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Somewhere to Belong

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//When this began
I had nothing to say
and I'd get lost in the nothingness inside of me
I was confused
and I let it all out to find/ that I'm
not the only person with these things in mind
inside of me
But all the vacancy the words revealed
is the only real thing that I've got left to feel
Nothing to lose
Just stuck/ hollow and alone
And the fault is my own
and the fault is my own//


A flash of flame in the dark, the crackle of ignited clove and Dawn
inhales the sickly sweet smoke, letting it burn the back of her throat.
She exhales a little puff and tilts her head, looking up into the grey
night sky, suddenly wanting to be anywhere else than where she is.
This anywhere is a run-down, gaseous little 24-hr. truck stop in the
proverbial middle of nowhere and she is pretty much alone. Alone
unless she wants to count the insane dead man in her car.

Red and green neon glow brightly in small pools of water dotting the
dilapidated asphalt and if she looks into them hard enough, she
thinks she might be able to see a reflection. But vampires have none,
she reminds herself. All she can make out is a lonely teenage girl
smoking death. Being a female and well, herself, she can't begin to
imagine living (dying) without a without a mirror of some kind. Not
that she was ever vain, just conscious of appearances. Cause really,
no one was ever going to ask her out if she looked like shit. There
were a million good reasons, she knew, why many boys were afraid
to approach her in high school. But none of them had to do with her

Dawn was a person who carried the weight of her problems in her
eyes, who could laugh at pain, who could dance sorrow away and
still remain pretty. But she could never, not once, forget anything.
And that's what scared some about her. Not the smoking, or the tight
clothes, or the shrill laugh tinged with weariness. No, she was too
fucking complicated. She was made up green energy, a tool almost
used to destroy the entire universe. Not many were aware of that fact,
but they could probably sense it. A subconscious detection felt at
just the sight of her.

Two year's passing and a buttload of demons, near-apocalypses and
death have made it easier for her to accept what she is. Before she
left Sunnydale, the Scoobies seemed to have all but forgotten those
things and just accepted the fact that she was Dawn, kid sister of the
Slayer. Not good for anything unless you needed the five-finger
discount. Not good enough to go on regular patrols, only every
second Tuesday and right by Buffy's side ALWAYS.

So after getting busted for the shoplifting, Dawn had decided to rebel
in other ways. Smoking cloves with Rachel behind the school utility
building, cussing up a storm in front of anyone and anything who
was there, having a few mindless, purely sexual relationships in her
latter teenage years. By the time she turned eighteen she had just felt
old, tired and so damned alone. No one paid the background noise
any attention. And that's all that she had become, really. That tinny
annoying music filtered into elevator shafts and shopping malls,
getting on your very last nerve. But if you tried hard enough, it could
be shut out. Just another part of the day until you find yourself
humming on the way home and think, SHIT, if it would only go

It wasn't until Tara died (fucking rat bastard FUCKING piece of shit
DAMN him to HELL), Willow turned all sorts of evil and Spike
disappeared that she started to wonder when it would be her turn
again. It felt like they were all stuck on this extremely morbid game
show and that at any moment the wheel would start spinning,
eliminating those the pointer landed on. One turn down, many more
to go. And Dawn couldn't stand feeling helpless, not ever. But that's
all Sunnydale had become, the cesspool of her dispondence, so upon
graduation she had given herself a mission. A reason, if not to want
to live, then at least to have something to DO. A frickin' purpose that
didn't have to deal with anyone but herself.

Except for HIM.

Fucking Spike. Stupid (second EVER) vampire with a soul.

She takes another puff and coughs out into the atmosphere,
squinting into the passenger side to make sure that he is still there.
Of course he is, but she sometimes feels that maybe he's just an
illusion. That she lost her mind halfway down the highway and she's
just fooling herself with a whole ton of hope and crazy. But he stirs,
his shape shifting in the bland miasma of the quilt Dawn snatched
from Mom's old closet, the aroma of mothballs and faded perfume
wafting out of the cotton.

She's only afraid of him when he sleeps. He never seems more
dangerous to her than when he's still, a feral creature holding back
until ready, coiled for the next attack. She reminds herself of this
constantly, erasing most of the trust he'd previously instilled in her.
Because no matter how much of a crush she had on him when she
was fourteen, no matter how many times he had saved her life //no
words passed between them except her short plea of "No!" after
sensing the apologetic gaze for what it was and he kept falling falling
falling // no matter how GOOD he wanted to become....some images
just *stuck*.

Like the one of Buffy.

Buffy bleeding and crying on the bathroom floor.

She had looked like a fragile creature with the heart ripped out,
metaphorically speaking. Like a shattered China doll. A doll that
Spike had lain waste to. At the time (and due to much of Buffy's
pleading) Dawn had been mature enough to forgive, but not so much
as to forget. Some images would *always* stick with her. She
supposes the memories of even this day will fade in her mind with
the turning of constant time like just about everything and everyone
else. Hell. Even thinking about Tara nowadays isn't half as bad,
although sitting for hours in that empty house with her body wasn't
near enough of a good-bye.

All that's left are lingers of the people who have passed through her
short existence: the scent of Riley's Old Spice that *still* lingers on
some of Buffy's clothes, Faith's sexy smirk, Angel's mysterious
presence, Cordy's blue fuzzy mini-skirt. Just bits and fragments that
hold the past together. On a rare good day Dawn can see her dead
mother's face perfectly //where did she go, Buffy?//. It's amazing she
even has all of that, really, when she's not even supposed to exist.
She sometimes wonders why she was given memory by the Mystic
Old Monks when all was supposed to be obliterated in that non-
existent apocalypse. She fears that one day it will all fade away and
only the blanks will remain.

And then there's Spike, the one person (thing) who never treated her
indifferently until he goes off to fall in love with and fuck her sister.
And she *knew* exactly when it started. The Scoobies were so so
ignorant, but Dawn was her *sister* for Christ's sake. No matter
how much mystic shit she was made of, part of her contained Buffy's
blood and the connection was there, like it or not. The side effects of
puberty and teenage angst were all behind her now, and she had felt
ennui settle in like a steel weight in her stomach. A invisible pressure
on her soul that squeezed and squeezed until she had wanted to
scream it all out. ALL of it. Her whole entire rotted life.

A chill wind alights and she comes back out of her mind, a little
worse for the wear. Her fingers burn and she releases the forgotten
clove, letting it flee to the sodden asphalt, watching the crimson
slowly smolder into grey as it extinguishes. She thinks of a fitting
metaphor, but keeps it silent, even to herself. Dawn hasn't gotten
much sleep the past few days, but it hasn't affected her alertness.
Much. Because she can make out the muffled whimpers through the
dark-stained glass, see the vampire's pain in the shiny blue eyes that
now peer into the semi-darkness, searching for her presence.

She almost runs away again. Almost.


//I want to heal
I want to feel
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I've held so long
(Erase all the pain till it's gone)
I want to heal
I want to feel
Like I'm close to something real
I want to find something I've wanted all along
Somewhere I belong//