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BtVS:PG-13 "But you don't really care for music, do you?" - September FOTM

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  • BtVS:PG-13 "But you don't really care for music, do you?" - September FOTM

    Author's Note: I haven't read the Season 8 comics, so although some of this takes place after Season 7, it goes its own way.

    But you don't really care for music, do you?
    by Rosamund

    Kit thought about teeth. She thought about Dawn's small white teeth and how her tongue flashed between them when she laughed. She thought about the man she had seen at dusk in the graveyard, and how his teeth had glinted in his alien face. She pressed her thumb between her own teeth, and bit, hard, relishing the blunt pressure.

    Dawn didn't come to Kit's house very often anymore. Kit sat in her bright attic bedroom and watched the sunlight slanting through the skylight and making patters on the opposite wall and floor. She thought about the time they had laughed so hard they'd fallen off her bed and ended up in a tangle of limbs, quivering with giggles.

    "It's fine," Dawn had said. "It's just you don't know what stress is until you're trying to save the world."

    Kit slid across the floorboards, that time, the last time Dawn was in her room, and sat beside her, so their skin was turned golden from the skylight, and they were both held in the square of warm light.

    "You're trying to save the world?" Kit said. "From, like, climate change?"

    Dawn laughed once, hoarsely. "Nothing like that," she said.

    Kit broke the slim sliver of space between them by talking Dawn's small wrist between her warm fingers. "What then?"

    Dawn glance first at the hand, and then at Kit. "You know what families are like," she said. "They put all kinds of pressure on you."

    Kit noticed how close their heads were. She could see Dawn's freckles trying to poke through her thin layer of dusty foundation. Dawn's eyes met hers, although their gaze was tremulous. It would be so easy, Kit thought, to bridge this space, too.

    Dawn's lips felt dry against hers, and very warm. Kit rubbed her thumb, once, across the soft skin on Dawn's wrist. Then the cool air was against her mouth once more, and Dawn was standing up.

    "Kit, I'm sorry," she said. "I'm really sorry."

    "Dawn--" Kit began. Dawn was in the shade now, turning towards the door.

    "I'll see you tomorrow, okay?" Dawn said. "I've got to go home. I'm late!"

    Kit sat in the sunlight, looking at the shadows.

    *

    Dawn thought about pieces of sunlight shattering.

    She thought about cracks running through the people she knew -- Clem, Kit, her English teacher: people being covered in fine seams, like the lines on a cracked cup, like the cracks in the earth that outlined everything before the world broke into pieces.

    The light on the bus had seemed heavy as they drove thought the desert. The windows held that light, contained it, like they were beakers and it was some bright liquid.

    She thought about the squares of light on Kit's walls and imagined walking through the rubble and finding their pieces, broken into bright sharp shards.

    *

    Giles was sitting in their living room, eating peanuts. Dawn imagined the feel of the grease on her fingers, and shuddered. She still wasn't used to the quiet: without the constant shrieks of frightened potentials, the hum of aeroplanes, the gentle snoring of another form in the room next door.

    "When's Buffy coming back?"

    Giles put the book down. He didn't turn it onto to its face to keep the pages open because that was bad for the spine: he carefully tore the top of the peanut bag off and slid it between the pages.

    "I don't know," he said.

    "It's been two weeks," Dawn said, fiddling with the doorknob. She couldn't quite bring herself to step into the room and sit beside him. She did not want to see the concern on his face.

    "Perhaps this was more difficult than the last time."

    "Don't lie," Dawn said. "I know she sent that slayer here."

    Giles didn't say anything, but this time he stood up. The sofa faced away from the door, so this was the only way he could look at her directly.

    "You don't know where she is, do you?"

    Giles shook his head. "I'm sure she's on her way?"

    "Stop lying to me!" Dawn said. She didn't shout, but her voice shook with emotion. "When I was fifteen, I washed the blood from her hands because she'd cut them when she was clawing out of her grave. I can cope with this stuff."

    "I don't know where she is," Giles said. "I don't know when she's coming home. But I think she's fine, Dawn."

    Dawn looked at the peanuts. She was remembering pouring peanuts down the back of Spike's neck when she was very angry with him about something. She remembered him growling at her.

    "I think she's fine, too," Dawn said.

    *

    She imagined Buffy standing in front of a crater, smiling. She imagined her now, somewhere hot and exotic. Sitting in an Italian bar with a glass of chartreuse and a stranger.

    Buffy cried now, sometimes. In their worn green tiled bathroom, in the house that they shared with Giles. She cried softly, and she didn't seem to care if Dawn tried to comfort her. She also played bad pop music and danced without any grace.

    "Well, okay," Buffy had giggled, "giving a blowjob is nothing like eating an ice cream."

    "Ew!" Dawn said. "You can't tell me stuff like that!"

    "You have to learn somewhere," Buffy said with a strange new smile.

    "Not from you! I bet it's different with vampires anyway!"

    Buffy laughed. "Colder," she agreed. They were trying to make pizza. Dawn couldn't figure out why, when you could buy better pizza anywhere.

    "You're different these days," Dawn ventured as Buffy peered at the back of the yeast sachet.

    "Am I? Maybe I am," Buffy said vaguely.

    She tipped the yeast into a chipped brown jug and looked at it anxiously. Then she looked back at Dawn.

    "I really want to explore someplace. Do something that doesn't involve vampires or death."

    Dawn laughed softly, "you're never going to get away from vampires, or death."

    "I can try," Buffy said, and, before she turned back to the perplexing yeast, she smiled her strange new smile once more.

    "We're supposed to be so happy now," Dawn said. "We did it. We saved the world. We can be happy now."

    "Can we?" Buffy asked.

    Dawn thought about that glass of chartreuse setting off Buffy's hair. And that stranger not knowing that there was anything different about her smile.

    *

    Dawn often sat in the worn pink armchair in their living room. Some forgotten cat had scratched it, and the cloth was fragmented at the sides. Giles always sat on the sofa, his hand idly working out old threads from the fabric, his eyes on a dusty novel. Dawn looked at him through the dust motes that swirled through the grey light.

    She sometimes wondered what it would have been like if that wave of fear had been replaced by desire, and she had kissed Kit in the warm Californian light. She thought often about lying on the chipped floorboards, her hand on Kit's thigh. But her imagination never went further than that.

    She went to school and thought how strange it was that her reflection never chatted to her. The girls were friendly but the rooms were big and dark and dull and French was nowhere near as exciting as Sumerian or Greek. She had no place here.

    There was only the fantasy of warm light, of Buffy's smile, of being free, and the feeling that this was all a dream. That she was really still in the dark, waiting to learn that her sister was dead.

    She hated the word "goodbye".

    *

    It didn't seem possible that a whole world could disappear into the dust. Kit remembered being afraid to step into the shadows; afraid of what teeth they hid. These days, she told herself she was safe wherever she was. Her sunny bedroom with the thin cracks in the ceiling was smashed to pieces but its fragments were mixed with the fragments of whatever lurked in the dark.

    Kit was lost in a strange time between school and whatever came next. The days were long and grey and she didn't have a job. She thought about days by the sea, tangy food in dark restaurants and light dancing on some foreign sea. She kept telling herself that everything was gloriously about to begin.

    Dawn told herself that, too. She sat by the window and looked at the windswept trees and felt herself rising on the longing chords coming from her CD-player. Happiness is about to begin.
    "When people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, 'You like stuff', which is just not a good insult at all, like 'You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness'."
    -John Green
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