Not that it’s their fault–they’re young and they’re scared and Bringers are trying to kill them and they suck at pretty much everything–but Dawn can’t wait ’til they all go away and she can have her room to herself and for her bathroom to stop looking like an abattoir. Someone is always on the rag and it’s too much. At least when it was her and Buffy and Willow, it was only one week a month.
Girls, girls, girls. Dawn is starting to spend lots of time at the water fountain next to the boy’s locker room just so she can remember what they look like. In all the estrogen, Spike and Xander (Dawn doesn’t really consider Andrew a boy) blur. They’re not really there. Just girls girls girls girls potentially special girls.
And boys are different. More interesting. Willow, Anya, and Dawn escaped to Xander’s one night and watched all of Willow’s My So-Called Life DVDs and Dawn is currently looking for a Jordan Catalano. Someone with a car and a sketchy friend and who isn’t a scary jerk with a letter jacket. Someone who just gets it.
Of course, as Anya points out, anyone who just “gets it” is probably a tool of the First. So Dawn doesn’t get to touch any of the Jordan Catalanos who walk by the drinking fountain…or her locker…or out on the lawn at lunch…or in Mrs. Botzkowski’s fourth period chem…or hanging on the steps after school. She looks. She smiles. She talks to them, and says she can’t go to the Bronze because her sister (you know, the guidance counselor) is a Scientologist. Or a Mormon. Or Amish. Whatever. Someone who doesn’t believe in letting fifteen year olds date.
Buffy’s going to be so mad, but Dawn doesn’t care. She’s not touching and she’s not bringing dates home to the hostel that was her home, so Buffy can pretty much bite her.
There’s not even a place Dawn can go and be alone–to be, well, alone with herself. And she can’t get over the thought that there are girls on the floor asleep when she wants to. Which means Dawn is sexually frustrated all the time and that would be bad anyway, but Dawn’s sixteen and she’s aware that she’s doing everything except wearing a sign that says, “Needs It Bad” and she might end up there if she’s not careful.
At least Dawn is now very sure she’s straight. She’s seen enough naked girl and sexy girl and lesbian kissing and she still can’t stop thinking about kissing boys. With thin lips and nice upper arms and tight butts that fit right into–
“Dawn, what does y equal in problem 16?” Mr. Yu asks her, and Dawn realizes she’s already in third period trig and she doesn’t know the answer. After a quick nudity check (she’s not going to cover up her ignorance if this is a naked math dream), she answers. Mr. Yu looks disappointed, and Dawn goes back into her trance.
Dawn justifies kissing Brendan Tenney, Kevin Hernandez, and White Shirt Boy in three different undisclosed locations on campus in one day on these grounds:
- Buffy had been a total hosebeast that morning, giving them all the look of death, and acting like it was because the Potentials had failed, rather than the truth: Buffy was sick of dozens of strange girls in their house, too.
- It was just some harmless kissing. Maybe incidental groping.
- She did it in full daylight when no one was watching and it was just the one time and White Shirt Boy is in advanced choir and come on, like The First Evil’s gonna bother with the choir kids, and White Shirt Boy was exceedingly hot.
Dawn wishes she’d gotten White Shirt Boy’s name. He’s a junior, Kit thinks, and after the First is all defeated, Dawn wants to call him up and maybe go on a date. But after the girls are gone.
He’s like, six one and so he’s taller than Dawn, and he has dark, dark brown hair that’s almost black and he has green eyes and a tan and he’s deep. She can tell. He wears white oxford shirts to school and he has a notebook. Plus, when she bumped into him in the parking lot, he was beyond cool.
“What’s up?” said White Shirt Boy. “You’re Dawn, right?”
“Yeah,” Dawn said. “What’s up?”
“Nothing. Just chilling. Like the car?”
“Yeah. It’s cool,” Dawn said, crossing her arms so she could make her boobs look perkier. Anya said it worked really well and White Shirt Boy was totally smiling at her. “So, you’re in choir.”
“Yeah,” he said, pushing his hair back and wow, he had white, white teeth and Dawn really wanted to push him against the car and kiss him until all her lip gloss (it’s actually Anya’s; Dawn stole it because hey, BeneFit) was gone. “You sing?”
“Not really,” Dawn said. “So. Um. I like your shirt.”
“Thanks,” White Shirt Boy said very earnestly. “Wanna go behind the bleachers and make out?”
“Totally,” Dawn said gratefully.
It had been the third and last make-out session of the day, and it was by far the best. Brendan drooled a little too much and Kevin was way nervous, but White Shirt Boy was cool as a cucumber and he walked them to the bleachers with his arm around Dawn’s waist and Dawn had her arm around his waist and he was warm and his jeans were faded and she was grinning like crazy until they found this nice private spot under the bleachers.
