Some Dawns Wait
by Hecate

Dawn grew up too fast. Dawn grew up too hard. She grew up over summers that smelled of blood and winters without silent nights. She grew up running and fighting and nearly dying. She grew up with a sister who wasn't hers, and who was crazy most of the time and dead sometimes. She grew up with monsters under the bed and an undead friend she hated and loved. She grew up even when she wasn't there at all; she grew up without existing, and fake memories told her that it had hurt.

Dawn had seen the world's almost-destruction so many times and been left with feelings of exhaustion and impatience. She never got used to it, and neither did the others. It was the same every time, the same fear, the same fight, but she hated the taste of the sick earth and the sensation of rotten dirt under her fingernails. She hated the look in her sister's eyes when the dreams came. She hated the way Buffy stood in the living room then, shoulders and back a straight line, wearing the slayer's face - a face that was hers but shouldn't be.

Dawn doesn't think this world is worth it.

She grew up, and she walked out on the world, hungry to discover for what she had fought. She found friends who would never stand a chance when evil came and who would run instead of fighting. Friends who laughed when she told them about vampires and never stopped thinking that she was joking. She stopped telling them and stopped calling them friends in her head then.

She found a city full of monsters with human features, features that never slipped into game face, that always stayed the same. Monsters that bled real blood when she drove a stake into their hearts.

She has learned how to run away from humans.

Dawn had no home anymore. Sunnydale was a hole in the ground, and Buffy and the others were nowhere and everywhere. She knew that they were searching for the other Slayers; she knew that Buffy had tried to reach her, but Dawn had been forced to leave college. Anything her sister might have addressed to her would end up in a police file with her name and "suspected of murder " written all over it.

She wonders if her sister already knows. She prays that Buffy doesn't.

Even though her sister always knew where she was, Dawn had learned early how to hide, back home, in the darkness of her room, in the graveyards and streets, in school and in the Magic Box. When she was younger she used to do it with an alien feeling of joy, the certainty that Buffy would find her.

She's better at it than she ever wanted to be.

It was easier to hide from humans than from vampires, but she hated it more. She hated the way she had to fade into the background when she saw a police car, hated the motels she had to live in and the cheap food she had to eat. She wished she had her sister's powers; it would be easier then. She wondered why Faith had gone soft and knew with certainty that in her place, she wouldn't have.

Dawn hates the people around her.

Sometimes she dreamed of her old life in Sunnydale; she dreamed of vampires and blood and a goddess. She dreamed of a power that was once her, a power she never possessed. She dreamed of the pain she felt back then, and when she woke up and faced the grey ceiling of the room she slept in, she wished it back.

Dawn searched for the monsters at night. She walked down the streets of the cities she ended up in during the day; she wandered aimlessly, preferring the graveyards and dark alleys. And the monsters found her, but they were never the ones she had sought, and again and again she tried to wash out the blood on her clothes - her blood and theirs.

Back in Sunnydale she had learned to run away and to hide, but she also had learned how to fight. She fought things that were stronger than anything the people around her now could recognize.

When her fists hit those things now it feels like she's tearing through paper. She has become strong.

It started to grate on her nerves, the tremble of the world, the lives people around her wasted, the lives they told themselves they lived. But she couldn't change it, as much as she wanted to. Sometimes she thought about getting a spell book, about finding out how to destroy the world, but she wasn't Willow, and no one ever loved her enough to give her that kind of power.

Dawn knew that the world's end still kept coming. She felt it in her bones and in her muscles, a whispered warning, a call to run. Small waves of death rippling through the air around her. She felt it end every time, and so she knew that her sister was still alive, still out there. Sometimes she was glad about it.

Sometimes she isn't.

Dawn got through the days and the nights; she hated mornings more than evenings because they made her think of the dawn when Buffy said that she would show her the world. Dawn didn't want to see the world anymore, but still the morning came, sometimes with singing birds and a golden glow, like it did all these years ago. She tried to vanish during the day, feeling that it was not her place and time.

She hates the world.

Every morning she sat down somewhere and watched the day begin. She watched the turn of the sky and the change of the streets. Then she walked away, disappointment heavy in her bones. She never looked back to see the sun rise above her head and take its place high above her. When she felt the other side knotting together again she waited with hope and fear - fear for her sister's death, hope for the end of it all. She watched the sky.

She waits for the dawn not to come.


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