Becoming Friends

By: Haley J. The Bat

Pairing(s): Dawn/Andrew, fondly dubbed "Dandrew"

Summary: Andrew is becoming the only one there for Dawn as the apocalypse approaches and everyone else is busy. Is she mixing his signals up, though?

* * * * *

Dawn held out the slip of paper pleadingly. "Just sign it, Buffy, all right?"

Buffy looked up from the demon book she'd been reading to glance at the yellow slip of paper. "What do you want a job for?" she asked in disgust. "They just take up your time. You're so young, Dawnie . . ."

"I'm fifteen!" Dawn cried out in protest. "I'm old enough to get a job, and I want one. This way I can have some extra pocket money. You know, do my own thing."

"Why would you want money if we're all going to die soon?" Anya asked bluntly.

Everyone sitting at the table turned to stare at her. "Thank you for that," Xander said, rolling his eyes.

"What?" Anya looked around in confusion. "I'm only speaking the truth. The First is going to kill us all, probably brutally, and then we won't be alive anymore. That means you'll have no way of spending your money, Dawn." Anya looked down at the book she'd been flipping through and sighed. "Besides, is working at my store not good enough for you?"

"It's not that," Dawn said quickly, "I just don't want to work somewhere where Buffy can spy on me."

"Hey!" Buffy protested.

"What?" Dawn shot back. "You know you'll do it. Overprotective much?"

"I-I'm a fun older sister," Buffy stuttered. "We do fun things. Remember when we went to that movie." Dawn stared at her blankly. "That one time. Remember Moulin Rouge?"

"That was two years ago!" Dawn pounded the paper in front of Buffy. "Sign it, Buffy."

"Don't tell me what to do." Buffy picked up the pen and scribbled her signature down. "I'm doing this of my own free will," she added. "And only because I remember what it was like when I was fifteen."

Dawn squealed. "Thank you, Buffy!" She leaned down to hug her sister. "I swear, the next time my friends say you're really cool, I won't tell them that you're actually boring and mean."

"Did you do this before?"

Dawn closed her mouth abruptly. "No," she said weakly.

Buffy clicked her tongue. "Get out of here before I change my mind."

"I'm so leaving, like, right now!" Dawn skipped out of the room. "I'm going to go drop this off at my new work."

The front door slammed just as a thought struck Buffy. She looked around. "Did Dawn mention where she was going to start working?"

Everyone shrugged.

Buffy looked ready to go after Dawn for a moment, then her sense of duty won out. She turned back to the volume she was reading.

* * * * *

A few days layer, on a Saturday, Dawn went down into the kitchen earlier than usual. She was dressed and ready, trying to look very professional for her first day working as a waitress at a local restaurant.

Dawn practically skipped through the house. In the kitchen, Andrew was cooking something over the stove while Buffy and a few of the Potentials were eating breakfast. Dawn went to the toaster to put some toast in.

"You're up early," Buffy commented offhandedly.

Dawn fake-smiled. "Remember? I start working today. Aren't you going to come visit me?"

"Sure." Buffy nodded absently. She started to pat Willow's back as she choked on her cereal.

Dawn turned back around as the toaster popped. She slowly took the pieces out, not really there. Buffy hadn't even heard her talk. She never heard what Dawn had to say anymore.

"Here's some butter."

Dawn jumped slightly. Andrew was looking at her apologetically, handing her the tub of butter. "Do you want butter, or do you like toast plain?"

Dawn smiled as she took the tub from him. "Thanks," she whispered. She set it down on the counter next to her two slices of toast. For some reason, the gesture had really touched her.

"No problem," she heard Andrew mutter as he went back to the stove.

Dawn buttered her toast with more vigor. She turned around, filled with new confidence. "Buffy, are you--Oh." She stopped talking. Buffy had left the room while her back had been turned.

Willow looked up absently. "What?"

"Nothing," Dawn said quickly. "I just-yeah, nothing."

"Oh, okay." Willow looked down at the spell book she was trying to read. Her eyes glazed over, and Dawn quickly realized that even Willow didn't want to pay attention to her anymore.

Dawn bit into her toast, chewing slowly as she felt her eyes stinging slightly with tears. The food was making her feel sick, so she set the toast back on the counter and tried to rush out of the room.

"Hey, Dawn!"

