Summary: As Xander bandages Dawn's bleeding foot, he explains to her thatwatching is sometimes doing the hardest thing of all. Setting is the summer after Season 5. Xander/Dawn friendship. One shot.
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"What's wrong, Dawnie?" Willow shouted from the kitchen.
"Um, I accidentally stepped in glass on the floor. Speaking of which, why is there glass on the floor?"
Tara responded to her question with serenity, "Oh, sweetie, Willow and I were practicing a new spell, but it went a little –"
"Berserk. Heh, no biggie, though, I've got a broom to sweep it all up."
Dawn smiled, slightly, "Funny, a witch and a broom."
"Dawn, did any of the glass get stuck in your skin or anything icky like that?" asks Willow.
"Um, no, nothing's stuck. But I think I'm bleeding."
"Okay, well, we'll fix that up for you," Tara offers.
Willow steps in, though, "Honey, you can't. You're not ready for the movies yet. I'll do it."
"Well, no, someone's got to clean up the mess on the floor."
"Okay! Movie-time! We must see men make fools of themselves for love in this new romantic comedy," Anya begins, excitedly when just arriving with Xander. "Oh, I'm so eager. It sort of takes me back to my vengeance days. Stupid men," Anya babbles.
Receiving a rather hurt expression from Xander, Anya replies, "Oh, not you, honey."
Shaking his head, Xander turns his attention to Dawn. "Hey, Dawn, your foot's bleeding there," he says, pointing.
"I know," she answers, irritated.
"Xander, can you help her aid it," Willow requests, while discarding the scattered pieces of glass.
"No problemo," he replies, "I'll even carry you, Dawn. Um, though, I'm kinda hoping I still can. You're a big girl now. When did you grow up so quickly?"
"I don't know. It happened too fast for me to notice," she slyly answers.
"Smart-ass, are we now?" Xander says as he situated her body on the bed. Without saying a word, he leaves the room and proceeds into the bathroom. He returns in a split second with bandages, cotton balls, and hydrogen peroxide.
"What's that?" Dawn's eyes pop wide open as she sees the deadly brown bottle.
"What do you think it is?"
"Get that stuff away from me!"
Xander only gives a small frown.
"I'm serious! That stuff really burns!" Dawn cries.
After wiping the blood away with the cotton balls, Xander undoes the top on the hydrogen peroxide. "Here it comes, Dawnie."
She replies, harshly, "Jerk."
"Yeah, actually I'm Xander the Zeppo and not Xander the Jerk, but that's a story for another time."
Shutting her eyes and holding her breath, Dawn ignores Xander's comment and grimaces, "Owwww…."
"See, all done. Now bandages and then you're good to go. You're so valiant."
Tearing of a piece of bandage, Xander glances up at Dawn, and confirms, "I mean it. You're very brave. Not about this … about, you know…"
"Her," she completes his thought, "and what she did. Yeah," she scoffs, now, "I'm really courageous … idly standing there and watching my own sister die. I was supposed to be the one. Not her."
"No, Dawn," Xander shakes his head, "I meant what I said. It takes more courage to watch sometimes. Take it from me. I saw Buffy alone and face-down in a puddle of water the first time she died. And believe me, looking at her like that hurt me more than …" he pauses, looking down, unable to continue. "Just seeing can pain you more than you could ever imagine."
"Yeah. Like I remember reading something in English class – about how sight is blessed thing, but a cursed thing, too."
"Exactly. I mean you can see, but you still walked on glass and got injured. Hell, maybe if you were blind you would have walked more carefully and avoided it."
"I guess that's true."
"C'mon, I'm older, I'm always right," smiles Xander.
"But Xander, God, it gets so irritating to just watch! I just can't take it. I mean, Mom was … I mean, watching. That – that doesn't solve anything! It's so pointless and stupid. If I wasn't so keen on just watching the people around me, I would have taken the jump myself. If I just acted, Buffy would still have been here."
"Dawn!" Xander shouts, with the hint of anger in his voice.
"Buffy may have still been here…" Xander shuts his eyes and exhales, "but you wouldn't have. And that doesn't make it any better."
Dawn lowers her head, staring into her lap. "I'm sick of watching. What if the day comes and I realize that throughout my life I've watched all the people I love leave me? What happens then?"
Xander, then, tapes the bandage around Dawn's foot firmly and sighs, "Then, you pick your head up high, remember how all those people loved you, wipe the tears from your eyes," he brings his hand to her wet cheek, "and keep on watching, as courageously as you can."
"Sweetheart, are you done? Willow and Tara are ready to leave and we have to be punctual for the film. You know how I like to be on the dot," Anya exhales loudly, "Come on, Dawn, you still don't have shoes on!"
"Ahn, we're almost done here. Give us a minute," Xander responds.
As Anya leaves, Xander turns from Dawn and gets ready to follow his fiancé. But Dawn's cracking voice stops him. "Xander. Seeing is everything, isn't it?"
"Yeah, sorry to say it is. But your foot'll heal, and so will this." At the doorway, Xander rotates his head toward Dawn and winks, "Now you better hurry up, or we'll be late for the movie."