, Buffy told me the story of when Giles first showed up as her watcher: uptight, all work, no play, big words, and ten layers of tweed. I think Buffy actually sighed. So anyway, it was Emily’s idea to send me on this little desert quest. Giles was skeptical. But she thought that I had a strong enough connection to the Slayer, being her sister, being made from her by the monks, that I should get some answers if I came here looking. Buffy assured me, as if it were some comfort, that it takes more than a week to bleach bones. Huh? Giles just laughed. He may get annoyed at all our sister in-jokes sometimes, but they do it too. They have their little code between them that no one else gets. Emily’s noticed, too. She asks me for translations like I have a clue. I just make stuff up, and she doesn’t know the difference. Buffy wanted Emily to come on this quest with me and Giles. More “alone” time. Like if they were stuck in the middle of nowhere together, something might happen that wouldn’t have happened anywhere else. But Buffy had to come. She had to be the one to do the Hokey Pokey thing and transfer her guardianship of me to the spirit guide. So it’s just her and Giles in the middle of nowhere now. And I’m kinda hoping Buffy might be right about sticking two people alone together for a long enough time. Maybe she might figure out why she’s working so hard at fixing Emily up with Giles. Maybe he might even figure it out too. I’ve decided what to ask my spirit guide. I think. I’m gonna start by *** Oh. My. God. Dawn clicked her pen closed and slipped her diary in her coat pocket. Slow, even motions, designed not to startle. Her spirit guide had arrived. She slowly rose from her rock seat and approached silently. Her caution evaporated like her sweat under the desert sun when she realized her spirit guide seemed disinclined to bolt. The wonder, too, faded when she remembered the way Buffy had described her experience: the ethereal grace and beauty of that great cat moving toward her like a mirage. Dawn had been hoping for some sort of transcendent experience herself. She deserved it after hours sitting outside in the desert heat. Hands on her hips, she complained to the universe in general. “A bunny? Buffy gets a cool mountain lion, and I get a bunny? What kind of lame spirit guide are you?” The bunny’s nose twitched. Dawn sighed. “Fine. Lead on.” The bunny began hopping. Dawn followed. The pair inched their way across the sand at a modest half mile per hour. That lasted all of ten minutes. “You know what? My legs are longer than yours.” Dawn plucked her spirit guide up off the ground. “I’ll walk, and you let me know if I make a wrong turn.” Probably not adhering to the strictest interpretation of “follow” your spirit guide, but in her defense, Giles had never explicitly said no carrying of the spirit guide. *** “Truth or dare?” Giles paused momentarily before turning the page of the book spread open across his lap. He didn’t bother to lift his eyes. He would find nothing in her expression to explain that nonsequitur. “Excuse me?” “Truth or dare. It’s like a slumber party game kids play.” He closed the book in his lap and set it aside. Standing, he stretched out the kinks in his back. It was growing too dark to read. “This somehow resembles a slumber party?” She was sitting on the hood of his rental car, filing her nails. She shrugged. “Campfire burning, sun going down, we’re stuck here for a little while longer... Feels kinda retreaty. It’s either truth or dare or telling scary stories, and to be perfectly honest, neither one of us scare very easily.” Sliding his hands in his pockets, he deadpanned, “You could tell me the one about you and Spike.” Something flashed across her face at the mention of Spike’s name, something that worried him. Her answering smile seemed forced. She asked again, “Truth or dare?” He leaned against the car beside her, staring off into the horizon, the setting sun turning the sky pink. “Obviously there’s something you wish to ask me, and since you had the maturity to come right out with it rather than hiding behind silly children’s games, I choose dare.” He turned his head in time to see her irritated glare. “All right. Fine Dare.” She took a deep breath and hummed softly as if contemplating her options. “Probably not the wisest choice for a guy who embarrasses way easier than me.” “We’re not seriously playing this game, Buffy.” She hopped off the car. “Oh yes we are. You said dare. So this is your dare.” Her eyes lit up as an idea obviously occurred to her. Giles mentally groaned. “Your dare is to… when we get back to Sunnydale, you have to kiss Emily. In front of everyone. And I mean really kiss her.” He shook his head, completely baffled. “You want to watch me kiss Emily? Whatever for?” “You don’t want to kiss her?” She seemed disheartened by this prospect, as if they were discussing the imminent possibility that the earth would be sucked into hell. “I didn’t say that, Buffy.” He sighed, feeling himself beginning to get tongue tied before he’d even begun. The topic of conversation was awkward to say the least, and they were both far past the age of teenage gossiping. “Look, it hasn’t escaped my notice over the last few days that you may have more than a slight interest in arranging some sort of… of courtship.” “Dating, Giles. They call it dating now.” “The point is that we’re both adults. I don’t need someone to pass her notes during study hall.” “Sorry. I just have this really vivid memory of you practicing pickup lines on a chair.” She twisted the bracelet on her wrist and found a very interesting spot of sand to focus on. “And I… I don’t want you to be lonely. I just thought that you and Emily get along really well together, you know, and maybe I could help. Maybe I could make you happy.” He reached out to touch her shoulder, thought better of it, and pulled his hand back before she noticed. “The sentiment is appreciated.” She sighed and rubbed her bare arms. The air was rapidly cooling as night fell. He stripped off his own jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. “My turn,” he told her. “Huh?” “Truth or dare?” She smiled then and slipped her arms in the sleeves of his jacket. “Truth.” “What happened between you and Spike? There’s something more you haven’t told me yet.” Her eyes widened, and she turned her back on him. “Buffy?” He did place his hand on her shoulder this time, gently inviting her to face him again. When she did, he could see the tears pooling in her eyes, the raw pain etched across her face. He wanted to drown Spike in a vat of holy water. He caught and held her eyes with his own. He could see that she was working up the courage to tell him something. Her mouth opened. The words nearly left her lips, but she never got the chance to speak. With a flash, Anya teleported in only a few feet from them. “Finally! Do you know how many empty sand dunes I had to go through before finding you two?” “Anya?” they said in unison. “Yes. At least someone still knows who I am.” She marched over, completely oblivious to the intense emotions she had interrupted. Plainly, without dressing it up, she came straight to the point. “It’s Willow.” Whatever color remained in Buffy’s face drained out with that pronouncement. “Oh, God. Not again. She’s not… not…” “Not psychotically plotting to end the world in a fiery blaze of magic again? Nope. No worries about that happening again. The coven finished the spell.” Giles came to the obvious conclusion. “It didn’t work.” “Oh, no. It worked. Sucked all her magic right out. They have it in a little jar. Like tonsils. But the coven said that the power was never hers in the first place. The power had come into her somehow. It was much older than her and didn’t match her life energy at all. Explains how she suddenly got nearly godlike powers when just a few years ago her spells were unintentionally sicking demons on her friends and pairing you up with Spike.” Anya grinned as if that were the punch line to some horrible joke. “Wow. That was a bit of foreshadowing there, huh?” Buffy rolled her eyes, whatever upsetting emotions she’d nearly confessed a few moments before now firmly shoved back down inside. She was all business. “If everything’s fine, then why the beam in and freak out?” “I never said everything was fine. I said the spell worked. Took her magic. Fried her brain too, but that’s why they have you sign disclaimers before major witchcraft. I’m sure the possibility was in the small print there somewhere.” ***
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