AN: Sifting through some incomplete files, I found this. I think at some point it was intended as a chapter for Conversations, but I liked it better as Dawn/Xander bonding. So I finished it up and decided to post it. Set the night before the big battle in Chosen.
Xander knocked on the bathroom door. Dawn had been in there, brushing her teeth, for nearly ten minutes. Ordinarily this wouldn't bother him, dental hygiene is important after all, but she'd been brushing her teeth since she'd closed the door, and his gums were starting to hurt just thinking about the strain of ten solid minutes of brushing.
No answer. But unless he was mistaken, the sound of bristles on bone, reached a new intensity.
He knocked again. "Dawnie?"
Still no answer. But he hadn't really been expecting one. He tried the handle. Unlocked.
"Okay. I'm coming in there to check on you."
The door swung open, but she didn't even look at him. She just stood there, surrounded by the white tile and wallpaper of the bathroom, her green toothbrush moving furiously.
Xander leaned against the sink, and folded his arms across his chest.
"You've been brushing your teeth for ten minutes. That five times the amount recommended by dentists."
She spit. "I know." And the brush was back at work.
He tried to grin. "y'know, there's over achieving, and then there's just insane."
She glared at him, and started to pace. He glanced down into the basin. Her toothpaste was starting to turn pink.
"I think when you've drawn blood? It's a good time to stop."
She spit again. more blood. "It's just what I do."
"Wait. What do you mean it's just what you do? It's just what you do when?"
She resumed pacing, her voice garbled around the brush. "when I get nervous. I brush my teeth. It-"
More toothpaste. More blood.
"-Relaxes me or something."
"It relaxes you." His disbelief showed in his voice.
She finally stopped brushing her teeth. She rinsed the brush, then her mouth, then she straightened up and faced him. "Whenever something particularly nasty is about to go down, I shut myself in the bathroom for awhile and brush my teeth. It helps to focus on something that small, rather than the fact that the world is about to end, and everyone I love has to go stop that from happening. How do you think my teeth stay so white? You should really try it sometime."
He chuckled. "Nothing will ever be stressful enough to make me obsessively brush my teeth."
Two days later, in some tiny motel in nowheresville, California, she lays in bed next to her sleeping sister, listening to the sounds of a toothbrush. Eight minutes later it's still going. She starts to cry.
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