Disclaimer: I don't own 'em. Joss and Co do.

Spoilers: None, really. It's set post-Chosen. There may be some vague references to canon eps later. Does not, in any way, follow the S8 comic.

A/N: This was a special request from DreamingofMyGirl over at .

A/N2: Once again, a heartfelt thanks to zigpal, Ivy, and Lilly for the pre-reading and beta.


Twirling the stake in her hand, Faith smiled in satisfaction at the piles of dust in the grass. "Stupid vamps. Gonna take more than two of you to beat a Slayer." She deliberately stepped on one of the former vampires as she headed toward the cemetery exit. This was just the first stop on her patrol tonight.

She kept walking when her Slayer senses went off. Another vamp. "Must be something in the air," Faith mumbled to herself, concentrating on looking relaxed and unaware of her new stalker.

"Faith?" a soft voice called behind her.

Not expecting friendly company, Faith nearly dropped her stake as she spun around. "D? What the fuck are you doing here?" Then reality set in. "Get over here. There's a vamp somewhere close."

Dawn didn't move. "I know."

"You know? You know what?" Why wasn't Dawn coming over? Did she want to get Turned? Faith stalked over and grabbed Dawn by the arm. "Look, D, I ain't got time to play Twenty Questions. B'd really kill me if I let something happen to you."

She managed to drag the other girl only a few feet. "Faith, stop." There was something in Dawn's voice.

Faith paused, frowning. Her head buzzed and her stomach cramped. The vamp must be right on top of them. "Shut up for a second, D. I need to…"

She never finished the statement.

A low growl sounded.

"The vamp is right here, Faith." Dawn's words lisped past her fangs, and her yellow eyes gleamed in the dark cemetery.

Dawn. Dawn was a vampire. Everything around them faded. Faith sucked in labored breaths, each one stabbing a knife into her chest. "No," she whispered in denial. This was a dream. A nightmare. Staggering back, Faith didn't even register the tears streaming down her face.

Faith squeezed her eyes shut. All she had to do was wake up, and this would all be gone.

Slowly, heart pounding, Faith opened her eyes.

"I'm not a dream, Faith," Dawn told her. The fangs, the forehead ridges, and the yellow eyes were still there. "I…I got attacked by a couple of vamps on the way home from class last night." She waved a hand at head. "It didn't end well."

"But…B didn't…Does she…" Faith couldn't focus enough to finish any of the thousands of thoughts zipping around in her head.

Dawn smiled sadly.

The expression clashed with her new visage.

"Buffy's out of town this week, checking on some of the new Slayers," Dawn reminded Faith. "I haven't seen or talked to her since Sunday."

The stake in Faith's hand slid through the sweat slicking her skin. Tightening her grip, Faith raised it slowly. Her muscles burned and trembled, and she only managed to get the weapon up to her waist before her arm went slack.

She couldn't do it. She couldn't dust Dawn.

Thankfully, Dawn didn't seem to want to snack. Standing just a few feet away, she stared at Faith. "Buffy can't find out about me."

The stake rose again. "You got that right." It would kill Buffy to have to do the deed. And once she knew Dawn was a vamp, Buffy wouldn't let any of the Scoobies stake Dawn.

Faith had to do it. Right now.

"Oh, put that away," Dawn snapped, pointing at the stake. "I'm not asking you to kill me…" She faltered. "Or...whatever. I'm already dead, I guess." Shaking her head, she lost her distinctive vampire features.

She'd seen Angel do it a hundred times. With Dawn, it was different. Staring at the normal-looking teen in front of her, Faith couldn't convince herself it was real.

Dawn wandered closer and climbed onto a nearby headstone. "I came after you for a reason, Faith." Blue eyes peered up uncertainly.

"Thinking you need a Slayer snack, D?" Faith choked out. "I don't think you're good enough to take me out this early." Just the thought of fighting Dawn made her want to run far away.

She flushed at Dawn's impatient sigh. "Are you ready to listen, or do you have more stupid things to say?"

"I'll listen," Faith muttered. When the fuck had Dawn grown up? The answer slammed brutally into Faith. When she'd been Turned. "Why me, then, D?"

"I need your help." The softly spoken words were out of place. Dawn gazed sightlessly past Faith for a minute. "I'm not…I don't think I'm normal."

Faith couldn't hold in a snort. "You got bits and pieces of B in you. Tell me something I don't already know." Then Dawn's comment actually hit her – as well as the fact that Dawn had yet to attack her. "You mean you ain't a normal vamp." Her voice rose as hope swelled. "Like Angel? You got a soul?" Please, God, Faith begged a deity she hadn't prayed to in years.

"I don't think so." Dawn sounded confused, and she chewed on her lip.

"Then what, D?" Taking tentative steps in Dawn's direction, Faith cautiously laid a hand on the younger girl's shoulder. "How not normal are you?"

The narrow shoulder lifted and dropped.

Even a demon hadn't gotten rid of the 'real' Dawn. Rolling her eyes at Dawn's behavior, Faith dropped to the ground at Dawn's feet. "That ain't real helpful, D. You want me to start guessing? Might take a while until I guess right. I'm sure B'll be back and looking for you before then."

"I haven't eaten yet," Dawn confessed. "I…I want to. In fact," she looked up and her eyes gleamed yellow, "I'm starving."

Resisting a strong urge to scoot to safety, Faith considered that. "Have you tried?" She held herself stiffly, waiting for Dawn's reply.

"No." Throwing her head back, Dawn looked up at the starts, and Faith saw tears streaking her cheeks.

"What the fuck?" Faith was up like a shot. "D, you're crying! Vamps can't cry."

Dawn's prodigious sniff and the crystalline drops on her face told a different story. "I did say I wasn't normal, remember?"

She had. Faith rolled her neck; the muscles were like bridge cables. "OK. So you can cry. And…" she bounced on her toes, "you ain't trying to suck me dry. Anything else?"

"The booming in my head." Dawn grinned a little. "Most people hear voices. I hear some big drum."

Faith's bouncing slowed. This sounded familiar. "Kinda like a radar ping?"

Shaking her head, Dawn disagreed. "More like a big drum. Deep. Not all high-pitched."

Fuck. Faith used her right hand to knead at her knotted neck muscles. "Anything else you notice about the big boom, D?" She tried to keep the question casual. Dawn had enough to deal with right now.

"Yes." She heard the first stirring of panic in Dawn's voice. "What's wrong with me?" The shrill question echoed in the empty cemetery.

"Nothing's wrong, D." At least, Faith didn't think so. That didn't mean there wasn't plenty to worry about. She continued to avoid a direct discussion of the issue. "What else do you feel?"

Dawn slid off the tombstone. "A pull…like someone tugging on my arm, only there's no one there." The stress must have been too much. She vamped out. "Stop tap dancing, Faith. I thought you were different from Buffy and the Scoobies. I thought I could trust you to help me. Stop trying to protect me from the truth and just tell me what's wrong."

"That sound? The tug?" Faith gave up trying to loosen her muscles and dropped the hand limply to her side. "It's your Sire, D. He or she is trying to find you."

A/N: Despite the label of Chapter 1, there aren't any firm plans to continue the story right now. I've got a few too many irons in the fire at the moment. Maybe one day…