Title A Little Peace And Quiet
Author Beer Good
Rating PG13
Word Count ~900
Fandom Buffyverse, set during "Not Fade Away"
Characters/Pairing (if any) Dawn/Dana
Author's Note Written for femslash_minis Minor character challenge, and carlyinrome's prompt for Dana/Dawn, with floral sheets, tropical flowers, and alone time.
Warnings Mention of character death, mental illness, general angst
Summary As the sky darkens and everyone heads off to LA, Dana and Dawn are left alone in Cleveland with old and new memories.

A Little Peace And Quiet

Unseasonable snow falls over Cleveland, covering the abandoned courtyard outside Slayer HQ. Everyone's off to LA, Slayers, witches, fighters, watchers, packed up in a hurry and took off, trying to stave off the apocalypse. Only the non-combatants got left behind.

All two of them.

Dawn turns away from the window. Last time the world ended, she refused to be left out; this time, she can't. Someone has to stay with her.

Dana has been here for almost a year now, and her condition has improved a lot; no longer the raving, snarling beast they brought in. Long overdue changes in medication and therapy (some of it ever so slightly magical) go a long way, and Vi dating a doctor doesn't hurt when they need help. But she still has a long way to go, and sending her into battle or leaving her unsupervised is out of the question. And since Dawn is pretty much the reason she's come as far as she has, she's the one who has to stay with her.

"What are you painting?" Dawn walks into Dana's room and looks at the pink flower spreading out over the canvas. Painting is supposed to help; get things out, make them tangible, reduce their power.

"Méi lán zhú jú." The words are out before Dana has time to think; a few months ago the flashback might have sent her into another fit, now it just makes her wince and shake her head as if to snap out of a daydream. A week ago she wouldn't have had the flashback at all.

"It's OK. Chrysanthemum, right? Autumn flower." Dawn's read up on Chinese art. She doesn't ask how Dana knows - there have been hundreds of Chinese Slayers, and Dana remembers them all. She's learning to handle it, but she can't forget it. "How are you holding up?"

Dana doesn't flinch from Dawn the way she does from others, doesn't inadvertently clench her fists. Dawn's spent a lot of time wondering why Dana trusts her. Why she of all people could convince Dana to let them help her, that this wasn't just another cell, another straitjacket. Dawn used to think it was Buffy's memories leaking through, or maybe just the fact that Dawn is the only person here who's physically incapable of being any sort of threat to her.

Or maybe it's something else.

Dana closes her eyes, steadies her breathing. "They're not there yet. Still alive." Her mouth curls upwards almost imperceptibly, an unfunny joke. The dreams, the connection are still far too vivid. Whatever is going down in LA, they're stuck here being useless and Dana is going to have a ringside seat when people start dying. Slayers especially. She adds a few splashes of red to the painting. Chrysanthemum represents courage, endurance in the face of adversity as winter sets in, but she can't transmit, only receive. More red. More. More, until the brush snaps in her hand. She stares at it, her eyes blearing out of focus. "This is my lucky stake, I have killed many vampires with it. I call it - " She shakes her head again. "No." Drops the useless splinter of wood, smears red across the canvas with her hands, pulls them back and looks at them, sits down.

Far too many memories, and knowing that they're not hers doesn't help. Dawn should know. She thinks about a summer spent wondering if Buffy was alive or dead, jumping every time the phone rang, she thinks about Kendra's watcher coming to collect her body, she thinks about all the things she could never stop happening. You don't touch Dana, but Dawn has a feeling she's going to have to.

Dana pulls away when Dawn sits down and puts her arms around her, then forces herself to relax. They sit like that, trying to just see red paint on the Slayer's hands. Trying not to remember death. Until Dana tenses up again and whispers, "They're there. It's started." Dawn is about to ask something when Dana turns her head and kisses her, clumsily, teeth and noses colliding.

"What..."

Dana knows that she means 'who.' "Me. Just me." The determination in her voice is palpable, the desperation to hang on to herself. Her hands clamped around her own cross-legged ankles. "Dana, kissing Dawn. OK?"

And it is, somehow. She's not sure if it should be - Dana's not well, after all. But Dawn's internal movie show is gleefully spinning its way up to hellgods and towers and nutsos with guns and hellmouths and Dana's breath on her lips feels here. Feels now.

Memories aren't real.

Dawn showing Dana how to tilt her head, open her lips, is real.

The childish floral patterns on Dana's sheets (she spent 15 years in hospitals, she hates white sheets) are real.

Dawn taking Dana's hands, telling her she can use them without killing, is real.

Dana discovering that Dawn has scars too, two hairlines criss-crossing her belly (and that they're ticklish) is real.

The way the bars at the head of the bed bend in Dana's hands is measurably real.

Outside the window, the snow keeps falling, unique crystals piling up and melting into sludge. That's obviously not real. Can't be. Not here. Not now. Not yet.