Render the Extra Mile
Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. The do not belong to me.
As he wearily walked down the darkened street, the vampire was barely able to focus on what was three feet ahead of him. He knew he was having one of his delusions again. Everything had a peculiar familiarity to it. The images of the street and buildings seemed like jagged sparks of pain in his eyes. He continued on, concentrating on the sound of his feet upon the pavement to survive this caustic ordeal. Old images were brought back to stab him where he was most vulnerable once again. He raised his battered mental shields against another siege of the mental torment. This time, in this place, he was constantly being accosted by flashing visions of people he had known so long ago.
A sudden flash of a particular person caught him unaware and he tripped against the edge of the curb. The smooth cement under his worn and tattered boots seemed so alien to him. He knew that long ago he had walked on this material before however; it was so long ago that it seemed like a half forgotten memory. The modern buildings on this street puzzled him with their glass and cutting edge design as he tried not to look directly at them. They too echoed a time long ago, so he considered them a distraction. He ignored his surroundings, knowing that he had to be on guard. He did not know when the next attack would be launched at him. He fought against the feeling of tiredness as he wrapped his arms around him, bringing the ratty torn edges of his dusty coat together for a small comfort. A car drove by startling him; the sound of traffic seemed strange and hurt his ears. He momentarily flinched when an abrupt sound of laughter echoed out of one of the buildings.
He continued to walk on, with his head down, not allowing the appearance of sidewalk, pavement or grass deter him from his path. He entered the downtown area where the nightclubs and restaurants were located and busily active. There was a conglomeration of people were milling about in flashy clothes and exotic perfumes. They bumped against him, jostling him while they chattered and giggled. He did not say a word as some of them addressed him, making a joke about him at his expense. He did not react to the outrageous insults, a hand waving in front of his face or an aggressive shove against his shoulder. As he unwaveringly moved through the crowds, they lost interest in him and went back to their own good time.
By the time, the moon began to dip toward the horizon; he began to move into less crowded areas of town. For some reason, he began to smell the sunrise. It was an old sensation, something that flared up in his vampire nature. He had not smelled a sunrise in decades. He had experienced hallucinations before, and it never served him to become lost in them. He did not want to believe what his senses were telling him; however, the gut reaction to find a place to escape the sun was relentless. He stopped by a cluttered alley entrance by strip mall. He did not care where he would spend his day. He saw a small area behind a dumpster. It was shaded by the overhand of the building and the dumpster itself would offer him protection from the sun's rays for the rest of the day. He would also benefit from a period of rest. He desperately needed the respite from his constant anxious vigilance, if he dared. He crouched down and backed into the small dark space where he planned to wait for night to fall.
"DAWN! If you don't get down here in two minutes, you're going to be late for school." Buffy yelled up the staircase. In response, a door opened and trendy thick heeled shoes made small muffled stomps as they trudged toward the stairs.
"Okay, okay. You don't have to make a federal case out of it. I'm coming." Dawn sighed, rolling her eyes at the unnecessary drama as she came down the stairs.
"In this case, you're lucky to have connections to get it thrown out of court." Buffy said, as she smiled at her sister, the sister she had thought she had lost to Glory a few months prior. She blinked back a few tears she felt welling up when Dawn arrived at the bottom of the stairs. In an unlikely maternal moment, she reached over and smoothed her younger sister's hair. "Okay, you got everything?" she asked.
"Yes." Dawn answered tiredly with a pained expression. She had already had enough of her sister's Mama Bird impression a few weeks ago.
"Are you sure you don't want Xander to drive you?" Buffy looked doubtfully at her younger sister
"Yes, I'm sure. Would you relax? Okay. I'm going to ride with Janice, just like last year." Dawn groaned. She leaned over and picked up her backpack and slung it on her back. "They should be picking me up anytime now. I'm going to wait for them at the curb. AND I don't want to see you peeking out the window."
With that statement, Dawn marched out the front door. Buffy stood there for a moment, staring at the door, fighting the urge to go peek out the window to watch her sister. Finally, getting herself together, she made her way back to the kitchen where Tara was busy making eggs while Willow was leaning against the island watching her.
"Everything go okay?" Willow asked as Buffy came into the kitchen. Willow pushed Buffy's cup of coffee toward her on the counter.
Buffy dramatically stamped petulantly toward the island with her lower lip stuck out.
"About as well as you can with an irritating teenager." Buffy said dispiritedly. "I don't know how single mothers do it."
"Luckily, you're not alone. You have us." Willow said with her winsome smile at Buffy.
