"Sisters"

All characters, settings, and anything else included in the Buffyverse does not belong to me. All rights to these belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox, and others I have failed to mention. This is not in anyway an intent to infringe on copyright.

The actual story and putting together of all of this stuff in this way is my creation, so I ask that you not steal it and claim it as your own work. Thank you very much. Feedback in both the form of comments and constructive criticism is both welcome and appreciated. Negative feedback and general trolling is not and will be deleted immediately, so please do not waste your time or mine.

Note about time: This is kind of a mixed up story timewise. I can't say it takes time in any particular season because that wouldn't make any sense. So, I have all the Season Five characters in here as far as the Scoobies go. Joyce is still alive and Angel never went to LA. Dawn is older by a year than she was in the show. I think that's it. It is a completely made up time by me. Bear that in mind and you won't get confused. It doesn't follow the show at all.

Overall story rating : R for violence/language/sexual situations

Prologue

"What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to find out what the hell your problem is!"
"First off, watch the language. Secondly, it's none of your business."
"Who are you, my mother? I'll say anything I want to you. Do you have any idea what you put my sister through? And now you're just here to what, break her heart all over again? She's been doing nothing but crying for the past two days. Much like last year, I should add."
Angel looked pained. He looked down at his feet and couldn't say anything for what felt like an eternity. He then looked back at her, his eyes full of remorse.
"I know exactly what I put her through last year. I was there, remember? I would give anything to take that all back and to have never hurt her like that. But I can't. The least I can do is stop this relationship before she gets hurt again."
Dawn was quiet for a moment, understanding what he had said and taking it to heart. She knew that he hadn't meant to hurt Buffy. If there was anyone in the world feeling an immense amount of guilt and remorse, it was him. Still, she couldn't understand why he was leaving. He and Buffy loved each other so much. After everything they had been through, why would he leave?
"What do you mean?" she asked, still confused. "Why would you hurt her again?"
Angel sighed.
"You might want to sit down."
For a moment, she wouldn't. People only said to sit down when you were getting bad news, usually really bad news, and she wasn't about to fall into that trap. She stared at him, her eyebrows narrowed in suspicion.
"Dawn, sit down. Just do it."
She was still incredibly reluctant, but did it all the same. Whatever he was going to tell her, he was only going to say if she did it. Considering she had come to him to find out everything, she figured she should do all she had to. After taking a seat on the foot of his bed, she continued to stare at him, her blue eyes burrowing into his.
"So? Talk."
The only time she had ever seen him so anxious was the first time he came back to their house since he got his soul back. It was as if he were out of place. His hands were shaking nervously and he couldn't look at her.
"You might be too young to understand this-"
"Don't do that. Don't start your sentence that way. I get enough of that from Mom and Buffy, I don't need it from you too. Just tell me what you are trying to tell me."
"I don't love her anymore," he said, spitting out the words so fast, they seemed to hurt him coming out. "Is that simple enough for you? I don't love her anymore."
Dawn was stunned. Angel still wasn't looking at her and she wondered if he was about to cry. God knows, she was. She couldn't even think of what to say to him in response as she hadn't expected that. It made her wonder exactly what he had said to Buffy. Had he said that, it was no wonder she had been the way she had the past few days.
"How can you not love her anymore? You two are like Romeo and Juliet, what with the tragedy and all. How-"
"I will always love your sister in some way. She means a lot to me, but I just am not in love with her anymore."
He paused for a long moment before continuing.
"I'm in love with someone else."
Dawn jumped from the foot of the bed, onto the floor in front of him. Her initial instinct was to slap him, feeling betrayed herself and angry for her sister. She fought back her urge however, afraid that if she did hit him, he wouldn't answer any of her other questions. She wasn't about to let him off the hook.
"Who?" she flat out asked, not bothering to wait. She wanted to know who's ass Buffy had to kick.
"Dawn…"
"You know, you are unbelievable! My sister went through absolute hell last year because of you! After what you did to her and all the people we loved, after she had to leave home, she still loves you! She has done everything to protect you from the rest of us who would have flat out killed you when you came back. Who could possibly be any better to you than her?"
"It's not really that simple."
"Yes, it is. Who is it? Who could-"
"It's you, Dawn."
She stopped yelling. She thought she had heard him wrong. She must have heard him wrong because there was no way he could have said what she thought he said.
"I'm sorry, I must have heard that wrong. What did you say?"
"It's you, Dawn. You're the one I'm in love with."
She backed away from him, not trusting him anymore. It was obvious to her that he would rather lie to her than tell her what was going on.
"You're something else, you know that? I don't know who you really are leaving her for, but when I get back home, I'm going to tell Buffy about this. Then you can explain it to her."
She turned to leave, but her grabbed her wrist, dragging her back to him.
"Let go of me!" she demanded, trying to pull away from him.
He was much stronger than her, however, and held her firmly in place.
"Dawn, you have to listen to me. I'm not lying to you."
"Yeah, okay. You're in love with me, Buffy's little sister. That makes a lot of sense. How about letting go of me now?" she asked this time, beginning to become afraid.
"Look, I'm sorry. I didn't even want to tell you. I just wanted to cut my ties with Buffy, leave town, and never have to bother you. But now you know."
Dawn was scared then, as he still hadn't let her go. She wasn't sure what he was capable of and all she knew was that she wanted to get out of there.
"Angel, please let me go," she asked him again, hearing her voice break.
He dropped her wrist and looked at her.
"Do you think I would actually hurt you?"
She didn't know what to say to him and wanted more than anything to leave and go home. Things were getting far too strange. Her whole mind was a mess trying to absorb everything she had just heard and she didn't know what to do about it.
"I have to go," she said, still sounding afraid, something that he picked up on easily. Without another word, she walked around the corner to leave and ran right into Buffy.
"Buffy…"
"Aren't you supposed to be in school?"
At the moment, she was too shook up to speak. She didn't know what to say at all, so she looked at her sister with a dumbfounded stare. It was apparent to her that Buffy had heard nothing that she and Angel had been saying, something she had to be incredibly thankful for.
"What are you doing cutting class?"
Buffy's mood was terribly noticeable. She looked so unkempt dressed in an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt Dawn hadn't seen in years. The blonde hair that was usually so nicely combed and shiny lay limp against her scalp and she wore no makeup, making her skin seem to be washed out and blotchy in the spots where her tears had been not too long ago. Dawn felt sorry for her.
"I...um…"
"And why are you here of all places?"
"How did you find me?"
"I didn't. I came to see Angel. You just happened to be here. Again, I ask, why?"
Dawn didn't know what kind of excuse she could use to get out of that. She could only imagine the stupid look on her face.
"She came here to rip me apart for breaking up with you. Which, she did."
Buffy looked at her, her eyes wide.
"Don't be mad. Someone had to say something to him. And I didn't want to listen to you crying anymore."
"I'm not mad," she said, sincerely.
Dawn knew there was a thank you in that sentence somewhere.
"Okay, I'm gone. Don't tell Mom," she said before she dashed past her and back to class.
Buffy rolled her eyes and looked back to Angel.
"So, my little sister came here to kick your ass?"
"More like chew my ear off. She does it well, I might add."
"Yeah, I've fallen victim to that a few times in my life."
There was an uncomfortable silence between the two of them as they both tried to figure out what they really wanted to say to one another.