“Hey,” White Shirt Boy said, tilting Dawn’s chin up. “You’re really, like, the cutest girl in sophomore year.”
He put his lips against hers and pressed and Dawn started kissing back, really slow, and then he had his arms around her waist, pulling her against him and she had her arms around his neck and then there were tongues.
White Shirt Boy’s tongue was practically all the way down her throat and he had her up against him so they were pressed together and he was so nice and warm. The perfect Jordan Catalano type boy, sucking on her tongue and oh, my God.
He had his hand underneath her shirt and for a second Dawn stopped.
“Come on, it’s okay,” he whispered into her ear, rubbing her face with the offending hand. “I’m just gonna touch. Nothing weird. It’ll feel good.”
White Shirt Boy put his hand under her shirt against and this time he squeezes her breast and at first, it felt like someone trying to squeeze her breast and no big deal, but he did it again and Dawn made this noise–
“See?” he told her, kissing her neck and touching her breast again and again. “You like that, don’t you?”
“Uh, yeah,” Dawn said before putting her hands on his butt. White Shirt Boy definitely liked that, and he liked it even better when she started kissing him again, both hands squeezing his butt, pulling his hips up against her hips while he thumbed her nipple under the bra and made her make funny noises into his mouth.
It was like, twenty minutes before they stopped, and that was only because the bell rang and apparently the next period was football practice because they could hear people thumping up and down stairs. Dawn’s shirt was somewhere bunched up around her collarbone and she’d been practically humping White Shirt Boy’s leg because with his tongue in her mouth, his hands on her breasts and his hips rubbing against hers, all of frustrations had just bubbled up and exploded.
“You’re wild,” White Shirt Boy said. “Come to the Bronze Friday night. We could have lots of fun.”
Dawn pulled down her shirt and smiled, all her lip gloss smeared on his face like she wanted.
“Maybe,” she said. “See you around.”
Walking home with Amanda, who so clearly wants to know what’s up but isn’t gonna ask, Dawn really wishes that she were a normal girl.
Damn pack of useless not-slayers. Even Buffy did quality Bronze-age back in the day. At this rate, Dawn is going to die a virgin, and after feeling White Shirt Boy get hard (she made a boy hard! That is just too weird and cool and new!) because of the way she rubbed up on him, Dawn does not want this to be the case.
Faith is changing everything. Which is so damn Faith that Dawn can’t believe it. First of all, she’s all weird and friendly with Spike, and so of course Buffy is crazier than ever. Dawn has taken to sucking on lollipops to dispel her own sexual frustration (that and regular makeout/dry humping session with White Shirt Boy, whose first name is Noah), and so she can see very clearly that Buffy needs to get on Spike and possibly Faith at the first opportunity.
“It’s so obvious,” she’s telling Amanda at lunch. “I mean, you get all wound up and it’s either pop or go crazy.”
“I think maybe it’s the battle with the First,” Amanda says warily and quietly. “Things are getting really–I mean, Xander!”
Dawn feels very bad when she thinks of Xander. Or any First-related thing. Sometimes she’s managed to convince herself it’s not really her fight. Well, only when she’s making out with Noah, but that takes up more and more time. If the First gets Noah, Dawn will be really pissed off. They’re practically dating, and all under the Buffy radar. But then again, she’s kinda bored with Noah. He’s deep like Avril Lavigne is deep. And his poetry is worse than Spike’s.
All in all, Ryan in Mr. Yu’s Algebra II is looking so like her next target. Cordelia had been right (at least, the monks attributed this to Cordelia, who Dawn also feels very bad about when she thinks about it)–nothing wrong with testing the waters with high school boys. There were always more of them.
“It’ll be okay,” Dawn says, not feeling it for once. “It always ends up okay.”
“I don’t know,” Amanda says, and now Dawn realizes she’s been crying and now Dawn feels even worse. “I have bad dreams, Dawn. I can see Molly die. And when that terrible man hurt Vi. I don’t know if it’s going to be okay at all.”
Dawn puts her arm around Amanda, but secretly, she’s glad not to be a Potential. She can get out of here, if the town isn’t sucked into a giant hell thing. She’s already talked to her advisor about colleges on the East Coast. Some in Europe.
Dawn has seen the future and she’s finding that it’s less and less about shoving stakes into the reanimated corpses of friends, family, and neighbors in a creepy little town, and more and more about getting the HELL out of Sunnydale. There’s even the possibility of Early Admission, and she swears to God, she swears to GOD, if they survive this one, she’s gonna. She’s out of here.
“I’m sorry, Amanda,” Dawn says. “I’m so sorry.”
And she is. And she’s not. And when she goes upstairs to get her history book for a study date with Kit, Noah, and Ryan three days later, Dawn is the first one to see Faith and Buffy and Spike in Buffy’s old room, gasping really nasty stuff to each other.
