Title: Destiny is a Dirty Word
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: Camp Half-Blood really was a lot like high school on the Hellmouth. 2900 words.
Spoilers: Post-Chosen and post-series for Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but no "Lost Hero".
Notes: For jerseyfabulous, who requested more of my "Half What, Now?" 'verse, where Dawn discovers she was created as Hecate's daughter. Also for the 2011 twistedshorts ficathon.
Buffy stayed with Dawn for her first full week at Camp Half-Blood, but after that she had to go back to Cleveland. She was just as curious about the other half of Dawn's heritage as Dawn was, not to mention the hints Mr. D had dropped about how the Slayers were created in the first place, but she did kind of have an important job, and she wanted to tell the others what had happened in person.
Dawn was still peeved about that. She'd really, really wanted to see the look on Willow's face when the Red Witch found out that Dawn was Hecate's daughter, but Buffy hadn't wanted to broadcast the news over the Iris message service. She'd had enough of Powers kibitzing in her life, she said. And maybe she had a point about that. But still. It was frustrating.
And that was hardly the most annoying thing Buffy had done that week. Stalking around interrogating the older campers, holding serious-faced conversations with Chiron, and watching on the fringes of a lot of Dawn's new lessons. Dawn had thought she'd finally broken her sister of Momming her after Sunnydale, but she guessed that was more or less a lost cause now.
All things considered, she wasn't exactly upset when Buffy left. She wasn't exactly being left on somebody's doorstep in a basket, after all. She had Percy and his girlfriend there, whenever they weren't busy running errands or playing architect for the gods, and even if they'd never been all that close back at college Percy still counted as a friend. The other campers were mostly pretty decent people, too. She had some issues with the Aphrodite kids- they were so Harmony she wanted to strangle them sometimes- but the Ares cabin was a blast to beat on things with in the challenges, and as a minor goddess' kid she was totally allowed to choose which team she wanted to fight with. The Hephaestus kids reminded her a lot of Xander, what with the always building and fixing things and their solid personalities, and the Huntresses, when they stopped by, were just like a pack of junior Slayers.
For someplace she'd never been, it already felt a whole lot like home. That probably wasn't what Mr. D and Chiron were going for with the ambiance- but then again, most half-bloods hadn't been raised on a Hellmouth. She didn't have to be convinced that monsters were always going to hunt her for her heritage, and that this was a place to find both the protection and skills to survive: she'd been a Summers before she'd ever met Hecate. It took more than so-called divine attention to shake her.
She'd told her sister as much when she hugged her goodbye just before she left, and Buffy had replied with a brilliant, slightly misty smile. "I know you are," she'd said. "You're going to kick butt. Just keep in mind that every day here is like a Tuesday. I'll see you again a couple of days before camp gets out- I'm sure I'll have a few more questions for Horse-Butt and the Wine Guy by then."
"I dare you to call them that to their faces," Dawn had snickered. Then she'd pressed a few drachma into Buffy's hand. "And call me at least once a week, okay? Even if you don't have anything to say."
"Hey, I thought that was supposed to be my line," Buffy had smirked, then gave her a quick hug.
There were a few rumbles under the camp's surface after Buffy left- comments about Titan heritage, and snide remarks about how a person might get to be her own sister's daughter- but everyone knew Dawn came with Percy, and they knew enough about Slayers to know that saying any of that to her face would be a bad idea. By the time the first week was up, she'd demonstrated enough proficiency with her own chosen weapons that it all mostly settled down before the cabin leaders had to take official notice. It helped that she was one of the oldest kids there, too- at least by appearances. It really was a lot like high school on the Hellmouth.
The main difference was, everyone she talked to had stories at least as strange as Dawn's to share. Well, most of them; one of the youngest campers was a son of Clio, and he'd led the extremely cloistered life of a child TV star until his mom lived up to the Olympians' oath to recognize all of their children. He'd never so much as seen a monster, and tended to treat Chiron and the satyrs as though they were simply people wearing really, really good costumes. The consensus was that his dad must only have heard the words 'summer camp' out of the messenger satyr's speech, and sent him off in an attempt to let him spend a few months being 'normal'. Hah.
Anyway, while the frequency of attacks Dawn had suffered was pretty much on the high end of the scale, the fact that she'd been kidnapped more than once and already had weapons calluses on her palms wasn't at all abnormal. It was like a whole school full of Kits and Carloses, all of them awake to the things that went bump in the night and friends with her instead of her older sister.
