Academic Reasoning by Twisted Biscuit

Summary: An answer to the age old question: Why the freaking hell was Dawn carrying a pencil to go make out in the park!

Spoilers: All the Way, Season Six, Episode Six.

Disclaimer: Yep. It's mine. It's all mine. Muhahaha! takes medication No, wait. Sorry, my mistake. It's all Joss Whedon's. (Dangnammit!)

Hmmm. I've gotta get changed. I know I've gotta get changed. Into something a little more attention-seeking than jeans and a tank top. But not so attention seeking that unwanted attention will be… you know… seeked. Or should that be sought? But it's kind of distracting, having an impromptu engagement party going on downstairs. And it's not as if I can go ask Tara for advice or anything. She might get a little curious as to why I want a non-attention-receiving, attention-seeking outfit.

When I phrase it like that, who wouldn't be?

Sneaking out was so much easier when Mom was here. I'd just throw a tantrum, storm up to my room, lock the door and climb out the window. Badda-Bing-Badda-Boom, I'm outta there. Then if I saw Buffy or any of her friends, I could drop the "I'm telling Mom about whatever it is you're out doing" bomb, because it was always something Mom would've totally freaked about. And if I saw a less-than-trustworthy acquaintance of my own then I could tell them I was out looking for Buffy, which they always believed because my sister is, well, my sister. Class Protector. That freaky religious chick. The blonde one who gets in trouble a lot.

I wonder what Buffy would've worn to go out with her best friend and a couple of UMOs (Unidentified Male Objects) when she was fifteen? Gun to my head, I'd say something slutty. At fifteen Buffy was all about the sluttiness. Mini-skirts, low cut tops, cheerleading outfits, football players… Okay. For the most part she didn't exactly wear the football players, but still, Slut-orama. She got better after she became the Slayer. Or at least I think she did. Maybe it's just another fake memory they shoved into my head. So hard to tell these days.

I kinda like that skirt I… acquired at the mall the other day. I think I'll go for that.

You know, I don't know why I even bother going out at all. Why I bother having friends or why I bother taking anything from the Magic Box. Or anywhere else for that matter. I should just go crawl inside a cave and starve myself to death, never to be seen again. Well, I don't suppose I'd NEVER be seen again. I would probably be found by hikers. Hikers always seem to be finding corpses around here. You'd think they'd take up table football or something after the eighteenth consecutive 'hikers discover rotten corpse' headline. But they never do.

So I could be found by hikers.

It's not like anybody notices what I do anyway. Suddenly, if I'm not dooming the universe to never-ending chaos at the hands of a Hell Goddess with a bad perm, I'm not worth talking to.

I guess Xander and Anya kind of, sort of, have an excuse. I mean getting engaged, not the hugest deal in the world, but still pretty important. And if you factor in all the other stuff they have to do then I guess they're sort of preoccupied. But what about the others?

Willow used to notice these things. She used to talk to me and play chess and stuff. Now every second she's not with Tara or doing schoolwork, she's studying new spells and rituals. Which used to be cool but, you know, there's a line between 'interesting and life-saving hobby' and 'crazy, psycho obsession'. It's still the awesomest thing, doing magic and stuff, but it's not like it's the whole universe is it?

And Tara. Tara doesn't even seem to realise that there's a world outside Willow anymore. Maybe when Willow was putting her brain back in a part of it got fried. The part that sees the rest of the world. Or maybe Willow did it on purpose. Made sure Tara only noticed her when she was inside her head. The way attention gets lost around here, it seems like the smart thing to do just to make sure that SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE notices that you exist.

Spike doesn't notice me anymore either. He used to. And not just after Buffy was gone either, he used to be my friend. He used to like talking to me. Not anymore though. Now that Big Sister's back in the mix, after her absence, we have one more person who doesn't realise that the rest of the world still exists.

