Author:  Meltha

Rating:  G, nothing objectionable

Feedback:  Yes, thank you. Melpomenethalia@aol.com

Spoilers:  Through "Tabula Rasa"

Distribution: Fanfiction.net, the Bunny Warren, and the 500 Club.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Dawn reflects on why she started stealing, and why she's doing it again in season six.

Author's Note:  The thirteenth in the Jewel Box series, a collection of 500 word fics (in response to The 500 Club) and an idea taken from Challenge in a Can www.dymphna.challenge.com.  In this case, it's Dawn, jewelry, and lonely. 

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

All That Glitters

Dawn's jewelry box lid creaked open as she placed her newest acquisition inside.  The bracelet cost ten dollars at Lewison's Accessories, an amount sitting in her purse right now, but that hadn't been the point of stealing it.  She stared at the circle of brown stones for a moment and realized it was actually ugly.

Buffy had returned about two months before.  When her sister had died, she'd been free to mourn.  Willow's mouth became a determined line when she held Dawn while she cried, and now Dawn knew why.  Tara listened whenever she needed to talk.  Spike would have died before he'd let anything happen to her.  Xander let her help him with home improvements that were an excuse to be nearby, and Giles, although he'd left, called every day.  Even Anya had attempted consoling her, usually with statements like "Cheer up, little girl!  You don't have any family left to lose, so the worst is over!"

But she was wrong; the worst wasn't over.  No one had considered Buffy might come back completely changed.  She was more disturbing than the Buffybot had been.  Dawn had known it was only a copy of her sister and couldn't really be like the Buffy she had known and loved.  But this was her sister, only everything that made her Buffy had drained away.  There was another robot in the house, one with a heartbeat.

Most of the others pretended nothing was wrong, but Dawn lived with Buffy, and, despite what the monks said, she remembered knowing her longer than any of them could.  The vacant stare didn't belong to her sister, the surrender in her eyes was utterly wrong, and the detachment she had from everyone she once loved was horrifying.  She hadn't lost Buffy once.  She was losing her every day.

The gang wasn't around much anymore.  Dawn realized staying away helped them lie to themselves that everything was comfortably normal again.  So now she'd lost all of them as well.

When she first began stealing, the world was falling apart, and she needed some scrap of power.  Fate took away her father, her mother, her childhood, her security, but when she stole, she was the one doing the taking.  Things were hers whether they wanted to be or not.

She supposes that's why, after Buffy came back, she began raiding her sister's jewelry -- things she'd never seen her wear and would go unnoticed.  Tacky pink beads, a skull-faced ring, and gaudy copper earrings were scattered in her hiding place.  Eventually, new pieces joined them.  Things from the Magic Box or Willow or Tara or Anya, even a necklace of Xander's and one of Spike's lighters found their way to her along with pieces that had price tags. 

She dug her hands deeply into the pile of ill-gotten baubles, most almost worthless.  As always, the cold metal and plastic fell through fingers, and she replaced the top tray, slammed the lid shut, and cried unheard tears.