It was different to Cleveland. Very different in fact. But Dawn wasn't surprised by the curfews and the regs, she knew all about restriction.
Buffy never let her do anything, she was barely allowed outside the house and the only reason she'd been allowed on this trip was because Buffy had no one to take care of her back home right now.
Not that she needed taking care of, at thirteen she felt she was way beyond babysitters. Especially as the sister of the top-secret, oh-so-important, Super Buffy.
So they'd made the journey to Sunnydale to go and take care of some big evil thing that was meant to be rising and whilst Buffy took only one outfit and had spent hours going over her weapons, Dawn had sat on her suitcase and borrowed her sister for her Slayer strength to actually get it to shut (Buffy had carried it for her most of the time too, which was convenient because the wheels tended to spin round pointlessly, making her continuously crash into walls, displays and people continuously in one big catastrophic trail of destruction).
When they got there, Dawn regretted the suitcase and felt embarrassed by her fancy clothes. Buffy's combats looked way cooler in Sunnydale so Dawn settled on being annoyed at her sister for not telling her what to pack and spent every available opportunity scowling at her.
Not that there were that many opportunities because Buffy, ever business-like, was straight out on the job.
Not that she noticed either, Buffy had no time for such trivial things as noticing what her little sister was doing.
So Dawn sat in the library with the White Hats when they were there, and when they weren't, she sat in Oz's van. Which was cool, because Oz was kinda cool and she'd already changed out of her frilly skirt so she was able to sit and practise looking as cool as he did.
Oz didn't talk much. Or at all really. She'd heard him whisper a few things to the old guy, Giles, and she'd tried to listen because she knew she wasn't supposed to hear but she always missed the first bit and when Oz only said about two words together, the first bit tended to be fairly major.
After the battle, Oz didn't say very much. More so than usual, which was impressive. Before it had just been the absence of words, now there was silence. She knew he felt guilty and for that matter, so did she. He should have carried on fighting with Larry, should have died with him. But instead he was saving Dawn from meeting the same fate as her sister. Her pale-faced, dead sister lying at The Master's feet.
They hadn't spoken about their friends. They'd found Giles at his apartment, a broken necklace in his hand, tears streaming down his face. He was giggling and not in a good way.
"It didn't work, it should have worked, why didn't it work? She said..." He trailed off.
"What? What did she say?" Dawn asked, her eyes wide and scared.
It took them three days to piece together everything that had happened. There were no attacks during that time, The Master's minions were too depleted and he suffered heavily at the loss of Willow and Xander.
Giles told them that there was a better world. One where their friends weren't all dead and where they could go out at night. Some demon called Anyanaka had told him about it. She'd been laughing. He'd thought that destroying her power center would fix everything but he hadn't realised that this world still had to exist. Every world does, every possible outcome of a choice. For every time someone makes a decision, no matter how small, there is a different world. An infinite number.
This was their world; they had to live in it.
After the three days, they loaded their belongings into the van and began to drive. Giles and Oz seemed to know where they were going but neither of them had said anything to Dawn. She'd thought about asking but she didn't want them to take her home. She didn't want to see her mom and dad and have to explain to them that Buffy was dead.
So she sat in the back of the van and sometimes she slept whilst Oz and Giles took turns to drive. And after a few days of napping and eating and peeing at gas stations, she began to smile a little, to talk a little and to laugh a little. Likewise for Oz and Giles, though they always seemed to look guilty about it afterwards and Dawn wondered if she too got that look of self-disgust when she showed any sign of normal human emotion.
One day, she woke up, and there was no Giles. Oz told her that he'd gone to England, to address the Watchers' Council. That they were supposed to find somewhere to stay until he contacted them.
Dawn didn't ask how he was going to contact them.
They started off in motels, for the first few weeks. In the beginning, when there'd been only one bed, Oz would sleep in a chair, or even on the floor. Except for the wolf nights, but they didn't talk about them.
Later, as the days of the two of them rolled on, never changing, they began to share the bed. Dawn would sleep however she chose and Oz would be forever in danger of falling out, scared to get too close.
But after a month (or was it two?) had passed, they began to lean into each other; a careless arm slung across a slim waist, heads on the same pillow, legs touching. It was only natural after all, each had only the other for company.
After the motels, they rented a flat in a little town in New England. Dawn had asked Oz if it was kind of like the real England and that was why they'd called it that but he said it was to do with settlers and that England was all about red double-decker buses and red mail boxes and red phone booths except that he'd called the last two post boxes and telephone boxes in a mock-English accent. Dawn had giggled too long at that.
The flat was far from homely and they slept on a mattress on the floor but the only thing that really mattered was that there was one mattress and they shared it. Dawn would go to bed first while Oz locked up the flat; they had shutters on the insides of the windows and the kind of weapons arsenal that wouldn't look out of place in a Russian Mafia-owned warehouse.
When Oz came to bed, Dawn would scoot across to the cold side, Oz would wrap his arms around her waist and she'd rest her head by his shoulder. Except for the wolf nights, there was a cage for those, and they talked about it only when necessary.
The day Giles came back, Dawn was fourteen but she wouldn't have remembered if he hadn't wished her happy birthday when he got there. She wondered how he knew, but didn't ask. Giles looked old, age old. Not the kind of old that her father or even her grand-father had looked but that world-weary, seen too much, kind of old.
And then there'd been three of them in their little flat and they'd had to get another mattress. Giles didn't comment when Dawn and Oz twined themselves together to sleep and no one commented on what anyone else happened to whisper, scream or shout as they slept.
Giles went as quickly and unexpectedly as he had arrived and the flat's routine returned to how it had been before. When the wolf nights came, Dawn would sit by the cage and sing to the beast or read him stories or tell him jokes. But the wolf liked it best when she sang, he was quiet then.
On the normal nights, they slept as they had for so long and sometimes, when she woke up, Dawn couldn't remember a time when there hadn't been two of her. Them even, two of them.
They never talked about what one or the other said in their sleep but sometimes, when she screamed now, Oz would press his lips to hers and stroke her hair until she smiled and returned to her peaceful slumber. And when he woke up crying, she would sing the wolf's favourites to him and rub his back until he smiled and slept peacefully once more.