Which, actually, was maybe the weirdest thing of all: that she wasn't a little sister anymore. And not just because of the weirdness with Buffy technically being her bio-dad that they were mostly trying to avoid talking about. She actually had a littler sibling now: a girl a few years her junior named Diana Rayne. Dawn had her suspicions about who Diana's father was... but since she didn't have a British accent and didn't recognize the name Summers, Dawn figured it didn't matter. Diana knew more magic than she did, but Dawn had more power and a lot less trouble with schoolwork, so they met on pretty even ground. They had a nice-sized stone cabin to share, too, with plenty of room for both of them and faint magic writing glowing on every wall to make up for the lack of windows. Most days Dawn didn't even feel the need to yell at her. It was strange... but okay. Maybe even better than okay.
It wasn't all idyllic, though. The day before the summer solstice she left dinner early, before the Apollo kids could start the sing-along around the bonfire. Chiron had told her before the meal that the gods usually held their big meetings on the longest and shortest days of the year, and that this one would be when the rest of them found out that Hecate's Key had been incarnated. If there was going to be any trouble about her identity, or if they were going to assign her a quest that summer, it would probably happen at that meeting. That had got her to thinking.
She trudged up the path to the lake, looking for a bench to rest on while the sun set while she pondered. She'd been treating Camp Half-Blood like a working vacation, having fun while learning things that would help her when she graduated college and took up a job as a Watcher. The half-blood thing, though... it was more than just an awesome anecdote attached to Dawn's family tree, or a chance to step into the spotlight for a change. After everything Xander had told her about being extraordinary instead of 'special', she'd turned out to be 'special' after all. And it wasn't as simple as it sounded.
One of her divine mom's titles, Chiron had reminded her, was Klêidouchos, which meant 'holding the keys'. But as long as Dawn was alive, that epithet belonged to her, not Hecate. There was more to it than just being Glory's 'get out of jail free' card, and it could lead her to places a Watcher couldn't or shouldn't drag a Slayer into.
And that was even without the Titan thing. Dawn didn't really understand all the history behind it yet, but supposedly all Slayers were descended from one or more of the Titans, the Powers that had come before the Olympians. The Olympians may have mostly been children of the Titans themselves, but when they'd become mystically bound to the concept of Western civilization their essential natures had sort of... evolved. Not all Titans were evil. But their power was different, both symbolically and magically. That was how the Calling Curse worked: the son of Ares who'd originally devised it and set up the Watcher's Council had specifically intended to amplify one girl's naturally enhanced strength and reflexes to create cannon fodder to draw many of the more demonic breeds of monsters away from more vulnerable- and more valuable, to his mind- Olympian demigods.
Buffy's presence in camp had stirred up a lot of old prickly issues at a time when nerves were still sensitive from the massive struggle against Kronos, the Titans' leader. Sure, the fact that she'd called all the Slayers of fighting age would mean more demigods were going to survive to adulthood, which would help with all the losses the Camp had suffered in the war. But actually having demigods and Slayers fighting together...? Everyone she'd talked to so far had just assumed that she would naturally forge her own path apart from Buffy's, and she wasn't sure what to think. She was going to have to find someone to talk to about it.
As if in response to that thought, another warm body plunked down next to her on her chosen bench. "Hey, Dawn," Perseus Jackson, son of Poseidon, greeted her, dark hair ruffling in the light breeze blowing off the lake.
"Hey, Percy." She welcomed him with a wan smile.
"So how are you liking camp so far?" he asked. "I haven't seen a lot of you the last couple of weeks. Sorry about that; I've been kind of busy."
"You were visiting your brother Tyson, right?"
"Yeah. He's been working with the reconstruction teams in Dad's kingdom- they took a lot of damage down there, fighting the ocean monsters. Usually he works in the forges making swords, but since the war's over now..." He shrugged. "Anyway. I'll probably be running the water sports classes here for the rest of the summer, so I'll be around."
"So not my area of expertise," Dawn chuckled. "We had a beach in Sunnydale, and a pool, but if I had ever gone out for sports? It would have been running, or maybe fencing or archery. Something more likely to help keep me alive."
"Yeah, well, we can't all breathe underwater," he joked. "Will Solace says you've been pretty good in bow lessons; I'll have to uncap Riptide later and see how you're coming with the sword."
She sniffed. "With Buffy for a teacher? As long as we don't fight in the river, I'll kick your butt, Waterboy."
He snorted. "Remind me to tell you about my first game of Capture the Flag, sometime. My whole first week here was crazy; I felt lost all the time, and I had no idea yet that I had power over water. I burned all the hair off my arms on the climbing wall, made instant enemies with Clarissa la Rue when I accidentally emptied a bunch of toilets on her, and I missed my mom so much I asked the goblets in the pavilion for blue Cherry Coke." He gave a lopsided little half smile at that, full of remembered aches.