~

"You look pretty happy today. What's with you?"
It was Saturday, days after she had gone to see Angel, and Dawn had seen Buffy in nothing but a blissful mood every since. She couldn't figure it out and finally had to ask what was going on. It had been nothing but a constant headache for Dawn since she had been there. After what Angel had told her she had barely been asleep or felt the urge to eat anything. Normally if she had any of these kind of issues, she would have immediately gone to Buffy. That was the last thing she could do now.
"Angel is staying with me."
Dawn felt as if she had been punched in the stomach. All the air felt sucked out of her body.
"What?" she managed to choke out, hoping against all hope that her sister didn't hear the disbelief in her voice.
"He's not leaving me. We talked things out," she said, grinning from ear to ear. "I don't know what you said to him, but it got to him."
Dawn felt sick. He wasn't staying with her because he wanted to. He was staying with Buffy to get closer to her.
"Hey, Dawnie, are you okay?"
"No. I must have eaten something bad, I don't feel that good."
Buffy's demeanor changed and she looked concerned.
"Don't worry about it. I'm just going to go lie down for a while."
Before another word could be spoken, Dawn went to her room. She was sure to close and lock her door, not wanting to risk anyone coming in. She began to pace back and forth, her nerves all bunched up. There was no one she could talk to about this and she had no idea what she was going to do. Lying down on her bed, she felt tears of frustration roll down her face.
"Oh, you bastard," she muttered to no one.
She hated Angel for this. He couldn't have just left town. That would have been too easy. No, he had to stay and make her completely miserable. She was only fifteen. She had never even been on a date, let alone had someone be in love with her. Having that person be her sister's two hundred year old plus vampire of an ex-boyfriend was not helping things.
Angry, she wiped the tears from her face and went to open her window. It was nearing sunset and she knew Buffy would be out to patrol soon. Their mom was out shopping and probably wouldn't be back until later that night. Having no one knowing she would be gone made it easier to shimmy down the side of the house and walk to the mansion to find Angel. She didn't know what she was going to do when she got there, but she had to talk to him. He was the only one she could talk to.
The sun had set by the time she reached the mansion. She wondered if he would even be there.
"I knew you'd come."
Dawn spun around to see Angel standing directly behind her.
"Good, God! You don't make any sound at all!" she hissed.
"I'm a vampire, remember?"
"They don't make noise?"
"Not really."
It seemed odd to her that she had never known that and made sure to make a mental note of it. Not wanting to sit outside and talk with him, she into the mansion where she could actually see what she was doing. She sat on the couch with her elbows propped on her legs and her head in her hands. She didn't know what she was doing anymore and felt on the verge of tears again. She felt the couch move slightly when Angel sat down beside her and she nearly winced.
"You need to get out of our lives, Angel," she said, raising her head up and looking him straight in the eyes.
"Really? Because I seem to recall you bursting in here bitching about just that."
"Don't you make this out to be my fault because you know it's not. You were going to leave even when you said you had feelings for me. You were leaving because of that. What changed? Why are you still here and why in God's name did you decide to tell Buffy that you still should be with her?"
"I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave. Going back to Buffy was an easy way to stay."
Dawn stood up and began to pace back and forth in front of the fireplace. Her heels clicked back and forth on the cold floor, sounding incredibly monotonous. Angel could hear her grinding her teeth from the couch.
"Do you have any idea what this is doing to me?" Her words seemed to burst out of her, as if she had held them back for hours. "I can't sleep. I can't eat. I can't even talk to my sister without fear of her somehow figuring this out."
"I never meant for it to happen like this," Angel said, apologetically, as if it would help things.
"Really? How did you picture ‘this' happening?" she asked, quite condescendingly.
"Hey, do you think it's a lot of fun for me to have to sit and lie to her too? You're not the only one who loves her."
" ‘Loved', Angel. You don't ‘love' her. You ‘loved' her. Big difference. Now you just pretend."
"You don't know that, Dawn. Exactly how many relationships have you been in? Oh, that's right. None. You know how many I've been in? Quite a few over the past couple of centuries. I know the difference between still caring about someone after I've left them. Just because I'm in love with you doesn't mean I don't care if she gets hurt."