For a second she’s shocked–there’s just something not right about seeing your sister with her hands in another woman’s hair while that woman is, um, eating your sister out, and it’s even worse when they’re both rocking against Spike–but when she gets downstairs, Dawn has a smile on her face.
Knew it. Totally called it.
Dawn is getting good at this.
London is cold, and grey, and very, very wet. Wesley is silent, and morose, and absolutely gorgeous. Dawn isn’t sure if this is heaven or hell. It’s not Sunnydale. It’s new. New the way her coat is new (heavy black wool, Spiegel catalog, Anya’s “goodbye” present), the way that taking the Tube is new, the way everyone says flat instead of apartment is new.
They sent her with him because they didn’t know what else to do. Dawn couldn’t stay in Sunnydale. Not with Buffy on another plane of existence, not with Spike going crazy with guilt and Faith doing her best to keep the two of them together. Too many memories–and the mean part of Dawn, the part of Dawn who is gladder still that she is not a Potential, barely a Key, and mostly just a girl, she would rather be here.
With Wesley. Wesley, who is her latest mystery. He couldn’t stay in Los Angeles any more than she could stay in Sunnydale apparently. There is some woman; a mystery woman whom nobody talks about, whose picture is in Wesley’s wallet. Dawn can’t figure out if she’s alive or not. But she did something, something that almost saved Cordelia and Angel and definitely saved the world. And now Wesley is alone.
Kind of like Dawn.
“I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet,” Wesley says as they approach their building. “Quite rude of me, but it’s been a long while since I’ve been in London. And I didn’t expect to return.”
“It’s okay,” Dawn says with a dazzling smile. One thing she knows about Wesley, he is very fond of tall brunettes with long legs and bitchy demeanors. And ever since Xander dubbed her “Cordelia Junior” right after they all found out about her making out with Ryan and Noah, Dawn’s known she could very well grow into a queen bitch.
She’d feel worse about thinking very sexual thoughts about Wesley, but she’s almost seventeen already, and the age difference is still less than the one between Buffy and any sex partner not Riley. Or Faith.
Besides, it’s not going to go anywhere. He’s just cute. And mysterious. With a scar. The coolness is beyond belief, but Dawn is totally planning on sophistication, reserve, and waiting until she’s eighteen at least. Because only a skeezy older man would hit on a seventeen year old. And Wesley doesn’t appear skeezy.
“It’s not, really,” Wesley says. “We’re going to be living together for at least a year, possibly more. You’re young, and it’s not fair of me to be a boring fuddy-duddy.”
“You’re not boring. More like–mysterious,” Dawn offers. “It’s okay. I mean. You have your reasons to be quiet. I kind of like it. If Buffy were here, she’d be–”
That brings it all back, the things that Dawn has been trying to forget by thinking of Wesley, and boys, and being free of Sunnydale and Potentials and California. And it hurts. It hurts like it was that first moment all over again, with Spike walking out of the high school alone and Dawn screaming and screaming. Hurts like watching Spike walk to Faith (not Dawn) first. Hurts like watching Anya try to find an eye patch for Xander that will look good at the hurried Justice of the Peace wedding right before Dawn left for good.
In short, it hurts like a son of a bitch.
“Are you all right?” Wesley asks, offering her a handkerchief.
“I miss her,” Dawn says, wiping her nose. “I think I’m used to it, and then I remember and it’s like I’m right back there.”
“I understand,” Wesley says, helping her toward a flight of stairs. This is Dawn’s new home. A building in London. London, England. Eight hours ahead of Sunnydale. Hours and hours away by plane. It all seems so impossible. “I miss Angel and Cordelia. And I miss Lilah.”
Dawn’s heart speeds up. Lilah is the dead evil girlfriend, the one everyone knows you don’t mention to Wesley. Because she’s the one he couldn’t save. They’ve talked about Angel and Cordelia a little. They’ve talked about Buffy a lot. But this is new.
“Was she pretty?” Dawn asks as Wesley opens the door to the front hallway. “I mean, you don’t have to tell me about her. I’m just kind of curious. Sorry.”
“Yes, she was pretty,” Wesley says slowly. The hallway’s warmer than outside and Dawn hurries in out of the rain. “And incredibly difficult. I’ve avoided speaking about her because I felt it might be disrespectful. Your sister was much more important than my evil ex-girlfriend, in the larger scheme of things.”
Dawn takes Wesley’s hand and tries to smile. It’s only half a smile, but it’s a start.
“Hey,” she says. “We’re all we’ve got right now. And that’s more important. Um, in the larger scheme of things. Right?”
It’s like ten years fall off Wesley, and he smiles. It’s almost three-quarters of a smile. Dawn’s smile brightens. Oh, he’s so terribly cute.
“Right, then,” he says as they walk toward their new flat and something Dawn can’t yet predict. “Shall we go in?”