Dawn knew that feeling. She was also pretty good at telling when someone was trying to manipulate her, after serving as test case for Buffy's growing pains as a school counselor.
"The climbing wall sucks," she agreed, deliberately choosing the least problematic of the available conversational leads he'd given her. Then she fanned out her hands, displaying her worn fingernails. "I totally ruined my manicure this morning, see?"
Percy snorted again at that, but obediently craned his neck, wrinkling his nose at the scratched polish and rough edges. "Are you sure you're a daughter of Hecate and not Aphrodite?"
"Are you sure you want to go there?" She lifted her chin and stiffened her spine, deliberately turning her profile to him as she fluffed her hair with her free hand, and fluttered her eyelashes. "Ooooh, my hero."
He grinned and held up his palms in surrender. "Just saying," he said. "You know I know how boss you are, but it's kind of hard to remember that when you're doing the Cali girl thing."
"Blame Buffy for that one," Dawn smirked and relaxed again, kicking her feet under the bench. "She always said it was totally possible to kick ass and look good at the same time. Plus, it's always a bonus when the bad guys underestimate you because of how you look. Boy, are they ever surprised when they find out what else high heels and hair sticks are good for."
Percy cringed a little at that. "Wow, yeah, I bet. You ought to get one of the Hephaestus kids to make you some out of celestial bronze- hair sticks, I mean, not high heels."
"Man, though, wouldn't those be awesome shoes?" Dawn tapped the heels of her sneakers together. "No place like Camp Half-Blood, right?"
"Right," Percy said, nodding. "I love my mom, and her new husband's pretty okay, but I don't think I could ever go back to living there full time. I know it's not the same for you, though. You've always seen through the Mist, right?"
And... back to the roundabout questions. Annabeth must have put him up to it. She nodded, biting her lip. "Yeah. I guess when I first heard, it just seemed like another thing. Like finding out I was the Key in the first place. Wherever I came from, however big a deal the monsters wanted to make of what I was, it didn't make me any less a Summers, right? So being a half-blood shouldn't change anything, either."
"Except it did," Percy said, nudging her with a shoulder.
"Except it did," Dawn agreed with a sigh. "Ever since I met her. She's... I know she's nothing like Glory. Glorificus was, like, the goddess of bad fashion sense from a total other hell dimension, not a real... not a real Power like Hecate, or Poseidon, or Mr. D, or the rest of the Olympians. But I still... when I think about how the magics come so much easier to me since I got here? Or when I unsheathe Mr. Pointy? I'll have to show you later what Mr. D did to it after Buffy gave it to me, by the way; he thought it was kind of an awesome idea for me to use a magic weapon made out of vine wood, and now it turns into this ultra tough wooden sword with a celestial bronze edge. But anyway, like I was saying..."
She shivered and took a deep breath before continuing. "It reminds me how I felt right after I found out I wasn't always real. I know I am, I know I'm still Dawn Summers. But I'm Dawn Klêidouchos, too. And that's kind of a big deal. It scares me, a little."
Percy put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed a little. "It's okay," he said. "I get it. Believe me, I do. That whole thing with the last major prophecy... I was like, fourteen when Thalia stepped aside and disqualified herself. People were still keeping secrets from me, and all I knew was that things were only going to get worse... and that I had a chance to step aside, too, and let it all fall on Nico."
More anvilly metaphors. Dawn was tempted to bust out a little Peter Parker, but she was feeling a little too heavy still to be that flip about it. "Like I said, though, I am a Summers. I kicked Xander's ass when Buffy tried to get him to take me out of the fight before we closed the Hellmouth. I'm not going to back down from whatever this means, even if I do get a little queasy about it sometimes."
"Even if it means you're part of the next Great Prophecy? There is a line in it about doors, you know."
"Yeah, the Doors of Death. Wow, you really know how to cheer a girl up, don't you?" Dawn rolled her eyes at him.
"Yeah, maybe I should leave that part to Annabeth," Percy winced a little.
"Maybe you should," Dawn nodded, then leaned over and gave him a half hug. It was starting to dawn on her why he might have trudged up after her in the first place, and it probably wasn't at Annabeth's prompting. He didn't deserve to feel guilty just because of her pity party, though. "But thanks for trying. And for being my friend. And, you know, dragging me here in the first place. Even if it's not all strawberries and sunshine after all, I'd rather know than not know."
He blew out a big breath at that, relaxing visibly. "I'm glad. Too, I mean."
"Yeah?" She grinned at him.
They both turned back to the lake, kicking their feet as they watched the stars come out, one by one.