The original plan was for Dawn and Janice to leave the middle school campus after second period lunch. Janice had a crush on one of the local lifeguards and since the pools would be closing for the season soon, her window of opportunity to hit on him was coming to a close. Janice knew he had a habit of stopping at this convenience store for some Gatorade before he reported for the afternoon shift at the local public pool. Janice had pleaded with Dawn to go with her and stake out the convenience. That afternoon, Dawn and Janice had been standing in the corner of the convenience store, with their mouths pulling on the straws of the fountain drinks they had purchased. Their eyes were in constant motion, looking for Janice's dream on legs to walk inside the store.
After about thirty minutes, Dawn decided that she had had enough. She told Janice that she would walk back to school. Janice pleaded for her to wait just a little longer, but Dawn knew a lost cause when she saw it. As she left Janice, the lifeguard passed her in the doorway. There was no way that Janice would leave now. Dawn knew that she could just make it to fifth period, if she left just then. Dawn came out of the convenience store and turned right. Without thinking of where her destination was, she turned at the corner and walked past the building. She realized if she had turned left instead of right, she could cut out two minutes off her route back to school. She could see the other street at the other end of the alley. She would just cut through this alley. No big deal. It was the middle of the day. She was only going to be there for less than a minute.
Dawn picked her way around the debris scattered through the alley way. She was a little nervous, so she hurried her steps so nothing would be able to catch her. She could see the other street coming closer and closer. She got the oddest feeling that she wasn't alone. She began to quicken her steps even further. She began to hop over larger pieces that appeared in her path. Catching her toe on the top of a large broken plastic crate, she stumbled forward. She ungainly caught herself before she went down on her front right there in the alley. Bending over at her waist, with her hands braced upon her thighs, she turned slightly to look behind her.
That's when she saw it. Something was shining in the area behind the beaten up dumpster. There in the darkness, a glimmer stood out. How odd she thought. She bent down a little lower and squinted at that area. She stood up quickly and ran out of the alley way to the street. It couldn't be. There was only one person she ever knew with that color hair and he had sacrificed himself for her.
Her hand traveled up to rub her neck as she made her way down the street from that alleyway. If it was him, she had to tell Buffy. If it wasn't, she would have to explain what she was doing here. There would be the whole lecture thing about bad decisions. She would be prohibited from seeing Janice as her friend would be labeled a bad influence. Dawn knew that Buffy's kneejerk reaction would be to tighten the leash a little further and Dawn was already at her wits end with her sister's controlling ways. She had to double check first, before she made any decisions. That meant she had to come back here at dusk. Maybe, she could sneak out of her room after dinner. She could always plead homework. Homework? Really after the first day of class? Who would believe that? Well, thank god, you don't have to pass a written exam to be a Scoobie. It just may work!
It was a little after dusk, when Buffy knocked on Dawn's door with a bowl of ice cream in her hands. She had been very impressed with Dawn's determination to start the school year off right. She beamed at Tara and Willow across the table when Dawn made her big announcement about getting to her homework right after dinner. It wasn't until later that the girls were breaking out the ice cream for dessert that Buffy approached Dawn's room to proffer a bowl of Mocha Almond Fudge.
Upon hearing no response, Buffy called out 'Dawn' and knocked again. She then grabbed the doorknob and walked into Dawn's room.
"Hey, Dawn, I thought you would enjoy some…." Buffy said with a smile and then just as suddenly the smile dropped from her face. She realized her sister wasn't in her room and the window was open.
Dawn made it back to that alley just as the sun disappeared below the horizon. She picked a spot at the entrance where she could watch what crept out from behind the dumpster with relative safety. She huddled behind an old display case with broken glass and waited.
Forty minutes later, the darkness had firmly settled on the alleyway. There had been no sign of movement from behind the dumpster. Dawn had begun to question her reasoning about this venture. She grew stiff as her muscles ached from being held in place so long, but she dare not move. She wanted – No, she HAD to see if her suspicions were correct. She felt a large calloused hand close on her shoulder as long sharpened nails dug into her shoulder
"What a tasty little morsel we have here." The stringy haired vampire said looking down at her. He had long overgrown bangs that kept falling in his face. He let go of Dawn to push the offending hair off his forehead.
Taken by surprise, Dawn recoiled from the vampire. She scuttled back on her hands and heels until she was pushed back against the brick wall. Taking deep breaths, her eyes roamed the alleyway for a weapon to use against the homely vampire hovering over her. Keeping his yellow eyes trained on his victim, the vampire bent down and slowly began to move toward her. Against her will, Dawn made a slight whimper as she closed her eyes and braced herself for the attack.
In the next moment, there was a cloud of dust showering her. She opened her eyes to see an outline of a figure holding a stake in his hand. She looked at her rescuer with amazement. She knew the outline of the figure very well. Just then, a cloud moved away from the moon, his hair shone brilliantly against the darkness of the alley. There was no doubt in her mind who was standing there before her, as her voice shakily broke the silence.