Disclaimer: BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon, Fox Television, etc. Highlander belongs to Panzer/Davis and a bunch of others,Ginny belongs to J.K.Rowling and Co.
Word count: 1,522 (9 of 100)
Note: This is set in the universe of my ficlet Gone, and occurs after Prompt #85 (Watcher) in my TtH 100 series.


AN:Feedback always welcome.


Chapter Title: Are you, or have you ever been...

Her expression blank, Buffy stopped at her office door and stood silently by it, waiting for the two women to catch up. Pushing the door open, she waived them in and pointed towards the two chairs facing her desk.

Walking past them into the room she could smell the fear coming from the one who so resembled her sister. The other smelled faintly of cinnamon but otherwise seemed very calm. Leaning back in her chair, Buffy stared at them for several minutes.

"Who are you? Why are you here now?" she asked, just barely keeping her anger under control. She'd been on an emotional roller-coaster for the past week since Faith's death and the desire to feel something, anything, other than grief was almost too tempting.

"Buffy..." the brunette said in a slightly whiney tone that sent chills down Buffy's spine. It was a tone she'd thought she would never hear again.

"Who are you?" she repeated with less forcefulness, a sick feeling growing in the pit of her stomach as she watched the woman, seeing faint signs of her sister's mannerisms.

"It's your sister, Dawn" a soft voice said from the door, dragging Buffy's eyes away from the two women in front of her desk.

"Ginny, this isn't a good time!" she said, shaking her head at one of the only other two women she knew were grieving for Faith at least as much as she was. Buffy knew that, although she'd never understood how the closeness between the two women had happened, Ginny deserved a large part of the credit for keeping Faith sane over the years. When no one else could reach her, Ginny, and later her daughter, had been there to pull her back from the edge.

"Buffy... I asked her to come." Ginny said gently. "Faith wanted her to be here."

"Why now?" Buffy said. "Why not when Willow died? Or Xander? Or even Giles?" Buffy swallowed, trying to keep her anguish from showing. "Why for Faith and not them? They were family."

"It isn't allowed." the blonde sitting next to her sister said, her melodious voice echoing hypnotically in the room.

"And who are you to say that?" Buffy asked, feeling the need for some target for her emotions.

The woman shrugged. "Her partner. Her friend."

"That doesn't explain anything," Buffy said. "My sister shows up, over twenty years after we thought she'd died, for a funeral but she wasn't allowed to go to the funerals of her closest family?"

"It was better this way." Her sister said.

But Buffy could still read her face like a book, even after all these years. It was obvious she didn't agree with whomever had told her that. She could feel her anger increasing, though she didn't know who to direct it at now. She watched the subtle interaction between her sister and the blonde woman sitting next to her for any clue.

"Better for who?" she said, grinding it out between clenched teeth.

"Buffy..." Ginny looked at her for permission to join them.

Buffy sighed. "Come in, and close the door." Ginny waved to someone out in the hall before closing the door. "Do I need to invite someone else in?" she said resignedly, not surprised.

"No. no. We're okay." Ginny said before sitting to one side.

"Someone care to explain?" Buffy said. "Ginny? You seem to know what is going on."

"Faith wanted her here."

"You said that already." Buffy said, idly playing with the small, razor sharp silver dagger she kept in her desk. "Why did Faith know she was alive and I didn't?" She punctuated her question by driving the dagger through the dictionary on her desk, raising an eyebrow at the squeak of surprise coming from Dawn.

"I told her." Ginny said nervously. Buffy looked at her in surprise. Ginny was one of the most straightforward people she knew. She wasn't the kind of person to keep a secret like that without a good reason.

"And how did you find out?" Dawn asked, a puzzled expression on her face. "You weren't around when I died. And I don't think we've ever met until today."

"No, I joined the Council several years later." Ginny said, looking at her. "I met Faith that winter she spent at Hogwarts. She didn't have many personal things with her."

"She was like that back then." Buffy murmured sadly. "She never talked about herself."

"She loved to tell stories about the things she'd done." Dawn said in protest.

