What You're Missing
by Padre

Gasping as if she were being suffocated, Faith arose from the bed with a start; the anguished look about her face giving full evidence of the nightmares that were just recently tormenting her sleep. Clutching her belly, she could still feel the knife, the fall...all of it. As the ghosts from the past began to fade, the slayer focused on the small lamp that stood on the dresser. It's soft light, the room's only illumination. When Faith slept, it was always on.

No one ever questioned it.

No one would dare.

After a few moments and some cleansing breaths, Faith began to feel better. "Just a dream, that's all." She whispered softly, being very conscious of the still-sleeping figure that was sharing her bed. The last thing Faith wanted to do was wake Dawn; the younger woman just went through one of the worst days of her life, equaled, if not surpassing the night she found out her true origins.


It was supposed to be a happy time; a recognition of full adulthood and all that went with it. Dawn did not have a party when she turned sixteen, the jumble and chaos that arose from the destruction of Sunnydale being so fresh in everyone's mind. So as she was getting ready to turn twenty-one, everyone knew this was going to be one wicked big deal.

Faith was going to see to that.

Nothing was too good for Her Girl.

There were printed invitations, filled with bright colors and adorned with fancy writing. Balloons and streamers were ordered. So was a cake, a masterpiece of gastrointestinal proportions...with lots of chocolate. The lobby of the Hyperion would serve as the Grand Ballroom. It only made sense, since that was their home.

And many had came. For one night, could not a truce between rival clans be observed? The Demon Community of Los Angeles, especially those who wanted to curry favor with Mr. Angel and his crew from Wolfram & Hart, particularly the rather ill-tempered Dark Slayer, made it a point to show and be generous with their gifts. The presents ran from lavish (the Phenari gave a necklace made from gold and diamonds) to profound (Illyria gave a necklace made from the bones of a worthy enemy). From Angel and Spike, a wardrobe of the latest fashions. From Wesley, a first edition of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"; from Gunn, a mahogany fighting staff. And from Faith, a new Journal, bound in the finest kid leather, with an extracted promise from Dawn that she begin writing again.

Even Riley and Samantha Finn put in an appearance (and, while Angel was wont to pick a fight with the ex-Marine, Faith would have none of it, assuring a painful existence upon the souled vampire should he ruin this special night).

All in All, Finest Royalty, in all it's splendor, could not have been better served.

But Buffy was not there. Neither was Willow, Xander or Giles. There was no card filled with best wishes, no flowers sent in remembrance of the occasion. Perhaps the cruelest of all was the roaring silence created by a phone that did not ring. All giving evidence to the disapproval of the relationship Dawn shared with Faith.


Some time ago, while still in Italy, when Dawn had started to take a noticeable interest in other women, it was assumed that the younger Summers was simply experimenting.

When she came out in full, while there was a pause, no one said as much as boo. Willow had taken it upon herself to mark the announcement with a small gathering.

But when Dawn and Faith confessed the love they shared for each other, many heads were turned...and harsh words were expressed.

With a breath-taking rapidness, the couple found themselves abandoned by the whole of the slayer community. With nowhere else to go, Dawn and Faith packed what they could in a single suitcase and flew to the City of Angels.


Faith remembered that night well. At first, she tried to tell herself that their exodus from Rome was due to a simple prejudice towards homosexuality. Her heart said otherwise; Faith knew she alone was the cause of their troubles. While the 747 had flown under a canopy of stars and Dawn was sleeping on her shoulder, Faith had come to realize that Her Girl had just given up everything to be with her.

No one had ever done that for her before. It hit her hard.

Faith Lehane. Dark Slayer. White-Trash. Slut. Whore. Murderer. Convict. Now flying to America with the only person in the whole world who loved her unconditionally.

Check that: Angel would be waiting for them at LAX. He didn't even ask for an explanation; he didn't need one. He said he would be there.

Faith knew he would be, too.

She didn't stop crying until somewhere over the Atlantic.


But, one would think that over time, ice could melt and attitudes could changed. That was not the case. Buffy had a heart like a steel trap: when it closed, it closed for good. Especially whenever Faith was concerned.

As Dawn came to the realization that no acknowledgment of her yearly celebration was coming from her sister and the people she once called family, a specter of deep and penetrating melancholy came down around her. While she did her very best to put on a brave face, Dawn had the appearance of a puppy that had just been beat down too many times. There was no shouting, no drama. Just downtrodden blue eyes and a stream of silent tears that all the gifts and decorations in the world could not erase.

In time, the guests gave their apologies and excused themselves, further convinced that the growing slayer community had no honor. The team from Wolfram & Hart left as well, with Angel promising to come by in the morning. Upon hearing the oath, through the pain, Dawn did crack a smile. Like Faith, she too had a strong familial love for Angel. He knew he'd be there.

Once they were alone, without hesitation, Dawn slid into Faith's lap and openly sobbed without reservation. Faith, for her part, lifted her lover up in her arms carried her to their suite. For the longest time, Faith sat on the bed and rocked the crying Dawn until she fell asleep.


As Faith sat on the window ledge and smoked, from time to time, she gazed back into the suite and looked in on the still sleeping Dawn. With her honed slayer-vision, the brunette could easily trace the dried tracks of Dawn's tears. Raw bitterness began to fill her soul. Faith was well aware of her past and her faults; that Buffy and the other slayers chose to pretend that she didn't exist didn't bother her in the least. But to slam the door in Dawn's face? That was worse. Do they know, she wondered, what they are giving up?

In the few years that they had been together, Faith still marveled at how much Dawn has changed. At first, the young woman only wanted to learn how to fight; she had the desire, but not the training. While in Italy, Buffy had always been too busy for such things, but Faith had given Dawn all the time she needed. Nowadays, challenging Dawn to fight would most likely result in a nothing less than a cracked skull; her finely developed Muay Thai style, which took full advantage of her long arms and legs, could be counted on to create a fair amount of damage. More often then not, you'd never see the knock-out coming. Then again, it doesn't hurt to continuously train with Angel, Spike and Illyria. While both vampires where already fond of her, the fallen monarch had taken a strong liking to Dawn the moment she had met her.

Other things had begun to show as well, the aspects of Dawn's mystic origins now coming into the full:

Dawn has a solid command of over seventy-three separate human and demon languages and a majority of their respective dialects. Aside from telling off-color jokes in Inuit, she also likes to write haiku in traditional Japanese. Faith has had several of them framed. They adorn the wall of their suite.

Dawn mastered Mandarin Chinese in a day.

Dawn has a photographic memory and never misspells a word. Ever.

A mathematical genius, Dawn no longer requires a calculator or a slide rule to solve problems or complex algorithms. She does everything in her head.

And, to Faith, Dawn is the most wonderful, most beautiful, most lovable, most giving and most selfless person in the whole world. Oh, God, Faith thought as she fought back her own tears, I so do not deserve her. And here she is and here she has stayed.

After her cigarette was done, Faith headed back into the suite and laid down in the bed. As she did this, Dawn, though still asleep, reached out and curled up next to the brunette.

Faith kissed Dawn on the forehead and pulled her close. As she started to relax and fall back asleep, Faith began to feel pity. Pity for Buffy, for Xander, for Giles and for Willow. Pity because they had chosen to close a door and keep it closed.

They had no idea what they were missing.


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