Dawn could not believe what she was hearing. She stopped her pacing and looked at him, hoping that something she would say would get all of this to stop.
"She's already going to get hurt. You know that. So stop this. If you still care about her at all, stop it now."
"I can't."
She groaned, throwing her hands in the air.
"What do I need to do? What can I possibly do to make you stop this?"
"There is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you and I think you know that by now."
Her eyes were wide with frustration and she felt more angry than ever before.
"Fine. Screw you. I don't need to do this anymore. I'm going home to tell Buffy myself."
With that, she strode across the room to reach the door but Angel was quick to grab her arm again. Why was it always her arm?
"Let go of me. I mean it this time."
His grip didn't loosen on her and instead of asking again, she reached into her jeans' pocket for something Buffy had given to her long ago. It was a small cross that she kept on her at all times, just in case. Before he could see what she was doing, she pressed it hard onto the top of his hand. He released her immediately with a growl and she could smell the burning of his flesh. His teeth were bared and his face was all wrinkled up, the way she had seen it a year earlier when he had lost his soul. She knew he wouldn't hurt her, but that look terrified her. Without another glance, she ran out of the mansion and into the night.
"Dawn, wait!" she heard him yell as she ran through the darkness.
Luckily, she knew her way around the town well. She could run home in the dark any night of the week, but she just wanted to get as far away from him as she could. She was nearing the street where there was actually some light when something from behind her knocked her to the ground. She knew instantly that it wasn't Angel, but that also meant that it was a vampire. She didn't even question that thought. She reached for her cross, but realized it had been knocked out of her hands when she had hit the ground. Suddenly, she was terribly afraid and started kicking and screaming to get the thing off of her. He stunk of death, so she guessed she was probably his first shot at a quick meal. Grabbing her wrists, he flipped her onto her back. She looked up to see a pair of large fangs and not much else. It was then that she wished that Buffy would have listened to her and at least taught her some kind of self defense. She struggled hard with him, trying to get away, but it was no use. In death, they had more strength than she had ever thought possible. Every attempt to pull away from him failed miserably as she couldn't move her wrists even slightly. The long hair she had regrettably not pulled back that night was pinned down by the weight of his arms, which caused an immense amount of pain on her scalp.
"Get off me! Leave me alone!"
He didn't pay any attention to her and she saw his fangs nearing her. Where was her sister when she really needed her?
"HELP ME!" she bellowed.
Suddenly, the vampire was gone. He had been lifted off of her and she heard snarling. She backed up, pulling herself off the ground to see Angel in front of her. He was dusting off his hands and clothes of all that was left of the vampire who had attacked her.
"Is he gone?" she asked, her voice shaky.
"Well, he's all over my clothes, but yeah, he's gone."
Before she could even consider her next move, she hugged him hard, her adrenaline beginning to wear off. All that was left was fear and she could do nothing but cry.
"It's okay," he said, trying to reassure her. "He's dead. He's not going to hurt you."
"I know," she said in a voice muffled against his coat, "but he could have."
She was shaking harder than she had ever thought imaginable and she couldn't stop crying.
"But he didn't," he said, hugging her back. "Don't cry, okay? It's done."
She nodded, but still didn't let him go.
"You're nothing like your sister, you know that?" he said, with a grin.
"My sister's the Slayer. She's practically programmed to not be like me," she said, pulling away. She wiped the tears off her face and tried to brush off the dirt from the ground. She couldn't go back to the house looking like that, especially when no one knew she was gone in the first place.
"Come on," Angel said, "I'll walk you home."
There was no way she was going to turn down that offer, especially considering her whole body was still shaking in fear. She stayed close to him the whole way home, practically inside his coat pocket. The streets were quiet and her fear subsided once they were at her front door.
"Thank you…for saving my life…" she said, feeling strange. A moment passed between them that she couldn't describe and she didn't know what to do. The two were staring at each other, unaware of what to do next until she finally just hugged him tightly for the second time that night. Without another word, she turned and climbed up the side of the house and back into her bedroom, in case anyone was home yet.


