Title: Anne
Author: Celyia (ladycelyia@aol.com)
Genre: Angst
Season: Beginning of Six.
Summary: Dawn and Spike deal with life after "The Gift"
Notes: Watch out for harsh language. :-)


Prologue


They sat there, staring dumbly at the small blonde who lay silently, still as death, upon the couch.

"I can't *do* this," the young girl shook her head vehemently, water filling her eyes as she found her gaze transfixed by the macabre image. Her breath came hard and fast as she suddenly reached for the older man's hand. "Giles, please. Don't make me do this. Please."

"Dawnie... " the red-headed witch reached out and placed a comforting hand upon the girl's quivering shoulder.

"No, don't!" Dawn growled as she backed away from the concerned, sorrowful faces. Her eyes gleamed with hatred as she considered each of the people sitting in the living room in turn. "How can you ask me to do this? You who all claim to love her, to love *me*... how can you ask this? How the fuck *dare you*?"

Tara sighed as she took a step closer to the distraught teenager.

"You know it's not like that, Dawn. We want to keep you safe. We think this is the best way..."

"You *think*?" Dawn's normally soft voice rang throughout the room, its shrill tones tinged with hysteria. "You've all discussed this? And you didn't even bother asking me what I thought about it?"

"Dawn, we *have* to do this. You know we loved her, you know we'll miss her forever," Xander started, his voice choked up from unshed tears. Anya sat quietly to his side, her hand nestled in his for support. "Yeah, this is screwed up. We shouldn't have to do it. We should be able to mourn her in peace without... Dawn, this isn't right. You know it, I know it, we all do. But our concern now is you. Buffy is gone and she's not coming back. No, no. Listen to me. We can't do a damn thing for her anymore, but we can make sure that the sister she loved more than life is protected."

The tears flowed down her face as she slapped her hands over her ears.

"No. I said NO!"

Giles shook his head sadly at the group and motioned for them to leave. Willow stood quietly at the door, watching as her friends filed out.

"Giles?" she mouthed, her eyes red and full of worry.

He just shook his head softly, his mouth lined by pain and regret.

"Dawn, please. Talk to me?" Giles asked softly as the door finally closed.

"You more than anyone else, Giles..." Dawn glared at him, the anger in her eyes nearly tangible. "How can you ask me to do this?"

"Don't you see? Stop focusing on your own pain long enough to know you aren't the only one hurting!" the former librarian growled, his hand touching the side of his head gingerly as he gazed upon the girl's young, pretty face. "We loved her. *I* loved her. Buffy was my entire *world*, Dawn, and now she's gone, I don't have any clue how I'll survive. I'm no happier at this... sacrilege than you, Dawn. But the truth is that sometimes the necessary thing isn't the right one."

"No, this *isn't* right."

Giles nodded once. "I know. It feels as damn wrong as it can be, doesn't it? But it's necessary."

Dawn sighed in resignation as she wiped away the tears. Almost of its own will, her head moved to look at the body lying peacefully on the couch.

"Promise me, Giles. Promise me that the moment you discover another way, this will stop..."

"I promise you, Dawn."

Dawn grimaced and looked utterly disgusted, whether at herself or at the whole situation, it would be hard to say.

"Do it. Do it now. Do it fast. Do it, Giles," the girl said as she closed her eyes in pain. "Do it and get the hell out of here."

The man stood and pulled a small black object out of his breast pocket. Solemnly, he handed it to the young girl who had lost so much lately.

"This... keep it with you. There's only one. You can..."

"...explain it later. Just fucking do it already, will you?"

The older man, his hair nearly completely gray from the last few days' events, frowned but gave Dawn a curt nod of acknowledgment. Revulsion in his soft eyes, he walked slowly to the body on the couch. Quietly, he kneeled and placed a hand on the cold forehead.

"Buffy, forgive us for this. Forgive me," he asked, his voice hardly a whisper as he looked to the sky. Suddenly, he grimaced in pure pain as he his hand twitched.

The former librarian fell onto his haunches as the body convulsed just once. Jerkily, it sat up on the couch, its eyes filled with a sweet light as it gazed from the man to the little girl who stood just beyond.

"Hi, Guiles. Hi, Dawn. I'm Buffy. I'm a vampire slayer," the robot said happily, the painted crimson lips stretched in a huge smile.

Dawn, her heart twisting with loss and horror, dropped her head into her hands, her energy exhausted, as she listened to the lifeless voice of her dead sister echo through the room.