The bonfire crackled and snapped (but didn't pop), spraying sparks high into the air, as the fascinated faces of those around the fire were illuminated, with all of the young campers there hanging onto every word.
"…..and dangling from the car door handle was a bloody, razor-sharp hook!"
A low, delighted moan of fear and horror swept among the listeners as the story came to an end. The sixteen-year old camp counselor looked around with pride, beaming at those pre-teens who'd spent the last hour or so around the fire, happily listening to him telling scary ghost stories and urban legends.
Well, there was one camper who didn't look all that interested, one of the oldest ones there. In fact, she seemed to be completely bored. Jared, the camp counselor, became a little irritated at this, since he'd tried his best to entertain everyone. Going through his mind for her name, Jared called out, a bit more snappishly than he'd intended, "Hey, Dawn, do you think you could come up with something better?"
Jerked away from staring at the campfire, Dawn Summers blinked and looked around at everyone now watching her, the other campers and their counselors, and blushed. She really had meant to pay attention, but, well, after Sunnydale, the just-turned-thirteen girl had kind of lost interest in ghost stories. She'd experienced the real thing.
As she opened her mouth to apologize, from across the fire, one of the other girls her age sharing her cabin said a little snottily, "I bet she's thinking of her boyfriend. I heard her say his name in her sleep: Xander, Xander, Xander. What kind of name is that?"
Dawn sent a look of death towards her new enemy, as the rest of those around the campfire snickered. Knowing things might go too far, Jared hastily said, "Well, never mind, Dawn. All right, here's one about a guy who picked up a hitchhiker--"
Cut off while just starting about the one with the guy's sweater folded over a girl's gravestone, Jared looked in surprise at Dawn, an expression shared by everyone there staring at the girl with a now-satisfied expression on her face and an actual gleam in her eye that seemed a little too bright just to be caused by the fire. The girl went on, "I've got a story. So, do you want to hear it, or not?"
Jared looked around a little uncertainly, but he saw the other campers lean forward with interest, eager to hear the story, whatever it was, and to possibly have a chance to jeer at Dawn for telling a stupid yarn. Convinced, Jared shrugged, and said, "Okay, Dawn, let's hear your story."
Nodding, Dawn took a deep breath, and began as the others listened. "This world is older than you know…."
And so, it went on, with Dawn weaving the tale to her fascinated listeners, how one girl in the entire world would be selected to stand against the forces of evil, and be granted powers beyond the measure of man, to always battle against her natural enemy while protecting the innocent.…
At that exact point, Dawn paused, and looked around, remaining silent until someone finally asked, "So what DOES she fight?"
Dawn told them.
After several frozen moments, the entire group howled with laughter, with people falling off their log benches around the fire, clutching their ribs in merriment, and leaning against each other as they wept with hilarity together. Dawn simply sat there, a serious poker-face on her features.
Over his own gasps of mirth, his happy face showing in the firelight, Jared managed to giggle out, "Dawn, you can't be serious! I mean, if there was anything to that story, it'd be happening right now--"
Everyone's head jerked straight up at into the starry skies and full moon, at where that shriek was coming from, their disbelieving eyes seeing an older blonde girl dropping out of the air, to land with a graceful flex of her legs next to Dawn, who casually glanced up at the college student glowering down at her sister.
Growling her words, Buffy abruptly said, "Dawn, I told you what'd happen if you got too close! So, this is all your fault, anyway!" At those mysterious words, the Slayer then attacked her enemy that was unforgivably putting her sister in danger.
Awed, all there watched for the next few minutes, the kicks, strikes, blows, and punches that finally ended the life of what had threatened Dawn Summers. When she was finished, Buffy stood proudly over the remains of her foe, only then realizing she had witnesses. Lots of them.
Uncertainly, looking around the intimidated group of campers and counselors, their frightened eyes gleaming in the light of the moon, Buffy blinked, and cleared her throat, at a loss of exactly what to say now. At last, she flashed around a clearly-fake smile, mumbled, "Hey, kids. Um. Have fun. Uh. Well, bye!" Clearly glad to take her leave, the Slayer again jumped straight up, well past the height a normal human could have accomplished, and vanished out of sight.
After several moments of sheer shock, everyone there in the darkness heard a composed girl's voice, "Apparently, even though I don't remember it, when I was two years old and our family went camping, I burned my leg on a smoldering log that had been in a bonfire the previous night. So, now she gets really protective whenever I'm around an open fire."
Jared fumbled for a flashlight that had been on the ground next to his log bench, turning it on to point straight at Dawn, revealing this girl rolling her eyes in exasperation. The light from the hand lamp was necessary to see this, since the previous object of illumination was no longer in existence.
With a shaking hand, Jared sent the beam of light from his flashlight to where the bonfire had been. Right now, inside the ring of rocks where flames had once existed, there was only now a smooth layer of dead ashes without a single spark there, with every possible burning log having been stomped and beaten into total extinguishment.
Croaking out, Jared managed, "That….that….was…."
"Yep," agreed Dawn, who now dryly finished the words Jared was unable to speak.
"That was Buffy the Campfire Slayer."