Chapter One


Several months later...

"Shouldn't you be at school right now?"
"Probably. Something tells me it won't matter though. I already have skipped too many classes for them to care to keep count anymore."
Angel rolled his eyes. As much as he enjoyed her company, he didn't want her to get into trouble with school. That would only lead to more trouble.
"So if you were there, where would you be now?"
"History," she answered much quicker than he had expected. She was quiet for a moment and then looked up at him.
"Hey, you don't know anything about the Boxer Rebellion, do you?"
"Are you using me to pass the class that you are most certainly failing?"
"Well, I am ‘most certainly failing' because of all the time I spend here. And besides, who better to ask than someone who may have been there. Were you there?"
"Yeah," he said, under his breath, not wanting to remember that point in time at all.
"The perks to knowing the immortal," she said with a smile, giving him a quick kiss and climbing out of bed.
"Where are you going? You just got here."
"Well, actually, I got here about three hours ago and now I have to head home in time to pretend I am coming back from school so I can walk into the surprise birthday party that is being thrown for me."
"I don't think it's called a surprise if you already know about it."
"Yeah," she sighed, pulling her sweater over her head and searching around for scattered pieces of clothing. "But they think I don't know. So technically, we can still call it a surprise party. Where are my jeans?"
"Here," he said, reaching under the blankets and throwing them over to her, "remember?"
She smiled and quickly pulled them on.
"Someday, we need to do something other than lay in bed all day."
"I don't see why."
After buttoning the top of her jeans, she crawled over the edge of the bed, on to the covers, and climbed up to where he was laying.
"I have to go," she said, "I'll be back later."
"I love you."
"I love you too."
She kissed him again and then grabbed her bag to leave. Just as she reached the door she heard him tell her to have a happy sweet sixteen.
Things had changed significantly in the past few months. She wasn't sure exactly what it was, but she found his feelings for her being returned and knew that she loved him as well. It was something she was happy about, but couldn't express it in any form. Too many people, the wrong people, would catch on. She couldn't imagine what would happen to her sister if she knew. It would crush her. As much as Dawn knew that and loved her, she couldn't stop the feelings she had. It made her constantly wonder what the future held considering one day, she would eventually know.

