A/N: As a note - I've borrowed some bits and pieces from the comics, but I'm not following the storyline at all. This is pretty much AU all the way through. It started out as a generally fluffy fic, but as with everything I write, I couldn't leave it at that. I have the next few chapters completed in advance, depending on the traffic I get to this is how soon I'll post them. I'm hoping to space it out a bit so I actually update this regularly. Reviews are always appreciated. :)
The door to Buffy's room swung open quietly as Dawn snuck inside, a few presents in her arms. It was Buffy's birthday after-all. Sure, a full blown celebration was out of the question considering her not so pleasant past of birthdays, but that didn't mean she didn't get presents. Buffy was curled in a ball under her covers, a pillow clutched to her chest as she slept. Dawn had noticed this soon after they closed the Hellmouth, and it hadn't seemed to subside in the five years since then. Little sighs of contentment escaped Buffy's lips every once in a while and Dawn almost didn't want to wake her up, but Buffy would have to get up soon for work anyways and Dawn wanted to catch her before then.
"Psst, Buffy! Wake up!" Dawn poked at her sleeping form and she made an annoyed sound before turning away from Dawn. She rolled her eyes. Buffy was always grumpy when she woke up in the mornings now. "C'mon sleepyhead, it's your birthday!" Sighing, she placed the presents for Buffy on her end table and then jumped on her. Dawn had always been taller than Buffy, even when she was just a teenager, and now full grown at twenty-one, she would definitely be able to wake up the grumpy slayer.
"Dawn, what are you doing? I'm trying to sleep!" She complained and pushed at her sister until she scooted off her. Buffy rubbed blearily at her eyes, sat up, and glanced at the alarm clock beside her bed. It was an hour before she even had to wake up for work. "Don't you have classes to get to?" She asked, slightly irritated to be woken up.
"Yeah, in the afternoon," her sister replied as she reached across Buffy and deposited the presents in her lap. "Now open your presents birthday girl!" She exclaimed with a giddy grin. Buffy smiled despite herself and picked up one of the larger ones in her lap.
"I think you're more excited than I am," she replied with an amused grin while she unwrapped her present. She pulled out a gorgeous sweater in dark red. "Oh my gosh Dawn it's so pretty!" She exclaimed and clutched it to her chest. There was a pause. "You didn't steal it right?" She asked with a smirk, which caused Dawn to roll her eyes.
"I've been out of my klepto phase for a while, Buffy," she pointed out. It turned out that Dawn was amazing at buying presents. In total, Buffy received a sweater, a pair of boots, some moisturizer, a few books – Buffy had developed a taste for romantic novels since leaving Sunnydale -, a certificate for a massage at the local spa, and a couple pairs of jeans. "So – do you like everything?" Dawn asked with a hopeful gleam in her eyes.
"Of course! I take back all the times I called you an annoying brat!" She told her and hugged Dawn. This hug displaced one of the presents neither of them had seen and Buffy heard it tumble to the ground. She let go of Dawn and glanced down at it curiously. "You didn't tell me there was another one," Buffy commented as she reached over the side of the bed to pick it up. It was wrapped in shiny silver, different from the paper Dawn used.
"That's not from me. I found it outside this morning when I went to check the mail," Dawn replied with a shrug. "It has your name on it." Buffy felt dread as her fingers fiddled with the edge of the wrapping. She felt like opening this was going to change her life completely. It was a ridiculous notion, but she felt it all the same. "Well go on, open it," Dawn encouraged her, figuring the present was from one of the other slayers. Buffy took a deep breath and pulled off the silver paper. It was a box. There was no card or anything on it – no way to tell who it was from. Something was off, but there was only one way to find out what it was. She quickly pulled the lid off and glanced inside. What she saw there made her automatically toss the box across the room. Dawn jerked back in shock.
"What!? Was it that bad?" Dawn asked, honestly curious as to what would cause her sister to react so violently to it. Buffy just shook her head, wide-eyed from shock. How did that even exist anymore? It should be gone, lost forever. Dawn furrowed her brows at her sister's actions, but being her curious self she got up and walked across the room to pick up the box. When she did, she pulled out some type of amulet. It looked mildly familiar, but she couldn't place where she'd seen it last. "Okay, it's a necklace, so what?" She asked as she examined it. Buffy was watching her sister now, willing herself not to cry in front of her.
"Spike wore it, when he. . ." She trailed off and glanced down at her hands. She was twisting the material of her new sweater in her grip from distress. "What sort of sick joke is this?" She exclaimed with anger tinting her words now. Dawn's eyes widened and her mouth made an 'o' shape in surprise. She hadn't been there to see Spike sacrifice himself, which was probably good because she grieved for a long while afterwards anyways. She couldn't even begin to imagine how it affected Buffy. Well, she could in a way, but Buffy had been so busy after all that she hadn't really shown how much she missed Spike. Dawn could tell. Sometimes Buffy would get this faraway look in her eyes and she'd grow quiet and almost collapse in on herself before going back to normal strong Buffy. Dawn hadn't seen her sister this shaken up in a long time.
"I-I have no idea, but . . . how did they even get this? Y-you said it was lost in the Hellmouth when Spike . . . well you know," she didn't want to go into specifics and open up old wounds, but it looked like it was a bit too late for that. Buffy glanced distractedly at her clock.
"I need to get ready for work," she announced and picked out her clothes. She worked as a personal trainer now that she didn't need to train the new slayers. Faith and Giles had taken over that. Sure, she still frequently stopped by, but those two had it handled, and she had to pay the bills and help with Dawn's college costs. Buffy walked to the door to her bathroom in almost a daze, lost in thought. Before she closed the door behind her, she peeked out at her sister. "Thanks for the presents," she said before softly closing and locking the door. Dawn sighed and walked out of the room with the amulet dangling in one hand and her phone in the other. She was going to get to the bottom of this, and her first stop was Giles' place. He'd know what's up.