Written for: eilowyn
Paring/Characters: Part of my LA-Dawn 'verse: Dawn, Spuffy, Phantom-Dennis, Connor (mentioned), Faith
Word Count: ~2300
Disclaimer: The PTB own everything; all I do - I do out of love. All mistakes my own.
Summary: Dawn has a date night that turns out... unexpected. ((Title referring to facebook's pirate-English settings, which likes to inform me when someone has "survived another year" - aka: birthdays))
Author's Note: I wanted smooshy Spuffy/Dawn domestic!fic and it only seemed fitting to write sister-domestic-fic for Lexi's birthday, since I love her so much it's stupid.
Dawn entered the apartment with a sigh and leaned against the door, ready to revel in the silence of her own apartment. Alone. With a bowl of ice cream. And possibly crack-tv. Blaring loud, weepy tv with lots of passionate embraces and slamming of doors and people waking from comas. She leaned more heavily into the heavy, sturdy door--
"I told you to stay out!" the shrill female voice emanated from the kitchen - as well as some more crashing and banging of what sounded like either cookwear against counters - or limbs against cupboards.
Dawn stood straight and leaned away from the door, her face grew pale - the dark circles under her eyes growing more prominent. She looked around, the door had been locked when she walked in, right? This was definitely her apartment, right? It wasn't as if she was in the habit of walking in the wrong door - but after a day like today... no. There were her line of boots and her old running shoes in a heap at the door, the stack of history books on the coffee table - the occult and demonology tombs littering the floor and all other surface areas of the room. She was in the right apartment, all right.
She lifted her knee to her waist quietly - as the racket from the kitchen continued, now accompanied by an awful smell - and pulled the wooden stake out of her knee-high boot. It wouldn't do much good against a normal intruder, but it was the weapon the little sister of the Slayer line was most comfortable with. (She also had mace tucked into her purse in case of an emergency, but it was relatively useless - a defense mechanism she was not trained to rely on, nor comfortable carrying.)
Setting down her bag and keys as quietly as possible, Dawn edged through the living room towards the kitchen. "Dennis!" she hissed, looking around for a sign of her ghost. What good was a resident ghost if intruders were just able to waltz into her kitchen while she was out? For that matter - what good was having an overprotective vampire roommate if he was never around to save her apartment from weird smells?
This, of course, should have been the moment when Dawn realized that there really was no way the sounds emanating from her kitchen were from any sort of burglar or home invasion team. When she turned the corner -- peeking with an inclined, cocked head and saw her sister, quite literally covered head to foot with flecks of flour, her hand on one hip as she scowled down at a cookbook propped on on the palm of her other hand -- only then did it occur to Dawn that her sister was in town. That Buffy had flown in earlier that week and was staying in her apartment while she checked in with the local Slayers. She probably should have remembered that.
Buffy looked up and saw Dawn lurking in the doorway, her travel-spike held above her head, and narrowed her eyes, "What the hell are you doing? Where have you been?! Look what happens when you aren't here to help with dinner!" Buffy gestured to the general disarray in the kitchen. Truthfully, Dennis and Spike did most of the cooking because Dawn had so many late classes that semester - and the poor little bit still had to sleep, didn't she? But still, it was just like Buffy to blame her own mess on Dawn - even her absence had some dire effect on her older sister.
Dawn dropped her hand to her side and looked right at her, trying not to see the kitchen, trying really really hard not to see the catastrophe her sister had created in her kitchen. "Wha--" the frack were you trying to make, anyway? she started to say. But instead her shoulders slumped and she just turned from the room, slugging to the couch and collapsing into it, her eyes welling up with tears as she sunk down, wrapping her arms around her legs; her accusation lost in favor of self-pity.
A tissue wafted through the air toward her, but Dawn swiped at it, "Knock it off. I'm holding you responsible for the kitchen. Who the frack gave her flour?!" The tissue rose up and shook furiously at her, before storming to the kitchen, it's departure starting a whole new symphony of banging, clattering, and running water. Dawn sighed and leaned her head back into the couch, looking up at the ceiling.
