Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy. No profit made, no infringement intended.
"Hey Dawnie, you need to think about getting up in 5 minutes," Tara calls into the bedroom.
"Stomach ache. Not going to school," Dawn moans, only half-awake.
Dawn feels Tara sit on the bed, but she keeps her eyes shut.
"Dawnie?" Tara asks softly, resting her hand on Dawn's waist.
Dawn can feel tears starting again. She shrugs off Tara's hand and turns away. Tara moves to lie down on the bed next to Dawn.
"Okay, so you don't want to go to school. I suppose just this once we could let you stay home. In fact, I haven't missed any classes this semester, so I could stay home with you and we could watch movies. What do you think?" Tara asks.
"Maybe," Dawn replies hesitantly.
"I'll go tell Willow and call the school. Maybe I'll also send Buffybot out to look for nests so she doesn't bother us. You should still think about waking up," Tara says before getting off the bed.
Dawn groans in reply.
Twenty minutes later, Dawn smells pancakes. She opens one eye, and then closes it quickly as she notices the door opening. She can hear Tara set down the plate, and she tries to remain still.
"I guess if you're asleep you can't eat pancakes, huh? I'll leave them anyway, maybe you like cold pancakes. Apparently it's also necessary to be awake when watching movies. I'll just be downstairs, watching your favourite movies that you won't let anyone else touch," Tara announces. The door closes a minute later.
Dawn slowly opens her eyes, rolls over, and picks the weirdest of the funny shaped pancakes. She tries to make into a new shape with each bite until it's gone. Then she chooses her second favourite and wanders into the hall. With each bite she takes a step towards Buffy's room. Halfway through the pancake she makes it to the door, quietly nudging it open. She slowly makes her way to the bed, finishing the last bite as she sits on the bed. Dawn lies down, and curls into a ball. She lies there, trying to remember the differences between Buffy and Buffybot. She doesn't want to get used to the lie. She wants the real Buffy.
"I'm trying," she whispers to the empty room. "I'm trying to be brave."
She's searching for the pillow that smells the most like Buffy when she finds Mr. Gordo. She wraps her arms tightly around the worn stuffed pig, and allows the sobs to take over again.
Her face is red and puffy when she goes to find Tara in the living room. Tara doesn't stare at her face, she just pats the space next to her on the sofa. Dawn sits down and leans into Tara.
"Practical Magic?" Tara asks, putting her arm around Dawn.
Dawn pulls Tara's arm tighter around her, replying, "Yup, Practical Magic, even though they- "
"-Get all the magick wrong," Tara joins in unison, sharing a grin with Dawn as she presses play.