Physics And Biology
by Sängerin

Dawn loves sunshine. Sunshine is safe, it means not having to look over your shoulder, not having to clutch at a stake or a cross as you try to go about your daily life. Although, of course, there are demons who aren't affected by sunlight, and you have to keep an eye out for them. But mostly, sunshine means good things.

It's lucky Dawn likes sunshine, because she can't escape it. It turns up so often in her homework these days that she wants to tell her teachers to hold their classes outside so they can study the sun first-hand. But sunlight is distracting and makes the class sleepy, so the teachers don't really think much of that idea. Instead, Dawn does her homework outside, sitting on the grass out the front of the High School, reading and jotting down notes among doodlings of stakes and crosses and flowers and rainbows. And sunbeams.

Sunlight is powerful. The sun is really just a big star, only it's closer than all the others, which is why it is the sun and not Alpha Centauri. California gets a lot of sun. It's actually kind of ironic - they studied irony in English class last week, so Dawn knows how to use the word properly, not like that chick who sang the song and got it all wrong - that the Hellmouth is in Sunnydale. If it was so sunny, wouldn't they all be dead? Then again, see above re: demons not affected by sunlight.

And again - sunlight is all about life. Sunlight makes trees green, via chlorophyll and photosynthesis. Dawn spells the words out carefully on her notepad. Sunlight also has something to do with vitamin D, and it's good for your skin. In moderation, of course. Too much and your skin fries, and you end up looking like Clem. Or something from the Doublemeat Palace. And paying thousands of dollars for the excision of melanomas later in life.

'Vitamin D for Dawn', she writes, next to 'excision', which she likes because it sounds sharp and painful.

Sunshine is warm. Like Cassie's breath on her neck right now, leaning over her, reading her biology textbook. Cassie is alive. And Cassie is Dawn's friend. Her very normal, not-at-all-freaky-(except for the pink streaks in her hair) friend. They share ceramics class, and then Buffy went all 007 on Dawn and told her to befriend this girl, and Dawn is glad that she did. Because Cassie is delightfully unconcerned by demons. Which isn't to say that Cassie isn't weird, and more than a little pale, which is why Dawn suggested that they sit outside and study biology, which they don't have together, but their classes are synchronised and they have the same assignments this week.

Cassie hangs her arm over Dawn's shoulder and they both read from the same book.

'I don't know why I'm doing this,' says Cassie. She speaks softly, almost to herself.

'Because we have to,' replies Dawn. 'Or, well, I suppose we don't have to, but Mr K isn't going to happy with us if we don't.'

'Oh, I'm not going to be at my next biology class,' says Cassie, and bites her lip.

Dawn knows that this is the secret that Cassie was hiding, but she doesn't want to show it. She is... one of James Bond's more intelligent sidekicks. Michelle Yeoh, maybe. Yeah. Her. Elusive. A good spy. 'Why not?' she asks.

'I shouldn't have said anything,' says Cassie. 'You need to study.'

'And you don't? So why are you here?'

Cassie smiles, but her eyes are sad. 'Because of you.'

Dawn blushes, because she didn't expect this. 'Really?' Then she backtracks, because you never can tell. 'How do you mean?' she asks.

'I mean it like this,' says Cassie, and she tightens her hold on Dawn's shoulders, and lowers her lips to Dawn's, and kisses her. She pays no attention to the fact that they are sitting in broad daylight within view of any number of classrooms that still have people in them, and eventually Dawn forgets, and focuses on the kiss, and how this kiss is different to the kiss with the vampire whose name she has completely forgotten, and how it is soft, and gentle and utterly different from that other kiss.

'This is much more interesting than biology,' says Dawn when they pull apart.

'But I don't think kissing other girls is on the syllabus.'

'Pity,' replies Dawn. 'I like studying this,' she says, leaning in for another kiss.

It is a moment of perfection, in a life where moments don't stay perfect for long. Sunnydale used to be called Boca del Infierno, which means something like 'Hole of Fire', and ends up sounding a lot more like Hellmouth than Sunnydale. And so when no demon leaps from the nearby trees, and Cassie doesn't turn into a vampire, Dawn counts her blessings and enjoys the warmth of Cassie's lips and her breath and of the sunshine in which they are sitting.

Dawn likes sunshine. She should, because her name is about sunshine. Her name is about the beginning of sunshine, the birth of new days.

Tara - when she was still alive, but after she recovered from Glory-the-ultra-evil-goddess-type (Dawn had never liked Glory) sucking out her brain - told Dawn about what she looked like. As the key. Tara said she looked like sunshine. Only green. Occasionally red, and with a little bit of purple thrown in. But mostly green sunshine, like the light filtered through the spring growth of a forest. Dawn wasn't sure she liked the idea of green, but she liked the sunshine part.

Dawn misses Tara. And she has completely abandoned her task of finding out about Cassie. Why Cassie is so certain she will die before Winter Formal - why Cassie is so sad. The task is discarded, like Dawn's notebook with its notes on stars and photosynthesis and vitamins and the powers of sunlight against vampires and demons and things that go bump in the shadows, let alone the night.

'Wish I could stay,' says Cassie, after one last kiss. A kiss that has followed a last kiss before that, and one before that. The sun is sinking below the horizon and they both should go home. It's not safe when Sunnydale loses the sun.

'There's always tomorrow,' says Dawn.

She stretches out her hand to hold onto Cassie's, trying to prevent her from standing up and trying to walk away.

The fading sunlight glints on Cassie's bracelet as she pulls her hand away. She smiles sadly, the way she always smiles. 'Tomorrow is Friday.'


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