"Dawnie?" Buffy's face suddenly appeared, hovering over her with that special blend of "big-sister-worry" hiding under "I'm not going to push you, but?" mixed with "but I was mad at you!" ... emotions only a sister can know as intimately. Dawn brushed a tear off her cheek and looked through the troubled face as if it weren't there.
It was too much, this day - this night - coming home and forgetting she was here... only now she was so very here and looking right at Dawn, wanting to be involved, wanting to help. Sure, she'd been in town for a few days - but the first couple of nights Dawn had sought asylum with Connor to escape Buffy and Spike's ... antics... and the rest of the time, Buffy had been so overwhelmed with the Slayerettes, Dawn had quite literally forgotten she was in town at all. How was she supposed to explain to this now-frowning blonde, who battled monsters daily, this superhero - how she had just had a bad day and needed a solid night of mind-numbing tv and greasy snacks?
Buffy's face disappeared and Dawn vaguely heard her rustling around under the din of Dennis' tantrum. She took a deep breath and thought momentarily of the tv remote, inclining her head for a moment to determine where it was. Oh. Over on the dvd-case next to the television. A good four feet away. She leaned her head back against the couch, Fuck that. She lazily unzipped her boots and let them fall to the floor, curling her legs back into herself.
Wallowing. That's what this night needed. Some good, old-fashioned wallowing. With ice cream. If Buffy hasn't eaten my stash.
The couch shifted next to her and she was tilted through sheer force of gravity into leather and cigarette smoke. Spike. She rested her head against his shoulder, momentarily wondering why he hadn't protected her kitchen, and then let it go as his arm gently pulled her in closer to him. His chin rested on her head, "Bad date?"
Dawn laughed out of the sob that erupted from her at the simple question, "The worst."
She could sit there and tell her vampire how she had nearly been stood up, how he had kept her waiting, how she had laughed it off and pretended to have only just arrived (though the entire restaurant had watched her pick at bread and wine for over a half hour - thank god for the fake id), she could tell him how they had sat there in uncomfortable silence, how he had made her pay - even though he had asked her to begin with, she wasn't shallow, but she did believe those who do the asking: do the paying - how he had spent the whole night checking out and flirting with every female server, how he had walked out with the hostess' phone number (a younger girl, maybe 17 if that) and bragged about it in the parking lot.... she could say all these things aloud. But sometimes it was better to just be silent, to sit on the couch and cry it out into the shoulder of a vampire.
'Cause that's probably about the most normal thing that has happened all day.
Buffy was standing in front of them, Dawn finally noticed, hands on her hips - in a new outfit not covered in flour, the sweater looking suspiciously similar to one hanging in Dawn's closet. "A date?! You're late coming home because you were on a date?!"
They both looked up at her with blank faces; it was a stupid question, Dawn had been looking forward to this date for weeks. Had been dancing around this boy in class and on campus for weeks, had been so excited - they were brand new boots - had come home beaming when he finally asked her out earlier that week.
Aside from all of that, it was early. Not even past nine o'clock. Most of her classes let out after nine. Most nights she was at the library until at least ten at night. Sometimes she spent the night at the Hyperion if she stayed late enough after dinner with Cordy. There were nights when she was home earlier, nights when Connor dragged her home and tucked her onto the couch with a good book - nights when she was able to relax for an hour or so before beginning again. Before being called by Angel for research assistance. Before tackling one of the massive texts that littered her apartment.
So they just looked up at her, both unsure what to say. Or, rather, both absolutely sure what they shouldn't say.
You aren't here.
You don't know.
Buffy looked down at them, her face turning a strange pink color, her voice a strange, strangled octave as she said, "And it was... that bad?"
Spike stroked Dawn's hair and looked over at her, tilting his head down to where her face was smooshed into his shoulder. "It was that bad," she laughed. "It's the kind of date you tell your grandkids about because there's no way they'll believe it is true."