"Most of those were made up. She was really a very private person." Ginny said, shaking her head. Buffy nodded in agreement. "She had several muggle pictures with her. One of the Scoobies, and one of the two of you. She never explained who the people in the pictures were. I forgot all about them until I saw Dawn and Amanda at Hogwarts that spring talking to Professor Dumbledore."

"Who's Amanda?" Buffy asked.

"Me." The other woman said. "Albus had a job for us. Sounded like it could be fun."

"A job?" Buffy asked, but the two women in front of her ignored her question.

"Fun?" Her sister yelped in obvious anger. "For who?"

"Well I thought it was fun." Amanda said.

"You got to rummage through that stupid Black house with that Weasley cutie." Dawn spit out. "Of course you had fun. I had to spend a couple weeks in Sunnydale hiding from the Mayor, and Angelus and the Scoobies until I could find that stupid book."

"Jealous?" Amanda said. Dawn scowled at her but remained silent.

"Weasley?" Ginny interrupted.

"Yes. Albus said he was some kind of curse breaker." Amanda told her. "I don't remember his name."

"Bill." Both Dawn and Ginny answered. Dawn and Amanda looked at her in surprise.

"Older brother." she told them.

Buffy looked at her sister speculatively. Having met Bill Weasley she wouldn't have thought he was her sister's type. "When did you start liking redheads?"

"I don't. So not the problem." Dawn grumbled, slouching down in her seat.

"You never told your own sister?" Amanda blurted out. Buffy wondered about the gleam that suddenly appeared in her eyes.

"No." Dawn told her. "And no, you can't use that as bribery material."

"Why not!" Amanda pouted. "It's perfect."

"Not when I know how you really died and Joe doesn't."

"You wouldn't!" Amanda said.

"Try me." Dawn gave her a grin Buffy remembered receiving herself so long ago and she could feel herself becoming jealous of the closeness between the two women.

"Enough with the sidetracking!" She yelled. "No one has answered my question."

"I was really busy the next few years and forgot all about seeing her at Hogwarts. I didn't know she looked like your sister until a few years ago." Ginny told her in a conciliatory tone. "You remember when you asked me to find out who'd spray-painted 'Ripper' on that statue in the British Museum?"

Buffy saw Amanda poking Dawn out of the corner of one eye as she listened to Ginny. "Yes..."

Ginny nodded her head in Dawn's direction.

"Told you someone would find out." Buffy heard Amanda whisper in Dawn's ear. Dawn's face turned red when she noticed Buffy listening.

"He would have wanted you there." Buffy told her, her anger slowly subsiding seeing the anguished look on Dawn's face.

Dawn abruptly got to her feet, knocking over her chair. "I need some fresh air." she mumbled, stumbling out of the room, slamming the door behind herself.

"Let her go." Amanda told Buffy, stopping her from leaving the room in pursuit. "She'll be back."

"So..." After putting Dawn's chair back on its feet, Ginny brought their attention back to what they'd been discussing earlier. "There was a mysterious vase full of Willow's favorite flowers that showed up at her funeral."

"And there was that large box of jelly donuts at Xander's." Buffy added. "Did she send them?"

"No, actually." Amanda said. "I did that for her. "

"Oh." Buffy murmured, turning around and looking out at the rain drenched grounds. She could hear the clock in her office ticking.

"I spent a month in a bottle when I found out about Xander." Dawn told her, leaning back against the door she'd entered so silently that even Buffy's slayer hearing missed her entrance. "I don't remember what I did when I heard about Willow and Kennedy. It's all a blur."

"You went head hunting." Amanda told her quietly, before getting up and gently guiding her back to her chair after giving her a hug.

"Why didn't Faith tell me?" Buffy asked Ginny again.

"When we found out what happened to that statue and who did it, she thought it would be better if Dawn told you herself. She thought there must be a good reason."

"Yes, there was a reason for the secrecy." Amanda said.

"It's still a stupid reason." Dawn told her. "Just because Duncan's family couldn't handle it and yours reacted badly doesn't mean the Scoobies would have."

"None of which really tells me why." Buffy said stubbornly, close to losing patience with the two women again. "So..."