Five Things that Never Happened to Dawn Summers (but which she recalls perfectly nonetheless)
She and Buffy are leaving for LA next week, and Willow and Xander have come over almost every night to soak the last few days of togetherness in. Dawn thinks they're cooler than her friends for being around all the time, even though Courtney's throwing her a good-bye party on Friday.
Tonight they're watching movies in the living room, because Mom thinks she saw a mouse in the master bathroom and won't let a single kernel of popcorn cross the threshold of the stairs. They've rented Hercules and Mulan and Dawn's much too old for Disney movies, but secretly she thinks Mulan sounds pretty badass, and she figures she gets more cool cred for hanging out with her sister's older friends than she loses for watching cartoons, so when Willow offers her a seat she hops up on the couch and joins them.
When Hercules tries to rescue Meg, Xander laughs. "That's totally you, Buff."
"What, the buffoony well-meaning dunce?"
"No," he says, jumping up and flexing, "that's ME." He reaches down condescendingly to Buffy. "I'm here, little lady, no need to be afraid. As long as I'm around, you're safe!"
Buffy, with an obliging smile, takes his hand from where she sits and pulls him off his feet. As he falls to the floor laughing, Dawn and Willow sigh quietly in concert. Surprised, they both stare for a moment, then collapse against each other, giggling helplessly.
2. high standards
Riley seems like a stand-up guy – big smile, strong handshake. He pulls out everyone's chairs and says that Dawn looks pretty. He's sympathetic when she complains about Chad, even though Buffy couldn't look border and even Mom rolls her eyes (to be fair, she's heard the story at least three times already this week).
He says he's from Iowa, and he kind of reminds her of Superman. All-American, boy scout, friendly and clean. He says grace before dinner, which impresses Mom and embarrasses Buffy. He takes the time to compliment the cooking, says it reminds him of home. Altogether, he strikes Dawn as nice, if kinda boring.
But she still drops Aunt Margaret's old St. Catherine cross in his lap after dinner, just to be safe.
3. man of the house
Buffy looks at her, grave and intense. She's suspected for a while now that Buffy is keeping something from them, a bigger secret than the tall college boy who sneaks in her window at night, and so she holds her breath, thinking maybe she's about to hear.
Instead, her sister says, "Dawnie? I know you don't like him, but keep your head down around Ted."
"Like you have been?" she snaps back. She doesn't mean to, Buffy's her only ally in this, but the whole Mom's Boyfriend situation has her on edge.
"I'm serious, Dawn, he's dangerous. I don't want you to get hurt."
"Oh yeah?" She is torn between irritation with Buffy's eternal bossiness and comfort at her obvious concern. "And what if he decides to hurt you instead?"
"Oh," says Buffy, a strange light in her eyes, "I hope he does."
Mom is upstairs pretending to sleep, but Dawn knows that she's no more unconscious than Faith, who's spent the last hour in front of the window, pacing restlessly.
"You're going to wear a hole in the carpet," Dawn says eventually.
Faith tosses her head. "Sorry Sprout." She perches on the arm of the couch instead, looking out. "Shouldn't you be in bed?"
"I'm trying to catch Santa," she answers, not quite sarcastically. "He didn't bring me that jacket I wanted last year. You wanna beat him up for me?"
Faith laughs, and flashes the polished nunchaku inside her jacket. "No problem, kiddo. The fat man will be a nice soft first workout for these."
"He better hurry. It's almost dawn, and his cookies are getting all eaten."
But Faith doesn't hear; she's staring out the window in amazement. "Hey D, go get your mom. This, you gotta see."
5. only child
For a long time Mom is mad at her for knowing first. That's fair, because she's been mad at Mom since Buffy left the house and doesn't look to let go of that anger anytime soon.
She fantasizes that Buffy will call her, on a gallery weekend when she knows Mom isn't home, and the two of them will conspire to keep Buffy's secrets like they did before Buffy left. She imagines that Buffy is living in a hostel in New York, slaying by night and meeting gorgeous boys by day, and that they will talk on the phone about the new shoes Buffy has bought even though she doesn't have the money, and Buffy will tell her what to do about Trent, who Dawn thinks she might like but who probably likes Rachel. She will give Buffy a schedule of when she's alone in the house, and hang up the phone quick when their conversations run long and Mom comes home early. Who are you talking to? Mom will ask, and she'll say Sara's having boy troubles again, and roll her eyes, and maybe Mom will laugh.
And Dawn will tell Buffy how Mom has gotten scary, overprotective, won't hardly let her leave the house, and how in the afternoon when Buffy still wasn't back Dawn had yelled at her, saying how dare she kick out her daughter for saving the world, when she should be proud?
She fantasizes that Buffy will call her, and she'll have the chance to tell her Mom is sorry, and didn't mean it, and ask her to come home.
So, i really, really don't like the Dawn thing. She herself i don't have a beef with, but the whole "let's randomly change canon and make everything the fans have seen for the last four years suddenly not true anymore", plus the insane number of completley inane nonsensical plot somersaults s5 made attempting to get that stupid arc to work - well, it might be the stupidest thing Joss ever did, and that's saying something.
However, from a fanfic perspective, there's something really interesting about exploring the way things might have been after the monks rewrote things, and getting a sort of insider/outsider perspective on the characters we knew and loved before.
I don't think this one's as clean as the Jenny Calendar one, probably as a direct result of me liking Jenny's story a hell of a lot more. I may come back and rework it a bit. Meanwhile, i hope you enjoyed it as is.
As one final note, i did expand one of these into a short story over on my livejournal. It's my homepage link; if you like, go have a look.