Buffy nodded at her sister's words, as if deciding something. She stalked out of the room and Dawn nuzzled deeper into Spike, relaxing for a moment. Only Buffy came back - suddenly - grabbing Spike and hauling him off the couch as she slapped a wad of cash into his palm, nearly knocking Dawn to the floor. Buffy put a hand on Spike's shoulders and looked at him, her face blank and her tone serious.
"We are going to need a few necessary items."
"Firstly, two pints of ice cream - one pistachio, the other chocolate. Secondly, a large pizza - half anchovies and half Hawaiian. Thirdly, bitch-beer - no nasty wine coolers, something that tastes like candy. Fourthly, a Matthew Mcconaughey movie - something where he's half naked through most of it so we won't notice from our food coma how awful it is. Also, every trashy fashion magazine you can get your hands on. And lastly," her tone grew almost apologetic, "Get the hell out." Spike jerked back and Dawn gaped up at them, now laying prone on the couch - the position she had ungracefully landed in when her pillow had been jerked away so unceremoniously. Buffy drew him into a hug, "I didn't mean - just for tonight. It's girl's night, okay?"
Dawn felt like her heart was going to burst right out of her chest; she and Buffy hadn't had a good, old-fashioned girl's night with bad food, worse movies, and lots of ice cream since... Since probably before she was Real. Having a sister who was a superhero meant less girl-time and more "here, let me tend that wound" time or "I'll tell mom you were here" time. Being a girl who wasn't really a girl meant less girl-time; living half a world away meant less sister-time. There really just wasn't normal time together - there wasn't enough of it, there wasn't enough space for them it always seemed.
(And it didn't seem at all ironic to Dawn that for both of them, the moments that seemed most "normal" - the normalcy that other girls took for granted, generally included a certain blonde vampire. Because when nothing is normal, you have to redefine everything. And sometimes sitting on the couch with your best friend and brother - or in Buffy's case, lover - meant that you found normalcy for a moment, even if it was with an undead.)
Buffy looked over Spike's shoulder and pointed at Dawn (she could see her sister standing on her toes to peer over his back down at her and it was so ... girlish... it seemed poignant, a waking dream), "PJ's. Now. I'll gather up the nail polish and eyeshadows and make popcorn and find a bad 80's teen flick to bide us over until he gets back with our supplies. Got it?"
Spike turned while Buffy was still standing on tip-toes, with his left arm still around her slight waist, and smiled down at Dawn. He pinched Buffy, leaned down to kiss Dawn on the forehead (as she reminded him not to forget an order of cheesy bread with that pizza), and walked out of the apartment whistling. On the landing outside, he paused to light a smoke and smiled as he took in a deep breath, letting the smoke linger where working lungs once had been.
This would be a moment where another man would have said something nostalgic and manly to the night sky. Would have waxed poetics at an unseen camera about how much he loved his family, his women, how nice it was to see them together and so happy. But Spike wasn't one prone to monologuing. Or anyway - not unless the occasion called for delicious mockery.
Inside, the sisters who lived so far from each other - the sisters who were realizing that they were having to make this up as they went for the first time - the sisters who were anything but normal - settled into each other, wearing ridiculous pajamas and giggling for the sake of giggling.
Dawn was sure no one had said anything remarkably funny, yet there they were.
After a few moments, Buffy turned to her little sister and brushed away a strand of loose hair, "I can't remember how this works. Are we missing something?"
Dawn sat very still, her face pensive, "We're missing .... but I don't think you'll like it."
Buffy bristled under the insinuation as a bowl of popcorn drifted towards them with the air of an apology, "Anything you want. We never get - got to do this. Let's do it right."
Dawn's face broke into a wide grin.
Faith brought whiskey.
And even though she woke in the morning with a hangover, tangled up in her sisters' limbs where they had all crashed on the large bed, Buffy knew the night would have been incomplete without it.
And even if one night of normalcy didn't make up for years of the strange and bizarre, of being heroes and mythic figures first - of being sisters second, of the two becoming so muddled there was no separation anymore; Somehow being a sister meant being mythic - that being mythic somehow defined what it meant to be a sister... and in all the time since it had never gotten easier to find a new footing; but in that night, it was still just them.
And that was beginning to be enough.