"SURPRISE!"
Despite knowing what was awaiting her the moment she entered the house, seeing everyone all dressed up in party clothes and those silly party hats she loved, holding a giant cake and loads of gifts, it was really a nice thing to come home to. Putting on her most shocked face, she remained speechless just long enough to have her mom ask her if she had any idea of what they were up to.
"What? No, I didn't know. Well, I thought maybe, but I didn't know for sure," she lied. This happened nearly every year for both her and Buffy, so they both knew by this point, what to expect. But thinking she had fooled them simply delighted their mother, so they always embellished the truth a bit.
"Blow out the candles, we can't hold this thing much longer," Anya said, which was becoming more apparent by the moment.
"You guys actually put sixteen candles on this thing?"
She leaned over the cake and made a weak attempt to blow them all out, unfortunately resulting in seven of them remaining lit. With a second blow, she got them and every clapped happily, as Willow stuck one of those pointy little birthday hats on her head.
"Look at all this stuff," she said, eyeing all the decorations in the living room. There were streamers and balloons everywhere. A banner hung on the wall and she saw loads of food in the kitchen.
"Yeah, that was Anya's doing," Xander said, pointing to his beaming girlfriend who was more than waiting for a thank you.
"Thanks, Anya, it all looks really nice."
"See? You told me it was too much."
Xander sighed.
"It's looks great."
Before Anya was able to get another word in, she quickly sat down amongst all her gifts.
"Wow, you guys went all out," she could say in all honesty. The décor was elaborate and enormous in quantity. She wondered how they would all manage to finish off the cake and had never seen so many presents in one place at one time.
"Yeah, well, it's your sixteenth birthday. It's supposed to be special," Buffy commented.
Everyone stared at her, somewhat surprised.
"What? Just because all of my birthdays are complete disasters doesn't mean it has to run in the family. Besides, I don't see any demons running around and it's still light out, so there's an advantage."
There seemed to be a silent consensus among the room. Just when it couldn't get more silent, Tara grabbed a smaller gift from the pile and tossed it into Dawn's lap.
"That's from Will and me," she said as Dawn was quick to tear off the sparkly red paper. Inside was what looked to be one of the older research books.
"The Beginner's Spell Book: A Modernized Version'. Very nice, check this out Buffy, research."
Her sister shot a wavering look at her two friends.
"Oh, give her a break. It's a beginner book. Fun stuff, nothing dangerous."
"Here," Buffy said, handing here a relatively larger gift and putting aside her discontent for the previous gift. "This is from Mom and me."
She had no idea what it could possibly be and curiously pulled it apart.
"You guys got me a computer?"
She was completely astonished. She never expected that out of them. There was barely enough money flowing around the three of them to begin with, let alone enough to let them spoil her with such expensive things. As much as she loved the idea of having it, she felt terribly guilty.
"No, I can't take this. Do you know how much this must have cost? I mean-"
"Yes," Buffy said, "we knew when we paid for it. It's your's and we are not taking it back, so enjoy it."
She stared at her sister who did nothing but smile back at her.
"Why, though? Why would you get me something like this? Don't get me wrong, I love it, but…"
"You've done a lot for me this year, Dawn. Just take it as a thank you."
There was a familiar hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach. It was reserved for her guilty conscience which was telling her that being with Angel was wrong. Her sister loved her so much for being the caring sister she should have been, but was only acting to be. She turned and looked back at the box, pretending to read about her new gift so no one could see the pain in her eyes.