Buffy is… half the time it's like she's not even here. She just drifts around. It sounds really awful, but sometimes I think that she didn't come all of the way back. From wherever she was? I mean it's like she's just walking through the part half the time. I don't think anyone else notices either, because she doesn't want them to notice. But she never could hide anything from me.

Maybe she'd have been better off staying dead. God that sounds so bad. But I mean… if she's this depressed about being back, then maybe it wasn't so terrible. Everyone is always saying how dead people finally get some rest. Peace, you know? So maybe Buffy needed to rest. Even if she was in the hell dimension Willow keeps talking about, maybe it was preferable to the alternative.

I know I've thought that occasionally. That being dead would be preferable to the alternative. Not that I'm suicidal or anything, I'm not. It's just this sort of fascination with the idea. I've been around it so much the past year that a part of me just sort of wonders what it's like.

Spike told me once that my sister had a death wish. That slayers were around so much death that they ended up sort of craving it. Maybe that's what's wrong with me. I don't know. Giles certainly never mentioned the phrase 'death wish' when he was talking about Slayers.

Oh Giles. I forgot to mention Giles didn't I? He doesn't really matter much. Not to me anyway. He's never around me at all, and it's not as if he can really stand me. He might be this big father figure to Buffy but me he's just sort of… I don't know. Like a distant uncle who sometimes tells me what to do and knows how to make me feel guilty when I don't do it.

When Buffy was my age, or a little older than me I guess, she was always complaining about Giles. He always wanted her to train, he always wanted her to study, he always wanted her to patrol. He never let her go anywhere without wearing a cross which was, like, so out of season.

That's a thought actually. Not that crosses are out of season, I mean. Wearing a cross. I'm going out on Halloween, at night, in Sunnydale. I know Giles says that Halloween is the night when the ooglie-booglies have some downtime, but he's been wrong about that for the last… like, ever. Except I don't have a cross. I never bought them or stole them or anything, because Buffy wore them. And I didn't want to be like Buffy. Still don't, really.

The girl has major issues. Romantically, personally, professionally, academically. Especially that first one. What sort of freak falls for a vampire anyway? Not that Spike counts. Spike doesn't count as 'falling for a vampire'. That was… okay, that IS, just a crush. Not like I'm going to go jump him in his crypt or anything.

But still. Crucifix: Never a bad plan when out and about in Sunny D. But since I don't have one I'll have to go without. I guess I could take something else. Just so that, on the off chance I should be caught roaming the streets of Sunnydale in the middle of the night, I can say that I brought SOME form of protection.

Holy water, big no. Always annoying to carry, totally impossible to get at in an emergency, kind if gross to drink and anyway, I always get a lecture from Giles about misuse of magical objects if I even try.

Crossbow. Always fun. But sort of hard to explain to one's peers. And also unsuitable for fifth grade Show and Tell if Miss Jason's comments are anything to go by.

Sword. My personal favourite. But see above, Re Crossbow reasoning.

Which leaves a stake. Stake is perfect in every way except one. I don't have a stake. Sorta puts a crimp on the whole thing, don't you think? Well I guess I could swipe one from Buffy's room. But all the ones she keeps in her room are huge and clunky, so maybe not.

Oh crap! History homework! I've got like a whole four page report to write. Meh. I'll just tell them I was busy weeping over my mom's death. They'll leave me alone. Always do. I should probably hide the books and stuff though, to make sure Willow doesn't see it and yell at me.

Me stuffing half the stock of the Magic Box into my back pocket, she doesn't notice. One 'i' not properly dotted and suddenly she's all Adrian Monk on me.

Well what do you know? A perfect little wooden pencil right by my history homework. Not quite a stake but it fits perfectly into the side panel of my skirt and it'll at least downsize my punishment if I'm caught. Now I've really gotta go. Getting out of here will probably take forever since I'll have to be all shiny and happy for Anya and Xander. Still, I might manage to meet Janice on time. It's Halloween after all. What's the worst that could happen?