Dawn turned around as she heard Andrew call her name. He was standing awkwardly in his pink apron. "Good luck with your new job and everything."

Dawn smiled at him again. "Thanks," she said because she couldn't think of anything else. She went into the front hall to grab her jacket and head out the door, but there was still a smile on her face. At least Andrew had noticed. Though that wasn't much to brag about.

* * * * *

Dawn's first day at work was hell. She learned that carrying trays to tables and keeping track of orders was a lot harder than she'd first thought. She didn't make very much in tips. To top it off, her shift was halfway over, and Buffy still hadn't dropped by. She knew that Buffy probably wouldn't, but she couldn't help wishing.

The manager seemed to realize how horrible she was, and he put her at the front of the restaurant where the counter was to take care of those people's orders while others could watch over her.

Dawn hadn't realized how busy the front counter was. And the little kids kept screaming with joy as they twisted around on the benches. She had a horrible headache already, and at one point she snapped at a child. The child had burst into tears, and the mother had left without paying her bill. Dawn's manager explained that that would come out of her paycheck.

Dawn sighed as she noticed someone new sit down out of the corner of her eye. She set the Cherry Coke in front of one of her customers and pulled out her little flip book to write the new customer's order on. "Welcome to Frederick's, may I take your--oh! Hey!" she dropped her pen in surprise and leaned down to pick it up again.

"Hi," Andrew said, looking very awkward.

"How'd you get out of the house?" Dawn asked suspiciously.

Andrew shrugged. "Everyone has stopped watching my every move. I snuck out while Buffy was giving one of her long speeches." He grimaced.

Dawn looked down at her pad. "Oh. I take it she . . . Didn't remember?"

Andrew looked guiltily at Dawn. "She might still come. She--"

Dawn held up a hand. "No. I know she's not coming. She's got a lot of Slayer stuff to do." Dawn gave him a half-hearted smile. "I mean, next to saving the world, I'm pretty insignificant."

"That's not true," Andrew said quickly.

Dawn felt her lower lip begin to quiver. Luckily, she was saved from the stinging sensation in her eyes.

"Dawn, get back to work! Don't talk to the customers!" an older waitress barked from behind her.

Dawn jumped. She looked miserably at Andrew. "Do you want anything?"

"Water," Andrew said after a moment. "Is the water free?" He blushed. "I really don't have any money."

"Not even a quarter? It's twenty cents to get a water." She dug into the pocket of her jeans and pulled out some change. "There!"

Vicki, the waiter who'd just yelled at her, grabbed her arm. "What are you doing?"

"Just lending a qua--"

"You can't give money to the customers," Vicki stressed slowly.

"I-I'm sorry," Dawn said, tears in her voice.

Vicki sighed. "Why don't you take a break and calm yourself down. You've got twenty minutes." Vicki left without saying anything else.

Dawn walked slowly into the back room to clock out, and then trudged back into the front and took her apron off. She was stepping out from behind the counter when she felt someone take her hand. Looking up, she saw Andrew there. The tears begin then, and Andrew led her out of the restaurant.

At the side of the building, Dawn let the dam break; she cried long and hard, grabbing onto Andrew and burying her head in his shoulder. She could tell he was very uncomfortable, but was too depressed to care.

Andrew patted her back awkwardly. "It's all right, Dawn. I'm sure you're just having a bad day."

"A bad day?" Dawn scoffed. She pulled away from him and sniffled. "I'm having the worst day of my life! The worst week! The worst month! Everything is going wrong for me. Did you know that I got an F in English? An F! That means no credit! Zero! Buffy signed my report card, and she didn't even glance at it. She doesn't care about anything anymore: nothing but the Potentials and the end of the world. And I know I'm being selfish--"

"You're not being selfish," Andrew put in. "Did you know that a baby can't survive if given all that it's needed as in food and care, but no love? Humans need love. I mean, my dad hated me when I was growing up . . . Look at where I am now."

Dawn sniffled again. Then she threw her arms around Andrew. "I'm sorry!"

"For what?" Andrew asked, trying to subtly pushed her away.

"For ignoring you." Dawn smiled slightly, letting him back away to avoid awkward contact. "I know everybody's always so mean to you."

"Yeah, they are," Andrew admitted, "but I did kill somebody."

"So did Spike, but we're nice to him."

"You're nice to me," Andrew pointed out shyly.