Later that evening, after the opening of many other gifts and stuffing of selves with cake, everyone was found to be lounging around the house. That would be with the exception of Willow, who had taken it upon herself to configure Dawn's new computer to all of her own expectations. She had asked if Dawn had wanted anything special, but her only requirement was that she be able to use it after Willow was through with it. That had been hours ago. None of them knew what she was doing to the thing, but they let her play around on it.
"Hey, Dawn, can you come here a second?" Dawn heard her mother's voice call from the kitchen.
She made her way past Willow, who had zoned out at the coffee table, and into the kitchen. The back door was open and in her hands was a large bouquet of roses. She turned to face her.
"These are for you."
"What?" Dawn asked, having never received flowers in her life. Yet, amidst the sixteen long stemmed red roses lay a card that simply said, ‘Happy Birthday'.
Buffy walked up beside her and looked at them with a big grin.
"Who are those from?"
Dawn's head snapped to look in her sister's direction and for a moment, she felt as if Buffy knew everything. She couldn't be even slightly happy that Angel had sent them; she was too worried.
"Um, I d-don't know," she stammered, angry that her voice was breaking. She knew that she appeared as upset as she felt to those around her.
"Hey, are you okay?" Buffy asked her, looking genuinely concerned.
She couldn't look at her anymore and her eyes focused on the floor as she lied through her teeth.
"Yeah, can you guys put these in water? I have to, um…I'll be right back."
Not giving them time to say anything in return, she pushed the flowers on her sister and left the room. Taking the stairs two at a time, she made it into her room in a near record time and quickly shut the door. She felt tears running down her face by the time the door locked and brushed them aside furiously.
"Shit," she said, looking in her mirror and seeing that her face was completely red and blotchy from tears. There was no way she could go back downstairs looking like that. Thinking that she may be able to cover some of it up with makeup, she turned to find some and ran right into Angel.
"You need to start making some noise! You scared the hell out of me!" she hissed at him, still upset, but more shaken than anything now. "Why are you here?"
He looked apologetic after scaring her the way he had.
"I wanted to see how you liked your flowers. You got them, didn't you?"
"Yeah, I got them. With your other girlfriend standing right next to me."
Her tone was bitter and she knew that she shouldn't have said that, but there were so many emotions running through her at that point that she was amazed she could say anything at all.
"She's not my other girlfriend, Dawn. You know that. Things are just complicated."
"Well, can you make them a little less complicated?" she asked, with more tears making their way down her cheeks and dripping onto Angel's clothing as she hugged him close to her. He kissed the top of her head and soothingly stroked her hair.
"You know I can't do that."
"Yeah, I know," she barely whispered, gripping him even more tightly. He kissed her forehead and her lips before she heard a knocking on the other side of her door. She groaned.
"Dawnie?"
She really wished that Buffy had stayed downstairs.
"Yes?" she called back, not knowing what else to say to her at the moment. She certainly couldn't go back out there looking the way she did.
"Is everything okay?"
"Yes. I'll be down in a minute."
"Okay," was the answer of acceptance that she was so glad her sister had taken instead of prying into her life some more. She heard her boots click down the steps and turned back to Angel.
"I really don't want to go back down there."
"I don't want you to either."
She kissed him again. This time, she didn't want to let him go, as she held onto the back of his head, keeping him with her. He pulled back for a second and kissed her neck. She loved when he did that, as she couldn't think of anything more dangerously kinky than having a vampire sucking on her neck. As much as she didn't want to, she pulled away from him, knowing if they kept it up, she wouldn't go back downstairs at all.
"I'll come see you tonight, okay?"
It was all she was able to promise him, but he accepted, smiling at her and then climbing back out the window.

When she was finally able to get back downstairs, everyone was pretending that they weren't worried about her. They were pretending to be doing something else when all they really wanted was to know what was going on. She decided to cut to the chase.
"Everything is fine, okay? I swear."
"Who'd you get those roses from?"
Everyone in the room glared at Anya. She looked at them, wide-eyed and slightly taken aback.
"What? I'm only asking what the rest of you won't. Who are they from, Dawnie?"
"Anya, drop it," Xander practically ordered from the other side of the room.
"No, it's okay," she said, grateful that she was able to pull off her lie with a straight face this time around. "I'm not sure, actually."
"Well, you seemed pretty upset."
"An!"
"Well, what? She was!"
"Anyway," Buffy interrupted their argument loudly enough to get the point across, "Dawn, would you like to go with us to The Bronze tonight? We thought it might be fun."
Usually when The Bronze was brought up, it was shortly followed by a lecture in how she couldn't go there because she was too young to be hanging out that late at night in a club. So to hear that was quite surprising.
"Yeah, that'd be great."
Without another word, Dawn left the room to go smell her flowers that were sitting comfortably in a glass vase on the counter in the kitchen.


Chapter Two


For being a weeknight, The Bronze was packed. It was mostly people her sister's age, but it didn't bother her. It's not as if she was looking for someone. They had been dancing for what seemed like hours and by ten, everyone but her and Willow had sat down to enjoy some drinks and rest their feet. She was more than happy to enjoy being treated like less of a little kid by those around her and was having a great time. That is, until she felt someone tap her on the shoulder. She turned to see someone she knew from school. She had passed him several times and perhaps even had some classes with him, but his name eluded her. She knew he was on one of the sports teams, but she wasn't sure which until she saw the basketball patch on his letter jacket. That was when her eyes flew to the name sewn onto the front of the jacket.
"Brandon, hi. What's going on?"
She continued dancing with Willow, as she didn't really feel like dancing with anyone else that night.
"You want to dance?" he asked, nicely.

"Um, sorry, I'm a little tired out…"

"Oh, Dawnie, got ahead and dance. I need to spend some time off my feet anyway," Willow said, practically pushing her in his direction.
"No, I think I'm good right here…"
It was too late. Willow was already on the couch, sharing a drink with Tara. Dawn sighed.
"Okay, one dance. I really need to sit down too."

