Love, Give, Forgive

"Dawn! Move it, or you're going to be late for school!" Buffy yelled up the stairs.

A ruckus ensued. There was a crash, a bang, and a muffled curse, quickly followed by a fake cough and sneeze, in an attempted curse-word-cover-up.

"I heard that! You DO know I have Slayer hearing, right Dawn?"

Dawn thumped down the stairs and said a tad sullenly, yet a hint of a smile curving her lips, "It slipped. I dropped the shaving cream can on my foot, and nearly stabbed myself in the eye with the mascara wand."

Buffy gave a snort of laughter and answered, "Once a klutz, always a klutz!"

"I'm not a klutz...you...you, big ho!" Dawn protested.

"Spaz."

"Dweeb."

"Loser."

"Whiny slayer skank."

Buffy and Dawn shared a sisterly smile.

Buffy reflected on how well her and Dawn were getting along since the whole 'Willow-gone-mad-and-tried-to-destroy-the-world' thing happened. Hmm, I wonder how Willow is? I should probably call her and Giles soon. They should be coming back to good old Sunnyhell pretty soon.

The smell of burning eggs shook Buffy out of her reverie. She quickly pulled the pan off the burner and with a rueful smile, said, "Eggs?"

Dawn, being a supportive sister, took a big bite. Her support vanished when she swallowed.

"God, Buffy, I'm amazed the Doublemeat Palace actually hired you, let alone let you work there! Yuck and double-yuck!"

"Hey! You just need to appreciate the...well, the...oh crap. I am so not cook girl."

"It's okay, Buffy. I appreciate the effort. I just don't want to spend the day at school hugging the porcelain goddess."

With an impish grin, she pecked her sister on the cheek, and Buffy snapped her in the butt with a dish towel.

Giggling, Dawn left, calling out, "See you at school!"

Smiling, Buffy headed upstairs, her mind already on more pleasant subjects, such as, what to wear?

Hmm, a gauzy print skirt, or loose black pants? A blue silk tank top, or my short, red sweater? Humming along to the radio, she got dressed in the skirt and tank top.

Walking into the bathroom, Buffy was suddenly assailed with a memory from just a few short months ago.

'No, ow, ow! Please Spike, please stop!' Buffy sobbed, struggling frantically under the body of the blonde vampire.

'You'll feel it again, Buffy...'

'Please don't do this...'

'I'm going to make you feel it!' Spike had a desperate, wild look in his glacial blue eyes.

Flashes of the shower curtain being yanked down, her back cracking on the edge of the tub, her robe being ripped open, kicking Spike across the room, and telling him she should've stopped him a long time ago.

Buffy shook her head to clear the painful images. Spike was gone, and who knew where he was. It was for the best. She looked in the mirror, her face pale and her eyes dark, a haunted a look in them.

"So why do I feel so empty?"

***Buffy sat at her desk in the new Sunnydale High School. Rather bored, she twirled her pencil around, practicing twists and tosses with it, like it was a stake. A particularly high toss of the pencil, and she caught it neatly, miming stabbing it down into an imaginary vampire.

A cough had Buffy looking up. Principal Wood stood there, one eyebrow raised high.

"Um... I, um, was just practicing... my baton twirling. Yeah, I like baton twirling, and well... anyway, can I help you with something?" Stupid, Buffy, really stupid. Baton twirling?

"Yes, I was just wondering if you had Sam Wainright's file? It's not in my office." Wood continued to eye her a little strangely.

Fumbling in her desk, she pulled it out and handed it to him. "Here you go."

He smiled his thanks and Buffy took up staring off into space.

At 3:30, she met Dawn at her locker. "Hey, Dawnie. You want Chinese for dinner?"

Dawn's eyes brightened. "If it means I don't have to suffer through your cooking, I give a resounding yes!" Buffy stuck her tongue out at her sister and, arguing good-naturedly, they headed over to Peking Palace.

Back at the house, Dawn got drinks and napkins, and the two girls plopped in front of the television. No sooner had they finished their dinner then the doorbell rang. Dawn went to answer it while Buffy absentmindedly watched a stupid show about a millionaire. When she heard Dawn giggling. Buffy got up to investigate and saw her sister chatting with a boy she knew as RJ.

RJ smiled at her. "Hi Miss Summers."

Immediately, Buffy turned to Dawn. "Do I look like mom today?"

Dawn giggled. "Nah. You look a little peaked, but not mom-like."

Buffy smiled at RJ. "Buffy is fine. I'm really not old enough yet to be referred to as Miss Summers."

"Buffy, we're going to go to a movie and then to the Espresso Pump, ok?" Dawn gave Buffy her hopeful, puppy-dog eyes.

"Okay, Dawn. Just be careful and don't be too late." Buffy smiled at the teenage youthfulness.

"Will do. I'll definitely be back before you go on your... um... nightly walk."

Buffy rolled her eyes as RJ and her sister walked out, hearing RJ ask, "Nightly walk?"

She headed to the phone, figuring this would be a good time to call Giles and Willow. She dialed the incredibly long phone number in England.

"Hello?" A familiar British voice answered, making Buffy to smile.

"Giles? Hey, it's me. Your favorite slayer." Buffy picked at her chipping nail polish and made a note to repaint them soon.

"Buffy! How are you?"

"Peachy-keen. So how goes the stuffy English life?"

"Just peachy," he said in a dry, mocking tone.

"I miss you, Giles. When are you and Willow coming back?" She puttered around, looking for her stake. Damn, I really need to keep better track of my weapons.

"I miss you too, Buffy. We're probably leaving the day after tomorrow." She heard a female voice in the background.

"Is that Willow?"

"Yes. Would you like to speak with her?"

Willow got on the phone. "Hey Buffy! How's good old Sunnydale?"

"Oh, tons of fun! I snapped a Kreshlock demon's neck the other night when he tried to bite my head."

Willow gave a little snort of laughter. "Too bad I had to miss THAT!"

Buffy chuckled. "So, how are you doing, Will?"

Serious now, Willow answered, "Better. I'm really starting to control myself with magic. The coven here that's helping me is amazing. I'm ready to come back home, though, and make things right with everyone."

"We forgave you, Will," Buffy said gently.

"I know, but I still need to make my own amends." She paused for a bit. "Anyway, we'll be seeing you soon, Buffy. I'll let you go patrol, since it's about that time."

"Okay. See you soon. I love you."

"I love you, too."

***

Note: I own nothing. Thanks to Linne, Red Pen Goddess, for editing my fic for me.