DISCLAIMER: All Joss', Dark Horse's, whoever's, not mine. I'm poor.

Written for the Whedonverse Secret Santa at Tumblr for one of my favourite blogs there, Buffythecomicslayer.

"What are you doing here?" Dawn asked before she'd even finished walking up to Buffy. "You've NEVER visited me on campus before."

"What, I can't feel like a picnic?" Buffy said with a smile, opening a ridiculously kistch basket and taking out a thermos and several ziploc bags with sandwiches.

Dawn dropped down on the plastic table cloth her sister had spread under the tree.

"Is this new?" she asked, looking at the bright floral pattern.

"It was just five bucks" Buffy defended herself. "Are you gonna eat or not?"

Dawn took a sandwich and nibbled on it hesitatingly.

"Seriously, Buffy. Is there a big apocalypse coming? Is this one of those times you try to convince me to stay out of the fight? Because I'm so not..."

"You have no idea what day it is, do you?" Buffy said with a sigh and what Dawn was pretty sure was an annoyed expression half hidden behind her enormous sunglasses.

She took her phone out of her backpack's pocket and glanced at the date.

"Oh" was all she could say, as her heart did a flip. Tears welled in her eyes, but she managed to swallow them. "I've been so ditracted with school and Scooby stuff..."

"That's fine" Buffy said, her voice the sad kind of bubbly. "It's what she would've wanted, for us to have lives and not be sad. I just thought... I thought we could celebrate it. Have a nice... Summers sisters moment."

Dawn nodded, and watched her sister serve lemonade out of the thermos into two red cups. She grabbed one of them, and they toasted to their mother's birthday.

They drank and started on a sandwich each in silence.

"What do you think she'd be doing now?" Dawn asked after a while.

"That's not a healthy path to go down" Buffy said stiffly.

"Just... do you think she would've fought with us? Taken up arms?" Dawn smiled.

"Well, she took an ax to Spike's head, once" Buffy laughed.

Dawn giggled.

"Mom and Xander, fighting over who gets the best ax..."

"I would've made her take up the crossbow, too. You would've had to fight her for the big one."

They laughed together.

"Things would've been too different" Buffy said suddenly. Dawn's smile dropped.

"I know" she said. She couldn't be sure, on account of the sunglasses, but it seemed like Buffy was avoiding her gaze.

"You did the absolute best you could" Dawn assured her.

"I'm not too sure of that. I made a lot of choices I'm not proud of."

"You mean the choices you made when you had post-mortem depression or while you were the General of a worldwide paramilitary organization?"

Buffy winced.

"Nobody is proud of all the choices they made" Dawn said. "And mom was just as human. She made mistakes, too. She would've understood."

Buffy gave her a sad little smile.

"When did you get so wise?" she asked with an exagerated sigh.

"College, bitch" Dawn smiled. "You lazy dropout."

Buffy hit her in the shoulder softly, and they laughed together again.

Thank you for reading.