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31 July 2006 @ 01:49 pm
We're Going on a Hunt ...  
It was the very last thing she had to do before she left, and Buffy thought it was probably going to be the worst. No, there was no probably about it. Telling Dawn she was going off to fight some New Un-named Evil and leaving her alone in London?

There were several demons and a few lesser gods she’d rather face, to be honest.

Buffy contemplated sneaking out and leaving a note—Hi, Dawn, just wanted to let you know I had to go to Scotland to deal with something nasty and evil. Don’t wait up!--but that was the coward’s way, and she wasn’t a coward.

But Dawn would whine, and then she’d want to come along, and nothing Buffy would say was going to make this any easier. Sighing, she made her way to Dawn’s room and knocked on the door, steeling herself for the battle to come.

It was too bad they didn’t make weapons for little sisters. Well, ones that weren’t illegal, anyway.

“Dawn? Hey, it’s me. Can I come in?”

Dawn looked up from her computer, tabbing down the chat windows with her friends back home.

“What’s up?” she asked, trying not to be too fidgety, otherwise Buffy would know something was up, and she did not want to tell Buffy that Marcia had gone all the way with Kyle. She was trapped enough in this little apartment as it was. Some vacation – why she couldn’t she have stayed at home, anyway?

“I—look, I know this isn’t turning out to be the world’s most exciting vacation,” Buffy said carefully. “I really hoped we could relax and, um. You know. Relax.” She took a deep breath. “I’m going to have to leave for a little while. I need you to stay here.”

Maybe that would work. Maybe.

Dawn blinked, caught between annoyance at being left behind – again – and elation at Buffy trusting her enough to leave her alone in a foreign country. She tossed her hair, settling on nonchalance.

“Where ya going?” she asked, hoping she sounded nonplussed. She preened a bit at her mental use of that word. She’d kicked ass on the SAT verbals last fall.

“Scotland,” Buffy answered, her eyes narrowed. “This doesn’t mean it’s time for you to go all Lindsay Lohan on me. It’s too dangerous for you to be wandering out alone in a foreign city.”

Dawn’s eyes widened in innocence. “Of course not. I’ll be as good as …” She paused to think before smiling brightly. “As something really good. Like chocolate. Or Ho-Hos.”

Dawn raised her eyebrows. “So are you going to Scotland to get a hot guy who wears kilts?”

“Yes. I’m leaving you to go find a man wearing a skirt.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “Give me some credit, Dawn. This is business, not pleasure. Definitely not pleasure. But I’m not leaving you all alone, don’t worry. I’ve asked Xander to come stay with you.”

Her good mood was killed with those eight words. “I’m nearly eighteen, Buffy. I don’t need Xander to come stay,” she said, a bit huffily. She loved Xander, but he treated her just like the rest of them – as a child. It didn’t matter that there were slayers who were younger than her that went on nightly patrols, she didn’t get to do anything. It wasn’t fair.

“You’d probably be in a better mood if you did find a guy – even if he was wearing a kilt,” she muttered to herself, pouting.

“No, I’d be in a better mood if you acted like you were the nearly-eighteen year old you just told me you were,” Buffy said, sighing inwardly. She knew this wasn’t going to be easy. “Dawn, after all the things we’ve seen, do you think you’ll ever listen to me enough to know that I just don’t say this stuff because I’m a bitch?” She held up her hand. “Maybe don’t answer that.”

Dawn pursed her lips. “When you were my age, you’d already died once,” she muttered sullenly mentally kicking herself. She’d just have to prove Buffy could trust her, she decided, glancing over at Buffy. “What’re you fighting this time? I can do research, if you need me to.”

Buffy opened her mouth to say no, but thought better of it. Maybe she should just give in, and let Dawn feel useful and thus keep her out of the way. “Sure. You could do that. It’s something about water magic. I think there’s probably someplace you could have Xander take you to do research—no place sketchy,” she warned. She’d tell Xander that, too, just to be sure. “And nowhere after dark. You’re in the door before night falls, and that isn’t even open to discussion.”

Dawn fought the urge to roll her eyes. “Aye, aye, captain,” she said, a bit sarcastically. “Though don’t you think, after Sunnydale, that London’s pretty tame?”

Seeing Buffy’s face, she sighed. “Fine. When’s Xander getting here?”

“Everything is tame after Sunnydale. That doesn’t mean it’s safe.” Buffy smiled encouragingly. “Look, I know you’re mad. But when I get back, we’ll do something fun together. Like, something that’s not a museum,” she promised. At Dawn’s expression, she sighed. “Xander will be here in three days. See, I trust you enough for three whole days! That’s something, right?”

“Clubbing. We’re going clubbing when you get home,” Dawn said, her expression one of absolute immovable determination. “And none of that ‘you’re too young’. Things are much more relaxed over here.”

Her lips curved upward into a hint of a smile. “And you can buy me beer too. That’ll make up for it all.”

“You still have to be eighteen here to drink,” Buffy said, but she nodded. “Fine, clubbing it is. I’ll think about the beer.” Standing up, she made her way to the door, then looked back over her shoulder at Dawn. “I’m sorry, Dawnie. I promise when I get back, I won’t have to leave again.”

Dawn threw Buffy a look that said what she thought about that. “All right. I’ll call you if I find anything about … water magic? That’s not a lot to go on, but I’ll find it, if it’s out there.”

She felt a pang of nervousness, the same she always did when Buffy walked out without her. “Be careful.”

Buffy smiled, filled with a sudden tenderness for her younger sister. “Always, Dawn. You too. I mean what I said. Home before dark, and let Xander think he’s in charge. You know how he likes that.”

“Always do. He gets all pouty when he thinks I’m ordering him around. After Anya, you’d think he’d be used to it but …” Dawn shrugged, pushing back and throwing her arms around Buffy. “Call if you need anything. I do have my license, remember. I can come on over – up? – with whatever you need!”

“I need you to be safe,” Buffy said quietly, hugging her tight. “That’s all I’ve ever needed.” She pulled back and took a long look around room. “Though maybe clean your room. And be nice to Xander. And don’t spend too much money. And don’t forget to call Dad on his birthday. And—” she stopped. “Be safe. I’ll be home soon, I promise.” With another hug, she left Dawn alone and prepared for her journey.

God willing, she’d be home safe and sound in a few days. So why did she feel so nervous, like once she walked out of the apartment, everything was about to change forever?
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