"Yeah, I guess I am," Dawn said slowly. She smiled brilliantly at him. "Thanks, Andrew. I was so upset that Buffy didn't come . . . but I'm glad that you did."

Andrew blushed, shuffling his feet as he avoided her eyes. "You're welcome," he mumbled.

Dawn reached out and squeezed his hand.

* * * * *

Dawn's second day at work - Sunday - was a little bit better than the first. She only spilt coffee on one person; she only got yelled at six times; and she hadn't gotten fired. (Yet.) She came home utterly exhausted and immediately showered, changed into comfortable clothes, and went downstairs to lounge on the couch and watch TV.

"You hungry, Dawn?" Andrew asked as she appeared in the living room. He was sitting on the couch but looked ready to jump up and fix her a six-course meal.

She shook her head. "The thought of food nauseates me. I spent the last seven hours around it." She went to sit down next to him on the couch. "Where is everyone?"

"The Potentials are downstairs; Buffy and Willow went somewhere while you were upstairs," Andrew replied. He handed her the remote. "You can pick."

"Thanks." She gave a grateful smile as she took the remote, flipped on the TV, and began to channel surf.

"How was your day?" he asked somewhat nervously.

Dawn rolled her eyes. "Don't even get me started. I'm thinking that a high school job was a very bad idea." She stopped when she found a sitcom she liked. "I had a little kid who followed me around the place today and kept punching me in the leg. Then when I told him to leave me the hell alone, he burst into tears. I got into trouble for upsetting a customer, and his parents said very loudly that they would never come to our restaurant again."

"Rough." Andrew ran a hand through his hair. "Why don't you just quit?"

Dawn shrugged. "I never liked being a quitter. I guess I'll just wait it out. By next week if I still want to crawl into a hole and die, then I might resign. If I'm not fired by then."

"Crawl into a whole and die, huh?" Andrew stared at her as if trying to decipher something.

"Something like that," Dawn quipped, turned to face him, eyebrows raised. "Something you want, Andrew? Cuz I really don't think I'm pretty enough for you to stare at me like that."

Andrew bit his lip. "Well, you are very pretty, but that's not why I'm staring at you." Impulsively, he jerked his hand around her shoulders quick-as-a-wink and pulled her to him. "I was just thinking about doing that."

In any other circumstance, Dawn would have assumed a guy was hitting on her, but the way Andrew was acting - hell, the way he'd acted all week - told Dawn that he was just trying to be a friend. Truth be told, he'd been being a better friend lately than the people she'd known all her life. So Dawn decided to just let him comfort her; she settled against his chest, pulled her legs up on the couch and returned her eyes to the screen.

"You know, Andrew," Dawn said after a few moments. "I never really thought we'd be friends."

"We're . . . friends?" Andrew sounded sincerely shocked.

Dawn found herself giggling. "Yes, Andrew, we're friends. I was just thinking how you've been a better friend to me lately than anyone else."

"Thanks," Andrew whispered. "I-um . . . that-that means a lot."

Dawn placed her hand on his knee and squeezed, turning her head up to look at him. "You don't always have to feel so bad about what-what you did, y'know. I guess I don't know you all that well, but I do know that you've got a good heart, Andrew."

Andrew's eyes were shining as if he was about to cry. He cleared his throat and looked away, but Dawn understood. She settled against him once more, a small smile on her face.

* * * * *

"God, what was up with Mr. Viktor today?" Lydia, one of Dawn's friends, complained.

"I don't know what was up with him, but something was clearly up his ass," Paula said, laughing. "Don't forget your Algebra book, Dawn."

Dawn pulled out the blue book and put it in her messenger bag. She stood still, studying her books and trying to recall all her homework from earlier. "Did we have English?"

"That essay thingy. You don't need your book."

Dawn nodded forthrightly and shut her locker door, swinging her bag over her shoulder. "All right, then. I'll see you guys tomorrow." She waved at her friends as they took off to catch the bus, then she walked towards the office where Buffy was usually just putting all her things together.

A woman who she recognized from the office walked up and slapped a note in her hand as she walked into the waiting room. "This is from your sister," she said in an annoyed voice, implying that Buffy wasn't one of her favorite people in the world.

Dawn arched an eyebrow and began to read as the woman stalked off. "Dawnie - had to slip out. Something came up. Go ahead and walk home. Love, Buffy."