It wasn't as if dancing with him was the worst thing that could happen to her. If it wasn't for Angel, she would be more than obliged, along with the rest of her high school female population. He was about as attractive as they came, dark hair with the dark eyes to match, she couldn't help but feel a little giddy, knowing that any of the girls she knew that were there that night were glaring at her in jealousy. Maybe it was that which made her continue to dance with him for three songs longer than she wanted. After that, she honestly did need to stop and rest.
Standing in line at the bar to get a Coke, she turned to see what the rest of the group was doing when she noticed one of them was gone. That was when she saw her short, blonde, Slayer of a sister walking out of the club, hand in hand with Angel. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. Had he seen her dancing with someone and gotten the wrong idea? Is that why he was leaving with her? Suddenly, all the positive energy she had felt upon entering the club seemed to drain from her body. She just felt numb. He didn't love her, she knew that much, but it didn't stop the feelings of jealousy and anger from rushing through her, making her clench her hands into small fists. It took everything in her not to make a mad dash for the door and wrench her sister away from him. Instead, she simply stood still, staring at them, but trying to remain calm. She couldn't allow anyone to see how upset she was. "Miss?"
That was when Dawn's conscience mind decided to snap back into reality and noticed that the bartender was giving her what could be interpreted as a dirty look. "Yes?" she asked, stupidly, wondering what she had done.
"Your drink? What would you like?"
"Oh, um, just a Coke, please," she ordered quickly.
She wondered how it was that he even understood her. The fact that the music was playing so loud led her to believe that he had just begun how to read orders off of people's lips. She paid for the drink and threw it down her throat so fast that she felt the skin of her throat burn. More than anything, she just wanted out of the club. Without any regard to the worry she may cause the others, she walked out of the back door of the club and into the alley. It wouldn't take long for her walk home, but the shoes she was wearing were killing her feet. Not to mention the fact that they were driving her a bit crazy with their clicking on the road as she walked. She was just about to approach the street, which was much lighter than the alley, when someone stepped in her path.
"Excuse me," she muttered, not feeling up to being all that polite.
The man didn't budge. She groaned, frustrated. "Look, I need to get by. So could you just move-"
Before another word could escape her lips, he knocked her into the brick wall of the club, causing her to hit her head, hard. She put her hand to it, thankful that it wasn't bleeding. Although it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise, she still gasped when she saw fangs protruding from his mouth. Thinking fast, she grabbed a small bottle of holy water she had learned to keep in her purse and splashed it in his face. There was a sizzling sound like that of water pouring onto a grill followed by a deep growl.
"You little bitch, look what you've done to my face!"
Even in the dark, she could see that she had done a number on it. No doubt it would heal soon. Not allowing her to get any more on him, he knocked the vial onto the ground where it smashed into tiny pieces. Dawn looked down in dismay and then went for the alternate plan, which would be to run like hell. He wasn't about to permit that option, for the second she moved was when he grabbed her, pinning her against the wall. No matter how hard she squirmed and tried to get away from him, she hardly made an impression. He grinned at her for a moment and then went straight for her neck. She barely had time to open her mouth to shout before she felt him turn to dust .
"Dawn, what are you doing out here?"
Dawn found it amazing how her sister barely batted an eyelash when it came to killing demons. She hadn't even tried with that one. It had just been a simple staking when he wasn't looking. Buffy was staring at her with concern and some annoyance in her eyes. Behind her, stood Angel, trying to avoid eye contact. She wondered why.
"I…um…"
She really needed to work on her lying. It was becoming worse with every passing day.
"I don't need to remind you where we live! You know full well what is out here at night!"
She rolled her eyes, not wanting to hear the same speech for the hundredth time in her life.
"I just came out for some air. Give me a break."
"Air? In the alley? What's wrong with outside of the front door?"
Dawn didn't want to listen to her anymore, especially considering she was the reason she left the club in the first place. She turned to leave and felt one of Buffy's super human strength grips around her forearm.
"Let go of me!" she yelled, tearing her arm from her.
She tried to walk away, but Buffy wasn't about to let her get away. She stepped in her way, standing firmly, with her arms crossed in front of her chest.
"I'm not letting you go down the alley. What is wrong with you? Go back inside."
She stared at her for a moment, then glared over at Angel, who knew at that point why she was upset. When she didn't get a response from either one of them, she just scoffed.
"Fine."
She stormed past both of them and back into The Bronze. The loud music greeted her with a start, but she shrugged it off.
"Dawnie?"
Somehow, amongst the mist of everything going on in the club, she heard someone speak her name. She turned to see Tara standing by the bar, a look of concern on her face.
"Are you okay?"
Dawn said nothing, afraid that if she did, her true emotions would show. Instead, she looked down at her feet. Knowing Tara though, there was no getting away from her. She was like a mom with the way she could read everyone like a book and instinctively know exactly what to say. Still, she kept silent. She didn't even see as Tara left the bar to grab her by the wrist and sit here down on a chair across from her.
"What's going on?"
The concern in her eyes was killing Dawn. She wanted to tell her everything, but she knew she couldn't.
"Can we just go home?" she asked in a voice hardly above a whisper.
Somehow, Tara heard it and simply nodded.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just tired," Dawn practically shouted back over the din of the music, just before she smiled perhaps the most phony smile in existence. She knew Tara well enough to know that the one she shot back at her was just as fake. Dawn knew she could tell that something was wrong, but was never one to really push.
She closed the front door after saying goodnight to everyone. Buffy was still out on patrol, which was nothing new. She wouldn't be home until much later. The house was dark. She quickly kicked her painful dress shoes off and placed them in the front closet, grateful to be in her comfortable bare feet. Tired and upset, she quickly made her way upstairs and towards her room. Hoping she wouldn't wake her mom, she stepped into the shower, wanting to wash the makeup off her face and all the product out of her hair. The hot water had its own way of being soothingly as well and she was able to forget her problems momentarily in there. After toweling off her hair, she quickly put on her large Sunnydale sweatshirt from school and a pair of pajama pants to sleep in, feeling much more comfortable than she had in the past few hours. It even helped the events of the evening a bit and she was able to calm down about things. Walking down the hall to her room, she noticed something out of the corner of her eye. She didn't like to spy on people or snoop around, but she couldn't help it. On her sister's bed was a journal and out of the two of them, Dawn was the one who kept all the journals. She had never known her sister to write down any of her feelings. Curious as she had ever been, she went into the room and quickly grabbed the small notebook. Although she felt like a complete loser, she went back to her room, switched on the light, and slumped onto the bed, eager to look at the journal. It was nothing too special, simply a typical notebook one would use for school with a blank blue cover. She flipped it over, only to see the cardboard backing littered with Angel's name, amongst various hearts and other doodles. A feeling of dread overcame her at that moment that she was unable to really explain. She couldn't help but stare at the lettering in anger, then felt tears rolling down her face that she didn't even know she was crying. In a moment of sheer rage, she scanned through the pages, which were covered in writing she didn't even bother to read, and started tearing them out by the fistful. The thought that Buffy would at one point wonder what had happened to it didn't even phase her. Throwing the remains in a garbage can by her desk, she laid back down on her bed, her face covered in tears.