Her lips quivered as she crumpled the note up and stuffed it in her bag. "Of course, Sister Dearest. Anything for you," she muttered vindictively as she stepped out of the office and began her descent down the hallway.

Dawn reached the doors to the front of the school and saw the strangest sight: Andrew sitting on the steps. "Andrew? You seem to be popping up all over the place lately."

Andrew turned around and jumped up, running a hand through his hair. "Uh-yeah. I-I heard Xander and Buffy talking, and she told him she left you a note to walk home. Then everyone left, so I thought I'd come and keep you company."

Dawn stared at him as she felt something blooming inside her chest. Andrew was always there for her - in his geeky, awkward way. Before she knew what she was doing, she stepped up close to him, eyes boring into his. Or maybe she did know what she was doing. "Andrew . . ."

Andrew's eyes widened and his mouth opened slightly. "D-Dawn," he whispered, sensing what she was about to do. "I . . . don't think it's-"

Dawn ignored him and closed all the space between them, pressing her body up against his and leaning up to kiss him, eyes closing slowly as he leaned down in return the gesture. She wasted no time once their lips were touching, and she quickly darted her tongue out. Andrew groaned, put one hand on her hip, the other buried itself in her hair, and he tugged her tight. It was exactly what Dawn had always wanted - one of those scenes from a romance novel.

It felt really good to be cliché. Her stomach filled with butterflies, and her blood pounded through her veins as she kissed Andrew for all he was worth. She placed her hands on his chest and clenched the material of his shirt, pulling him down so that they had easier access to each other. The desire that was building numbed her mind. If she had known it would be this good to kiss Andrew, she would have done it a long, long time ago . . .

But then Andrew pulled away. No, not pulled - he pushed her away. She panted as she looked up at him; his eyes were darkened, and his fingers clenched as if he wanted to grab her again. "What's wrong? Did I bite you?" Dawn asked, confused and feeling like someone had just pushed her into a pool and she didn't know why.

"No-no. That was, um, very, very good. Very." Andrew coughed and sat down, patting the cement for her to join him. When she sat down warily, he put his arm around her and looked down. "I just don't think it's right, Dawn."

"You didn't like it," she said flatly. "I'm sorry." Rejected by Andrew? What was next in this upside down world?

Andrew nodded down. "Um, see that? That doesn't happen with just anybody." He reconsidered. "Well, it might, but . . . I'm attracted to you, Dawn, all right? I think you are hot, very hot, and I have no idea why you just kissed me because I am Tucker's geeky brother and you . . . you are Dawn Summers, the Slayer's lust-worthy sister."

"Okay. Now that we have that covered, why aren't you all over me? You know, if I'm so 'lust-worthy'?" She held her fingers up in little quotes.

"Because exactly that. I'm not worthy of you, Dawn, and I know you know that. Just because I'm being nice to you doesn't mean you have to throw yourself at me. I think this is misplacement, and I can't take advantage of that."

"Misplacement?" Dawn snorted. "Are you listening to yourself? You're telling me you can't take advantage of me . . . and that's one of the reasons why I kissed you. You're a nice guy, Andrew. You're paying attention to me when nobody else does. You're meaning more to me every time you do one of your cute little gestures. And I-I wanted to kiss you. I know what I'm doing, if that's what you think."

Andrew squeezed his arm around her shoulders. "At least let me try and be a gentleman here. Let me take you out on a date before I kiss you again. I-um . . . I want you to know that it's not just about you being the Slayer's lust-worthy sister. It's also cuz you're Dawn, and I-I really like Dawn. You're the only one who's nice to me, too."

Dawn pretended to consider, then she laughed. "Okay, Andrew. I think I can let you take me on a date." She stood up and held a hand out for him. "Just so long as we don't go to Frederick's."

"Deal. That was some crappy water."

Dawn laughed again and reached out to hug him impulsively. In only a week, Andrew had wormed his way under skin. Well . . . maybe it had been happening for awhile, but he'd finally manifested himself completely inside of her.

"Come on. I'm taking you out for milk shakes."

"I thought you didn't have any money."

"Buffy set out pizza money before she left last night."

"But you made a meatloaf."

"Exactly."

They walked down the sidewalk holding hands, and Dawn squeezed his lightly. Despite how abnormal a relationship with Andrew was going to be, she'd never felt this normal before in her life.