"Hey, Dawnie…"
She opened her eyes and realized she must have simply passed out, as her hair was still damp and uncombed. Luckily, it was still dark out so she had a few hours to put herself back together before going to class. There was a breeze coming through the window which was actually making cold because of her wet head. She rolled over to go to close the window and ran her lowered head directly in Angel.
"What have I told you?!" she gasped, after her initial shock wore off.
"Sorry. Believe it or not, I do try not to scare you."
She yawned and stretched as she closed the window.
"What are you doing here?"
"Watching you sleep."
"Okay, you realize how incredibly creepy that is, right?"
He considered that for a moment, then said nothing. The two sat in silence in the dark room until Dawn crawled back under her covers, but unable to sleep, reached for a comb to run through her messy hair.
"You probably are pretty mad at me now."
"No," she lied, staring at the blanket on her bed in an effort to avoid eye contact with him.
"Yeah, okay. Look, I didn't mean to hurt you, but obviously you're taking this a lot harder than I thought."
She scoffed, unable to believe what he was saying. Not wanting to satisfy him with an answer though, she continued combing her hair. Annoyed, Angel snatched the comb from her hand and threw it to the floor.
"I'm sorry, but what was I supposed to do?"
Dawn was tired, angry, hurt, and feeling ugly, so it probably wasn't the best time for him to be pushing her buttons. She turned to him, a glare on her face.
"Gee, I don't know, Angel. Maybe you could keep your hands off my sister!"
It was becoming more difficult to keep up with the volume of her voice, as she was terribly angry at that point, but risking waking up anyone in the house would cause some serious problems. Her anger quickly turned from that to sadness again though and she felt tears well up in her throat. She turned her face from him quickly, as looking at him was only making things worse.
The feeling only increased when she felt him sit beside her and hug her tightly. She couldn't turn her head to face him. She didn't want to cry anymore.
"I'll tell her, okay? I'll tell her."
"No, you won't, " she whispered. The end of her sentence was completed with a small sniffle.
"Yes, I will. Just calm down and go back to sleep."
She grabbed the towel that she had earlier left on the floor and wrapped it around her head in a weak attempt to make her hair somewhat presentable. Before she could protest in anger or any other form, Angel was beside her with his arms wrapped around her in an effort to keep her from crying again. Not caring about much else, she took what she could get and closed her eyes, not looking forward to the sunlight.

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